Tuesday, January 29, 2008


A lot of you have asked me to try and describe what it is like to live here on a daily basis. So, I did the series on transportation and now I will try and give you a picture of what it is like to shop here for our daily needs.

Forget nice grocery stores, Walmarts, Targets, shopping malls etc.... Instead of nice fresh refrigerated, cold clean produce we have open air markets. Instead of freshly cut meat, cold and clean we have pieces of animals hanging in the open cut with rusty dirty knives and covered with flies. They have no idea how to cut meat into certain pieces either. Forget asking for a rib eye or a t-bone because they are just going to hack a piece off and give you whatever piece they cut. Could be grissel and bone with little or no meat and it will all be the same price. Instead of clean organized department stores filled with brand new clothes, we have piles of clothes on the ground that are used and people walk on.

There are a couple of chain stores from South Africa here in Uganda to shop at. One is Game which is like a Walmart sort-of and Shoprite which is a grocery store. The only issue with both stores is that they are small and everything is imported from S.A. so things are very expensive. It would be like having to go to Bloomingdales to buy everything.

I have a open air market about 1 mile from our house that I buy produce and fish from. We walk with our back packs two times a week to buy our fruits and Veggies and if I time it right fresh fish. I have to get there at the right time to catch the fish people bring the whole fish straight in from the lake and fillet it right in front of me otherwise it sits in the sun with flies for hours. The produce sits on the ground and dogs and babies sometime come by and urinate on it. You have to make sure you clean them very good when you get home. We have a fresh milk store right by as well, but you have to make sure you boil it before you drink it. It only lasts for a day even when you boil it. Makes you wonder what it the heck they do to our milk in the states to get it to last so long.
I don't have to negotiate with them at the market anymore as I know the prices of everything and found a lady who knows me now and I give her my list and she gets all of my produce for me at the right price. When they see your white skin the price always triples. I NEVER buy any other meat from that market or any other market in Kampala except for the Belgium meat market.
This place actually has a proper meat cutting facility, clean and refrigerated. Chicken is really expensive here so we normally eat beef. The issue there is that the only cut that is worth eating or that you can chew is the fillet. So, I buy fillet and make pot roast, i grind it and have burgers, cube it for stew, slice it for pepper steak and so on...... It is 8500 shillings per kilo which equals about 2.50 per pound. Chicken is 20,000 per kilo, turkey at Thanksgiving was 30,000 per kilo and a nice cooked ham at Christmas was 30,000 per kilo. I buy the fish fillet at the market for 7,000 per kilo which is right around 2.00 per pound. So you can see why fish and beef fillet win out.
There is a Woolworths here that sells clothes, but they sell ladies underwear for 60,000 shillings per pair, so we never shop there. They have a big flea market called Owino and you go there for clothes and shoes or anything else that you could think of. If you have something stolen from you you can usually find it at Owino and buy it back. They have piles and piles of used clothes. You walk buy and the people yell out how much the pile is per item and then if you are dumb enough to stop for 1 second and look you immediately get a piece of clothing thrown at your face. You have to be in the right frame of mind to go because it is wall to wall people, dirty, smelly and you will be groped (male or female) and proposed to too many times to count. The upside is that sometimes you can get really good deals on things and if you are looking for anything in particular that is the place to find it. Kaci, my middle daughter who is 17 went with me last week. We were both harassed verbally, and physically and she was picked to be 3 men's wife. They tell her all the time that she is very beautiful and just their size. I wondered about that phrase many times and finally asked a Ugandan male friend what that meant. He said because she is tall 5'10 ( blonde and very pretty) that they like her because they are short and they want to improve their gene pool. Owino is always an adventure. I have lots of stories about that place.

1 comment:

steffany said...

Thanks for sharing.