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Pole to Pole

Day 101: Lake Manyara to Dodoma

Dodoma, Tanzania 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe villages are plain and poor, growing staple foods like banana and papaya and tomato. At the junction town of Babati we buy samosa and bread for lunch. Even the children here seem to view us with caution, a sort of guarded suspicion which we have not met anywhere else but Sudan, where xenophobia seemed like government policy. What have the children been taught here? I know that Julius Nyerere preached self-sufficiency and non-alignment which may have delivered national pride but not much in the way of economic self-confidence.

For five or six hours we progress along a winding ridge, densely wooded with acacia resplendent in colours of deep green, pale brown and golden yellow, a splash of Vermont in the fall. Then we're running down onto the plain and the baobab trees are the star turn. Some of them are believed to be 2000 years old, massively built, twenty or thirty feet around the trunk, with flanks the colour and texture of gunmetal. Birds love them and owls, hornbills, bats and buffalo weavers nest amongst them.

Over ten hours after leaving Lake Manyara we finally reach the outskirts of Dodoma, a city of only 45,000 people, not even among the ten largest cities of Tanzania, but plumb in the middle of the country. It is announced by a faded sign beside a broken road, 'Welcome to Dodoma, Capital City'.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 101
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Dodoma
  • Book page no: 226

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