Road Trip: Day 4

Day 4

Songea to Iringa

Hours in car – 8; Klms travelled – 530

We’re not at the furthest point of our road trip – of our safari as my maternal grandmother would have described a similar journey even in the absence of campfires and wildlife, but we are at its highest reaches; the skies here are huge and vast and spillingly blue and the air is cold, cold. Socks at night, thick duvets, two jerseys at sunup, roaring fires , cold.

Songea was our furthest point. It isn’t a pretty place – despite the seductive drive to get there – perhaps because it takes its name from an African chief decapitated by the Germans; such horrors are not conducive to pretty names or places. I was pleased to leave. Buoyed by a beautiful morning and the prospect of new views.


A poor little pig on its way to market; an entrepreneurial sweet potato seller whose eye catching bait worked for me; we must buy our potatoes from her I insisted. And so we did: a hefty dozen kilos for barely a pound. There is a dearth of fresh produce in the Outpost, such is the climate and the isolation, and so I have garnered veritable sackloads en route: regular potatoes joined the sweet variety to be followed by sugary green peas, brittle to touch and taste and then inky skinned passion fruit with tart orange interiors. I shall make jam I tell Husband earnestly when he enquires what I plan to do with an entire basketful.


Roiling hills – one lonely brow punctuated by the singular elegance of a Italian-mission built church, it’s interior cool-box cold and quiet – give way to undulations swathed in the limegreen of impossibly closely cropped tea, like a small boy’s head crewcut to a Number 1.


We eat lunch in the gloom of a forest; I gather wild flowers. We drink afternoon tea by a lake kissed by the pink puckers of a fading day. This is the big end of Tanzania: the big, broad, high-heel of the country before it succumbs to borders with Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. There is something unspoiled here, something that smacks of a gentler history, a quieter, sturdier, more substantial pace. I could live here.

But I don’t. So tomorrow we begin the shortcut home: a dusty 260 klm north to shave the edges off a longer, but doubtless smoother, 600 klms. And then the final furlong: another shortcut along the railway line and home to our Outpost.

But before then there will be more views to drink in. With tea too.


7 Responses to “Road Trip: Day 4”

  1. MsCaroline Says:

    Just catching up on your last 3 installments and enjoying them so very much. Your writing is so descriptive, I really feel like I’m seeing/smelling/hearing with you. It has been a welcome break today from the headaches and heartbreaks of emptying the house and dealing with all the last-minute emergencies that accompany an overseas move. After a sweaty, tearful day at my emptying house, it has been a treat to huddle in the dark hotel room after everyone’s asleep and read about your journey…

  2. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    I love hearing about your road trip. It all sounds so beautiful – and looks it too. Love the feeling of cold mornings and then a sunny, dry heat day. That’s the best.

  3. DeeZee Says:

    Thanks, you rekindle memories. During the fifties we lived in Mbeya for awhile and I attended boarding schools at Mbeya, Kongwa and Iringa.

    If I ever visit Africa again, I’ll visit Mbeya.

  4. Daryl LLoyd Says:

    After reading your blog for a long while and trying to figure out exactly where the Outpost is, I thought it was about time that I posted and said hello. This seems like an apt blog post to start on: a day’s trip from Songea to Iringa right past my childhood home of Mufindi. And some photographs of the plant I saw so much whilst a wee nipper: tea bushes!

    Thank you so much for your descriptions of modern life out and about in Tanzania – it seems like a massive world away from when I was brought up there in the 1980s…and a gulf from life here in Kent today.

    I’ve not been back there since 1991 but swear I will return one day – hopefully to show my wife and and son the house I lived in and give them an idea of the life I had.

  5. kathleen7 Says:

    so enjoying your trip along with you I have been looking up your trip on maps.

  6. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    oh thank you MsCaroline; I am glad. I love that my funny little road trip offered some escape. I wish you well in your move and look forward to reading about your new journey.

    I know nappy, aren’t those just the best: crack dry days and duvet cold nights?

    DeeZee – how amazing that you should have lived there. Kongwa … my mother was a child in Kongwa during the ill fated Groundnuts …

    Daryl thank you so much for popping up to say hello. That part of TZ, around Mufindi, is glorious, still a lovely old world feel to it – my favourtie part of the country.


  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    oh kathleen that’s lovely – i am so glad you came along. thanks for joining me!

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