Day 4: The Market
The day started (after our usual morning walk and breakfast, of course) with a trip to the local market. The Market, a fair ways away (all the way back to the PAVED ROADS, in fact!) was apparently the PLACE TO BE on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the days it was open. It was a place where local people could sell their produce, maybe beans, salt, maze, sugar cane, or even livestock like chickens, goats, donkeys and cows. It was also the place to buy things they couldn’t make themselves, like medicine, or tshirts, or rope. The market, we found out very quickly, was also a very strange place for us to be as it was not a tourist destination in any way whatsoever. This was proved very quickly by the stares I got as we made our way through the market, as I was the only Asian-Caucasian person at the market, both of which were rather underrepresented outside our little group. And by underrepresented, I mean non-existent.
Needless to say we gathered a fair bit of attention as we made our way through the market as both the only non-local, non-Kenyan people there, but nevertheless it was quite fun going around the market. We played a game where we bought gifts for the other families, which led us to my favourite part of the visit, meeting the “medicine guy”, who tried to sell us a bottle which claimed to cure just about everything from malaria to headaches to diabetes. (The original expiry date said “April 2013” but was crossed out to say “April 2014“!)
When we got back and exchanged presents, I was given a book of local songs and poems as well as a book for learning Swahili. Funny that even if I’ve only known people for four days they still know to get me books. 🙂
No pictures were taken of the market as it wasn’t all people from communitites that Free the Children worked with. It was a place for the locals of all the nearby communities, some of which worked with Free the Children, some of which didn’t. We were asked not to take any pictures as if they wanted to start a relationship with these people it shouldn’t start with us seeming to alienate them.
As such, it was interesting to see the people of all these communities interact with each other and with us. Wilson and Jackson, who are both Maasai warriors, were treated with such respect any time I saw them talking to the locals and shopkeepers. We ourselves were also pretty well accepted after people got past our initial strangeness.
The market, with all of its shops, products, and people, was fascinating to me as it was the first place I really felt like I was seeing a community at work. No one, like in the other places we had visited, was there waiting to greet us, or tour us around. As much as I had loved visiting the Mamas and the kids at Enelerai Primary School, the Market had a different sort of appeal to it. Nothing happened differently because of my visit, it was all exactly the way it normally was. And as much as we loved meeting the Mamas and the primary school students, it was wonderful to see the communities at work.