Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Fabric shopping in Mombasa

After a VERY rough night where tummy troubles struck with a vengeance, I was not sure about the wisdom of a trip to Mombasa - but as I had asked three people to accompany me, and arranged the taxi, and really wanted to go, I decided to go ahead - with much prayer for there to be no need for a rapid dash to the loo during our trip!  Thankfully those prayers were answered and, although I was extremely tired, the trip was a success.

Everyone but Rose and I was running late, so we had a bit of a delayed start, but Zachariah got us safely into Mombasa (a feat in itself) and we were soon in the bustling area of Biashara street.  Biashara means business, and it is here that many small shops are found.  Interestingly in Kenya shops of the same type seem to cluster together, so we entered one building - a Kenyan type of arcade, but nothing like the shopping arcades you would find in England! - to find it packed with at least 20 individual fabric kiosks.  All seemed to be selling much the same thing, but Sheila and Rose quickly identified the one which seemed to have the best prices and a bargaining process was begun.
The ladies chose four different colours of fabrics and explained to me that they were buying a roll of each - for the amazing sum of 2100KSH - something around £17 - each!  What is more, the fabric would be divided into lengths so that I would not have to cut it in order to divide it between the women.  Each roll yielded enough fabric for 12  women who asked me for fabric to have a piece each. 

We then went to another shop to buy lining fabric - which was even cheaper.

After this we went to another shop - where I recognised the fabrics which Debbie has purchased on my behalf in the past - to buy thread, scissors and stuffing for the ladies in Florence's sewing group.  I think Sheila was a little taken aback at the price I was prepared to pay for the scissors (this was a fixed price shop rather than one where bargaining was needed) but they were good scissors and will last.
Having taken our heavy loads back to Zachariah's car, we then went in search of Kenyan fabrics.  I had decided to buy some for Rose to make me a dress.  These shops were much closer.  At the first one, seeing my "muzungu" face, the shop keeper wanted to charge us over the odds, according to Sheila.  His fabrics - called lessos - were 950KSH for two pieces.  Rose told me that each piece would make a dress, but that two coordinating pieces would be better.  We left the overpricing and went round the corner to what turned out to be a fixed price shop.  And what a shop!  I could have spent hours there, just looking at the fabrics.  I intend to return there, with Ronnie and Frances when they come, to buy more fabric for myself, to take home.


What is more, they were a much better price at only 550KSH for two and, so Sheila told me, better quality as well.

The darker blue fabric at the top of this second image is what I chose for myself, for Rose to make me a dress.
We ended up buying 16 pairs of pieces - enough for all of the women and some for Florence's sewing gorup as well.

Having - thankfully - finished our fabric shopping, we headed back.  Jess needed apples for the Casuarina children to try apple bobbing, and these we found from a roadside hawker as we headed out of Mombasa.  Interestingly, they were packed in water, no doubt to keep them fresher.

On the way home, we stopped to look at the stall I have funded for Zachariah's wife Mwembe.

 Zachariah has arranged for it to be repainted, and it looks very smart.

He has purchased the weighing machine needed to weigh out smaller amounts of cereals.  he told me Mwembe hopes to have the shop open before I go home.  I look forward to seeing it!

Another active day; I was very glad to get back to the hotel!  I had a short swim and then a doze, then managed a bread roll at dinner (the first food I had eaten in 24 hours) and then went back to my room for a welcome early night.  I have planned tomorrow as a rest day, before the distribution of the rest of the sewing machines and the fabric on Thursday.  Debbie has just told me that they have a staff meeting on Thursday so I am waiting to hear whether we need to change the arrangements for giving out the machines (the machines will be delivered to Casuarina on Thursday and that is where all the women have been told to come at 5pm).  I'm really praying we can sort it out without needing to change venues...

1 comment:

  1. Wow,what a day you had,would have loved to be there with you. Glad tummy behaved,think you brave to chance it. Think you deserve a rest today. Only another 5 days to wait x

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