After a morning spent adoring baby elephants at the Sheldrick Orphanage, my guest Kimmy and I made our way up to the Village Market for that most honored of all Friday traditions – the Masai Market. Like the good price conscious shoppers we are, we first walked up and down all of the rows of “shops” to see what everyone had to sell, and more importantly, what prices they were quoting.
Since most of the vendors have exactly the same wares, shopping around for the best pre-bargaining price is an important part of the experience if you don’t want to be ripped off. Kimmy’s goal that day was to find a Kikoy that she could take with her as a reminder of her trip and use as a shawl to keep warm. Plus, as a traditional Kenyan item, it made for an easily packable souvenir. With the exception of one guy who thought that we were stupid wazungu (white people), we were quoted the exact same price by everyone – 350 Ksh.
In the end, we headed back to the very first “shop” for Kimmy’s Kikoy and began the process of convincing the owner that we weren’t going to pay such an outrageous price for our treasure. (Note that these cost about two and a half times that in the shops.) The seller refused to budge below 300 Ksh saying that if she went any lower she would not be making any money off our purchase. Since neither party wanted to move, we left the stall and headed for the next one up the aisle where we found a lovely light blue Kikoy. This time, the sales boy was willing to let us have it for 275 Ksh – a compromise that made us feel that we were at least getting a bit of a deal.
Since we all know that I am unable to go into any shopping venue without buying something, I purchased a really pretty beaded reindeer to match the beaded Christmas tree I bought last time. Beaded animals and other “tchakis” (as Mr. Net called them) are very popular here. Indeed, I’m thinking about buying an entire menagerie before my time in Kenya is up. Hubby, I’m sure, will object.
The sad conclusion to this story is that while we were enjoying a cup of tea, we somehow lost Kimmy’s Kikoy. I felt horrible (and still do) as we ran all over the food court looking for it, only to realize that someone else had walked away with our hard won treasure.
So Henry the Reindeer is my souvenir from the Masai Market this week. But someone out there has a bad karma Kikoy that I hope will bring them nothing but sorrow since it has made our new friend Kimmy so sad to see it go.