Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 1: Sept. 15th- Sept. 21st) Mwanza, Tanzania

Our Adventure begins…here!

Tuesday September 15th 2009 was the decided departure date, thankfully this gave us a bit of time to meet up and discuss our trip as a team. Since school was also starting up we were able to figure out our schedules for when we got back to minimize the craziness in January.

Our flight was leaving at 5:45 PM from the Pearson International Airport so we decided to meet up at the gate.

After our goodbyes to our families, we set out on our way ready for our adventure to begin. We were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves…and on top of everything, without even realizing, we had decided to leave on Helen’s birthday. On the plane we decided to celebrate with a “cheers” to our great adventure together.

Our first stop was Amsterdam, where our layover allowed us a 12 hour breath of Dutch air.

Next stop was Nairobi, Kenya where we had an excruciating 8 hour layover! We spent most of our time trying to find chairs to sit/sleep on and something to eat that didn’t remind us of airplane food. We ended with a variation of a pig in a blanket that seemed OK at the time…but we soon realized that our extreme hunger had deceived us into thinking it was delicious, in fact it was not…and we do not recommend it to anyone.

Another layover in Dar Es Salaam, but at least now we were finally in Tanzania. A few hours later, after being dazed by the many the airports that all felt totally different yet the same, we arrive in Mwanza. We thought it would never happen, two full days of travel and we were finally home…for two weeks.

Upon arriving, Missy Whaling the only intern left at the Mwanza site came to the airport to pick us up. Reality has finally set in…we are here in Africa. It’s hard to believe that after sitting, standing and waiting for so long we are finally where we are supposed to be. Where we have wanted to be, anticipating two months when we found out we were coming, two days worth of travelling time, or even a lifetime’s worth of dreams of making it to the Motherland. Africa has a strange sense of home for many who visit, and for us, I can say that the feeling is present. You can just feel a sense or home by the sounds of the streets and the smell of the air. I could feel myself opening my eyes wider just so that I could see more as we made our way to Mlango Moja, our new neighbourhood for the next two weeks.

When we got to the apartment, we were told that there was no power, something that seems to happen pretty often in Mwanza. We chatted a bit in the dark, which was nice and relaxing and then we set off for our first real meal in two days. Tilapia, which is a local fish found in Lake Victoria, is also the name of a hotel and restaurant in Mwanza where we ate that night. Everything was delicious, but then again we were so hungry we would probably have eaten those pigs in a blanket again. NOT!

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