Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

With Anbessu still out of town, we took the boys to school and headed off through the morning traffic to meet Mulu for a morning of shopping.  Her husband Ermias had volunteered her services to us because she is an excellent  negotiator of prices!  We started off near the American Embassy and the weaving factory we had visited several weeks ago.  The street is absolutely lined with tiny stands of merchandise on both sides.  It was such fun watching Mulu haggle for the best prices and we could see the shopkeepers working just as hard without compromising too much! After buying a few things there, we went to the weaving factory to shop there.  Mulu seemed to know everyone!  We found out that some of these workers were previous students of hers!

After spending a few minutes watching the weavers, we entered the factory’s shop.  Mulu was a definite asset as we chose a table runner and a scarf of many colors!  After that, we drove to another market area for coffee; she examined the handful of raw beans she’d been given and decided that they weren’t good enough, so we kept going.  At another shop, two grades of raw coffee were examined and one was deemed a higher quality, so a kilo of raw beans was scooped out and weighed on a scale on the counter. We also bought some kolo to bring home to share - the wonderful roasted barley snack.

At each location, Mulu worked harder than the previous one, getting us the best prices, then explaining to us how the conversation had gone to get the price down!  Each time we returned to the truck, we had parking tickets - no problem; that’s just how you pay for parking.  The parking lady watches who parks on her designated part of the street, then leaves a small printed parking bill/ticket under your windshield wiper that you pay from when you leave.  If you’re there long enough, she adds another ticket and you pay for the total.  For each half-hour, it costs 60 “cents” (6/10 of a birr, which is about $.06 US).  It’s an interesting concept, and it works!

After about two hours of speed-shopping/haggling, we were ready for coffee, so Mulu directed us to a nice cafe where we each ordered a macchiato... mmm!  We had one more mission - to purchase a plant and pot for Anbessu and Saneit’s home.  Two stops later, we had that accomplished and dropped Mulu off near her boys’ school and headed back to “stash our loot” at home so we could get more work done at FIDA during the afternoon. Sani was so surprised and pleased with the plant - a beautiful fan-leafed palm, that she said it would certainly remind her of us and remind her to pray for us!  By evening, Eshetu had the palm potted and placed at the front of the house - looks great!

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