Mbeya – the green city

They call it ‘the green city’ though in a dry season like now it is rather dusty. That really didn’t matter though. The doctor from the endoscopy in Ndanda gave me the contact of a friend of his who was supposed to pick me up and help me. I arrived after almost 20 hours on the bus (it’s supposed to be 16 hours but I am simply lucky that way) at 1:30 am in the night. In the end it was actually his cousin who picked me up. He is actually the reason I will definitely remember this city.

Around here it is always a hustle and bustle. Getting on a bus is the first challenge since there are people everywhere trying to get you to enter the bus they work for. Then you have the people who sell snacks up to everything like watches, powerbanks etc. They open the windows and let their goods dangle in front of your face. I don’t think any of us are introverts or extroverts entirely but I once heard the description that introverts are the ones who charge up when they are alone while extroverts do that in a group. From that point of view I am definitely an introvert. An extroverted introvert though still an introvert. So travelling Tanzania by bus proves to be a challenge for me.

What makes it so worth it are the people you meet. Edo, the cousin, went with me for a day trip to lake ngozi, the second largest crater lake just outside of Mbeya. It was a real small adventure. We took a bus to the middle of nowhere – no one except us got of there – and found a decade old sign directing us to the crater. We met a motorcycle driver after a few kilomètres who took us to the brim of the mountain. The environment changed dramatically rain forest-like and we started to hike, passing giant wild banana plants. The path was tiny and I am so grateful for my hiking shoes. By the time we reached the brim of the crater we were sweated through. Edo had been the first on the path and he wasn’t slow. Turns out he used to play soccer for his university and had to run up several mountains when his coach hadn’t been satisfied with the team back in the day. I found myself very grateful for the time I spend in China. Not because I still had the condition from three years ago doing mountain runs every week but because of the mindset that had taken root in my mind back then: ‘If you are still standing, you are still able to continue’. Climbing down on the other side to reach the water felt straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. Edo had the mindset that is quite common around here: ‘We are almost there’. People here will even tell you that when they know you still have 10 kilomètres to go because they think if they’d tell you how far it really is your courage might leave you. Better you think your destination is behind the next corner. Or the next. I was laughing and told him we have another saying in Germany: ‘Don’t praise the day before the evening’. Since I was well aware that we had to climb back up the ‘path’ we were now tracking down I considered that more fitting. We held on to roots, branches and stones and climbed. The sun had already begun to set so we had to turn back before we reached the water completely. We should later learn that we had actually taken the route for rangers and not for visitors. The way we’d taken didn’t bear any footprints and had probably not been used in quite a while… It was amazing really. When we reached the foot of the crater again, we were full of earth, sand and sweat though laughing and congratulating each other. We had both underestimated the other one.

This is how friendship is formed. We talked and played cards into the night that evening after we showered. Incidentally yesterday, one day after the trip, turned out to be his birthday. I ended up being the first person congratulating him at midnight. It’s extraordinary how fast you can get to know someone and how overcoming challenges together builds trust. We celebrated his birthday during the day with his friends and neighbours.

Today I am on the road again. Next stop: Iringa.

Getting to know people deeply is what drives me, what gives me hope and confidence. I hope you have an amazing day!

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