“Sista! Sista!”

I worried about bargaining. A lot. I got anxious. A lot. I left a lot of my worries behind once I got there, and actually forgot my anxiety. I shouldn’t have. When we got to Arusha to exchange some money on the first day, my heart started racing. I was in no way, ready to buy anything from anyone. I was told to buy something if I liked it, whether I questioned it or not; I may never see it again. I just couldn’t work up the courage. Putting myself in a fast-paced, high-stress situation like that was literally the worst thing I could ever do for myself. I get nervous. And when I get nervous, my palms sweat and I sound uncertain. I told myself, I would never be good at this. I chose not to buy anything from there, which I do slightly regret. As we came to our next encounter a few hours later, I stood back once again and watched how Mackenzie put herself out there, and just let it all happen. I thought to myself “I wish I could do that. She looks so confident. But how would I get out? What do I need to do?”. The next day, we found a Maasai Women’s Co-op shop outside Tarangire. This was the perfect place to start. I was sure I wanted some things. So I started letting the women put jewelry on me. I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. It turns out, my group mates were a lot less confident than I took them to be. It got worse when I realized that our master bargainer, Doreen, was worried as well. These women did not speak any English, but Doreen knew enough Swahili to speak with most bargainers, but these women pretty much just spoke Maa. I ran to our Maasai guide, Chris, and he pretty much saved the day. I knew how much I wanted to pay, and he made that happen. My true test came a few days later at the Market in Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito River) market. Every shop had a man standing outside “Sista, Sista, come look at my shop next. I have the lowest prices. I make everything myself”. A ton of the shops had the exact same items in them! I bounced from shop to shop, hearing offers on the items I wanted most. I wasn’t always ready to give a price but they would pressure me into giving them a price back. Sometimes I would just have to walk away and say “Hapana, Asante”, no, thank you. That day, I ended up making one of the best deals of the trip! Turns out walking away is a good technique! The man scouted me out later to give me the item I had asked for, for the price I wanted! From that point on, I felt much better about the deals I had made. A few days later, a man on the street was trying to bargain with me for a shirt. I respond, Hapana Asante. He was polite and walked away. Another man overheard me and says “Oh! You speak Swahili!?” “Not really, kidogo (a little)”. He then asked me if I wanted one of his t-shirts, then I respond “hapana, asante” once more. He was shocked, “where did you learn that,” he asked. “That is not very good language. Bad Swahili. You know, it is bad for my business”. I chuckled and walked away. Others appreciated the pictures that Doreen had taken of them a few months ago. It’s amazing that she remembered exactly who they were. Others were different. Some women in a shop played with our hair and told us how much they loved us for coming into their shop. The people are incredible. They are fun, understanding and different. That is someone who I strive to be. I want to be remembered for the impression I made on people, not because I tried to be noticed. I’m going to take a lesson from each and every person that I met.

Mosquito River Market

Mosquito River Market

 At a small market on our way to Tarangire

At a small market on our way to Tarangire

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