The first market I ever visited was the one in Old Kampala in Uganda and it was beyond overwhelming. I am sure that if you are reading this then you are an avid follower of my blog who reads every post religiously and have therefore read about my experience there. At least I am pretty sure that I blogged about it…
Old Kampala market was crazy. Food, people, clothes, trinkets, baskets, garbage, sitting water, flies everywhere. That might be the best way to explain it. There is no way I could ever do it justice. You should just go and visit it when you have a free weekend.
The second market I went to was in the Congo. Don’t ask about when I went there. I technically did not go. This market could be best described as depressing. The booths were scantily draped with items for sale and the area was not quite enclosed. A man tried to sell me a bag of water. Yes, the kind of bag you would get when you buy a goldfish only this one lacked a fishy and the water was probably less safe to drink.
The first market I ever went to in Rwanda was when we went to Gisenyi for Spring Break which I am sure you have also read about in my blog. It was a million times calmer and exponentially smaller. It was mostly clothing with an outer ring of booths, I guess would be the best word for them, with other items such as shoes, belts, wallets and plastic goods. Then there was the much smaller and separately enclosed area that had food.
Shortly after moving into our new home we decided to make guacamole and chapatti chips. So I decided that we needed some citros. I am pretty sure these are limes. They may be their own thing but they are more or less the same. Might also be a lemon. Or maybe a combination of the two. Point is it works miracles when you need to make guacamole and are lacking lime juice. In addition to needing our citros we also needed more onions seeing as we all really like onions and would be needing a decent amount to go with our six avokas (avocados) that were quickly becoming even too ripe for guacamole. One of my housemates had recently had a moto take them anywhere to buy carrots and this particular moto had just driven her out of our dirt roads and to the main road then crossed right over it and up to another dirt road where there were a good number of women set up with their baskets of produce.
A few days later when I left the house around 8am to go fetch the necessary ingredients for a long awaited dish I naturally went towards the women and their baskets across the main road from the road to our house. Not too far down the road I began to remember that in my excitement over consuming guacamole I had left the house probably earlier than I had since school time and had a slim chance of finding someone already set up along the road. Moments after I sent an SMS to my housemate informing them of my rather tragic realization, I came to a fork in the road and recognized where I was. I had come up through this back road before when we were looking at houses the first time and remembered that I was actually very close to the entrance to a small market.
I picked up some onions from a man who had his onions spread out on a jute sack in front of a doorway. Luckily a random guy came up and helped to clarify that I wanted four onions and not four kilos of onions. Then I headed towards the market to find some citros. I entered and walked along an outer aisle with stores on the outside and smaller booths set up on the inside. They were mostly household items, shoes and toiletries. About half way down the aisle I started seeing fabrics and clothing. Once I reached the opening that gave access to the center of the market I was in awe. The market was considerably larger than it looked from the outside.
Mostly women and couple men were setting up tables and hanging rods. Draping second/third hand clothing and panels of fabric, strategically stacking yams and cassava and making sure that the mountains of flour remained erect while scoops were removed and bagged. I quickly found some citros and tried to take in as much as I could before I returned home. I love markets but I think I love seeing them set up even more. There are just so many people setting up an unfathomable number of items. I feel like majestic is a pretty accurate way to describe it.
I hurried back to my house and told my housemate that we HAD to go back as soon as we had our guacamole. Our plans for the day already involved going to a market across town to buy fabric to get made into clothes and I happily informed them that we only had to walk across the main road to our market and that there were so many beautiful fabrics there. You can see the pictures of all our different patterns we have now.
We prepared our guac and chapatti chips (which were phenomenal by the way) and headed out to the market. This place has everything: seamstresses, fabric, fruit, vegetables, palm oil, a huge area of flour, another one of potatoes, used clothing and linens, trinkets, toiletries, plastic items, earthenware charcoal stoves, meat and anything else you could think of. It actually made us feel rather foolish for ever going anywhere else to buy things. Is fabric fever a thing? Because I think we caught it. We bought so many fabrics and they are all beautiful. I think we now have 36 yards of fabric. We still have yet to take them to a seamstress but that will happen this week. As will getting our hair braided.
I wish they had markets like these back in America. The only thing we could not seem to find at the market was mint. We did get some rosemary and thyme though. This was one of my better days. I love getting out and just discovering new parts of Kigali and Rwanda. I feel like it is much more beneficial and enlightening than any class or internship I could have had here. It makes me really appreciate having five whole months here and also makes me worry that I only have three weeks left to experience everything that I haven’t yet!