On Saturday morning, we met up with Judy and we all walked to the material market near downtown Dar es Salaam. The women would call out “Rafiki, rafiki! (friend, friend!)” from their store fronts, inviting us to browse their wares. When we showed interest, they would grab us by the arm and pull us into the back of their store, excitedly showing us as many fabrics as they could fit in their arms.
Although it was overwhelming at first, it was fun to barter with the women. We all left with a beautiful collection of materials, and the EWB-MSU team hopes to prepare the fabrics for fundraising upon our return.
After a delicious meal with the sisters, we waited at the bus stop outside the sisters’ home to go to the carver’s market. The city buses are the most common mode of transportation in Dar es Salaam, and the bus to the market was extremely crowded. Just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be room for anyone else, 3 more people would get on at the next stop. We were very ready for the fresh air when we finally got to our stop.
At the market, we were immediately greeted by an avid salesman eager to share his wares. He took us into the back of the store and we got to watch all the artisans carving everything from statuettes of animals to eating utensils.
The wood they use for carving usually comes from the Ebony tree, but the dark colored wood we often associate with African carvings is actually shoe polish painted on afterwards. We saw lots of paintings and wooden jewelry and got to practice our bargaining again. As white foreigners, a few thousand shillings are always added to our items, so it can be exhausting trying to bargain for more reasonable prices.
After a much more comfortable bus ride home for dinner, we excitedly discussed plans for our trip to Zanzibar the next day…