Day 4, Tuesday, my friend thought it would be a good idea to check out one the largest and busiest markets. While I got a hint of how populated the capital city of Accra was the first three days of my trip, I really got a sense of how crowded the city was on the trip to the market. We sat in long lines of traffic to get to the market and were confronted once again with people selling anything you needed. The merchants were situated precariously in the middle of the busy traffic lanes. If you were in mid transaction and the traffic light changed and traffic nudged a bit, the merchant ran a long the car until it came to a stop once again. You could buy anything from windshield wipers, dog chains, sunglasses, toys, clothing, and food. The merchants were rather aggressive and at any moment I felt that they would stick their head through my window or open up our car door.
As we made our way through the market, the intensity grew. There were people everywhere you walked and merchants on every inch of the sidewalk. We went “inside” the famous Makola market which was a organized, informal economy of “tent” merchants. We stopped off at a store belonging to my friend’s aunt. I commented on how much I liked her dress. I was then taken through the aisles filled with material. There was so much to choose from. I settled on two patterns – one filled with Pink and Green (of course) and another with an earth tone that had some dragon symbols on it. After choosing my material, I sat with the seamstress looking through the various pictures of dresses and skirts. She took my measurements – which she didn’t write down – and I paid her for the work in advance with the hope of picking the items up in two days. It was one of those rash things I didn’t think about and was worried I wouldn’t like the outcome. But the cost was negligible and even if I didn’t like it “I could make some pillows or something else out of the material”, I thought.
After we left Makala, we headed to the Cultural Arts Center where I became deeply frustrated with the bargaining. Thankfully, I had someone who knew the language and could negotiate on my behalf – she was not to be reckoned with and she drove a hard bargain. I am indebted to her patience and skill that day! I walked away with many treasures from earrings, necklaces, a few masks, t-shirts, and a few other odds and ends.
We ended the day with a trip to the mall. Since living in London, I have only gone to one mall and it doesn’t quite compare to the malls we have in America. There were many ways where I felt Ghana was more like the U.S. than England – one of which was the mall and the fact that shops stayed open late. The stores had imports such as TM Lewin, Puma, and Levi and the prices reflected that these were “premium imports”. The food court offered a diverse range of food from Asian to French, American, and African cuisine. While I worried about the food on the trip, finding food I could eat was not a problem at all. In fact, breakfast was very similar to what I would eat at home: eggs, toast, fruit, and tea.
On the ride home, the sky grew dark and there was an extreme overcast. Rain appeared eminent.