Tanzania Day 3 - Exploring the Markets of Arusha

Today is our free day to relax and take things in. We woke up around 8:00, enjoyed a much needed shower, and then got our free breakfast. The breakfast area had a nice view of Mount Meru. We were the only people at the cottage last night, so we had the breakfast room to ourselves. Breakfast consisted of fruit (pineapple, watermelon, avocado), toast, and omelettes. Of course, we also had some mango juice.

The breakfast area at Tumaini Cottage.
Mount Meru

After breakfast, our waiter took us on a tour around Tumaini Cottage. They have their own banana, avocado, and mango trees which were pretty neat. They also have chickens, which is where they got the eggs for the omelet from.

Tumaini Cottage
Exploring the grounds of Tumaini Cottage

Andy recommended going to the Massai Market today, so he called us a taxi to bring us into town. There were many vendors at the market. Clearly, we stood out because we were pasty white, so every vendor tried ushering us into their shop. It was hard to get away from them, and they kept wanting us to make offers even though we didn’t want their stuff. By the end of the day, we had spent way more than planned:

  • $20 for a leather belt (Charlie’s broke)
  • $10 for a salad bowl made of rose wood (was originally $55)
  • $7 for ebony salad picker-uppers
  • $20 for a soapstone chess set
  • $15 for some soapstone coasters

Charlie also managed to acquire a free elephant necklace along the way.

I wanted to visit the Tanzanite Museum today, but unfortunately most of the shops were closed since it is Sunday. We heard quite a few churches singing during mass today. Our waiter from this morning asked if we were Christian. When Charlie answered, “We aren’t anything,” he was confused and asked us why not.

Our last stop in Arusha was another market, but this one was more for locals. It was mainly food and clothing. Charlie wanted to buy a pineapple and mango, but before we even had a chance to do that, two guys tried to get us to go on a tour with them. We said “hapana” (no) several times, but they continued to follow us. Once we got rid of one guy, there was always another one to follow.

A local market in Arusha

Eventually we were able to get a mango for “dollah modja” ($1) since that was the least amount of money we had. The lady seemed very confused, but we still got our mango. Next on the list was a pineapple. We found a stand just fine, but the guy didn’t speak very good English. He wanted 500 Tanzanian shillings (about 30 cents) for the pineapple. Since we only had dollars, we offered him $1, but he wanted $5. We ended up losing the battle and paid $3.

A local market in Arusha

It was hot and sunny today, about 80-90 degrees. After walking around a little more we met back up with Steve, our taxi driver, but not before getting ushered into a shop to buy more things. We paid $10 each way for the taxi.

We got back to Tumaini Cottage, relaxed, and ate some delicious chicken curry. We also practiced some Swahili with our waiter, and I think he got a kick out of us.

We also ate our newly acquired mango tonight. It was delicious! Charlie said it was the best mango he’s ever had. Right now we’re sitting on the porch outside our room, and the weather is perfect. Probably around 70-75 degrees, and barely any humidity.

Eating our fresh mango!

Some memorable moments today:

  • My favorite part of today: Some vendor really liked Charlie’s shoes and wanted to trade them for his “Massai shoes” (a.k.a. sandals).
  • My second favorite part of the day: Passing goats on the side of the road on our way to Arusha.
  • Interesting fact of the day: The hard, dark ebony that people call ebony is actually just the dead interior of the tree. The outside is softer and lighter.
  • My third favorite part of the day: All the vendors telling Charlie, “Hakuna Matata!” No worries, just relax. Despite being very persistent, all the locals were VERY friendly!
  • Oh, and my fourth favorite part of the day: After buying our $3 pineapple, a cute little boy took the pineapple and put it in a bag for me. I said “Asante” (thank you) and continued walking. Well, the boy and his friend started chasing me and asking me for money for the bag! I proceeded to give the bag back to him.
  • One thing I would have been okay with not seeing today: the dead chickens sitting in 30 gallon plastic tubs out in the sun and fish being filleted at the market.