Friday morning Jack and I spent the morning at the craft market with Robert. Once Jack arrived he said, “see ya” and off he went in search of bargains. He loves to haggle with his sweet face and the ladies mostly love him and just give the things to him. He didn’t buy anything for himself, he only bought presents for those he loves. I am a regular customer to this place and most of the women recognized me, calling out, “you are welcome, please remember last time you bought these” and she would hold a handful of something I couldn’t sell. Their pleas no longer pull at my heart and make me feel guilty. I smile and say beautiful and pass by. Now I know what I can sell and I’m not lugging home a bunch of guilt purchases to sit in my garage.
While I was looking at the baskets the women all around me began to chatter and giggle. Some of them howled, and they were all energized and looking around whispering and laughing. To one who cannot understand the language I wanted to understand their inside joke. I really wanted to know what they found so funny. As if Robert could read my mind he said, “do you want to know why they are laughing?” I nodded. He said, “do you see that mzungu over there in the pink top? They are lauging at her outfit.” I gasped. This was an older woman with gray hair. She had on a camisole top and short gym shorts. There was more white flesh displayed than they ever see, and the revealing clothing in the morning public air was scandalous to these Ugandan women.
I have always told people to cover their legs when they come to Uganda. American’s can’t understand that because we show our legs all the time and no one cares about it. But here it is unacceptable. So anyone traveling to Uganda take this story and consider if you want to be the one the local ladies sit around and laugh at because your outfit is so disrespectful to their culture.
After Jack had finished his personal shopping and shared his stories of fun he asked me to send him off to purchase things. So I would point at something and say I want five of those for this much money and I loaded his palm with colorful bills. He was on a mission and it wasn’t long before he returned with the items at a good price. Three hours of shopping as a buyer is exhausting. It requires concentration to consider if the item will sell and what different types of shops I have helping us where this or that would move quickly. Buying enough to last me until my next trip is always a challenge. I was beat and ready to unload our things and go play with the kids all day!