Cherished Blogfest

Our van pulled up to the marketplace in Livingstone, Zambia.  The air was hot and sticky.   The air was always hot and sticky.  It was the type of heat that makes you forget what it is like to be cold.

Within a few short days, the Zambians we had partnered with already felt like brothers.  They promised to help us navigate the market place, but there were much more of us than them.

With big eyes and Kwacha (Zambian Currency) in hand, I took my first steps towards the market place.


Photo Credit: Michael Liedtke

They barter everything in the market place.  I would eventually barter my hair tie for a nice hand carved wood bottle opener for my brother.  Bartering is kind of intimidating to me in itself.  I am not a demanding, forceful person.  I could never work in sales.

So here I was trying to barter for my first time.   Of course it would be with a foreign currency.  Not that it really mattered since I had no idea how much any of this stuff would be worth in American money.  Add to that the fact that my white skin screams I have money and no idea what I am doing.  I was basically a moving target for disaster.

The marketplace vendors were indeed happy to see a van full of mzungas (white people) pull up.   I wandered off on my own.  True to their word, my Zambian brothers came to help me.  They helped the marketplace vendors take me more seriously, but besides that they were mostly there for moral support.

If I played confidant, maybe the vendors wouldn’t catch on that I had no idea what I was doing.  One thing I did have going for me, is that I can read people really well.  I could tell which vendors were trying to take advantage of me.

The first thing on my list was a chitenge (a chitenge is a long colorful piece of fabric that the women wrap around themselves as skirts).


Photo Credit: Michael Liedtke

I know that I paid too much for it, but I also knew that I didn’t care.  The woman was nice and I had talked down the price enough.  Plus she needed the money more than me, and it felt greedy to pay any less.

I had bought my first chitenga.  Oh I would buy others.  In fact I cherish everything I bought in Zambia.   But my first chitenga would always be special to me.  It reminded me of a girl who was fearless, even when she had no idea what she was doing.  It reminded me of the girl who wasn’t afraid to jump in and get her hands dirty.

It reminded me of my last night in Africa.  When I stood barefoot in the orange African dirt looking up at the stars.  The wind was gently whipping my chitenga around my legs.  I scrunched my toes into the dirt and promised myself that this would not be the last time my feet touched African soil. 

**** Michael Liedtke is a professional photography that went to Zambia with me.  To see more of his amazing photos from Zambia, click here.

**** Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read my blog.  If you have a cherished object you would like me to read about, please put in the comments below.


29 thoughts on “Cherished Blogfest

  1. I really loved the way you put down your feelings for the object you cherish. I loved the pictures you’ve posted and I love the colors of Africa. Thank you for participating in the blogfest.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this and I was struck by your bartering process where you stopped at a fair price. You opted not to take advantage of someone, just because you could. That is becoming a rare quality these days. I would handle that the same way, for many of the same reasons. Thank you for participating in the blogfest and for sharing this story.

    • Thank you Dan, I am glad that you liked it! There are a lot of painters that were at the market as well. As a fellow painter I would love to support them as best I can should I return.

  3. Thankyou for participating in the blogfest– loved your story. I often stop bargaining on my trips around Asia for much the same reasons. It seems selfish to bring down the price when I know a dollar would go so much further for the seller than it would for me.

  4. Me: “Did I pay the right price for this?.”
    My Friend: “Only you can answer that.”
    Me: “I mean, could I have gotten it cheaper?”
    My Friend: “Maybe. But bartering is about both you and the vendor being satisfied with a price. If you are satisfied, you paid the right price.”

    • Haha that is a great way of thinking about it! Most of what I bought was handmade, and I wanted to give them a price that was worth their time. As long as I didn’t feel like they were trying to take advantage of me I was happy to pay a little higher of a price. Thanks for checking out my story!

  5. Great Pics and travel blog! Interesting what you said about bargaining here, and you’re right. Yet, after living in China for many years I can tell that in some cases you MUST bargain – otherwise the vendor loses face. Or, you have to pretend you do…

    • Yes that is very true. I always tried to barter the price down to what I thought was fair, but I never wanted to argue over a few Kwacha. Thanks for reading!

    • Thank you for reading I am glad you liked it! I have wanted to go to Africa for quite some time, and now I can’t wait to go back! Zambia is in southern Africa, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a place in Africa to visit.

  6. what an incredible experience that must have been! a cherished item with a thousand memories and beautiful to wear as well! thanks for sharing it with us!

    • I cherish everything I got in Africa because they bring back so many memories. They are also quite beautiful, so if I ever went back I would probably leave with a whole suitcase of stuff. Thank you for reading I am glad you enjoyed it!

  7. That is so cool. The pictures were beautiful. That sounds like a wonderful experience not many people have the chance of, well, experiencing. I also like the topic of bartering due to the fact that I have played a lot of video games and bartering was always one of my favorite if not my favorite thing to do in the games. It was an all around great post, keep it up.

    • Thank you for reading I am so glad you liked it! I love traveling for that reason. I love being able to experience different cultures and learning from the locals.

  8. Pingback: My Article Read (7-31-2015) | My Daily Musing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s