Finally, after seven consecutive days on the bike, we’ve had a rest day again. This time, we stopped in Mbeya, the largest city in southern Tanzania.
Though spoilt by scenic green hilly surroundings that—while cycling through—at times looked like just back home in the Swiss or Austrian alps, the city of Mbeya itself is somewhat less exciting. It’s more of economic importance, located at the main transportation links into Zambia as well as in Tanzania’s agricultural heaven—the Mbeya region being Tanzania’s main producers of corn, rice, bananas and the like.
This was good news for us because no one felt pressured to cram their day up with sightseeing activities. So, other than fixing our bikes in the morning, we’ve enjoyed a full day to rest and recover.
Luckily, I’d already swapped my tires from knobbies to road tires (yay, supposedly great roads all the way until Namibia!) last afternoon. However, I needed to change my chain and gear cables. That sounds worse than it was—our mechanic Leo did all the work while I enjoyed my morning 🙂
Then I beat the crowd to enjoy some quiet time with good WiFi in Mbeya’s best and only Western style coffee shop—Ridge Cafe.
Owned by a charming young South African woman married to a senior executive in the coffee industry, the coffee shop gave us a welcome break from Africa. Great coffee, nice pastries, and—best of all—absolutely irresistible avocado/pineapple smoothies.
My day finished with lovely India dinner back at Mbeya Hotel—Indian dinner with an East African twist that is, swapping rice for Ugali. Ugali is the main starchy staple in East Africa, a mash made of corn (something in between polenta and mashed potatoes, I guess). It was a nice alternative to try once, but—I think—rice still is a better match with Indian curry.