Today as I was walking into the grocery store to buy some milk and bread I thought to myself “this is strange. “
I saw 4 men carrying rifles and 3 security guards all at the same time.
That might sound very strange to see at the grocery store.
But the strange thing I was thinking, was that this is normal and no longer strange!
They walk around the main “western” shopping centers, just guarding and patrolling. Just a precaution and deterrent I guess.
Every bank has a guard hired from a security company that stands around outside the door and at the ATM machine .
So when I was walking, I was going past 2 ATM machines so their guards were together and then the 2 men that patrol one area were walking back with the 2 men that patrol the other side of the shopping center. So 7 men. In the beginning, and even our initial visit, It was very strange and a little scary, when you are unfamiliar with what is going on or the situation.
You just see rifles and all you want is some milk and bread.
Street Vendors are the same way.
The first few weeks every time someone approached the car to sell something I felt strange. I didn’t want to look at them or what they were selling.
Now its fine, its normal. I think the “ice broke”, one day when we passed the same intersection about 4 or 5 times within a couple hours. After a certain point, I just laughed and smiled, “no, we still don't want the Arabic monopoly game you are selling”. I even know one guys name now, Lazarus. James bought a hat from him the other day. He sells Zambia Souvenirs, hats and t-shirts. Leah was looking for some of those items, so I knew where to find him. So if you come visit we can go there and get something. Now when we are stopped at the light he walks by with his wares, and says “hello my friend. How are you today. How is the family?”
The thing is, they are so good at reading people. Almost every time I give a second glance, to one walking by or up ahead thinking to myself, “do I need that? Or maybe I could use that? “ instantly their face is right there at your window ready to negotiate the price. And for me, even if I am interested and able to negotiate, the light is turning green in less than 60 seconds and that is way too much pressure.
The other thing I noticed recently was that I am getting used to being called, “Mama”.
Strange I know, and maybe a bit uncomfortable at times when they are either young guys, or old guys for that matter. And often when I am not with all the kids, so how do they know I am a mom?!
“Mama, here is the paint you were buying. Mama, come buy this rice. Mama come see the apples today.
Do you want potatoes Mama?” All for “Good Price”, of course!
Women are the Mamas and the white man is the Bwana.
We had a man cleaning out the septic the other day at the house and he asked me what I wanted to do about a certain thing. He said well you can decide because you are the bwana.
I said no, my husband is and he can tell you what to do, he is the bwana. (I am just the Mama)
Occasionally Enock will ask me something and then mention what the “ big man” said. It still takes me a minute to figure out, “big Man” refers to James. Good thing he is not really a “big” man or that could be bad. And it is a good thing that they don’t combine the Big and the Mama together. That would be really bad.