I asked Veronica, Mrs. Mwasanguti, to help me shop for Kitengas. I would not have even known where to look. Not that I will wear the colorful, wrap-around skirts in my daily life in the USA, but kitenga cloth is great to use for all kinds of things-table cloths, placemats, runners and more. I needed and wanted some for us and some for the people on the gift list.
So shopping we went. Kumbuka stirred the car down a narrow little alley and all of a sudden I found myseld in the center of what can only be described as a middle eastern bazaar for all things cloth and clothes. It was a crowded alley; a rabbit warren of one little store blending into another; hawkers trying to outshout each other; people haggling over a piece of cloth (I relied on my hosts to haggle for me); being in danger of getting lost wandering down small side alleys and not finding your way back; and seeing everything from the tresure of gorgeous fabric to the junk of cheaply made dresses somewhere across the Indian Ocean. And, of course, enjoying every minute of it.
I bought 5 different kitangas, some to keep, some to give away. I helped Veronica pick out a three piece suit for the Mwasanguti’s youngest, 4-year-old Robin. And I watched the crazy life going on in the place. What a fun afternoon. For very little money I got yards upon yards of fabric, none of which you can ever buy in the US unless you live near where a lot ex-pats have thrown their lot together. Who knows, maybe I’ll dig out the sewing machine when I get home. That’ll be the day.