This afternoon I took Julia, Lindsey and Lydia to the clothes market. Occasionally a visit to the market will uncover a great find, like a name brand, almost new skirt. We’ve definitely found an item here or there that we’ve put to great use. The skirt I wore today was one I found the last time I went to the market.
That being said, the market wears me out. Today, for instance, we drove onto the “road” where we usually park. It was really a mud swamp. I found a place that was sort of okay, so that we wouldn’t be stepping out of the vehicle in a mud pond. Puddle just doesn’t do the situation justice.
We went into the market area, which is a concrete floor, covered with a tin roof and is open on the sides. Friday is a very busy market day and there were people everywhere. There are rows and rows of pallets, upon which are huge piles of clothes. These clothes have had a long journey to get here. Most of them are second-hand store rejects, so you can imagine that they’ve definitely seen better days. And the smell – did I mention that? The clothes stink. They’ve been packed tightly in bales for who knows how long. In addition to the clothes, as we squeeze our way through the throng of people, stench of body odor greets us on every side.
We scrounged through pile after pile, and a couple of us found a clothing item or two. I found three shirts, for which I paid 2000 shillings each. This turns out to be $1.47 per shirt. That’s a fair price. After a while we made our way down to another section, where clothes are actually hung on hangers in more permanent stalls. One has to laugh at the way they hang clothes. The hangers are made out of sections of bent wire, and they bend it in such a way so that when the garment is hung, there are huge hips stretching out the garment about as tight as it will stretch. Apparently that is supposed to be attractive when worn. Besides the fact that when women sport their clothing in this manner it is immodest, it is NOT flattering in the least. I really wish I had a picture to show you how ridiculous the hanging clothes look.
The prices for clothes in this section are more expensive, and we expect to pay a bit more. However, almost without fail, the merchants in this area do their best to take every advantage of us. For example, today I found a long shirt – faded as it was, and when we inquired about the price, they quoted over 20,000 shillings! That would have been $14.70 for a stinky, faded shirt. No thanks. After looking around for just a little while longer, we decided we had enough market for one day. Back to the car we went and by the time we got there, Lydia’s flip flops were covered in mud and who knows what else. I had to go further down the road, through a deep puddle that covered the entire road, in order to turn around. I was just hoping that we would not get stuck. I managed to turn around, forged through the water again, and we made it without incident. This was our afternoon on the town. Home again, home again…