Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shopping Spree

Today we have a long drive, as we need to get from Karatu to Moshi, but we also have time to make some stops along the way. As the trip is coming closer to the end, I hoped to pick up more souvenirs and presents. We stopped at the small souvenir shop area in Mto wa Mbu, right across from the souvenir carts named Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama shops. As soon as you stop a tour car in a town, you are surrounded by street sellers. It was interesting that I knew some of them from my visits to the other markets in the area, as I began my trip. This time I had specific things I was looking to buy, as I had scoped things out along the way. As I mentioned some things, they all spread out to find the items for me at the various shops. One seller went into a shop and found what I was looking for, but the shop owner was not around, so he decided to sell them to me anyway. That seemed strange, but I found out they all work together and cooperate. He wanted $25 dollars for 2 basic bracelets, which sent me looking elsewhere. He kept finding me to lower the price, but not enough. I found other bracelets for less, and some other cool items that I had not expected to find. I have learned to go into these places with limited money, so I spent what I had, and started to head out. As more sellers tried to show me what to buy, I showed them that I only had 1000Tsh left (about 50 cents) . One seller sold me a nice bracelet for that, just to make a sale. As I got to the car, the original bracelet seller ran up to sell me the 2 bracelets for $5- it pays to wait and haggle the prices.

My driver knew that I am interested in artists and meeting the artist who actually makes the pieces, so he took me to a special Makonde carver on a backstreet. The carved pieces there were amazing, and I got to meet and take pictures of the carver working.I bought a carved gazelle that was so delicate that I was worried to carry it home (side note: it made it home safely, and it is beautiful!). We found out from the carver that there was an orphanage two doors down from him, so we walked over. The children (about 20), were so excited for us to visit. They just wanted to hold our hands or hug us and pose for pictures. They didn't ask for candy or money, they just wanted some attention. This was the perfect place to leave the supplies and some toys. The women who run the orphanage were very appreciative. It made me smile for the rest of the day.

From there, we started off for Moshi. I had hoped to get a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro , but it was cloud covered as usual. We passed the clock tower in Arusha, and I found out that is placed at the north-south center of Africa between Cairo and Johannesburg. Crispin commented to me that he feels that I saw the real Tanzania that many tourists don't get to experience. I agreed with him. He volunteered to take the rest of the school supplies that I still had, and deliver them to needy schools as he travels in the next few weeks. I gave him some gifts for his family and a good tip for his excellent job. We arrived at Springlands Hotel, which is owned by the Zara Tour Company which specializes in local trips and Kili climbs. It is basic accommodations, but comfortable, although on a very poor side road.

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