I joined my colleague and a friend who wanted to buy some things at the main market in Abuja, named Wuse. They were looking for gifts to take back home to their families. The following are some of the sites and sounds from my 4 hours there today:
Muslim men washing their feet, arms and faces with little plastic teapots filled with water. They were preparing for prayers.
Hausa women from northern Nigeria wearing beautiful, bright colored dresses sitting in a half-circle selling yogurt.
A blue and yellow nylon camping tent set up smack dab in the middle of the market, hoping to be bought, despite its incongruity!
Kilishi–dried beef, like jerky, that is seasoned with pepper spice, peanut sauce and ginger. It tastes kind of like Thai peanut sauce flavored strips of beef jerky.
The colors and prints of fabric stacked to the ceiling at many shops, being sold to then be made into dresses and traditional shirts/pants for women and men.
Being asked if I was Chinese.
Being told I was an American soldier.
Jollof rice and fried mackeral for lunch in a dank square box of a luncheonette.
Peanuts being sold from headtops seemingly around every corner.
Laughing at how tough my friend was while haggling. He got his prices, much to the dissatisfaction of disgruntled sellers who were out-negotiated by a man with a sharper/quicker tongue.
Buying Nigerian High-Life and Congolese music CDs, and while doing so having a local guy insist he was a rapper, as in “I am like 50 cents man…what’s up G?!!!”
Having that rapper teach me how to say some Ibo words, and then having me call his friend those words, which I knew was going to be a joke, so I played along. When I called his friend “bush meat,” everyone around got a laugh!
The feel of a hot afternoon sun on the back of my neck.
Electronics. Shoes. Suits. Rugs. Furniture. Toys. Everything you could possibly want or need was there, as is the case of large markets around the world.
And spending time with my friends who were going about the same thing you and I have often done: walking around a shopping area looking for what would make nice gifts for the people we love, giving thought to each person and what item would be perfect for them.
As is often said, (but we can never hear it enough) we all are more alike than we are unalike.