Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Markets of Accra

A lady carrying an overflowing container of papayas on her head weaves gracefully in and out of the stands selling assortments of vegetables, while another man attempts to call me over to buy a pair of slightly worn shoes.  My first experience at a Ghanaian market was quite overwhelming. At every turn, there was always someone wanting to sell anything from an electric hot plate to yards of fabric to freshly cut meat. I have discovered that it is always better to go to the market with a list of needed items, otherwise it can be stressful to simply browse through. But I have grown to understand and love these intricate webs of stands and sellers and I know a regular supermarket back in the US will not quite have the same vibe.
Fruit and Veggie Seller

There are a few main markets in Accra and I don’t exactly know how big any of them really are, since they seem to continue endlessly through many city blocks. The larger markets have different sections dedicated to food, clothing, appliances, beads, etc. My absolute favorite part of the markets is the fabric: the colors are vibrant and there are endless patterns to choose from. Seamstress shops are abundant and I have had one dress made and plan to have some more made soon. I have never been able to design a dress and have it fitted exactly to my size before and I have a feeling I may never be able to do it again. Another part of the markets that I love is the huge piles of clothing, which are usually from somewhere abroad, often the United States. There are some treasures buried within the mounds of tank tops and graphic tees, including a new favorite t-shirt that says Cherios on it. One of the best parts about the markets is bargaining, even though my bargaining skills need work. It often helps when I try to speak in Twi because they usually end up laughing at me then reducing the price. It's really amazing how busy these markets are all the time yet people still seem to navigate through them at ease. I know I will miss these chaotic centers of trading when I get home.

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