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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raw Meat...Raw Culture

If you want a picture of what small industry and ‘grassroots’ life looks like in Ghana, head to Makola market in Accra.  I didn’t know what to expect before we got there except I knew that this market relied less on tourism which meant the vendors would be less insistent on selling products, especially to four white girls.  The day started off sweltering hot and the sun was out to boil the earth.  The trotro ride there was easy and uneventful.  We arrived at Tema station and walked to Makola just around the corner.  I will have to return to take pictures of the scene because I didn’t take my camera with me, but it’s a bustling, lively place filled with whatever you could probably imagine.  Crowded alleys and sidewalks are teeming with vegetables, rice, beads, clothes, shoes, fish, superglue, fabric.. you get the picture.  I can’t even describe how unrealistic this is, its something to be experienced personally.  The smells, often a bit revolting, were strong and told obvious tales of what was being sold throughout the vicinity.  Weaving our way through aisles and alleys, we were greeted by every woman or man at each shop and asked how we were.  “What do you want?” Then, they hover over you while you’re looking at their products until you either purchase something or move on.  At one point, three women grabbed us by the arm and said, “Come with me.”  We’re kind of used to the friendliness here, so we knew we weren’t in danger.  Aubrey, the woman who had pulled me into the alley, told me to sit down in the chair next to her and started asking me questions about where I was from and where we were staying.  She just wanted me to sit and make conversation with her.  After 10 minutes, we got up and wished them a good day and kept moving.  Raw meat and blood sort of ruined the experience for me.  I don’t have a terribly weak stomach, but that sight and smell combined with the smell of fish is enough to make me not eat meat for probably a week.

Walking around, we saw three little boys playing in the street.  They were probably about 3-5 at the most.  There were two older boys and one little one.  They were all sort of fighting and playing around when the little one picked up a board from the street and went after the two bigger kids.  He hit them pretty good a few times before they ran away from the little guy.  Pretty comical.

We headed to the Makola mall area which is a more chill atmosphere where we headed upstairs determined to find some cute clothes comparable to what we see people wear all the time.  We can’t seem to get a straight answer about where these girls get their clothes.  “My friend has someone bring them to her and we get them from him.”  What??? I just want to know where to shop.

After bargaining our way through a dress and a football jersey, we stood up on a deck of a store and looked out over the market.  Too tired to do much else, we decided to head back to the hostel.  We climbed down the stairs, and we walked back towards Tema station to catch another trotro.  While waiting to cross the street, there was a disturbance close to us just up the street.  People started yelling and scattering in different directions.  My first thought was that a car got away from someone and was going to crash, but that wasn’t the case.  I still don’t know exactly what happened, but then people started yelling and then things calmed down.  Guess we’ll never know what happened. (Sorry for the anticlimax)

Thursday the rain came.  Melissa and I were walking back from our social work class when a few drops started taming the dust.  Since we got here, we’ve been wishing for rain because it’s so hot.  We got our wish…and then some.  When it rains here, it really rains.  We got completely drenched within seconds of the downpour.  We started running back to our hostel so our school things wouldn’t get terribly soaked.  At that point, there was nothing to do but laugh.  It rained really heavily for a few hours and then it stopped and the world was cool.  I put on a sweatshirt and had goosebumps for about 4 hours.  It was awesome.

The next day, my cab driver told me the “weather is friendly”.  It was still cooler from the rain.  “Water is life,” here in Africa.  Isn’t that the truth.

Since everyday is like a weekend here, we have a lot of time on our hands.  We go out a lot and try to experience a lot of different places.  We’ve been able to check out a bit of the nightlife as well.  Bella Roma is becoming a favorite spot.  We know one of the bartenders so it’s fun to see him at work.  It can get really busy there on weekends, and there are people from all different cultures.  I love hearing about people’s lives, so it’s fun to be able to sit down and have a conversation with others I’ve met here.  At Bella last night, I met quite a few people, but I talked to Maxwell who is a 31-year old from the Volta region who runs a radio station.  He told me that if I ever come to the Volta region, he will put me on the radio and we can have a conversation.  He explained that he’s one of 21 siblings in his family.  His father had had four wives in his life.  The first wife had 10 children, the second had 6, the third had 4, and the last wife had one child. 

Abrupt stop, but that’s what I’ve got.

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