Tuesday ended up being a very “African” day. We started the day by catching public transportation into town. By public transportation, I mean a minibus packed with people that slows down to pick us up by the side of the road. We crammed into the bus, with Meghan in the front, squished between five people on a seat meant for three. We sped along through town and arrived at the market. We wandered through the narrow labyrinthine halls, past stalls selling hardware, knock off designer sunglasses, bootleg dvds and colorful cloth. We got called “sister,” “lady” “mama” “girl” etc. as vendors vied for our attention. It got worse as we got into the food section, where we attracted more attention – vendors called out each of their vegetables or fruits – “sister, sister, potatoes…avocado!”
We then moved on to the curio market a few streets over. This market is geared towards tourists and sells everything from carved elephants to batiks and paintings to jewelry. When the three of us walked up, you could hear the “ca-ching” echoing in the heads of the vendors. We were immediately besieged – “sister, come here…look at this… good price…good price” My personal favorite is that as you walk through and try and take in each stall, the vendor will say “looking is for free!” in a very excited way, as if today, there is a special and they won’t charge me a fee to look at their artwork.
The market is tricky because you really have to bargain. It is challenging if you don’t know a fair price but Meghan and Kate did a great job as they waded through some of the more tacky trinkets and found some really beautiful artwork and jewelry. While they negotiated well and got fair prices, by lunch time, we were all exhausted.
We then went to lunch at Martin’s – the best local food in the city. The girls shared chicken curry with nsima. It was clear from their faces that nsima was not their favorite. They were polite, but I don’t think they will be craving it once they get back home.
Later in the afternoon, we went to the community center where I’ve been volunteering. One of the children, Doubt, was fascinated by Meghan’s camera and started taking pictures. He had a natural gift for capturing the moment and making the subjects of the photos feel comfortable. After a few minutes, mothers were calling him over to take mini portraits of their families. Meghan and Kate were incredibly impressive, jumping right in to help and working with children who needed special attention.
We had Jungle Pepper pizza that night. To continue the “Africa Day” theme, we insisted that they try the mango curry chicken pizza. They tried it… and then Sandy and I finished it!