Saturday, June 16, 2012

06/16 - Mwanza

We left our hotel in Dar this morning.  Its hard to believe a week has passed already.  The Serena hotel was a beautiful, albeit somewhat sheltered way to spend our first week.  The staff all spoke English and I picked up enough swahili to at least make them smile.  (Its amazing how far a minimal amount of effort and a little deference towards the culture goes to make people happy).  

We got to the airport in Dar early.  After going through the two security stations, similar to the US, we waited at the gate.  The slogan on the side of the jetway/walkway leading down to the planes was something about "so fast it will blow you away" but I think it was for an internet company.  I still  couldn't help but think that might not be the best choice of slogans at an airport these days, but hakuna matata.  

Mwanza is a little over 500 miles from Dar, so the flight was only about 80 minutes.  It is the second largest city in the country, but has a completely different feel from Dar.  It is inland on the edge of Lake Victoria.  When we landed on the runway, the plane turned around and taxied back down the same runway (apparently its only one strip).  We pulled up and I literally could not see a building anywhere that looked like anything I would have recognized as an airport back home.  

We got off the plane and got on buses and went to this small series of buildings.  There was no baggage carousel.  They drive up and push the bags up onto a platform and people just rifle through to find their luggage.  I noticed a board like you see in the states for arrivals and departures but when I looked up, it was cycling through local mosque locations, pages of them.  

The "airport" in Mwanza

Our fearless leader is still smiling :-)


First view of the Lake as we drive into the city

After we left the airport, we headed into town.  It is much more rural and green than Dar.  The air is cleaner.  Dar has sort of a haze that hangs over the city and everything is bustling.  It is definitely a more agrarian economy.  The driver told us there are 5 major fisheries in the city.  Our hotel is right on the edge of Lake Victoria.  
Street picture in Mwanza

I cannot say for sure, but it would seem we are in a more touristy area than we were in Dar.  I saw two European girls walking down the road leading to our hotel in shorts and sunglasses.  (not something I saw at all in Dar).  We are staying at Hotel Tilapia and it is "quaint" and more importantly, secure.  They have gates on the street that they open every time a visitor arrives.  I posted a few pictures of the room and grounds below.  The prices on food and drinks here are much more reasonable than they were at the other place as well.  

We put in a phone call to the dean of the university here, but have not connected yet.  We will try again later.  No one here seems to use voicemail.  You just call back later.  Such a different attitude and approach than I am used to.  Anyway, this is going to be an interesting place I think.  Some sort of local street band just went by and roused everyone from their rooms.  We are going to check it out!  

Our Room

Entrance to the hotel

Random Rolls-Royce and other classic cars sitting outside

"The African Queen"
Outside for dinner

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