First Day!

We spent the day downtown in Arusha. What an experience! We went to exchange our money. Shoving 17 people into a shop the size of my bathroom was pretty interesting. Especially when someone else wanted to come in. We tried to deter him, but he eventually convinced us that it was OK to come in. Next thing I know the door is opening in my face and I’m shoving 5 people farther into a corner than I imagined possible.

Being clearly from America, we were singled out and followed around all afternoon. It was interesting because people will just walk up to our group and start walking with us and talking with us. After chatting us up for a while they’ll pull out paintings or bracelets or some other thing they wish to sell us. Telling them no is difficult and kind of heartbreaking, but it must be done. Some of the men followed us around literally all day.

Next we went to the phone store, which took about forever. I guess there were some complications. It got a little too crowded in the store, though so we had to wait outside. Waiting outside we were constantly badgered by the same men. They would chat a little and then try to sell us something. After no, or “hapana” we would chat a little more, but it didn’t take long for another offer.

When we finally got that mess figured out, we headed over to a Massai market which was remarkable. Every stereotypical African souvenir you could imagine was there and they were all beautiful. I will probably go back and buy some things later in the month. Going here was a huge mistake, though. Well, not really because it was great, but coming out we were badgered even more. “How come you have money for the market but not for us?” “Don’t you want to support local business?” “I thought Americans were nice, but now I just think they’re stingy.” Every reason you had to say no, they had an excuse. The only way to get them to stop is to stop responding. Stop even saying no. This is really hard to do, but it’s a necessary evil.

Overall it’s been a very educational, interesting, exciting, and exhausting day. Tomorrow we get to go to the schools!

Love you and miss you all!

Love, Cassie

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~ by Cassie.Becker on May 5, 2011.

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