Monday, June 13, 2011

East Africa Day 26 (Wed June 8): The Nanyuki Markets

The day started with a before-breakfast run. Then Sue, Pamela and I accompanied Daraja Kitchen Manager Ruth to the Nanyuki Farmers Market, to help her select bananas, potatoes, green peas, cilantro, green bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and red onions for Daraja. The Farmers Market is set up on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Before purchasing our items, Ruth gave us a walking tour of the Farmers Market, the nearby grains dealer’s wares, and the grinding shop where she has our breakfast porridge grains ground by a big machine that probably looks something like … ummm … a cement grinder that you sometimes pass by on the highway. We also stopped by the Second-Hand Clothing (and shoe, sheets and blankets) Market.

The Farmers Market looked almost exactly like the Farmers Markets I frequent in the USA – but the farmers don’t set out signs with the name of each food and its price. You need to bargain with the farmer for your price. Also, not all of the farmers have tables – many women were sitting on the dirt ground with their wares in front of them, stacked in neat piles. My favorite were the carrot sellers – huge white, plastic-mesh bags spilling over with bright orange carrots. Beautiful!

While we were measuring out our potatoes, I spotted this guy out of the corner of my eye. I decided not to run after him, but when I saw him in the market at his onion stand … well, I couldn’t resist:) The other farmers, my subject, and I had so much fun with these photos – you can’t imagine how much everyone was laughing. It was so much fun!

He suggested that we take this photo together, and I handed the camera to another farmer. It was great! Not joking when I say that the only other American sports clothing item I’ve seen since my arrival in Kenya was the Longhorns shirt that I posted a photo of, the other day. Texas in Kenya. Again, these photos are for Johanna, Jenny, and Eric:)

Pamela, Sue, and I left the Farmers Market shortly after I took this photo – and had sampled some kind of strange tomato item which was very pretty, but a little bitter. (We’d taste-tested watermelons at the same farmer’s stand, earlier.)

We stopped at the French-owned restaurant that I really like, even if the menu isn’t the best for vegans. John made me the “veggie burger” again. Believe it or not, my netbook would not connect to the restaurant’s wireless network. The netbook problems are ongoing. After lunch I crossed the street and stopped by the shop where my netbook had been repaired last time. One of the techs sat with me for a while, solved the problem, and showed me how to fix it if it comes up again. Nice! I’m glad that this came up while I was still here in Nanyuki, so that I could go back to the same shop.

Then I stopped in at the Cooperative Bank of Kenya to speak with them about financing a university education. I was introduced to a really nice woman who had a large office with a great view, and her own computer. She was fantastic – she taught me so much, answered so many questions, and told me how much she loves Daraja. She was just on campus last month (before I arrived, unfortunately) to talk with the students about different career paths. We had such a great talk. She asked me for my contact information and gave me her card, so that we can continue to discuss my research. So nice! She told me where I can continue my research with the bank when I get to Nairobi, too. Wonderful! I also learned a little about the bank’s micro-loan product, and coops/unions (called “circles”) that are unrelated to the banks, but exist in communities around Kenya. Sweet!

Afterwards I walked down to the Government Compound and found my contact in the Statistics Office. We sat in his office and had a really great talk about my project, the Peace Corps, and Daraja. He wasn’t very familiar with the school. His team is out in the field collecting some information that will be of great assistance with my reseach. He also has some other resources for me, if I can go back on Friday morning. So you know where I’ll be on Friday morning – back at the Government Compound! I’m getting to know Nanyuki just as my time at Daraja is coming to a close.

Went back to the French-owned restaurant to check my internet connection – it works! The only other customer in the shop had a very familiar accent. I chatted with her for a few minutes on my way out the door – her name is Karisa. She’s from Sacramento but is a professor at SMU in Dallas. She’s a political scientist, and is here researching FGM (female genital mutilation). I wanted to chat more, but had to run to meet up with the Daraja crew. She told me that she’s always in the restaurant, so I hope to get to catch her there again on Friday!

At dinner tonight, Leila asked me what I was doing in town. I told her, and she asked me about Book Club on Sunday. She said that she’s coming. YESSSS!! So I know that I will have at least one student in Book Club on Sunday:)

And PS - if you are going to the Nanyuki Farmers or Clothing Market … don’t wear flip flops (like me). Especially not when it’s rained lately. Mud, and more mud.

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