Secondhand clothing market, part II

5 July 2012

Last week I went to the secondhand clothing market in Moshi again, easily one of my top three favorite places in Moshi. The place is a massive warren of wood-and-tarp stalls where one can easily get lost in the vast treasure hunt that is secondhand clothes shopping.

Near the front is an open area where the really cheap stuff gets dumped in piles. This is where the fun really is, as you sift through pile after pile, pushing shoulder pads and polyester aside in search of that Great Find, while vendors shout their prices over and over, ‘Five hundred, five hundred, shirts for five hundred!’.*

Clothes arrive from Europe and the States in big bales. The bales come pre-sorted and labelled, like ‘t-shirts, children’ or ‘trousers, women’.

Each vendor has a certain variety of clothes – you can’t buy trousers at a dress stand, and you can’t buy skirts at a blouse stand. You can get most anything, including winter coats for those chilly 70/21 degree (F/C) days, or underwear if you’re feeling brave.

I’ll stick to t-shirts and skirts, thank you.

These shoulder pads would be easy enough to remove…

Where are we? Which direction is out?!

Yes, my friend Sami is in all but one of the these photos (I cropped her out). I was using her as an excuse to take pictures so no one would get annoying or demand money.

Just as last time, I ended up with more than I intended to get. Last time I went for one dress and got three; this time I went for a couple of short-sleeve shirts and ended up with four, plus a pair of skin-tight red jeans, all in perfect condition. My grand total? $12.50.

I know you’re jealous.

*About 31 cents.


Around the market

28 June 2012

Here are some of the things you can get at a good village market on market day. Usually there is a small market daily, plus two days a week with a big market (market days). There are more than what’s pictured here, but the sellers are prickly about having their picture taken. Unless you pay them.

This isn’t my local market, this one is much higher up in elevation. Almost everything is the same, except that this market has loads of potatoes and mine hardly has any.

Just a few of the many styles available…

Carrots, African eggplant, okra.

Mmmm, ‘taters.

Oranges, with cucumbers in the background.

Table: salt, tea, sugar, soap, matches. Sacks: rice and sugar.

Secondhand clothing market

7 April 2012

I went to the secondhand clothing market yesterday with Mama Dora. It’s huge! It just goes on and on, tables and tables of piles of clothes sent by Goodwill. Each stand sells a certain thing, so there will be ones with children’s clothes, ones with skirts, ones with men’s shirts, ones with bras, etc etc. It’s really fun – digging through a pile, never knowing what treasure you might unearth. And it’s cheap, which makes it more fun too.  I ended up getting three dresses for the equivalent of about $15 total – I kind of figured, why not, for that price? I wanted more dresses, and I had a genuine Tanzanian’s endorsement that they were appropriate (as far as length and amount of shoulder shown).

This is something white women here struggle with – what’s appropriate clothing. Well, I should say some don’t appear to struggle with it at all, and just dress like this is Miami, but I think people who actually live here have to think about it. Skirts, dresses, and shorts above the knee are out, no question, but what about the shoulders? Very few Tanzanian women expose their shoulders. Almost all of them of any age wear at least short sleeves. There’s leeway for foreigners, but you don’t want to take is so far as to flaunt local standards of modesty – but where’s the line? I’ve had this discussion with other white women here, and it’s tough to figure out. And you have to take into account where you are. What I can wear in town is different than what I can wear in the village. And so when I wear my jeans, which are quite fitted, I wrap a folded in half kanga around my waist till I get to town. The dresses I bought all have thin straps. But they also have a straight neckline, no plunging between the breasts, and all are knee-length. I would have thought that more shoulder coverage would be appropriate, but perhaps this is where the overlap between cultural sensitivity and wiggle-room for foreigners lies. Only the occasional young single Tanzanian woman would wear these dresses, but it’s perfectly ok for me. So even though you don’t see many Tanzanian women wearing them, a Tanzanian woman (Mama Dora) says it’s ok for me to do so. Good to know.

To market, to market

7 March 2012

Today was market day. I always go to the market with Mama Dora on Wednesdays and Saturday, when they have the big market a few villages away. I really enjoy it. One of us pays the bus fare for both of us one way, and the other person pays it the other way. Her presence prevents people from trying to charge me a special price, ahem, and she sometimes explains to people that I don’t like being called ‘mzungu‘ which means white person, that they could just call me ‘dada’ (sister) or something. I’m pretty sure today she told someone I could just as well call them ‘Tanzanian’. I’m also pretty sure someone came back with something like, ‘well a tomato looks like a tomato so we call it a tomato’ which I guess is a legitimate point, but anyway. The butcher we go to is nice; he’s kind – no cheeky tone to his voice when he talks to me, like some people have, just plain friendly. The women in the market have their wares spread out in little piles on the ground on a cloth or tarp.

My haul from the market.

There are many people selling the same things – it’s a big market because there are a lot of sellers, not necessarily because there is much variety. There are clothes and shoes and cooking instruments as well as food. Some people bring umbrellas to shade them from the sun, and some people are set up under tarps held taught with rope. Mama Dora is very particular when selecting her fruits and vegetables, and if I pick out some she doesn’t think are good enough, she makes me put them back and picks some out for me herself. She carries her things on her head in a basket, which she balances without using her hands. We have a soda at a little cafe before going home. The women greet each other often in KiChagga, the local language. You hear it used for greetings occasionally in other places, but at the market it’s particularly common for some reason. I only know how to say one greeting and ‘thank you’ but people get a real kick out of it.

So, that’s market day. Below is a picture of my favorite food of the ones I can cook, rice with meat and vegetables (Chinese greens).

Where the white folk live

19 February 2012

I went to a flea market in Shanty Town today. Shanty Town is on the edge of Moshi, and it’s where the white folk live. The woman hosting it has a sculpture garden throughout her yard. I went with Amanda (my new friend, yay), and helped her sell her boyfriend’s jewelry. He’s Nicaraguan and is still in Nicaragua. He makes gorgeous jewelry and it was a hit. Nice day all in all. Not too hot. A little rain. Very nice people. Got some clothes very cheap (the only kind I can afford), including a dress in perfect condition for $1. Met some people, etc. Generally just a pleasant, social day. I had gone to Amanda’s apartment for brunch first. She lives right in town, in a nice apartment. I ate yoghurt, peanut butter, and cheese for the first time in over two months.  Mmmm, cheese. Mmmm, peanut butter!!!

I’ve been told that my fridge, still not fixed, needs several hours to become cold, so I’m trying it out. If I had a fridge, I could have all sorts of delights, like milk (!), bread (!), and meat that won’t possibly make me ill (I’ve been salting it, putting it in a plastic container, and finishing it the day after I buy it). And, if I feel like adding a little imported food to my diet, chocolate!

I had dinner with Mama Dora and the kids again, like last night. It’s good to eat with family. I think I will put some real effort into staying here for a while.

Where’s the beef?

4 February 2012

Ok, so this is the big day: my first time in almost 14 years cooking (red) meat. I’ve been eating meat since I got here (no, I haven’t had any digestive problems as a result). It’s fairly ubiquitous, for one thing, and also it’s sometimes the only source of iron, green vegetables not being as easy to come by as you would want.

Mama Dora, my neighbor and Alison’s sister-in-law, took me to the market today. It was great. I’ve been going all the way into town to buy food, but was sure there must be somewhere closer. There is. It’s a big, twice-weekly market a few villages over.  They had all the vegetables, fruits, bananas, well, all the food and all the usual stuff. Plus lots of clothing stores and stalls and tailors and so on. I bought some beef. Often here, the meat you’re served seems like they just took the animal and chopped it up and you’re lucky if you got some actual meat, but Mama Dora asked the butcher to give me a nice piece. I also got a bunch of vegetables, including some Chinese greens, lots of potatoes, and also some ginger, because you must cook the meat with ginger, ‘to make it palatable.’

So tonight’s menu will feature beef seasoned with onions, ginger, a little cinnamon, and maybe some tomato and grated carrot to create a small amount of gravy, served with chips. Tomorrow I will cook it will plenty of gravy (always carrot, tomato, and onion) and have it with rice to soak up the sauce.

I was very happy about going to the market. Mama Dora is sweet and helpful and could be a friend! And speaking with her is a good opportunity to practice Swahili, since she doesn’t speak English. I’m very glad to have her help getting food and just spending time with her.
Her kids were here for a bit, playing with this and that. Even simple things like staplers and blank paper are things they don’t have in their normal lives, so they play with them. And of course my camera, which makes me nervous, but hey ho.