I asked a Ghanian Church member to teach me to cook a few local dishes. She suggested we shop for food at the Kwame Nkrumah market (named after the first President of Ghana). We rode a tro-tro to the market. A tro-tro is usually an old, beat up, privately owned van that can hold up to 16 people and is the only form of "mass transit" here; this will be the subject of a future blog.
At our destination the tro-tro pulled into a red dirt lot filled with hundreds of tro-tros. We have arrived safely and pile out to begin our walk through Kwame Nkrumah market. After passing shoes, clothes, wigs, underwear, and African soap vendors we reach the food area. Imagine a football sized field of red dirt with beach umbrellas and tightly packed little wood tables (old crates) covered with produce and fish; everything you need to cook dinner tonight.
The spaces between the little tables are just wide enough for one person to walk. I saw a 3 sided wire mesh box on a table where a man was chopping up a side of beef as people came and made requests. No thanks, I'll pass. I also saw fresh water crabs running around in the bottom of a great big tin bowl. We bought plantains, okra, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, onions, green onions, little white eggplant, cabbage, Ghanaian spinach, a medium sized smoked salmon (or a salmon-like fish), red cooking oil, tomato paste, and some mystery dough.
I didn't know what to expect the cost would be. I took 70 cedis and spent only 25 cedis. One cedi is about $.75. My bag now weighed 25 lbs. and I hired someone for one cedi to carry it in a big metal bowl on her head back to the tro-tro . That was the best money I spent all day. I was completely covered with sweat and still faced the return trip home on the tro-tro. I held my 25 lb. bag on my lap as there was no other option. I was dropped at the Cantonments Post Office near my home and walked about 1/4 mile to complete my journey. The outing took 2 1/2 hours and I was hot, wet and very tired. Thank goodness for our air-conditioned home. Tomorrow I will be cooking Jollof rice, Okra stew and a dough ball. Today I will be washing and bleaching everything we bought including the tomato paste and the fish. Then I'll take a shower.
I never saw another white person and never heard a word of English. All the bartering was in Ga, one of the dialects here. It is suddenly very clear to me why we drive to the air-conditioned store in our air-conditioned car. Man, are we spoiled, and we think that's normal. Here, it is not normal. I feel very blessed.