03 July 2005

Market day

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Ok deep breath. I can handle this. I'm going in!

It's Sunday, the day we do our food shopping and I'm just stepping into the crowded market. All around me people are sitting cross-legged on tarps or bulap sacs with their produce spread out in front of them. People are also weaving through the narrow paths between all the produce. They are also approaching me...okay they are pretty much swarming me.

Madam! Rafiki! Sister! My friendy! Miss! Hey! Give me money! Buy this apple!

Oh my god, I'm completely surrounded. I shake my head and politely decline in Kiswahili. It's not working. I look them in the eyes and say no. Still, the merchants (mostly teenage boys) persist. Finally I just shove them out of my way, only to be trailed by at least half a dozen people. I've lost Jon. He's up in the distance bartering for sweet potatoes. Mamas beckon for me to buy their avocados and grapes. I decide only to buy from the vendors who are minding their own buisness. The prices are reasonable, very cheap by Canadian standards and I am hungry. I fill two plastic bags with tomatoes, baby bananas, passion fruit, potatoes, coconut, mango and beans. I am very hungry and very irritable.

Still the relentless vendors yell out to us and shove vegetables at me, trying to put them in my bag without me noticing. Ahhhhhh!

"Mzungu, give me money!"

That's it! I am out of here! I don't care if I didn't get the damn avocado; I am feeling clautrophobic and at the end of my patience. We escape the market and make it home. I'm exhausted. I fry up some eggs and fresh bread and fall onto the couch. Ah, solitude.

Not so fast. Eva, (Mama Joyces daughter who was supposed to take us to church this morning but never showed) appears at our door and wants me to paint her nails and then make ugali. I explain that we waited for her for 2 hours this morning and now we have to go out. She looks at me. My kiswahili sucks. I paint her nails anyway.

There is not much personal space here.

Yesterday I went for my beloved Saturday afternoon walk and returned to the church of last week's choir. This week there was a graduation ceremony of some sort going on and I went to turn away. Before I took two steps I was pulled inside by a wee man named Ben who wants to be a doctor in Canada and a group of about 10 kids. They sat me down on a bench and sat all around me and even on me. I had 3 little girls trying to sit on my lap. It was very cute. The choir sang and danced in their handmade khaki uniforms. I was offered a large meal but politely declined. Ben insisted and said, "Our culture is very different than yours. You don't have to be a member here to eat with us today. If you are here, you are welcome." It was very nice but I was feeling a little out of place.

On the way back I ran into the mom and baby from last week's pics. I sat with them and gave them my water. I really prefer these quiet moments of simple connection to the insanity and mayhem of the city. Yesterday the two biggest Soccer teams in the country played eachother and the streets were full of celebrating fans. The team called Simba (Lion) was the victor

Here are some pics from my walk yesterday:

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wall repair

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school yard

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mysterious island

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steep path to the lake

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I like this gate

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bugando hill road

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three watoto

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in my swahili lessons

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Street party to celebrate Simba's victory.

Til the next time :)

1 comment:

alex said...

such amazing photos and stories dallas..

i am forever impressed by your adventures.