Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

Market Day Fun!

Date of original journal entry: Monday, January 23, 2012

The open markets can actually be a lot of fun after one learns how to play the game!

For Westerners new to the scene, the open markets can be a bit daunting.  The jostling and the commotion, people everywhere and the indescribable mingling of smells.  Stephen especially likes the bantering for prices; he’s gotten quite good at it and amazingly I’ve learned to hold my own too.  But sometimes my market experiences are a bit more personal.

 

 

We first got our first hens because, needing to add protein to our diet, we wanted the eggs.  But we didn’t have any source for ready-mixed laying grain which meant we had to buy the components separately and put it all together. This in turn meant that the hens didn’t lay as consistently as we needed them to.  So, every few days I had to walk into town and go shopping … for my chickens!

One of my old hens destined for the stew pot.

“You want THIS fish,” the woman behind the stall insisted.  “No,” I answered, pointing to the smoked fish, “I’ll take these.”  Then she asked if I wanted krien-krien a locally grown leafy green, to which I replied “No, I need potato leaf.”  Oh, now her eyes got big with excitement.  “You like THIS fish?”  “Umm, Yes … I like … fish,” I replied a bit deceptively. [Thinking to self: Just not THIS fish.]  Their smoked fish is hard, dry, burnt, and bony.  “And potato leaf!” she exclaimed with rising excitement.  “Oh, your husband is going to love on you tonight, you really know how to cook; you will make your man happy!”  She was now waxing eloquent on what a good cook I was.  “Yes, my husband likes my cooking.” I replied with a smile. [Thinking to self: What will make my husband really happy is when these hens start laying.]

“Hey! You need this?” came the voice of another woman eager to sell something to the white lady.  As I turned to the direction of the new voice two chicken feet were thrust in my face; the woman was shaking them to show me they wiggled and were still fresh.  The first woman, now an authority on what I would and would not eat, came to my rescue and boldly  told the second woman that white people did not eat such things; a fact I quickly confirmed.  “No thank you,” was my polite answer as I left the market with smoked fish and potato greens for my chickens.  [Thinking to self: But if my hens don’t start  laying soon, just maybe … ]

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