Saturday, March 19, 2011

Masai Market

On weekends in Nairobi, an outdoor market is set up downtown, where all the local artisans and tribes can sell their wares. Being the last full day here, I had to stop in and check it out. Now I have seen markets and bartering before, but this was at a whole new level.

When you first come near the market, a number of young men surround you and offer to help you along the way. Turns out these are 'brokers' of sorts that walk with you, pick out everything you may want, then negotiate summarily at the end of the process. I don't know if this was absolutely mandatory - but it was certainly an experience, so I was all in.

This guy and his 'assistant' walked with me - telling me about the crafts, tribes and anything else. If I was potentially interested in something, the assistant would speak Swahili to the shop owner and put it in a bag. At one point, I actually saw them exchaging some kind of ID number - which makes me think this is bit more structured than it is made to feel.

Once the shopping is done, the fun begins. We find a place in the shade, where they lay out the few items I am interested in. They then proceed to pull out a notebook (no lie), and write down their 'number'. I've seen this act before - so my move was to just walk away. The dance begins - back and forth we go - I walk away a few more times, which drops the price 15-20% every clip. In the end, we seal the deal with handshake and a smile, as it worked out fair for both of us. Overall, an interesting experience - not for everyone, I'm sure - but just another story from our time here.

No comments:

Post a Comment