On Saturday evening we visited the club as usual, this time to enjoy a curry dinner made by Rob.When I arrived, I spotted a rather pensive Amanda sitting with her feet in the water below the fountain
At the BBQ area adjacent to the club, Rob (far rear of photo) was busily preparing the dinner while Andre (Amanda's husband) checked out the ingredients!
During the course of the evening Amanda and Andre invited me, Grant and Marnitz to join them, Rob and Nsia on a trip to Shinyanga on Sunday. They didn't have to invite me twice, but Grant had to arrange a stand-in on site for the few hours he'd be out. Rob and Nsia wanted to show us a few interesting spots in town.
The Vegimark Hotel is an upmarket establishment on the outskirts of Shinyanga. The buildings are visible behind the water feature with its wildlife sculptor. As always in Africa, there's building-in-progress. Apparently the half-finished structure to the right, is a conference centre
The first place Rob took us to was the Vegimark Hotel. I'm not sure why it's called that; it's a very elegant hotel, the best in Shinyanga and definitely doesn't resemble a vegetable market at all! The manager welcomed us in the car park and asked us to accompany him to see the rooms. This is a natural thing in East Africa: when you visit a hotel, even if only for a meal or refreshments, you're expected to go with the manager and view the accommodation. Grant declined the invitation, but Marnitz said he'd join me in checking the hotel out.
Marnitz poses in a suite in the Verimark Hotel
We joined the others seated in a the newly built boma with modern furniture and beautifully carved railings surrounding the area
The gardens are beautifully landscaped and restful on the eye
However, with all this grandeur, the service was lethargic and, according to Rob, the food is not at all to be recommended.
Rob drove us back into town, down a back street to a hotel with absolutely no pretensions on the outside. The hotel, The Butiama, is owned by Menaas, Rob's good friend of many years. Rob assured us that although this hotel fell far short in grandeur by Verimark Hotel standards, we would love the atmosphere there.
The interior of Butiama Hotel in downtown Shinyanga
And we did: from the minute we entered the dark and rather bleak interior, we were warmly welcomed by a friendly waitress called Betty. Within minutes Menaas arrived and extended his welcome too. Menaas, was born in Kisumu (near the valley where we lived in Kenya) to second generation East African Indians. He grew up in Nakuru (very near to where we lived in Kenya!) and later worked in Mombassa. In 1998 he moved to Tanzania and eventually ended up in Shinyanga where he bought the hotel in which we were seated.
Rob, Andre, Nsia and Amanda chat while Grant and Marnitz set out the balls for a game of pool on the table just visible in the photo above
Rob had arranged with Menaas to serve us snacks while we socialized and the men played pool. In time Betty arrived a tray laden with traditional Indian snacks.The first selection was a delectable array of bagia (spicy light dough with vegetables kneaded into it, and then deep-fried), vegetable spring rolls, and a dozen or so samoosas filled with meat and/or vegetables.
No sooner had we cleared these plates when a platter of crumbed chicken arrived on a bed of salad. Two other plates were piled high with garlic chips/fries. Another plate of badjas (sliced potatoes rounds, deep fried) arrived to add to the banquet. All freshly cooked and delicious.
I only realized afterwards that I'd so enjoyed the snacks, that I completely forgot to take photos!
It was late afternoon by the time we took our leave promising to make this journey again in a few weeks' time.
I hope you all had a great weekend, and are looking forward to a wonderful week ahead.