Finally the ferry returned to our side, and the vehicles were loaded on, like cattle, inches apart. Then the gates opened and the foot-passengers flooded on, with much pushing and cramming, until they could not squeeze one more. People stood wearily along the sides, between the vehicles, on top of the vehicles, everywhere. And we pushed off from land, to cross about 5 miles of lake water, shore to shore. Being a mom, I annoyed our kids by pointing out that the ferry holding a dozen or more vehicles and hundreds of people had not one visible life jacket or raft, so if it went down, they should kick off their shoes an swim AWAY from people as fast as possible, then tread water and wait. But all went well, kingfishers dove for fish, and the town of Mwanza emerged from the far shore, outlined by improbable volcanic boulders jutting out of the water.
We are here to visit our friends Rob and Liz, a young doctor/nurse practitioner couple, who were college student interns in Uganda 12 years ago. Rob was the cross-country runner God provided to help us carry our children to safety when we were attacked by the ADF. Now they are academic missionaries, teaching and managing an ICU and doing research in collaboration with a US University and a Tanzanian medical school, raising their own young family with two kids the ages our were back in 1997. They enfolded our dusty travel-weary smelly selves into their hospitable care, and we were so grateful we decided to stay two nights instead of one.
Mwanza is a Jinja-like town, the pastel lake-side Swahili feel, the bustle of commerce, the peace of an unbroken water view. Rob works in a huge referral hospital providing an impressive level of health care, better than the best in Uganda. He's brilliant, and dedicated, and it was inspiring to round the wards with him as he taught medical students and interns and residents. Liz has a heart for orphans so we followed her mid-morning out to an orphanage where she volunteers, a cheerily efficient and homey place run by a British couple and a large Tanzanian staff, home to about 40 kids. Some were premature and needed special care, others handicapped, others just growing enough to be returned to fathers or grandparents after the death of their mothers.
This day has been one of respite, thankful for the diversity of the Kingdom, the great things that others are doing for the poor and needy. Thankful for the cobbling of TZ government, Catholic Church, American University, NGO, and various other partnerships that allows the people of western TZ to access good medical care. Thankful for the bonds of friendship across many years. Thankful for a VERY COMFORTABLE apartment made available to us for hot showers and beds and time to wash out our dirty clothes and stock food for the next camping phase. Oh, did I mention the hot showers again?
Tomorrow, on to the Serengeti!