At about 5 a.m. on Saturday our we arrived in Nairobi. After getting three hours of sleep that morning we proceeded to tromp around the city doing these things and a couple other little errands:
Through the smoke behind the reception stand, various meats are roasting on sword-like skewers. As we are led to the main dining area – an open-air ring of tables around a small yard—carvers pass by, slicing fresh pieces of meat onto customer’s plates. Almost immediately after we sit down, a team of waiters is with us, explaining the concept: a set lunch meal, starting with soup and salad, followed by all the meat you can eat, and finished with dessert. When you can’t eat any more, you put down your table flag in surrender. The soup is a thickened chicken broth with herbs and spices; It’s delicious, but we’re all waiting on what we really came for. Through the course of our feast I eat chicken, pork sausage, pork ribs, lamb, ostrich steak, ostrich meatballs, and crocodile. To all my friends and family who rag on me about being a picky eater, yes, I did say crocodile. With various sauces! We finally surrender and almost fall into a deep food coma. This, Alex points out, is more meat than he and I normally eat in a month. Predictably, we are both feeling queezy for the rest of the afternoon. Alex did, after all, try chicken liver and ox balls on top of everything else. I just couldn’t bring myself to try these, and it sounds like I wasn’t missing out on much. Crocodile is enough branching out for me!
Kazuri Beads Women’s Cooperative
Kazuri beads is right up my alley when it comes to places to shop. Not only is their store full of bright, funky ceramic jewelry, it’s all made by women! I’m all about supporting women. There are oodles of statistics that show the benefits of educating girls and giving women a way to make an income, most notably the World Bank stat that says women will invest 90% of their income back into their community, whereas men will invest 30-40%. It is Saturday afternoon when we visit Kazuri and the women have gone home from work. Thus, we are unable to do the tour of grounds, but I remember it from my visit in 2010. The women start with wet clay and mold it into various shapes of beads and pieces of pottery. After being dried, fired, painted, and re-fired (if my memory serves me right) they can finally be sold. The women who work at Kazuri are locals and many of them are single mothers. Last time I visited, Kazuri employed 340 women! This is something to feel good about: you get beautiful, handmade wares and simultaneously help women’s livelihood. This is a small step toward global gender equality. Success!
Saturday night Alex and I both got about 5 hours of sleep (we were wide awake at 3:30a.m.) and Sunday we headed to the Olooloitikoshi Girl’s Rescue Center (more later on this place, which I visited in 2010 and haven’t gotten off my mind since!), where we will be spending two weeks later in our trip, and then did some haggling at the Maasai Market.
Maasai Market at the Yaya Center:
“Hello Seesta. Seesta, let me just show you.”
I hear this phrase over and over as I walk through the market. Salesmen and women touch me gently on the arm to guide me to their stands. Sometimes I go to look at their wares, other times I keep walking or say I am only looking today. It’s my second time in the Maasai Market, and it’s much less overwhelming this time. Confidence is key! If you want to buy, you stop. If you don’t, keep walking. I challenge myself not to let the salespeople convince me to stop if their wares aren’t appealing to me. I succeed for the most part. This is step one. Once I’ve decided to stop, the next challenge arises: bargaining. On my visit to the market in 2010, I had a travel companion by my side at all times to help me bargain. Today though, I feel like I can do it. I am looking for a scarf for a friend, a specific one that she saw at a fundraiser and loved. I find it, and the man selling it states his price at 45,000 Kenyan Shillings. This is about $45! Does he think I am that naïve? Overwhelmed by four men trying to sell me the scarf at various prices, I walk away to find one of my travel mates who has been to Kenya 15 times. She gives me a reasonable price- much lower than that requested- but the man, who calls himself the big boss, is nowhere near satisfied. I say thank you and walk away. Moments later, the big boss finds me in the market and brings up new prices to me. Somewhere near 25,000Ksh. No way. I walk away and make a couple purchases, bargaining successfully on these. He finds me yet again and asks me for 800Ksh. I say 500Ksh. He says 700. I say 600. He says no. I say 600 or nothing and walk away. The big boss returns seconds later with my scarf and my change. This is the Maasai Market. And I’m proud of myself.