This is the first post in a series I am going to call RTW Travel Revelations. It is about the little things I realized about me and the world while traveling. These posts are no thousands of words long guides but rather short tidbits and thoughts. The first one is all about mangos in Africa. Enjoy!
Call me stupid, but I never associated Africa with mangos. Maybe because of all the stories my mom told me about her mango tree at her childhood home in Venezuela. Or the delicious mangos I would eat during my visit to Thailand. In my mind mangos always belonged in South America and Asia.
The first time I noticed mango trees on the African continent was probably in Zambia. There were mango trees on every corner. The mangos that hung on the trees were much smaller than the mangos sold in Germany, even smaller than an apple, and all green. I guess that’s why it took me a while to realize they were mangos at all. They looked green and unripe to me, so I didn’t really think about buying them, even though they were offered on street stalls or by ladies outside my multiple bus windows while traveling through Zambia.
I was in the middle of Malawi before I bought my first mangos on the African continent. The ride taking me up to Lukwe Ecocamp near Livingstonia would take another hour or two until it had enough passengers to depart, so I had time to kill.
There was a lady selling mangos at the street corner. Her mangos were much bigger than the other ones I had seen elsewhere, but they were just as green. I thought even if they really were sour and still unripe I might as well buy a mango and try it. I asked her how much for one. She said 300 kwacha, around 40 cents, and I thought okay, it’s not cheap but not expensive either. Until she took out a bag and put six mangos in the bag. Now I understood. One bag of mangos was 300 kwacha. That’s not even 7 cents per mango!
After arriving at the Lukwe Ecocamp, I borrowed a knife and plate to cut up my mango. Inside the Mango was bright orange, and it did look delicious. Surprisingly it also tasted delicious. It wasn’t all sweet, but it had a pleasantly strong sweet and sour taste. After the first bite, I vowed to buy more mango in the following weeks.
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Yes, 7 cents a mango is incredibly cheap, but actually not the lowest price for a mango I found in Africa.
By the way, the most expensive mangos cost about 50 cents per mango, and they weren’t even that good. I bought them at a street stall in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and I am sure I got the tourist price. A local wouldn’t pay 1000 shilling for a mango.
Coming back to the cheapest mango. I crossed Tanzania from east to west by train. The Tazara Railway connects Zambia with Tanzania through a 3-day train journey. I took the train from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam. On the way, there are many times the train stops at small stations and the business-oriented villagers will carry their wares to the train to sell to the passengers. Most sell fruit like banana, pineapple, and mango. I was going to get some mango!
So I got 500 shilling (about 25 cents) out and made my way to the door. One of the kitchen staff was standing there, and I asked him if anyone had walked by selling mango. He said yes and that he will get some good ones for me. I handed him the money, and he jumped from the train and vanished in the hustle of sellers and buyers below. He reemerged 2 minutes later with 5! mangos. I was so happy. The accommodating train kitchen staff were so kind as to cut the mangos for me, and I enjoyed every bite of these 5 cents a piece mangos. Yum!
If you enjoyed this little story, please let me know. By the way, what is your favorite fruit? Leave a comment below.
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None of the experiences in this post are in any way sponsored and have all been paid for by myself. The opinions stated are all my own and have not been influenced in any way.
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Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.