Travelling in Africa is often a test of patience, determination and nerves. I left Dar es Salaam by Precision Air at 11 am. The flight was filled with Tanzanian business men and beurocrats. It was wonderful to enter Mwanza and view the vastness of Lake Victoria by air, I tried to spot the island which would be my home for the year.
Mwanza airport is somewhat small, and I had to crowd around a small area in order to grab my luggage.
Many of the people on the plane were staying at the same hotel as me. I managed to haggle with the lady at the front desk for a discount on the room, and managed to get a £10 reduction on the price. The room itself was rather nice, with air-con, small fridge, and even hot shower. Although of course there was a small fault, the bed’s mattress was as hard a rock. But that didn’t stop me from having a wonderful night’s sleep.
Mwanza is a contrast from Dar–the weather is mild and cool, just like the city, and large rocks are everywhere you look…
The following day, I purchased a handful of supplies in town and went to the bus station. As soon as I arrived at the station there were numerous people asking to help me carry my luggage and enquiring about where I planned to go next; such people often get kickbacks from the bus company when they bring them customers. However I already had my ticket so they left me alone. I was told the bus left at 9.30am. But of course there was no bus, so I sat on the steps surrounded by my luggage which consisted of 2 large suitcases, 2 cardboard boxes and a backpack and waited.
The bus didn’t roll in until noon! Once it arrived everyone started to crowd around the door in order to enter. I waited a while to ensure that my luggage wasn’t looted from the hold, and only got in as it started to move. Although we didn’t travel very far until the police check point stopped the bus, and for some reason we had to wait again a little longer whilst the driver spoke to the police. Several of my fellow passengers were travelling to Bukoba and started to complain.
Finally at around 1pm we left Mwanza with the ferry.
On the ferry a bunch of guys walk around trying to sell people various things such as jeans, wallets and mobile phones. A guy tried to get me to buy this phone for $500 he was convinced it was a genuine I-phone.
I rather prefer this version of the name for the famous brand
The rest of the journey was rather uneventful; we passed various small villages and towns before my stop in Chato, where I was dropped off with all my bags by the side of the road. Several motorcycle taxis surrounded me as the bus left, they tried to convince me that they could carry my stuff to the lake village, but I patiently waited for a taxi to arrive.
Once at the fishing village, I was warmly welcomed by one of the staff working on the island, and I also got to meet for the first time the person who would be my new field assistant. We hauled into the boat and set off just as the sun was setting, finally I had arrived.