Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Market in Accra

Our last day in Accra with nothing short of phenomenal; we took full advantage of what would be our last day in ‘tourist’ mode before we were to head up north and begin work.

Mid-way through the day we went to what one of the larger markets in Accra, which spanned a couple city blocks and whose centre was a three story building that was as big as a city block itself. The market was busy with foods, cloths, various trinkets, and smiling faces; and we got a lot of waves and people saying “ete sen?” (“how are you?”), to which we reply “eh yeh!”

There were nine of us at the market, so we broke up into smaller groups. I headed off with Ben, Luke, and Samina to find oranges, mangos and fried yams. After getting our food we stood around eating them in a small, unoccupied spot near the middle of the market. Not two minutes after we get there a woman calls us over to her stall as those around her scurry to find chairs for us. We’re all a little more than uneasy at this display of white privilege, but Luke assures us that it’d be worse to decline and we sit down anyway. As we ate, a small (and incredibly cute) girl summons the courage to come up to us. Ben says hello and asks her what her name is in Twi (“Ya fre we sen?”), to which she whispered something inaudible. One of the women sitting at the counter eventually shoos the girl away, despite our protests.

After saying thank you to the women (“madasi”), we make out way to the top floor of the market, where clothes and fabric are being sold. We stop and see a finished pinkish traditional shirt that is priced at 60 000 cedis. I tried to barter with the woman to bring down the price but she wouldn’t budge. After wandering away for a bit, surrounded by bright colours and the sounds of sewing machines, we head back to the first lady. The lady still won’t budge on the price and brings out another shirt with the same pattern, but in blue/purple, likely thinking that I didn’t like the colour of the pink one. Eventually I gave in and bought the pink shirt for 60 000. Not long after putting on my new shirt Ben ran back to the lady in order to buy the second one—which was rather funny considering we had already been mistaken as twins several times early in the day. After excitedly taking a picture with the woman, we make our way out of the market and down to the tro-tros.

Many people were enthusiastic to see our attempts to fit in, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly nervous about it. We couldn’t be sure whether or not it looked like we were trying to buy our acceptance into their culture ($6+ for a shirt is a lot here). Ben mused that we might be perceived as mocking them by thinking that we’re any closer to belonging here by simply purchasing a shirt; an interesting thought that I was left to mull over as we boarded the tro-tro and headed for the beach.

I’ll have to continue this story tomorrow. Time is precious in these (unreliable) internet cafés, and the bulk of my time is spent uploading pictures (speaking of which, I managed to get most of the pictures for my past couple entries up... pictures for this one will come next time).


At 4:08 p.m., Anonymous Jenn said...

Wow, sounds like that's a lot of fun running around the market .I want to see a p[icture of this "twin"

Love ya, take care

At 4:21 p.m., Blogger b1 said...

Wow, Bryn... just, wow.

Thank you so much for sharing these initial impressions.


At 5:48 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bryn: Finally managed to get to your site!! WOW -sounds like your "adventure" is an eye-opener too...glad to hear that you're well and enjoying the culture shock. Stay safe and healthy!!
~~ Cheers from the Ball family.

At 6:37 p.m., Anonymous Jocelyn said...

Hey Bryn!
Sounds amazing - nice sunset picture! I love the market story...don't you love the markets and the yelling?! hahaha, anyway, best of luck with everything, just wanted to check in. Many hugs.
"I love you, don't die."
South Africa is FANTASTIC!

At 5:07 p.m., Blogger Emily said...

I am, again, amazed at your ability to help me really see what you are experiencing. I hope that you are enjoying it, and know that you're in my htoughts!
later roomie;)

At 12:05 a.m., Anonymous Edouard LeBlanc said...

Hey Bryn! I realy enjoyed reading your posts. Sounds like your having a fantastic time down there. I cant beleive you where not more nervous than you said you where. I remember a feeling of extreme nervousness with a tad of what the hell is going happen next. Truth be told having other people to go with and being a westerner probably helps. LoL Enjoy yourself budy and welcome to the "Culturaly Enlightened Club" stay sharp~

(Remember when I said this would change you forever?)

I cant wait to buy you lunch when you get back so we can trade travel stories.

This is Ed writing you this message from a not so sketchy internet cafe here in the less interesting Gold Coast of OZ.

At 3:32 p.m., Blogger foggs said...

Hi Bryn,
How is Africa? Hope things are going well. It looks like I will be doing my July at SHAD UNB! YeaH! Anyways, here is why I am writing. Let me give you some background.

I was able to go to Jordan and while there I taught a session in the Queen Rania Educational Center. I was able to facilitate a teacher getting a laptop and PASCO gave me to give to her some probeware. Last semester, some of my students decided to create a solar powered laptop with the intent to send it to Africa. 2 weeks ago, I was at the NB teahers conference at which there was a travel company similar to EF. I made the comment that although taking students to London is cool, I feel it is more important to take them somewhere that they can both travel and do service/leadership. It is more of an education to our students than to others. Oh and my wife loves sara mcLaughlin. Then the two of you come to my class and say we are going to Africa. Then the weird thing happened. I caught an episode of Oprah. On stage they had Queen Rania of Jordan, and the first female president of any african country on stage. They were both discussing education, particularlythe education of females..and they finished with world on fire by Sara McLaughlin. Twilight zone. So beleive it or not..I e-mailed Oprah first. She probably will not write back..but that is not the point. The point is..we need to do a project that will like our students at RHS with the outside world. We need to find a science project that will be used as the excuse for a cultural exchange either in person or via the web. This is where you come in. I need ideas. I need contacts. I need a video conference between you and us soon to get the ball rolling. Can you do it? Keep thinking. As much as you will change some african Village, some African Village will change you more. We can that to be contagious here. We have a limited window of opportunity. Can you fit it in? Let me know. Watch out for snakes.

At 11:56 p.m., Blogger Albert County guy said...

Well look at little Bryn go. Speaking as your old neighbor I always knew you were destined for greatness. I am often impressed by the young smart people of the world but seldom am I inspired by anybody. Your talented writing brings great meaning to your since of adventure and wisdom beyond your years. You are a great inspiration to many including me. Let no man be able to say Bryn did not live his life the way he wanted to. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more of your incredible blog entries. If you don’t mind I want to include a link to your blog on my site

Good luck and here is to many cool refreshing drinks of water in Africa !

At 7:56 a.m., Anonymous Accra Flights said...

Hey Bryn you have shared an interesting thing with us...I like it.


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