Morogoro – A Town in the Middle of Nowhere

“Morogoro…While there’s no real reason to come here, it’s an agreeable place…”- The Lonely Planet Guidebook, East Africa.

I guess in a country as big as Tanzania everything is in the middle of nowhere. I drove here in the back of a pickup truck, without a seat or a seatbelt, but when the policewoman stopped us, the only thing she asked for was a first aid kit. That was the thing she could fine us for not having, and then stuff the money in her pocket. I bet that was the first time people were happy to have a scruffy backpacker girl hang around with them. My backpack has everything.

Morogoro has so many ex-pats – I’m starting to go blind with all the whiteness around me. It has a strange, somewhat colonial feel to it and everyone seems to know everything about everyone. But still, it’s interesting to get another side of the real story – see the locals through the eyes of other mzungus.  And having a wonderful home to stay in and free wi-fi is quite interesting as well.

The Uluguru mountains are in the backyard and they are stunning. It’s not a national park, just snaking paths and miniature homes dotting a lush, green chunk of ground. Women walk down the dirt roads in the morning with large buckets of bananas on their heads to sell them in the market. Everyone is friendly and says “Jambo” or “Habari” with a generous smile.

People live in mud huts and they make little earth cakes that pregnant women eat. Your walking past provides lots of entertainment, especially if you let them look at the pictures you’ve taken.

Morogoro town is the capital of Morogoro region. The entire region comes to the market here in Morogoro to sell – tiny fish, baked dirt, fruits of the baobab tree, old clothes and anything else they can. Little kids walk with plastic bags and pounce when you’re ready to buy; they offer to carry your things for you while you shop. They don’t seem to understand the concept of a mzungu who doesn’t shop.

A scruffy and uneventful town is quite a pleasure every once in a while, as are the luxuries of a Westernized society. It feels kind of silly to travel all the way here and most appreciate and enjoy a good shower, internet access and pasta with pesto, but maybe that’s normal after a month of being smelly.

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