Saturday, April 25, 2009

(every) 6 days a week...

Catherine Dembele - the pastor's wife and a crocheter with a pretty smile and inviting laugh.

Market is every six days in my village and I always look forward to weaving in and out of the small hangars to greet the old women and men who hang around chatting with one another, greeting folks they only see on market day who come in to sell their various treasures. Things get started as the day cools off so around 4:30 I peek in the direction of the two dead baobabs that designate our market to see if all the vendors have gathered. Go too early and run the risk of lingering too long. Go too late and all the best produce could be snatched up by the early birds. Timing is everything and I'm looking to fill my canvas bag with tasty treats to last me a few days as well as some gifts for Annie, Esayi and the kids.
Commerce is always going on in village and it's fascinating to see the laws of supply and demand at work. Annie is on constant commission to knit baby outfits for new and soon-to-be-born babies and business is booming as evidenced by the little ones sporting her handiwork around town - dainty hats, tops and booties knitted into delicate patterns of red, yellow, green and white - colors favored by the women and the colors of Mali's flag. Annie also buys peanuts, okra and yarn in bulk and resells them for a small profit. Esayi fills a 20 liter jug with gas in San and then redistributes it into recycled, one-liter wine bottles he sells to moto owners who find themselves in the middle of the bush and with no gas station for at least 15 miles. Catherine, the pastor's wife, crochets large doiley-esque pieces for women to lay on the cement benches at church so their fancy fabric doesn't get mussed by the dirt and dust that coats all surfaces this time of year; a souvenir from the persistent harmattan winds whipping around.

These two were hanging out in Esayi's horse cart - had to snap a photo.

The market in my village is different than San by leaps and bounds. Whereas San is humming and buzzing with people and all kinds of trinkets, village market is subdued and the variety is limited. You can find small stacks of tomatoes, onions, hand carved stools, tightly woven straw mats, bread, dried fish, baggies of salt and women who repair broken calabash bowls in exchange for millet. As I buy stacks of tomatoes or dried fish, the women selling it will load them in my bag, pick up an extra tomato or scoop of fish, and then knowingly look at me as they add it to my bag; an encouragement to come back to their spread the following week with an unspoken promise of another gift for her "terimuso" (girlfriend). Women also make fried dough balls and spaghetti which they sell in little plastic baggies for pennies a pop. Traveling salesmen bike in from neighboring villages and San, peddling things like rope, medicine, baby clothes and powdered soap; an ever-expanding market for their goods found in distant villages like mine.
After making my rounds I make one last loop of the market to make sure I've greeted everyone and gotten everything I need. Satisfied with my purchases and carrying my "shopping" bag filled with the deals of the week I wave goodbye to the crowd of women and children and navigate the dirt path back home, carefully dodging traffic along the way - cattle and donkey carts crowding the way, indifferent to shoppers like me.

1 comment:

Marija said...

Chupi - I want to go to the market! Room in the itinerary?

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