Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hunting and Gathering

So, since we're still carless, it's a real pain getting food. We have to send a memo to get a motorpool car to go grocery shopping, so I do some shopping while I'm here at work.

You see, we at the Embassy surrounded on all sides by the city Marché. The Grand Marché is down the street, but there are tons of stalls on both sides of the street for blocks and blocks around. It's not just a security nightmare, but a traffic one as well. Every morning, cabs and motorbikes are dropping people and their goods off to sell. When it rains, as it did a couple of days ago, the already terrible roads get worse with huge puddles.
However, down the street from the Embassy is the only respectable butcher in town, Marox. So, for the second time, I walked down there this morning to get meat. They have a pretty good selection... I picked up some chicken breasts, steaks, and two types of sausages. There's a white sausage, which looks like bratwurst but really isn't, that we've tried before and liked. Then I got a package of "saucisse au curry," which doesn't really say anything at all about the sausage, other than it's probably spicy. Anyway, I got what I needed and went to pay.
One of the two cashiers is run by a nice French lady, who, since she's the only white face is the place, probably runs the store. It's not a nice generalization to make, but unfortunately it's usually true. I'd love to find a store actually run by some Togolese, or even regional Africans, but it's all Lebanese or French. She rang up my stuff, then I asked here where I could find some fish or shrimp. It went like this:
"Avez-vous du poissons, ou des crevettes" (Got fish or shrimp?)
"Desolé. Mais il y a une poissonerie la-bas. Elle peut la preparer aussi." (Sorry. But there's a fishmonger over there. She can prepare it too.)
"Ou? C'est loin?" (Where? Is it far?)
"Non, c'est peut-etre 50 metres. Tout-droit, a gauche, dans le marché." (No, it's maybe 50 meters. Straight ahead, to the left, in the market.)
[-- At that point I was thinking about going. Thinking, sure, I could do this. I could buy fish. Then, as I'm leaving, she says to me... --]
"Ne laissez pas la femme vous tromper!" (Don't let the woman fool you.)
So that's what I had in my head as I walked out, went toward the Embassy to where she said to turn left, and saw the writhing sea of marchandeuses in the muddy, puddle-filled market.
So I chickened out. We can go without fish for a while longer. I didn't feel all that cool about wading into the market alone. Much less after a warning that they'd test my fish-picking skills.

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