Voyages & Découvertes

In route towards Duala Market

Sunday 10 July 2011 by Stephan Mardaga

Monrovia July 2, 2011.

It is now raining season in Liberia; the whole of this week day and night, the rain did not stop. This Saturday morning, it seemed to subside. I then decided to step out after a Taï Chi brief practice with my house mate. Since few days, the appetite of a pineapple took charge of me, just a good reason to get to the nearest market : Duala market.

The sky was cloudy, no feeling of heat; I opted to stroll. As soon as I left the River View compound, I met a friend : Eva the guitarist (see Sunday afternoon fever) : what a surprise ! What are you doing here ? She just got a job : watch guard of a mobile phone company’s tower. (she earns 50 $US monthly). Not attractive but satisfactory. On the other hand, she plays guitar during the week-end at various beaches in order to mend the gap. She always carries her guitar, completely out of tune, with a string missing. She begun with a song, dynamic and sympathetic. Thank you Eva !

I went right on the short cut, flanked by a little boy with a plastic box in his hand. With curiosity, I ask for the content of the box; he showed me a portable phone out of use but exactly to the one that I have. Strange coincidence !

Reaching the Saint-Paul bridge, the leniency of the weather forecast encouraged me to continue the walk. A few meters ahead, I met a Senegalese engaged into the recuperation of scrap iron. What is a Senegalese doing here ? He told me that his father lived in Liberia, and was actively engaged into the diamond trade. He as a son therefore, made up his mind to trace his father. The future will determine if he should stay here or not.

At the end of the bridge, a strapping fellow was sharpening his machete on the guard rail of the reinforced concrete. He lives on one side of the bridge and has his cassava field on the other side. He has all the smile, and life seems to be beautiful for him.

All along the road leading to the market, one could see many small businesses and workshops.
A poster particularly attracted my attention : a concert. A guy walked to me and told me he was to be featured for the night. His pseudo name is J.T. He can sing in Hindi and Bengali. Do I look like an Indian ? I barely believed what he said, adding that he learned the language while working for Indians. Seeing my perplexity, he proposed something to me that I could not understand. He then started singing with a fine voice in Hindi. As less as I knew it was really touching.

I took a crossing path, in order to go away from the trafic’s noise. I found myself walking through narrow streets between houses, seeing people busy washing clothes, very logical endeavour, there is no rain : it is wise enough to pick-up the chance !
At the detour of another path, a mechanic was cleaning a dismantled car’s engine with kerosene. His name is Emile. I was so astonished to see all these parts spread up on the ground; he was confident, there should absolutely be no problem to re-assemble all. I begun talking about mechanics with him, he is an expert. We spoke French, he is a Guinean.

After the iron scrapers, the carpenters, spare parts sellers and so forth, I finally reach Duala market. At first, wholesalers (women) intercepting crops from the hinterland. Prices are heatedly debated on the spot amidst huge bunches of cassava leaves, potatoes leaves, pineapples, mangoes and so on.

Next is the area for vegetables and fruits. Walking between the market tables and negotiating prices at the same time, I filled up my bag to the brain. I made a brief stop to a seller of coconuts. Hero, 14 years of age, manipulates his machete with dexterity. There were little nuts but delicious. Hero had no seat for customers, I sat on a bag. The market was jam packed, buyers as well as sellers. There is everything here : plantain chips, kernels of all kinds, clothes, water in plastic bags, wheel barrows full to the edge.

I had to go; with the weight of my purchase, I preferred to take a taxi. Unfortunately, they were all filled. I spotted one taxi making an U-turn., I approached the driver, but our destinations were not the same. I obtained a charter, after negotiating with him : a good fair for both of us. I embarked the vehicle and also permitted a lady to come along. Clark is his name, a very sympathetic man who speaks Kpele as a local language and comes from a region close to the border with the republic of Guinea. He was very jovial, had a beautiful and comfortable car and, showed a sense of humour each time we bounced in a hole on the road. The lady got down and paid. I objected and asked Clark to refund her because the taxi was on charter. I told the lady that she was my guest; she kept silent as we departed.

Upon entering the compound, Clark is impressed by the luxury of the area. I told him that my Liberian colleagues named this place the paradise in Liberia (the are not wrong). No ! Says Clark : we are not in Liberia here !
We exchanged our respective cell phone numbers.

titre documents joints

In route towards Douala Market

10 July 2011
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