Hello everybody! Time for a quick text update. I had the pleasure of visiting Mwenge (pronounced Mwen-gay), which is the large market here in Dar. It’s about a 10 to 15 minute bus ride from campus. We headed over there after breakfast today, which was a great way to beat the mass amount of crowds that show up there in the afternoon.
The whole experience was pretty exciting, and everything you would expect an African market to be. Even early in the day, it was pretty busy. The stands are all pretty close together, so it can get pretty cramped in there. We only stopped at a few stands, each of which had large piles of secondhand clothes. It was very similar to shopping at Goodwill actually. The clothes were mostly American brands and at very cheap prices. As you meander through the stands, people shout prices at you, and grab at you, and yell in your face to buy things. It’s all a bit overwhelming, but it’s quite fun. It’s important to pay attention to the prices, because there is always a chance that they will jack up the prices as soon as they see white people approach. It’s a good idea to ask Tanzanians shopping at the tables what things cost, because they know what the prices really are. It’s also important to keep your cool at all times. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed when people are yelling at you to buy things you don’t want, and the sellers can be really aggressive. They have been known to follow people around even after they’ve left, and they can be pretty persistant. You have to be upfront with them, and just say “Hapana.” which means no. I said it plenty of times today, actually. The whole experience can be either terrible or awesome, depending on how you manage to handle it all. Thankfully, I’m pretty good at staying calm and just saying no, and I enjoyed the trip. I’ll be going again (perhaps to the more tourist-y section, with more authentic African goods next time).
Also, I managed to walk away with two skirts and a nice blouse (which was actually an H&M product) for 8,000 shillings, which is approximately 5-6 dollars. All in all, a pretty good first time. :)