Monday, February 9, 2009

The market and the Mzungu....

So today I went to the market for the first time this trip. Kerry a woman from America, who is a Pastor at the church I will be married at and is married to a Tanzanian man, took me to show me the ropes. First I will say that her friendship is a gift from God. Not only can I speak to her without talking slowly and with a kind of accent so she will understand but she is married to a local and has gone through the challenges of a cross cultural marriage. She is also pregnant and due on Sunday February 8th.

Anyway back to my market story. So we met outside the teachers college where she lives and began the walk into town to the market. I wanted to go with her because I knew that she was familiar with what things actually cost here. To let you all know nothing here is a fixed price. The sellers are able to raise the price or lower it as they please mostly according to the colour of your skin. So as we walked through the market we were met with jambo (hello), harabi? (how are you?) , and of course Mzungu Mzungu(white person white person) Because pointing out to me that I’m white like I don’t already know is going to help you to get my business. She took me to all her favourite stands where she knew the cost is fair and the product is good. I bought 18 small mangoes for 800 TSH which is 62 cents. I am going to make mango pie. I also bought 1 scribbler, 1 kilo of flour, 1 kilo of sugar and a small box of baking soda for the total cost of $2. Now as we walked back to our houses we passed a woman selling bananas (the really small ones that are packed full of flavour). So this is where the colour of your skin comes into play. Kerry asked the women how much the bananas were. Her answer was 600 TSH which sounds great to you all back home. By the time I left I walked away with the same bananas for 300 TSH. So you can pretty much guaranty that most people will double the price for me.

Then as I walked home in +34 carrying what to me felt like 20 pounds of mangoes I was sweating in places I never knew existed. Sorry for the graphic picture. I felt so stupid complaining to myself about the, heat the bags I was carrying etc as I’m passed, that’s right passed by women who are probably 10-20 years older than me plus carrying 50 lbs of bananas on their head.

Last night I made a date with Mama Stella to teach me how to make coconut rice Mmmmm. Apparently teaching someone here means do everything and call them over when you are ready to put the rice in the water. Not entirely helpful but I asked a lot of questions and now I think I am ready to try it on my own but not until I eat enough rice to feed an entire army. You see here one cup of rice should typically feed 4 people. Well Mama Stella made 4 cups of rice so enough to feed 16 people and when the rice was finished she handed me the pot and said here is your rice. Ummm Mama you know that I am by myself and it would take me 5 years to eat all this rice. It didn’t matter I went home with enough rice to feed a small village. I really love her. Rice anyone?

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