There is a big market in Karatu twice a month, and we happened to be in Karatu for one of those days. There is a huge field on one end of town where people from all over the area set up shot and sell their wares. On the front end are live animals – cows, goats, and sheep. Along one side is the food – all kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and meat on display. In the back aisle of the foods, vendors are cooking and selling meat and other foods. Much of the middle of the market features “gently used” clothing, probably sent from the U.S. or elsewhere. There is a rather large area for shoes – also either “gently used” or new, rubber shoes. In one area, ropes are for sale – hand made, for sure, and probably sisal.
There are fabrics, although the selection of new fabric is somewhat sparse. But a couple of vendors sell short (probably about 2 yds.) pieces that are seconds – a large piece that is marred by a seam or a cut. Those second are sold at a huge discount and pieces are large enough to make a skirt or blouse for a small person, or things like bags and computer cases. And there are several vendors who sell shukas – the plaid fabric that men wrap themselves in when tending the animals. We have learned that the Maasai wear red shukas, and that members of other tribes use other colors that identify them.
The best time to go to the market is 2:00 or 3:00 PM because that’s when the most people are there. Brian and I spent the morning walking through the downtown area to look at fabric stores (natch!), while most of the students slept in. All of us eventually arrived at Tumaini, where we saw the end of career day, scheduled at the time that parents were visiting to talk with the teachers and receive their children’s exam scores. After lunch, all of us made our way to the market. It was gift-buying time!