Friday, October 14, 2011

Miscellaneous Mzungu Observations

Karibu to my second blog post. If you can't tell by the title, it will include an assortment of thoughts and pictures from my first couple weeks here. Enjoy!

The Mojer:

Mlango Mmoja (The Mojer) is the area of Mwanza where the apartment is. It’s mostly made up of our apartment building, hotels and some shops. We’re within walking distance of all the essentials and I’m slowly starting to understand how the city is laid out. 

used clothing market at Mlango Mmoja

inside the apartment

relaxing on the balcony of the apartment

There are always a bunch of taxis out-front our apartment so if you have to go far or it’s night, they’re very easy to find. Zagaluu (Zaggerbomb) is a family favourite and is a food and beverage shop located about 10 meters from our apartment.

The current Mojer residents are myself, Karly, Victoria and Missy. Mudi, Missy’s fiancé, is also here a lot. As a family, we like to do family dinners. 
hamburgers na chipsi na fruit

We’ve had one party here so far and it was for Karly’s birthday. We had some music, some games, some food and drinks and lots of people.


Almost every night of the week there is some sporting event, dinner or outing going on. For sports, I play ultimate frisbee once or twice each week, go to sunset yoga, go to the beach at Tunza for volleyball or relaxing or swimming at Tilapia. My friends have asked me to play soccer at 8am on Sunday mornings at the international school, but so far I have not had the courage to wake up at 7am on a weekend. I’ve also bought childrens’ some toys from the market which help keep us entertained.

full moon party


after sunet yoga at Tunza

pondering great thoughts

massive wall

dancing rocks

sunset at dancing rocks

This weekend is a long weekend here and we’re going on a boat cruise with a bunch of people out on Lake Victoria at sunset after and afternoon of swimming. Hakuna matata.


The options for transportation are taxi, daladala or pikipiki. A daladala is a minibus/minivan that have specified routes and are very cheap (~$0.25/ride). Pikipiki means motorcycle in Swahili and they are everywhere and are cheaper than taxis. 

pikipiki, seats up to 3
I’m surprised more cars don’t get stuck in holes on the non-paved roads. On some of them it’s not possible to drive over 10 km/h without the wheels falling off the car.


If we walk around outside, chances are people will yell “mzungu” at us. Mzungu means white person and some people are very eager to make it clear to us that we’re not African. Some people use it in a rude context followed by mocking phrases (in Swahili), mostly kids and teens, but some just use it as an identifier. With kids, it is often followed by “give me my money” which I feel is one of the few English sentences most kids here know. Kids also like to say “hello, good morning” to us at any time of the day which always makes us laugh. People yell “mchena” at Victoria, which means Chinese person, even though she is Vietnamese. 

Getting so much attention is something I've never experienced before and it takes some getting used to before feeling comfortable out in public. It doesn't bother me much anymore and I especially love when people go out of their way to make me feel welcome here. "Karibu sana Tanzania," which means "very welcome to Tanzania," is one of my favourite phrases to hear. When I was walking down the street today, Zagaluu invited me into his store to eat lunch with him and his wife. It was ugali (stiff porridge), rice, beans and fish. The food was awesome and it made me very happy to be here!

As a side note, whenever I see other white people I don’t know walking the streets, I have the urge to yell “MZUNGU!” just to see their reaction… but I haven’t gathered the confidence yet.


I have tried to learn some Swahili since I’ve got here. I know greetings and some basic phrases, but that’s about it so far. I need to invest more time into practicing and learning Swahili over the next month.

The Project

In my next post, I’ll discuss what I’m working on and my motivations for coming to Tanzania.

hardly working

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Journey and Arrival

Hello, and welcome to my blog on my Tanzanian adventure! This post has been a long time coming, but the pace of life is slower here in Tanzania… so when you factor that in PLUS the time difference between here and Canada, this post may actually be right on time…

As far as I can remember, the trek to Mwanza, Tanzania from Toronto was long. The first stretch was a redeye from Toronto to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, Victoria and I decided to head into the city and check things out because we had a 7-hour layover. We actually managed to get on the correct train into the city and we were able to explore for a few hours. We asked a lady at the station where we could find a map of the city so we wouldn’t get lost, but all she said was, “no maps.” About 2 minutes later we found a huge map. 

abnormally large map

 I assume this was foreshadowing for the more prominent language barrier awaiting me in Tanzania.

Amsterdam has so many bicycles it’s extreme. "Baiskeli sana."

bike sana

 In Amsterdam, we wandered around, took some photos, got some food and a Heineken, and found the train back to the airport.  

sunny Amsterdam

Next, we boarded our flight to Mwanza! After watching the same 10 minute video about Tanzania on repeat for at least 7 times, the flight attendants put in Just for Laughs Gags and I thought it was funny that a show from Quebec had made it all the way to Tanzania.  

Mwanza from above (I think...)

The first thing I noticed as I got off the plane in Mwanza was that I was no longer in Canada. The second thing was that it was really hot. The airport was really small and crammed and its layout didn’t make sense to me. People would just start walking away with my luggage and if I tried to carry it myself I’d get yelled at in Swahili. At first, I thought this was due to security measures, but I soon found out that they thought they could get money from me if they would wheel my luggage 20 feet from place to place. I think at one point there was a swarm of 6 people around Victoria and I, all trying to get in on the action! Fortunately, we found Missy as soon as we got outside and we were on our way.  

The taxi ride from the airport into the city was probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. I think this was my moment of ‘culture shock’ and it was probably a combination of getting hassled at the airport in a strange language, being really hot, not having slept for the past couple days and seeing a scenery so very different than Canada. People were walking everywhere (not on sidewalks). Horns were blaring. People were yelling things into megaphones. Trucks were driving by with 1000 Watt speakers strapped to the roof pumping music into the streets. People were selling stuff all along the roadside. There weren't well-defined traffic lanes. Coco Cola had seemingly taken over the entire city with advertisements. Kids were running around everywhere. People were staring. 

Nonetheless, after arriving at the apartment, that spell of shock was over and I felt at home. 


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Testing All Blogs

This is a test to see how text looks in my blog. If you've enjoyed reading this blog, I consider the text a success.