Saturday, February 28, 2009

Market Madness

Today Sr. Bernie and I went to the local market as is customary on Saturdays. The market we went to was one I had never been to before. It was smaller than some but Bernie knew more of the vendors. People at this market were very friendly and one lady walked up to me and gave me a big hug just because I was white. We mostly bought vegetables, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, yams, garden egg (egg plant), etc. But we also got other things like dried cod heads, eggs, and ground nuts. We also went to the butcher. There were various cow parts such as the intestines available but all we got was liver.

After that we went to buy chicken. I know have new appreciation for walking in Walmart and grabbing a bag of frozen chicken breast. The chickens we were looking at were alive. We picked out a nice middle size white hen that cost 1,300 naira (9 dollars). And when I say we picked out I mean it literally. Here people reach into a pen and pull out a chicken by both wings. If that one is too scrawny or too big, you put it back and find one that suits your purposes. As Sister was getting out the money, the stall owner told me to hold the chicken. At first I just looked at them like they were crazy but I took the chicken. Most people grab both wings in one hand but I was afraid of dropping it and letting our dinner escape, so I held a wing in each hand. In case you were curious, if you hold a chicken by it's wings it makes this weird sound that reminds me of a baby crying. So as I stood there awkwardly holding a chicken, people stopped what they were doing to laugh at the Onye Oicha. When I protested that I had never held a chicken before, one boy started laughing so hard I thought he was going to hurt himself.

So we were now the proud owners of a chicken. Since neither one of us wanted to slaughter the chicken we took it to a butcher just a few stalls down. I can now proudly say I have seen someone chop off a chicken's head with a machete. I will spare you the details but two minutes later we walked away with a whole butchered chicken. That was probably the best thirty cents I have ever spent in my life. I would have paid much more to get out of killing a chicken.

When we were done shopping, Sr. Bernie decided we should take okadas home. Okadas are motorcycle taxis and they are not for the faint of heart. I have seen okadas swerving in and out of traffic with no regard for personal safety. Most okadas provide helmets for passengers but often it is an ill fitting construction helmet. Fortunately, Bernie was careful in selecting a driver and told him to go slowly. So I climbed on the back of the okada and started praying. Most passengers don't bother holding on but I clutched the bike in one hand and held on to the driver's shoulder with the other hand. The driver was good and we only had to swerve once to avoid a bus. By the time we got home, my adrenaline was pumping and I felt like I had just got off a rollar coaster.

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