Mbeya, Tanzania

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Tonight I am busying myself trying to stay awake realizing that my mind is two hours ahead in Tanzanian time. In order to prevent myself from receding into old lady sleeping habits and Since Tanzania is on my mind it’s time to fill you in on another part of my journey. Our trip to the South.

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We continued our research in the mountainous Far South region of Mbeya. Getting on the plane in the morning I had not even a single thought about checking the weather or packing anything for the cold, having spent so much time in beautiful Dar Es Salaam and Mwanza. But at 7am in Mbeya there is a real shock to your senses as you realize I’m not in the Northern Hemisphere. South is cold, North is warm, August is winter and January is Summer! The topsy-turvyness of being unused to being on the other side of the world. Good thing I thought to pack some long trousers!

https://www.google.es/maps/place/Mbeya,+Tanzania/@-5.0271609,33.6716008,6z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x1900a01e711399cd:0x4012f53f751f23a5?hl=en

Nonetheless, Mbeya was just as beautiful as the rest of the country. With just a short drive you could be in Zambia or Malawi, but that of course was not out destination. (I’ve included a google screen shot to give you an idea.) Being properly underdressed did not making hours of field research ideal, but at the sun came up it felt warm again and my appreciation for my surround grew with each degree centigrade. I was enamored by the mountains in the distance and could see myself here for a more adventurous journey than just doing interviews at points of sale. It made me really miss my friends back in Barcelona (or rather all over the world now!) and the fun we had in the last two years. I wanted them to be here with me under different circumstances, at those mountains instead of looking from afar.

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But, getting to experience this country in any way is something that I would not trade. I was happy to be there and soaking it all in, in the short breaks from working and car rides to our next destination. This part of the country was noticeably less developed that the previous cities we visited. There were less paved roads in the urban areas, visibly less investment from multinational brands, and a definitely increase in the number of alcoholics. The mountains, however, made for a nice backdrop, despite the somber mood created by the cold weather. I think we all felt a great shift from the North and were ready to get the job done as quickly as possible.

IMG_6531It’s always fun to learn more words of swahili and learn why all of the characters in the Lion King were named as they were. Simba does in fact mean lion, Rafiki means friends, Pumbaa means thoughtless…and well that’s all I really know. (I do have the urge to watch the movie again and see else I can pick up on.)  This Simba Chai seemed to be very popular, thought I didn’t see anyone too focused on tea when there was beer and liquor to consume.

IMG_6532The two days spent in Mbeya were a nice taste of a different style of life in Tanzania. With this visit our two weeks of field research were complete and it was back to Dar to work on our analysis of everything that we captured from the market. Afterall, we were there for work, not play.

 

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