12. The long journey to Morogoro

I got up early to say goodbye to Jodie and to get some contact details from her for people in Mwanza. I ended up booking a hotel quite close to the city centre in Mwanza and then I headed out to catch the bus to Mwanza. I didn’t have to walk too far to the junction where the buses stop. And you can jump on any bus as they all head to the same place. It cost me 5000Tsh (£1.76) and the ride was much quicker than I expected – less than two hours.

Me carrying my backpack to the bus stop

I arrived at the chaos of Buzuruga bus stand and was approached by dozens of taxi drivers. Thankfully I was messaging Jodie’s friend, Matinde, on WhatsApp and she walked over to meet me at the Buzuruga bus stand. Then we took a Bolt (like Uber) across to the Nyegezi Bus Stand which is out of town in the other direction. I paid 40,000Tsh (£14.13) for a bus to Morogoro that leaves at 6am tomorrow.

Then we took a dala dala, a minibus that zips between different locations like a shared taxi and only costs 500Tsh (£0.17). I jumped out near the centre and said goodbye to Matinde, who headed back to the Sun King office close to Buzuruga bus stand.

I spent the afternoon at a place called Pizzaria, where I had Chips Mayai and a coffee for lunch and then spent a while typing up notes before having pizza for an early dinner. Then I headed back to my hotel room to relax and sleep before my 4:30am alarm. I nipped out to find some food and snacks for the bus tomorrow and met some nice people at a restaurant near the hotel, where I bought pastries and interesting potato dumpling type things.

A plate with Chips Mayai

Everything went smoothly this morning, I was ready for 5am when my Bolt arrived and we headed off into the drizzle. Part way through the journey the driver asked me which bus company I was going with and it turned out we were next to the Nyehunge Express offices and I could get on the bus there instead of waiting at the Nyegezi Bus Stand until 6. So by 5:25 I was on the bus and had been given the front seat.

I was an incredibly long day sat still! The scenery was interesting and I took some photos of some cool things along the way.

A dust devil on the road ahead

We actually stopped for lunch, which I hadn’t expected. There were a few different stalls and a kitchen area. I queued up with a takeaway tray and got some rice, beans and some green veg and a drink and then headed back to the bus. I actually found it remarkable how quickly everybody filed back on to the bus, but on reflection, having experienced a driver trying to leave when you’re not even holding onto the bus yet, I think I get why everyone hurried…

Tasty beans, rice and vegetables

I swear time started to slow down and the last three hours definitely felt like five. The music and films were just screeching but I managed to zone out and just sit and think for at least some of the time.

When we finally arrived in Morogoro, we didn’t actually stop at the main bus stand itself. And my taxi driver was late, so I ended up stood on a dark, cold and windy night waiting for him, but I was glad when he turned up! He took me to the APOPO Rest House, next to the main office and a woman was there to show me to my room.

It’s a really nice spacious room, which is good because it’s home for the next two weeks. I passed out pretty early for a Saturday night and did not set an alarm.

My new home for the duration of the APOPO visit

I woke up early but the sunlight coming in my room was lovely. I had been woken up in the night by the sound of two large geckos running around on the wall – my new pets. Just got to think of some good names. There are some pretty beefy spiders in here too but they are leaving me alone and don’t make any noise so that’s fine!

I unpacked and settled in and then managed to scrub most of the dirt off and do my laundry in the shower. Then I headed into town to visit the Saba Saba Market which is on every Sunday. I actually got a lift from a man heading to pick up his daughter from the town so I didn’t even have to pay.

The market was really cool! It’s a proper local market so it sells all manner of household goods and clothes; it is not touristy in the slightest. I took a slow wander through the stalls and then grabbed lunch at stall off to the side, engaging in some relaxed people watching. I don’t think you’ve truly experienced Tanzania unless you’ve eaten a plate of chips and sauce with a toothpick. I really enjoyed it and I feel that I earned my food more than if I had used a fork!

Colourful stacks of plastic pots at the Saba Saba market in Morogoro

A plate of chips with toothpicks as cutlery

I negotiated with a seller to buy some patterned fabrics – I just love them. I don’t quite know what I’ll do with them, but I have three sheets. They are used for so many different things in Africa, from a wrap around skirt, to a baby carrier, to a carrier bag. Anyway, that’s a “problem” for another day. I also bought some vegetables so that I can cook dinner some evenings at the Rest House.

Fresh vegetables at the market

Colorful cloth folded into cones for display at the market

Then I headed to the Antique Legacy Hotel which has a rooftop bar with a gorgeous view of the mountains all around Morogoro. I spent a few hours typing up notes from the interviews from the first two weeks, reading the quantum mechanics book that my friend Anj lent me, and drinking fanta. The barman was friendly and wanted to make conversation but his English is very unclear so it was quite tiring to talk to him. I had an afternoon snack/appetizer of Thai beef salad with peanut dressing and then ordered a beef burger later on. Sunset was absolutely gorgeous. I was joined on the roof by other expats for a while, the guys from the US Peace Corps didn’t speak to me, but a nice guy from New Zealand came over to have a look at the book and then got chatting. He told me about the NGO he is working for in Morogoro that has developed a method to put the right amount of nutrients into locally milled flour to prevent malnutrition on a diet lacking in diversity.

I was waiting a long time for the burger and so I nipped downstairs to the bakery to buy breakfast for tomorrow and when I came back my dinner was ready. I took a boda boda back up to the Rest House on Sokoine University of Agriculture (sua) campus which only cost 2,000 Tsh and I managed to burn my leg on the hot exhaust but I have aloe vera to cool it so it’ll be fine.

I’ve got my first meeting with APOPO tomorrow and I absolutely can’t wait.

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