At the end of the last Africa Overland installment, we were just departing Bihamuralo, Tanzania, where we spent our first night on the road. K had examined the map and suggested that for this second day of travel we take the geographically shorter but possibly more time-consuming route on a secondary road.
A note on the roads – the maps distinguished between “primary paved routes,” “secondary paved routes,” “secondary unpaved routes” and “tertiary routes.” Initially we planned to stick to the “primary paved routes” but to do so for this section would send us quite a bit east – to Dodoma – and would add several hundred miles to the trip. With gas at $6 USD minimum, we welcomed any shortcuts. Further bolstering our decision, a friend of the car’s owner had warned us that the primary route through Dodoma was extremely rough – pavement in that section being more of a concept than a reality.
So it was that we took what was listed as a “secondary paved route” from Biharumulo to Izinga. As we wound our way from Biharumulo onto our preferred route, the GPS was turned on. It kept saying “turning onto, ‘Not. Recommended.’” “Traveling south on, ‘Not. Recommended.’” But we did it anyway. And that “secondary” pavement? Completely unpaved. Rutted, potholed, washed out red, red dirt – all 300 miles of it. The high clearance feature of our vehicle got a workout that day for sure.
We passed through village after village. Every time we passed through a village, the uniformed schoolchildren would run alongside and wave excitedly. I got the impression that cars did not pass through that route very often.
Impressions from that day – women walking along the road carrying 5-gallon water jugs on their heads. Dense tree cover between the villages. A little girl, standing outside school in the late afternoon, talking and gesturing with her friends, her books casually tossed atop her head for safekeeping. Outside nearly every village, large hollowed out logs suspended high in the trees – we finally figured out that they were beehives.
We saw a lot of this:
And a lot of this:
And some of this:
More road work:
We made it to Izinga an hour or so before nightfall. The 300-mile trip took about 11 hours. By this time we had a good idea how to find lodging and immediately went to the town’s single guesthouse. It was a bit more nicely appointed than the one in Biharamulo – the rooms were bigger and they had hot running water in the “choo.”
This was my room. As the picture indicates, it was very clean and nice.
When we arrived they also had electricity, but it went out while we were there.
The best way I can describe the evening in Izinga is to say it was magical. Once we had found lodging we set out in search of dinner. The village consisted mostly of one strip of small wood and concrete buildings along the main road. From the road I spied a rack of eggs, so we went to investigate. It turned out to be an outdoor cooking arrangement where they served fried eggs and potatoes.
We ordered two servings, paid less than $1 USD apiece and, 15 minutes later, sat down to the tastiest meal of the whole trip. The owner of the egg stand graciously invited us into what I think might have been their living quarters to eat.
Afterwards we walked around the village a bit, just to look around. There was a small amount of artificial light, but mostly it was dark and mostly quiet except for the low murmur of people going about their evening affairs. Interestingly, while we found only the one place serving food, there were at least two bars in the town.
Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we spend the night on a working coffee plantation.