Today I am in Mbeya, it is a region in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, and it is super cold I am feeling the Nairobi cold, my feet are cold in my shoes and my clothes are starting to feel wet. It’s a shock from the heat and humidity of Dar.
The flight here was uber uncomfortable, even though Air Tanzania is only 2 years back in business but the plane we were on was clanging, it was old and shaky. My eyes were watering and one nostril was driving me mad. And for some reason, I kept falling asleep and waking up even more uncomfortable. By the time we landed my ears were literally hurting. I have no idea what caused that level of discomfort.
We finally arrive at Songwe International Airport and it was like a matchbox. The bathrooms are two small units and the luggage collection well, it is the lobby floor. It is so ridiculous, it looked like the building was complete but the basics of luggage conveyor belts were none existent. Its an airport functioning like an airstrip. I have no idea what the authorities were smoking when they signed off on this airport.
When we got in, I walked past some guards and realized I was exiting without any sign of the luggage collection place. I ask someone who looked like the airport staff and they pointed to the centre of the room, so all the passengers stood and huddled in the centre of the small room with a few chairs. Then we heard the sound of the luggage buggy pulling in and two porters started offloading and placing them in the centre of the room I was so irritated. Come on Tanzania, you can do better!
Then I arrive at our hotel, Usingilo City Hotel, a nice looking place from afar. The rooms, matchboxes in size, my bed, let’s just say they didn’t expect guest taller than 5’ 6”. And what seems to be a penchant for shitty cheap Chinese finishing. My phone keeps ringing and when I answer it, no one is on the other end of the line. And when I arrived in my room the porter was talking to me like I was completely clueless on how to use a room key or how to turn the knob on the tap to get hot water.
“Songeza hili kushoto – maji moto, ukisongeza kulia- baridi.” He walked me through it three times. How complex could turning a tap to get hot or cold water be? Maybe it was the watering eyes that made me look slow. I don’t know. After the special needs intro, I knocked on the door of my colleague’s room which was adjacent to mine and lo! and behold! When I was told to “come in” there was a woman in her bed and it wasn’t her. I quickly said “Wrong room”.
That woman hadn’t checked out as she should have in the morning. It was 3 pm in the afternoon all cosy in my colleague’s bed watching TV. What the hell? My colleague dropped her bags in my room because there were no other rooms for her to sleep in and we were off to lunch to a place not worth writing home about. And now here I am, one watery eye about to have a steamy hot shower typing away with a Japanese TV channel blasting from the TV. Welcome to Mbeya indeed.