mid November,2003

doing business in Kakamega

Just a peek at what it's like to buy something here. We wanted a scientific calculator for one of the girls we sponsor, but the bookstore asked over $40. So we went to the 'jua kali' (hot sun) trader & found what we wanted for $8. It had a Casio sticker on it, but that had been added for decoration. We've checked out some prices, so are pretty confident this is not the 'mzungu' (white man's) price. Well, maybe a local could knock a few shillings off, but we won't bother.

But the one on the stall had no manual & since it had lots of functions, we wanted instructions. The trader promised us a manual for 8 a.m. on Monday.

Rod went into town early this morning because we had ordered meat from the butcher & it has to be picked up before the day gets too warm.

First stop, the bank. Well, it is payroll time for government & the different departments release paychecks on different days during the last & first weeks of the month. The bank line up for the ATM was already fifty people deep. If you choose to wait, you might be out of luck because the bank doesn't replenish money in the machine too often & the phone lines often go down. We always make sure we have enough cash on hand, so decided to wait until later in the week to get more.

Then to the trader for the calculator. The instrument is there, but no instructions. Someone is dispatched to find them. In the meantime, Rod finds that the flip cover to the calculator is broken. This won't do. Is there another?

The stall owner gets on his bicycle and pedals off. There are other errands waiting to be done, so Rod promises to be back. On the street sometime later, the trader screeches to a halt beside Rod with a brand new calculator in a box, with instructions. Good. A 500/- note is handed over. 100/- change needed. The seller desperately asks all around. No one has change this early in the morning. Off he goes to forage further afield, but Rod keeps the bike as hostage. He returns with change, gets his bike back.

When we get the calculator home, the first thing is to try it with batteries. It works!!

All this is done with great good humor, many thanks and we know we will always be greeted when we pass the stall again.

It would be nice if we could get the instructions for our cell phone. The ones we have are in German for a different model.