how do you spell Misungwi?

Sunday, December 18, 2005


means "network" in Kiswahili.

It's also what people say to refer to the two big cell-phone towers that are perched on a 'mountain' (aka big pile of rocks) about maybe 5 or 6 kilometers away from my house. Because it's on a mini-mountain and set up higher from Misungwi town, I had heard that it offers fantastic views of the surrounding environs. Of course, my lazy ass took a whole year after hearing this to actually get up the energy to go check it out.

So this morning I got up and, with the company of my friend Dominic (secondary school Biology teacher) and his brother Deus, we went to see if we could make it to the top. We did, turns out it's really not as far as it looks from my house (which is kind of in the 'suburbs' of Misungwi, not right in the town center but set uphill a bit in a wealthy part of town). When I get my camera I will return and take pictures to post here, but I'll just say that the view was not spectacular, but very, um, what's the appropriate word, nice? More than nice. In between nice and spectactular. Informative too, because it gave me my first glimpse of Misungwi as a whole, it was interesting to see where the city has experienced a spurt of growth, where people are building modern houses vs. mud/straw huts, and how the city is slowly merging with small surrounding villages. I also got a view of Lake Victoria (check out a map of Tanzania - the lake has a finger that extends south - what would we call that in English? Not a bay, maybe an inlet? Anyways, from what I saw today, it looks like some pretty nasty, shallow, schistosomiasis and crocodile infested water to me).

We also met two crazy guys who are hired to 'guard' the antennaes. I guess if they weren't there people would come to try to steal the wiring and whatnot, the main ground-line phone company in Tanzania is currently offering a reward of over a years salary for the average Tanzanian for any information about the numerous theives who dig up their cables for wires, so I assume these guards were preventing other hooligans from doing the same.

All in all, it was a very nice morning hike. Which is good because, as has been the case every other day the past few weeks, by the time it hit 11am it was already hot as hell and not a cloud in the sky.

'Mtandao' is also street-slang for HIV/AIDS, since the spread of the disease through various sexual networks can be more complex than phone wiring.


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