Bra Alley is the colloquial name used by expats to describe the alleyway leading to and from the market. On Sunday’s this whole area becomes the fruit and veg market but on Saturdays the area is transformed into the clothes market and the alleyway festooned with bras for sale – hence the name.
Two weeks ago we arrived in Mwanza – it seems like we’ve been here forever. Last night we met with a whole bunch of expats, mostly Americans but with a few Brits and Canadians and Germans. All are Christian development workers who meet on the first Friday in the month for food and fellowship. It was a great time and a good chance to meet other folk.
After a long first week of teaching it was nice to have a bit of a lay in today.
Just after 9:30 we met with a carpenter who is going to make a bench for us, for the patio – our neighbours Stéfan and Rachel had one made and we like the design – should we with us midweek.
Then it was into town with another neighbour friend Aletta for a bit of shopping.
Mwanza is a busy town with a variety of shops but first stop was a local café to meet John and John. These Tanzanian guys met Anita and neighbour Liz yesterday. They are artists who do work to sell and provide support to a local orphanage. . Anita had been given to paintings overnight with a desire to buy one and return the other today. As skeptical as I was initially they both seemed really genuine guys.
After coffee and cake we set off around town – the main items included a toaster (I miss toast!) and surge protectors, saucepans, tea strainer (loose leaf tea here), material for making some clothes for the family (we have commissioned a tailor).
After a few hours of walking we ended up at the only ice cream parlour in town.
Here we met Joel one of the folk at last night’s meeting, who kindly gave us a lift home.
We woke up late after a good night sleep, woken only briefly by the amazing dawn chorus at about 6:30. Along with recognisable doves – there were also stranger songs – yet to be identified. The bird life is amazing here. When I can I will get some pictures.
Rob and Naomi had offered to take us around the local fruit and veg market which operates every Sunday morning. Luckily we had eaten a quick breakfast and were ready. On
Our way out we also met our neighbours (Rachel and Stéfane) fellow teachers who offered us an opportunity to use the internet to contact home.Everyone has been so generous,
The market reminded Anita of Malaŵi me of The Gambia as well the ones of Cambodia Vietnam. Piles of fruit and veg on blankets on the ground – bartering prices and being tough customers. Generally being white = being rich and so we attracted much attention. Lots of choice, so we were able to get some good bargains which went into a lunchtime stir fry. I loved the colour and hustle bustle if the place. Not a place to take a camera though so no pics. We also visited a local supermarket where you can pick
up other items such as solid “washing up liquid” which goes much further apparently.
After lunch of Stir Fried Veg and Rice followed by Watermelon it was onward with unpacking which still continues as I write – so I’d better get back to it. Looking forward to the end of this pack / unpack business!
Today’s post is more reflective. Looking back on yesterday’s Car Boot Sale it was an interesting view of society and the cultural mix.
In my descriptions I refer to people’s nationality – some of this is guesswork based on voices or looks and in no way is meant to be disrespectful, but to reflect the cultural mix at the MK Bowl. In fact having got myself up before 5am on this occasion I admire the fortitude and perseverance of all those people seeking to better themselves through sacrifice on a regular basis, especially on a cold inhospitable morning as yesterday.
In the ’90s Blur released a single Parklife which was apparently about the people they saw in London parks on there way to recording studios.
Here I share my take on “Bootlife”
The car boot sale is held every Sunday at the MK bowl, a large circular arena with a long path surrounding it’s upon which stall holders are setting up.
We arrive at 4:45am and within seconds we are approached from out of the gloom by people who begin rooting through our goods as we unpack, many are silent and don’t really acknowledge us as we insist we’re not ready. One lady engages Anita in conversation and we discover she works night shift at Sainsbury and likes to come along to the car boot sale on her way home.
Just after 5:30am fellow traders begin to arrive – experienced booters who are looking for bargains from the amateurs like us. One guy buys our entire collection of Doctor Who characters – these are tough bargainers who won’t take no for an answer.
6:40am As the dawn comes and the torches are put away we start to see the early risers more clearly.
They come. Circling the bowl, tracking back and forth, doubling back at times.
It’s a multinational group. A Chinese lady approaches several times looking at many items and looking for a real bargain, rejects our offers. There are several folk with Eastern European accents, some look more middle eastern, possibly Iraqi or Kurdish, others more Romany looking. Some more Asians, some looking for DVDs (we don’t yet have any), others wanting phones and electrical goods (we have none for sale).
We greet all with cheery “hellos”, most smile back and reply in broken English. Is there a sense that we are seeing the bottom rung of society here? People are seeking to find things at low cost either to have or sell on. Very few Brits at this hour – is this a sign that these folk are more willing to get up and get out or simply people in need? Most are very cold as are we!!
7:00am we begin to see more African Nationals – mainly Ghanaian – Anita practicing her limited Ghanaian as she greets them with “ete-sen” (more than I knew). One lady shivering in the cold has open toe shoes and no socks – poor lady must be freezing (we see her later having bought some – she seems a lot happier)
By 8:00am there are more people about and we start to see more Brits. Many a bargain is struck but people are picky and it’s still cold – some taken aback by Anita’s cheery “Good Morning” , but it does help with sales.
One guy in a skirt desperately wanted the 60’s version of the Italian Job with Michael Caine (we have no DVD’s to sell at this point) , he eventually moves on.
The sun has risen higher and by 9:00am is peering round the trees. It’s still cold as someone walks by in Sari like material – beautiful but impractical in the ice.
By now my Stephen, Fiona, mum and the kids arrive with extra supplies including DVD’s and more kitchenware.
As if from nowhere we are descended upon by a hoard and a Polish lady snaps up 4 Disney DVDs much to the annoyance of our neighbouring trader who also wanted them and eventually buys the rest for a good price (for him!)
10:00am and the Brits arrive in force – a mix of middle class bargain hunters and the people with much less. Strange things sell whilst expected things don’t. The sun warms the place and then a brief rain shower – thankfully not for too long. Anita got talking to a lady from Tanzania (Arusha), excited about our move and keen to say much about her mother country. She bought our juicer!
Heather and Geoff arrive too and spend some time. We sell an iron
Pestle and Mortar and an Iron Fondue Set – the guy doesn’t want a Fondue cook book – I reckon he wanted the iron!
11:30am Lots gone, lots remain. Some people we see over and over, some have been here since six – still searching. The lady from Sainsbury returns thinking we’d be sold out by now. Heather and Geoff leave with Matthew, they to help with the house, he to cook Lasagna for 9!
Anita sells most of her Creative Memories to two customer. One lady in a wheelchair advises against selling her a Christmas Tigger – suggesting it would sell well on eBay.
12:15pm: Fellow traders are packing up even though this goes on ’till 2:00pm. We still have one or two customers, but then start packing – a lot has gone but plastic boxes don’t shrink so the car is still jammed to the gunnels. Time for one last sale as a guy looking for a cricket set sees, our croquet set. He doesn’t want it but is persuaded to give 25p for a beach golf set instead.
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