Today, I 'snuck' out of the office to run some quick errands during business hours, and found myself in a quagmire of traffic, taxi drivers shouting, the sun beating down relentlessly, in a snake of cars longer than a few CN cargo trains chained together. Completely stagnant and unmoving.
Instead of fuming and cursing endlessly to myself about how useless the traffic police are, in dealing with the constantly powerless traffic lights, and the fact that despite the massive explosion in urban dwellers and vehicles in Accra over the past 5 years, the roads have remained tiny one lane rivulets, letting cars trickle through like molasses down a rough canvass...
Today, imprisoned in the jam, encapsulated in my airconditioned 4x4, I busied myself by jotting down each item that a street seller pushed up to the chilled window, and below is the list, as complete as I could muster...
1. Shoes for boys and men
2. Magazines - Ebony, Time, Elle Decor
3. Brightly coloured soccer balls - with a head bouncing display by the seller
4. Shears for shaving your head (I must be having a really bad hair day to be offered these!)
5. Kitchen knife sets including the extra large cleaver for those bone cutting jobs
6. Small coffee tables - inscribed with the Ghanaian symbol Gye Nyame 'Except God', and polished with red and black shiny shoe polish
7. Soy milk, in a bowl of water (for chilling?)
8. Homemade peanut candy, cut in triangles and arranged in a bowl on the seller's head
9. Chinese branded pineapple crackers... hmmm
10. Bathroom scales
11. Men's leather belts
12. Lanterns (electric I think)
15. Television remotes
16. Suit ties in fancy silk lined boxes
17. Plantain chips
18. Bread in sweating plastic bags
19. Water in clear plastic sachets (sold for biting the corners, sucking the contents and throwing the non-biodegradable shriveled remains on the side of the road - very popular)
20. Chinese New Year decorations for hanging on rearview mirrors (I have a feeling I'll be seeing lots of these in taxis soon)
21. Wooden walking canes
22. Pleather steering wheel covers
23. Rat poison and cockroach chalk (same seller)
24. Chinese Etah-a-Sketch boards - I got a demonstration!
25. A textbook called 'Americans in Literature'
27. Bottles of coke
28. Chilled tins of Milo (malted chocolate drink) in cooler box
29. Bathing sponges in rainbow colours
30. Wind-up toy spaceships
31. Brass bracelets
32. Ghana maps
33. Nail clippers
34. Mirrors with ‘I Love You’ inscribed on the bottom corner - hard to resist those...
35. Keychains with expensive car logos
36. Mobile phone prepaid units scratch cards
38. Pleather passport holders
39. Bath towels
40. The Real Life of Barack Obama – somehow I knew it was a matter of days before these books would be at every traffic light
41. Toilet paper in 2 roll packs and 10 roll packs
42. Ice cream
44. Laptop briefcase style bags
46. Lawn chairs (I’m not kidding)
47. The History of Rwanda (I wonder where the guy found this book?)
50. Shoe shine kit
51. Green apples
52. Red grapes
53. Chinese fans – for all this heat!
45 minutes later I emerged on the other side of the traffic light, waved through with 4 or 5 other cars by the military men in full gear and white gloves. I was finally headed to my destination, knowing that shopping malls are the silly construction of foreigners and take so long to get to, one could just buy everything along the way and turn back upon arrival.