It’s been just under two weeks since we’ve been in Mwanza and man, do I love it here.
We arrived May 9th after around 35 hours of travelling and were greeted by the warmest welcome. Not only did Naressa’s uncle, a local in Mwanza, meet us at the airport but he also stocked our apartment full of fresh fruit and groceries.
Oranges, tangerines, pineapples, avocados (the size of your head)… you name it, we’ve got it!
We spent the first couple of days getting settled into the area and honestly, just trying to get over the jet lag. I’m normally a night person so waking up before sunrise felt a little weird at first, but I can gladly say that I’m now really enjoying the early mornings.
Sara (my roommate) and I wake up every morning, brew a coffee, and sit out on the patio watching the kids make their way down the street and to their school. My favourite part is when they look up, wave and give us a little smirk.
The rest of our time has been spent meeting new friends (mostly through the help of Steph – a Western PhD student finishing up her thesis in Mwanza), visiting kitchens with Kato (an employee and our primary translator from Mikono Yetu), trying new foods (from mushkaki to ubuyu) and attempting to learn Swahili.
Some of the words we’ve learned so far:
‘Mambo/Poa’ = What’s up?/Cool
‘Habari’ = How are you?
‘Nzuri’ = Fine/Good
‘Tafadhali’ = Please
‘Pole’ = Sorry
‘Wapi’ = Where
‘Asante’ = Thank you
‘Ndiyo’ = Yes
‘Hapana’ = No
‘Kitabu’ = Book
‘Kiti/Viti’ = Chair/Chairs
‘Ndizi’ = Banana
‘Embe’ = Mango
I’ve also learned that my name is quite difficult for people to remember so I’ve started comparing it to ’embe’ (mango). It always gets a good laugh.
“Gina langu ni Amber… It’s sort of like mango, you know ’embe,’ if that helps?”
As for my project: I haven’t started filming the documentary yet. I’ve made it one of my top priorities to meet everyone, introduce myself and my project, and build a relationship before pulling out my camera. I think I might start filming next week though. Everyone we’ve met so far, especially all the mamas, seem very excited to be a part of it. It makes me thrilled to see that their reactions match my enthusiasm. I can’t wait to get started.
Now I don’t want to jinx it by saying it too early — I mean, it has only been just under two weeks since we’ve arrived — but Mwanza is sort of beginning to feel like home.