Most people in America are familiar with the television show Sex and the City, even if they never watched it on HBO or the less risque version on another channel. The show follows the lives of four women in New York City. One of the results of the program was a sudden fashion emphasis on shoes. We heard constantly about the outrageous prices Carrie paid for her shoes. One whole episode dealt with a thief who steals her Manolo Blanco “strappy sandals”. In Carrie’s life this was a disaster.
One evening this week, Tom and I took our evening walk and ended up as usual in the kitchen area of the Home. Two women were there waiting for the students. They had a very large black plastic bag with them. It was about the size you might put in a thirty gallon trash can. The women had walked up from Lushoto in hopes of selling what was in the bag.
When the students arrived from evening devotions, the contents of the bag were spilled on the ground. It was filled with many pairs of used shoes. It was like Christmas. Like young women shopping anywhere, the girls all had to look at, touch, model, and dance in various pairs of shoes. Most of the shoes were high heels. Many were very fancy, with rhinestones, bows or gold buckles. Some were made of satin, like bridesmaids shoes. All of the shoes were in good condition, some looked like they had never been worn. We have all bought a pair at one time or another that we never wore once we got them home. The shopping continued until it was too dark to see, at which point one of the sellers brought out her flashlight. Several pairs of shoes were sold that evening. We look forward to seeing the new high heels walking down our dirt road to church on Sunday morning.
In Lushoto, there are no new shoe stores. Most of the items of pre-made clothing are second hand, with the exception of underwear and socks. The highest quality items are sold in shops hung on hangers, like at home. On Thursday and Sunday, market day, there are vendors who lay out large mats or tarps and spread huge piles of clothing for shoppers to go through. Great bargains can be found on market day. Some items still have the original price tags from stores in Europe or the U.S.
In Lushoto there are many Dukas (shops) where you can buy custom made clothing. There you can pick the material you like and the fundi (craftsman) will make any thing you want from skirts and shirts to men’s suits. The colors and patterns of the material are beautiful. The result is wonderfully made clothing stitched on treadle sewing machines. Women’s skirts are primarily at ankle length or just above. Sitting at the hostel on Saturday mornings, we can watch a fashion show of women passing by on their way to market.