Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mbamba Bay, Tanzania

Mbamba Bay is a sleepy little town on the shores of Lake Nyasa, in southwestern Tanzania. Lying at the foot of the Matengo Highlands, Mbamba Bay has a bus station, a police station, a number of shops and stores, residential houses, a few offices, a little post office, several guest houses, bars and restaurants.

When I think about Mbamba Bay, interesting memories come to mind. In the days of my childhood, we used to hear much about Mbamba Bay. It was the place people went to board the MV Ilala, on their way to Nyasaland, now Malawi. Mbamba Bay was also where TeeTeeCo buses went, and from where they toiled up the Matengo Highlands, through Mbinga, to Songea and beyond. TeeTeeCo was the acronym for Tanganyika Transport Company. There was also another bus company, Mwananchi, which served the Mbamba Bay route.

I first visited Mbamba Bay about 1970. My class from Likonde Seminary passed through the town on our way to Mango, another lake-side town a little north of Mbamba Bay. I revisited Mbamba Bay in July 2008.

I boarded the bus at Mbinga, and soon we were going up the Matengo Highlands. Having reached the top of these cool, wind-swept Highlands, we started the descent to the land of the Nyasa. The vegetation changed from ubiquitous coffee trees, pines and eucalyptus trees to miombo, bamboo, and mango trees. As we hit the lowlands, I began to look for the Lake. The road meandered slowly, crossing valleys and even a river or two, and little villages. Then we entered Mbamba Bay. It was unbelievable, visiting a town I had last seen almost forty years earlier.

As the bus cruised into town, I noticed that Mbamba Bay is still a small town. I checked into the Nyasa View Lodge, an establishment perched on rocks on the outskirts of town, overlooking the Lake. Lake Nyasa is a marvel to behold. Its pristine beach offers endless stretches of pure, ankle- deep sand, beside the clear water through which you can see the colourful fish swimming. During the day, with the sun shining bright, Lake Nyasa sparkles on the shore, and in the distance, all you see is a vast expanse of water, all blue. At night, all you hear is the roar of the waves--sometimes muted, sometimes loud--as they rush and crash on the rich sandy beach or on nearby rocks.

A stroll on this beach is a magical experience. The morning air is fresh and cool. You can walk on this beach watching the waves as they come rushing to your feet, or you can admire the fish darting about in the clear water, with their shadows racing on the bottom of the lake. Canoes parked on the beach, nets spread out on the sand, fish drying on stalls, women washing clothes and utensils, and children swimming and splashing in the water--all these add to the charm of Mbamba Bay.

There are a number of places in Mbamba Bay for a snack or a drink. On this blog you can see-- in addition to the Nyasa View Lodge--the Bush House, with me standing beside it, and the Four Ways Pub, which you can see painted all over in pink and blue.

You can leave behind the hustle and bustle of cities and be in Mbamba Bay, where the day is slow and the streets are there for you to roam at will, and just a stone's throw away lies the beckoning Lake Nyasa. Mbamba Bay may be a little sleepy town, but being there, you feel it has a heart that is big and warm.

1 comment:

Ciclidul said...

Very beautiful places...
Water, nature and silence. It seems to be perfect.