Suitcase and World: Market day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Market day.

Weekly market in Djinjerou.

We passed through several markets and roadside vendors on our trip to and through Dogon country.  Each was fascinating in its own way and unfortunately, I didn't have much time to spend wandering through them as I would have liked.  But even with just glimpse, I managed to get some sense of what's sold here.

The first thing that strikes you about the markets here is just how poor the people are.   There is not a whole lot of food for sale here particularly when it comes to fruits and vegetables.  Fresh produce is not available either in quantity or in variety so it's no wonder that fruits and veggies are not much of a factor in the diet here or at least the diet I had while I was here.   I don't remember eating a leafy green vegetable the entire time I was here but I did eat a lot of root vegetables - squashes, carrots, onions.

I rarely saw meat for sale.  Chicken or similar fowl is commonly eaten and I think most people raise and sluaughter their own.

I found out that in Mali, it's the women who sell the fruits, vegetables, spices - basically, everything "non-meat".  In the covered market in Mopti, there's a section called the Ladies Market that is where the women congregate to sell their produced.  It was in this market that I was quickly introduced to the second thing that strikes you about the markets in Mali and that is, they are packed with people. I had to hold on to Tall's shirt, as we wound our way down the aisles, to make I didn't get separated from him from the swarm of people around us.

The third thing that strikes you about the market is that they sell things here that most Westerners would consider to be *wierd* but being Asian, I've seen similar stuff in the markets in Malaysia and China.   For example, the market in Mopti was filled with vendor after vendor selling dried and smoked fish.  They don't look appetizing in their dried/smoked state but I bet that they make for good seasoning for soups and stews.

Herbal medicine plays a strong role in Malian health and wellbeing so every market I was in, there was someone selling *things* that you would consume for medicinal purposes.

I have to admit that for as much time as I stared at the stuff,  I could not make out if it was animal, vegetable, mineral or other.

I found the street markets to be particularly interesting here.  If we were driving, Tall would have Peter stop the car at one end of the main street and then Tall and I would walk down to the other end to meet back up with Peter.  Here's a video of Tall and I walking through one market where the hats that the men were wearing captured my attention.  I don't remember the name of this tiny town but it was definitely on the way to Djenné because by the time I got to Djenné, I had already bought a Fulani hat as a souvenir :-)

And then there was this walk through Samadougou.  More interesting views to capture my attenion -)

Along our journey, we did stop at quite a few roadside stalls to pick up items.  Here's Tall buying melons.

In Fana, we stopped to buy some guavas (much smaller, harder and more sour than what I've had before) and some fruit that I don't know the name of but it had a tough green skin that you had to bite through.  Inside, the flesh of the fruit was a bright yellow color, was sweet and very soft in texture.  At the center was a large brown seed.  Very reminiscent of a mango but it didn't taste anything like a mango.  Not bad though.

Guavas on the right, mango like fruit on left.


It was the last day of Ramadan when we made our way back to Bamako. That night would be a big feast and everywhere cows were being slaughtered in preparation. Peter wanted to get some meat to bring home with him so we made a stop at a roadside butcher.

When the butcher saw me with my camera, he decided he wanted to pose for the picture so here he is, standing next to a leg of cow, with his huge knives in hand.

But the street vendors were not all about selling fruits,vegetables and meat.  On the way to Djenné, we made mid-morning pit stop to get some first cup of tea made Malian style.  

Proper tea is served in a small glass....similar to what they do in Turkey.  To make the tea, the leaves are put into the small teapot along with some ht water.  The tea is allowed to steep for a few minutes before it's poured out into the glass.  It's then poured back in the pot and then back into the glass.  Repeat several times.  At the end, you have cup of warm, sweetened black tea with a bit of froth on the top.

I have to say, it was a very good cup of tea....strong and sweet, just the way I like it.

The market in Mopti was particularly interesting besides it's located, literally, on the edge of the river.  Everyday, it bustles and teems with activity.

It was in Mopti that I bought one of my treasured souvenirs from Mali - a slab of salt mined by nomadic Tuareg tribesman in the Sahara Desert.