The Market

Learning to bargain in Tanzania was a lot of fun. At first I thought I could never do it, but a girl learns. My biggest learning experience was at the Maasai Market. Men are lined up both left and right in all too literal “holes in the wall” the size of a large walk-in closet. They greet you with “Sista!” And as you navigate from about, shop owners will stop you and say “ Sista! My shop next! I give you good price!” Shopping was extraordinarily fun because it was a cultural experience. Many people wanted to trade me their product for my watch. One man asked if I had a flashlight to trade. He pointed to his and said that his didn’t work anymore. I’m pretty sure it just needed new batteries. Although all of the men claimed to have made everything themselves, we saw some of the same products again and again. Because we were clearly tourists, the shop-owners would try to charge us outrageous prices, often about three times the worth of the product. Once the shop-owners realized we knew what they were doing they would have fun teaching us how to bargain. At one point I asked a man how much he wanted for his product and then told him that he was asking too much. He responded by saying “No, now you say price.” When we really started to bargain well and get the price of the product down, the shopkeepers would tell us “I give you Africa price.” I expected our visits to the Maasai and Hadzappi to be the most influential cultural experiences, and while they were life-changing they showed us only one way of life for one group of people. While shopping we were able to see people from many different tribes use the same skills to either make a sale or a purchase. However, the most important part of bargaining was being able to interact with native people one-on-one.

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