Tunaenda wapi? (Where are we going?)

“Tunaenda wapi?” or “where are we going? is the question we’ve been asking all over the city of Mwanza for the past two days. The answer seemed clear enough as we prepared earlier this week in Nairobi buying the GPS-enabled Daladala outside viewsmartphone units we planned to use here to track our routes in Tanzania. Even as we drove down all day Wednesday the answer was clear: we were headed to Mwanza, Tanzania to map the local daladala transit system.

As we drove into town, however, we realized the neat Excel list a government official had handed me this summer didn’t quite match the labels on the daladalas we were passing on the road. So, we scrapped our original plan and headed out Thursday morning writing down every route name we saw, riding every new one we could, and always asking “tunaenda wapi?”

Asking questions has paid off. In two days we’ve found our way all over town from major airport routes to bumpy dirt roads. We’ve had conversations with all kinds of people and have laid down GPS tracks for nearly every route in the city (tomorrow we’ll do a sweep to catch any we’ve missed). From here it’s on to the detail work with online mapping and tracking down health data.