Acquiring the Basics in Burundi

by Jess Cropsey
We were excited to learn that Gitega (the second biggest city in Burundi) is located 30 minutes from the hospital.  We had high hopes that we would be able to acquire a decent amount of food necessities there instead of making the 2-1/2 hour drive to Bujumbura.  We have been pleasantly surprised by what we can indeed find in Gitega, so that is great news.  What has taken us by surprise is how little we can actually find at Kibuye.  In Kenya, we had fresh cow’s milk and eggs brought to our door and could purchase select local produce.  Every 6 weeks or so, we would stock up in Nairobi on meat, cheese, canned goods, and other such luxury items.  Now, we are struggling to find anything that we can buy locally.  This has meant that we’ve already made several trips to Gitega in the last week.  A group of us braved the market the other day and the locals were astonished at how much we were buying.  One lady commented in Kirundi, “The white people are hungry!”  I haven’t confirmed this yet, but I think that a lot of people only eat one meal a day and/or they eat the produce that is grown on their own little plot of land, thus minimizing the amount of food that they buy.  We’re hoping that an entrepreneurial Burundian will set up shop at Kibuye once he/she finds out that there are a bunch of hungry white people here now. 
While we cannot find a lot of things that are available in the U.S., we are fortunate to have access to some very unique treasures that you, our American blog readers, won’t be able to find.  Take for instance the noteworthy “Crust” toothpaste.  Having sampled this product, I would say that the “fresh mint” flavor is a bit of false advertising, but otherwise I’m sure that Drs. Jeffrey Brink & Hank Willis would approve of its fine quality.  
When Christmas and birthdays come around, we will be able to acquire paraphernalia for all the Harry Potter and/or Spiderman lovers on our team.  
And for the wee ones among us, “Happy Bear” (created by “Drum”) would be an excellent gift option.  
So while we do miss cream cheese, chocolate chips, and pretty much anything sweet, we are thankful for these special items that keep us laughing and remind us that “We’re not in Kansas anymore!”  

1 comment:

tscarlet said...

Great post! I love the image of the "hungry white people" inspecting the Burundian goods in the market.