Shake Shake Boutique

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The muddy pathways in Owino

That’s one of the many names for the downtown secondhand clothes market in Kampala. It is also called Owino Market; some call it Owino Classic, while others call it Kunkumula (which in Luganda means shake out). The market got the name Kumkumula because that’s what you literally do there – some of the clothes on sale are piled in a heap, and when you identify an item of clothing that you would like to purchase, you pull it out from under the pile of clothes and shake it out to be able to see its full length.

Owino is a large market in downtown Kampala. It is literally at the center of the city and is both a food as well as a second hand clothing market. Going shopping in Owino yesterday brought back childhood memories hen I would escort my mother every Saturday morning, to buy fresh and dry food rations for the week. In those days there were not as many taxis as there are today and there were no boda bodas, so we literally walked to the market and back home.

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Trying on a coat

Owino is a congested market. I am almost certain that the place hosts more than 5,00 vendors. The clothes stalls are packed close together, and one has to walk through narrow corridors to get through the market. Walking through the market is literally like walking through a maze – one wrong turn and you can easily get lost in there. You need to have a good sense of where you are going and how to get there. Plus, on days like yesterday when it rained in Kampala, one has to wear boots or closed shoes in the market, because the place becomes soggy and muddy.

Yesterday, my mission was to buy some clothes that I will need for the Rwenzori Mountain climb. I enlisted the help of Titus, a friend of mine who climbed Rwenzori last year. Going with him was great since he knew the exact vendors who sell the kind of clothes I will need on the mountain. We started by getting warm trousers, waterproof pants and two snow suits. The snow suits will come in handy when I get nearer the top of the mountain when I have to climb through the snow. We also bought two coats. What I learned from Titus is that the ideal coat must be warm on the inside and waterproof on the outside, preferably with a hood, not too bulky and must be able to fold and fit into a rucksack.

After the trouser and coat purchases, we went on to buy facemasks. These are needed for the walk in the snow, to shield the face from the cold breeze up in the mountain. The mask also helps protect the face from possible frost bite. We bought gloves and again, Titus advised that the ideal gloves should be flexible and user friendly to enable one hold a mug, or hold a walking stick. Don’t buy gloves that are too thick, which makes it hard to grasp things. I bought a scarf and I also bought some polo necks, which will help keep my neck warm.

Our final purchase was supposed to be a rucksack and a big bag for holding the bulk of the clothes I will carry on the mountain. For rucksack, look for ones that have great back support and that have ample space for big water bottles and that are also big enough to carry your daily essentials. The bigger bag is for carrying a sleeping bag and clothes. We found good bags but they were quite pricey. We bargained as hard as we could, but the vendor refused to budge, and so we walked away. We will do a bag search another day.

It was great having Titus as a resource and as he took me around Owino, I felt that I too should be of service to other people who climb after me. Titus is a lawyer with a busy legal practice, but that he could spare his precious time to help me out, was totally mind blowing. Titus was heaven sent!

The all essential facemask

The all essential face mask

Going to Shake Shake Boutique was another milestone on my journey towards climbing the Rwenzori. As we walked through the market, it dawned on me that the climb is not too far away. One day soon I will be climbing the Rwenzori, and I can’t wait!


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