Blog

Mwanza, Tanzania

Rusumu Falls, at the border between Rwanda and Tanzania. 

On our first morning in Tanzania, we took a bus from Ngara to Mwanza. The journey took about twelve hours, and was honestly quite miserable between the heat, lack of bathrooms and excess of people piling on at stops along the way. Nonetheless, after much ado and a short ferry ride, we arrived in Mwanza on the shore of Lake Victoria.  I suppose our aimlessness was fairly obvious, since after a few minutes of ambling around with our bags a man offered to help us find our way to our hotel. I cannot reiterate enough the extent to which people in Tanzania have been astoundingly generous with their time, and profoundly genuine in their kindness.

The next morning, we set out to explore the town. Mwanza is a curious mix of Islamic and Christian tradition, with a mix of churches and mosques and signs in Arabic. We visited a bookstore with texts in Arabic and Swahili, and religious guides on everything from marriage to education. As we were walking back to the hotel, a guy named Gabriel stopped us to talk. He said we looked a bit lost (cheers), and offered to show us around the town. We walked slowly throughout, and he eventually brought us to his shop, where he sells local art and uses the majority of his proceeds to support the large population of street children in Mwanza.

 On the shores of Lake Victoria. 

On the shores of Lake Victoria. 

 Dinosaur/ugly bird? 

Dinosaur/ugly bird? 

We ended up exploring the town together, and he brought us to the shores of Lake Victoria, decorated with bizarre stone conglomerates jutting from the water. He told us a story of a historical witch doctor, notorious for leaving footprints on the rocks and for being able to shove knives into the stone. Gabriel also told us that at night, crocodiles swim close to the shore and will leap out of the water if you throw food their way.

Gabriel offered to bring us up a mountain to watch the sunset. We took a series of local buses and eventually got off at the bottom of a steep, wooded hill. Gabriel showed us a tree, which is apparently notorious with locals for its healing ability, and we finally made it to the small village at the top of the hill. After walking a bit, we entered a clearing with massive boulders all around.

We climbed up and were accosted by literally the most incredible view I’ve ever encountered. Huge rocks jutted upwards, balancing on top of one another or strewn randomly throughout the area. It was akin to walking on the moon. The view overlooked the agricultural fields below and opened onto Lake Victoria.

We hung out with the local guys there—the spot is a popular one for thinking, and according to Gabriel for fighting couples to visit on the basis of the peace and space it offers. We had a lot of excellent conversations, and I happily shot a ton of photos as well. I don’t have the proper language for describing what an absolutely incredible evening it was, but I’ll have a second post up soon with portraits!