# 15 The Big Shopping Friday July 4. 2015
Happy July 4th to my American readers! I hope yours was “bursting” with fun. For my Kenyan readers, 4th July is our Independence Day, which is generally celebrated with picnics, firecrackers, and lots of fun. Here’s how I celebrated in Kenya.
Today was Talent Show Day, so yesterday (sassy) Janet and I went off with the shopping list of items requested by the 4 teams competing for the day. First we went to the big market to buy oranges—300 of them! Here is Janet, who knows produce better than anyone I know, making the selection.
She wanted this variety because they are seedless and very sweet. I can’t verify this because today we had unexpected visitors and 300 were not enough to accommodate all.
We had 5 cloth bags, but in the end we had to buy one plastic bag. Young guys make a few shillings in the market by toting large orders in a wheelbarrow. We had a very nice, very helpful young man who spent over an hour as we did our personal produce shopping as well. In the beginning Janet whispered I should give him sh 20. In my mind I thought 50, but in the end, after 2 trips to the car and a lot of time I gave him sh 100. He was a happy guy. After I promised Janet I’d take her to her house, she bought like she was feeding an army. She could never have carried all that in a matatu, but she was a happy camper.
Another requested item was maize husks. The girls use them for costumes, tucking them into a waistband to make a traditional skirt. Never at a loss for making a shilling, the lady charged us I think sh 100 (about $1.00) for a big bunch. We also bought a bag of tiny fish, which are a delicacy here, but the smell, walking by the sellers in the market, doesn’t exactly recommend them. Ugh!
Finishing the produce shopping we headed to a fabric shop for ribbon—like giftwrap ribbon. “Sh 300”, said the clerk. “ACH! Too high!”, according to Janet. “There’s another shop I know where it will be cheaper.” It was but they didn’t have the colors we wanted. After 3 shops, we headed back to the first one, where Janet very reluctantly paid the 300, but they didn’t have one of the requested colors.
Now off to the Naivas to purchase a gift for a teacher who just had a boy-child. This was to be a gift from the staff, all (or most) of whom had contributed to the fund.
By that time we finished all that tromping around to shops we were footsore, hungry and tired. I suggested my favorite peanut butter toast and Janet jumped at the chance. I had bought some Pink Lady apples ($.69 at Trader Joe’s) for sh 30 ($.31). People here think that is very “dear.” We had PNB with apple and it was YUMMY! Janet has been angling for an invite to my house, so she was very interested in where I lived. Fortunately I had done a bit of cleaning and tidying, anticipating just such an event.
Back we went to town to finish the shopping list, which included, among other things, thread. In the fabric store I had said I’d bought thread there. I pointed to some spools. “No, no, the thread you knit with.” “Oh, yarn.” “We call it wool thread here.”
At the 3rd supermarket, where we’d found a great collection of ribbon for sh 250, Janet was really bummed. She loves a bargain and hates to pay even one shilling extra.
Continuing the list, she tried to call a carpenter she knew to cut a 30 cm X 30 cm board. Why did they need a board exactly 30 X 30? Don’t ask. I have no idea. “Ack, he’s really stressing me,” as she hung up. “OK, there’s a coffin maker right on the way back. I’m sure they can cut that for you.” Ten minutes at the Decent Coffin Company— the Descent Coffin Company when I first came here, which always made me giggle—and we had the board. Finished at last.
First we went to SFG to unload all the treasures, only to be confronted with a group of performers who just had to have some balloons. “Green and black please.” “You’ll love whatever color I can get in the morning, won’t you?” said a very tired and somewhat crabby me.
Janet lives on the way back home on a car-wrenching road. We arrived at her house, where I met 5-year old Jesse, a really cute kid. But we just unloaded my car and I left. At home I fell on my bed and was just settling in when my phone rang. Harrison, “Madam Margo, I think I left my phone in your car.” Inward groan. (We had given him a ride home) “OK, come down to get it.” In the meantime, I’d asked Magdalene to go to the Naivas for the balloons, knowing I would be late in the morning anyway, needing to shower, wash hair and all that stuff that takes more time. I had no intention of getting up early. Shortly Magdalene had run back, saying the lower town was cordoned off, there was gunfire, 2 people killed, a raid on illegal liquor manufacturer. Ooooh, that didn’t sound good. I felt totally safe within the compound, but I was glad I hadn’t gone to the Naivas instead of coming right home. I’ might have been caught in it, although this mornings paper said the action was further away from the main area.
Harrison arrived and sure enough, his phone was in my car. But now I couldn’t let him go back home without a ride. If down was cordoned off, there would be no matatus and who knows what might happen to him, so I hauled my weary bones back to the car and took him home—entirely uneventful, but he was very grateful.
My light was out shortly after 9.