Welcome to Mbeya region, the land of 8 types of bananas, mango trees, avocado farms and tea plantations.
"Uganile sista", a couple of women greeted me while walking through Mibula, one of the small villages in the region of Mbeya. The 'receiving title' of dada (sister) is a real honour to me here; it shows friendship and respect.
I had the pleasure of staying a few nights at a homestay with the local people and had my 'lunch mama' cook me a delicious meal, which captured my heart with its simplicity and taste. Let me tell you about Ugali, Maandazi and Chapati. Its 5am in the morning and Mama's rooster wakes the whole house up, except for Mama, who is already in her kitchen, starting up the fire to boil water for our tea. Before breakfast, its shower time. Warm water in some areas of Tanzania is a luxury, many people don't even have running water. I find a bucket of cold water is waiting for me in the outside toilet.
Walking through the village each morning with my camera on my shoulder, I get asked to take photos of locals, buy mangos or local treats from them - in particular, Maandazi, a sweet deep fried dough. The village is up early with the sunrise, people walk or bicycle to their work on avocado farms or to set up to harvest tea. Homes are also full of life in the morning, young kids sweeping the ground, washing their younger siblings and getting ready for school.
Sundays are different. You think that the village might sleep in, but they are actually preparing for church. Women put on their nicest dresses and high heels, while men wear shirts, ties and polished shoes. As we walked towards the church, we could hear singing and chanting. The door to church is open to everyone. Once we entered, I was amazed with all the colourful clothes, people sitting, standing, clapping and dancing. After church, people meet outside for food auctioning. They auction anything from bananas to live stock and all the money goes to the church. For the next to hours the kids dance their dance, the adults sing and clap.