Jackson Pitcher ’19 and Saadhya Bahudodda ’20 describe a long day of travel to Mwanza.
Jackson Pitcher ’19
After a draining journey to Mwanza consisting of a 4 AM car ride from DA to NYC and then three planes rides to Dubai, Dar es Salaam, and Mwanza, we awaited a final hour-long car ride to our destination, Kitongo. At 9 PM local time, we hopped into roomy safari cars as our eyelids felt like rocks. Just as I tightened my seatbelt and anticipated the bumpy roads to lull me to sleep, headlights shone in my eyes and the whizz of the car past us reminded me that we weren’t in America anymore.
The streets of Mwanza were lit by caravan cars, small convenience stores selling soda and candy, and the flashing lights of barber shops. The doors of every single building lining the road were open, revealing fluorescent lights and clumps of people shopping and talking. Even in the places untouched by light, small clusters of people leaned on their motorcycles, sat on the curb, and smiled. Women squatted next to their vegetables, gossiping, while men huddled around pool tables. The whole city was on the street having one big party. It wasn’t a holiday, it was just a Monday night. Helmet-less cyclists buzzed between lanes and dance music blared from bars. The chaos and excitement of the people-filled roadsides was unlike anything I’ve seen before. The mute roads of Deerfield are no match to the lively Mwanza avenues. Although hectic, the outskirts of the city of Mwanza lured me with its harmony.
With a blink of a tired eye, the lights blurred into darkness and the dark forest reminded me of our destination. A sharp left off the main highway brought us to a pitch-black and silent dirt road. Our car slithered through the skinny road and jolted with every ditch. The abrupt appearance of the tranquil Tanzanian countryside differed greatly from wild Mwanza nightlife. Finally, as we bounced towards JBFC Mainsprings, I was reminded of the much needed sleep that awaited me at the guest house.
Saadhya Bahudodda ’20
The drive from Mwanza to Kitongo was the last leg in our forty-hour journey to Tanzania, involving three planes and two long drives. We were all exhausted and ready for sleep and showers, to say the least. I had fallen asleep on the last drive, even through the bumpy, sandy roads, but was woken up by loud, happy voices shouting as we drove down the pathway leading to the JBFC Mainsprings campus.
When the car stopped, there was a crowd of girls surrounding us. One girl flung the door open, and as I got out of the large safari car and into the pitch black night, another girl immediately hugged me, saying loudly, “Welcome!” with a big grin. “What’s your name?” she asked me, “I’m Leah.” Before I could respond, another girl came up to me and greeted me with another hug. The girls asked us if we knew people who had previously been on the trip and yelled excitedly when we told them we did. “She was my best friend,” said one.
The next twenty minutes were spent in the dark, filled with a series of similar greetings from the twenty or so girls, all accompanied with little giggles and large smiles, while the campus dogs weaved their way through the crowd, trying to figure out what the commotion was. I had met so many girls in such a short time, and I was afraid that I would forget their names. I could not tell one girl apart from the other in the night, and I’m sure I introduced myself to the same girls multiple times, but nonetheless they received me with large hugs and welcomed me to their home.
When it was time to go, the girls wished us farewell and told us to sleep well, as we struggled up the stone steps leading to the guest house with no light to guide our way. As I settled into my bed and tucked my bug nets under my mattress, stomach full with rice and beans, I wondered if I would actually get to see all their faces tomorrow.