It is always, always, always healthy to get out of Dar. If you stay in Dar too long, you forget that there is a vast country west of you whose people, customs and landscapes are, well…not Dar es Salaamian (just made that word up, sounds like salami).
This time my travels took me to Mwanza which is on Lake Victoria in the northwest part of the country (in other words, nowhere near Dar). I came to Mwanza on business and though I stayed for less than 24 hours, being in Mwanza was like repeatedly hitting the reset button on the Tanzania Channel. At some point during my flight, it occurred to me that the climate in Mwanza might be cooler. Stepping off the plane, I knew immediately that my hunch was correct [reset button].
My driver took me around town and showed me the sights. There is not tons to see in Mwanza, but I got a good feel for the city and saw the town’s icon, “Bismark Rock.” There were huge, smooth boulders all over the city and when congregated, the rocks were stunning natural wonders [reset button] precariously balanced upon one another.
Architecturally, the houses were more interesting than the African homes I am used to seeing. Some, almost Lloyd Wrightian in character, featured rocks as architectural or structural elements. There were also fewer walls around properties which signaled to me that crime was less prevalent [reset button].
You could tell from the city’s appearance that Mwanza possesses a pride that is lacking in Dar. For one, the streets were clean. All paved roads had a curb, gutter, and storm drainage system in place. There were several examples of open space. The parks were green and believe it or not, people were using them. I found at least 3 examples of public art, all of which were well-maintained. Was I even in Africa [reset button]? Yes, I was in Africa, but the most surprising thing I found was this–directional signage:
Look past the fact that this sign is damaged and notice how professional the graphics are! My favorite thing about this sign is the acronym “CBD” which is an urban planning/economic development term for “Central Business District.” Simple pleasures, my friends.
After attending to my business, I randomly selected Kuleana Pizzeria to grab a bite. My driver was elated with my choice and called it “a cool place.” It was a charming outdoor eatery with tons of interesting menu options. I opted for fresh juice, avocado pizza and avocado ice cream [reset button]. Although the ice cream was actually more like mouse and barely cold, everything was excellent. I wished I could have tried more. I sat at Kuleana Pizzeria for as long as possible and enjoyed the cool breeze which is noticeably absent in Dar this time of year.
My only moment of breaking bad was at 9pm on the airplane, after several delays when the pilot announced that they were unable to shut the door to the plane properly. Panic set in. What in the world was a pregnant woman doing, wandering around Africa by herself, without a backup hotel plan (oh, did I mention that I’m pregnant?). Although no one else appeared to be sweating, I had already lost a liter of water through my pores and the pilot’s news did not help. Finally, 45 minutes later, the pilot announced that we were headed home. The resolution to the door problem: there was none. But that did not stop us from taking off. Yes, oh yes, this was definitely Africa.
A few more shots of Mwanza: