March 11th 2012
Today we left the Farm House at 8:30 a.m. We visited two trading stores; the first was a very westernized place that charged outrageous prices. For instance the same five-foot giraffe we saw in Rwanda for $100 was now $500. My buddy Matthew had been kicking himself for not buying that giraffe in Rwanda and it looked like he was going to make it his mission for the day to get this one.
On the other side of the store where I was shopping for gifts for my sisters, I saw a great necklace that also looked like a tie that I thought one of them would like. I asked the man how much it was and his starting price was $20! He had a pad and paper that we could negotiate on his English wasn’t his strong suit. After five minutes of negotiating one of the girls informed me that the necklace I had was tacky and out of style. I put it back.
Matthew now had the store owner going all the way down to $200 but he wasn’t going to pay a dime over $130 for it. In the two countries we’ve visited the tricks in negotiation seem to be pretty much the same. Start with an outrageously high price, laugh at any number the customer puts down, bring your price down by such small amounts it doesn’t make a huge difference, concede one more time and make it seem like its as low as you can go. Most people stop there but if you hold out just a little longer and do the walk away they’ll usually try to meet your demands. That’s exactly what Matt did and after two walk-away attempts that man chased him to the car and said that he would do $130. We now have a giraffe figurine that is taller then Melisa sitting in the middle of the Jeep.
I told our driver that this store charged too much and we needed to visit another place. So we drove to a local market where the women would make the jewelry and the men would do the woodwork right in front of you. I walked over to the jewelry and the while the women sat on the dirt making the items I took pictures and chatted with them. I found some nice bracelets for Julia and Rebecca. As an added bonus to the gifts I even paid what the women initially asked for them and didn’t even haggle. Then for Erynn I found some cooking utensils I though she would really enjoy.
We left the market and went off to our next place of rest, which was supposed to be a campsite. Like most of the group I wondered if camping in the same park that lions and elephants call home was such a wise idea. On the way to the campsite we drove on a long and bumpy road that took us through a warrior Massai village, herd of cattle, and dried up river. The campsite as it turns out was much more than a campsite. We walked up into the meeting area, which was a lovely place with very comfortable couches and an Australian man waiting to give us instructions. He informed us that coming to and from dinner we would be escorted by the local Massai warriors. They would protect us in the event of an animal attack. Every “tent” was basically a canvas house on lifts with full bathroom, hardwood floors, and beautiful beds. They only difference between this place and home was that my neighbors were wild animals (which actually might not be that different from home).
Since it was only about noon we had time to go settle in our rooms and eat a little lunch before going out into the safari for round two at Terengara. We ate some fish from the local water source and chips from a potato. For safari round two I switched vehicles and went with the youngins. Our driver was named Nicco. When entering the safari grounds he warned us that the flies bite and they can infect you with something called the sleeping sickness, so we had to be careful with them. While on the safari we stood no more then ten feet away from a herd of nearly a dozen elephants! I sneezed and they all looked straight at the car. One of them was very large and I was very afraid he would charge us, but after some time they just ate more grass and moved on. We saw so many animals it would be impossible to describe them all now but they were large, they were up close, and they were sometimes a little intimidating.
We wrapped up the night by being escorted to the dinner area by the local warriors and meeting some folks who had just climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This trip so far has been amazing but there are two things I regret. The first is not getting some roasted corn on the cob from the locals in the capitol city and the second is not saying goodbye to a fifth grader named Emi I met and befriended at the primary school in Rwanda. Hopefully someday I will see him again.