What To Do?
So, what does one do for fun in Morogoro? Well, there’s not much on the cultural front – no movies, live music, theater, hot new restaurants or any of the other activities I frequent in the Bay Area. There are lots of pubs for drinking in the evening but they are generally full of young, Tanzanian men so not that inviting for a middle-aged mzungu (white) woman like me. There is nice hiking so that’s an option on a weekend. But, in order to really enjoy the good life, it’s important to go to some of the beautiful places around the country and there are many.
Off To The Beach
A few weeks ago, four of us volunteers headed to the beach just North of Dar es Salaam for the weekend.
On Saturday morning, we took a 20-minute boat ride to Mbudya Island, part of the marine reserve off of Dar. On the boat with us were 5 Chinese fellows who are here working on the railroad that goes from Tanzania to Zambia. I told them I hadn’t seen a train since I’d been here so I thought they had some work to do.
Once there, we staked out one of the thatched banda’s to keep the sun off.
Coral Reefs and Warm Water
I rented snorkel, mask, and fins and went snorkeling on the reef just off the island. The water is the perfect temperature for snorkeling, almost too warm, and the fish and the coral were beautiful and varied.
We ordered fried whole fish and chips for lunch and it was tasty. There are interesting looking boats that I assume are used for fishing and they reminded me a bit of some I’d seen decades ago in the harbor in Hong Kong. They come out soon after the sun rises in the morning at 6am and I saw them both at Mbudya and from our hotel on the mainland.
Diving for Shells
Walking on the beach looking for shells, I met a fellow named Samuel who had gone out in his kayak and found several sea animals including these sea snails. He was selling them for 2,000 shillings each (about $1.30) so I bought one thinking what a wonderful souvenir the shell would make. He cleared the snail out and gave me the shell but warned me, using hand gestures, to put it in a bag. I thought his warning was in order to protect the outside of the beautiful shell.
When I got back to our spot on the beach, I carefully wrapped the shell in my scarf and tucked it in my bag. By the time we got back to the mainland, after the two fellows operating the outboard motor scared us all to death by having it die offshore and taking forever to re-start it, my snail shell was stinking to high heaven.
Stinking Snail Slime!
Back at my hotel room, I saw that the snail slime had leaked onto my scarf and was almost impossible to remove. Now I understood that he had been telling me to put the shell in a bag not to protect the shell but to protect anything that it might leak onto. I then put it in a plastic bag and dutifully carried it all the way back to Sega on the hot, crowded, sweaty 4-hour bus ride the next day. Once here, it continued stinking so badly, even from outside the house, that I had to go and hide it under a tree 50 yards away from my window. That was a couple weeks ago and I hope it’s still there but, if not, it might be a blessing in disguise. I learned after telling a friend about my purchase that most of the coral reefs off Africa have been destroyed by explosives, used to mine their goodies. Now I feel bad for having contributed to any further denuding by buying that shell.
My Next Adventure
My next fun in the sun will be in two weeks when I go to Mafia Island with Polly, Sega’s founder, and her husband and young daughter. We will fly there from Dar in order to snorkel with the whale sharks and do some diving. Then Kelsey, my daughter, arrives on December 21 and she and I will have 6 days on Zanzibar including some diving followed by a safari to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater in the North of Tanzania. I can’t wait and neither can she. It’s snowing in Montreal!