Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Drive-by shopping in Accra

Yesterday was a holiday - there was holiday traffic in Accra. Today was a business day - there was weekday traffic in Accra.

We left the office midday to head off to a meeting - but the roads had different ideas of how we should spend the next hour and it wasn't sitting around a boardroom table. That would come later (after we'd made calls apologizing for being late due to traffic).

In the meantime -I thought I'd expand on a post I once did - that listed all the items for sale by hawkers in traffic...

This time it's a visual account. Enjoy!!

When traffic came to a standstill, the hawkers lined the streets fully ready for business...

Tiger nuts. These fibrous little balls grow in the ground and taste like coconut... Personally my mouth just ends up full of dry little bits after a while. Not my snack of choice...


Pillows. This guy was definitely hoping for a bulk sale. He was swamped by his wares!


Pirated DVDs - usually with three sets of indistinguishable subtitles embeded... they sell pretty much anything from Africa movies to American series, but the 'shoot 'em up movies seem to sell best...

Designer ties! No less than Burberry, Gucci and Giorgio Armani. Notice the white gloves for his delicate merchandise.

"Wanna buy a watch" - I get visions of a guy in a long trench-coat.


Loved this seller's t-shirt. Canadian Idol!! He had a complete barbering set and a scale for sale...


A single pair of men's shoes. He was really convinced I might want them. How did he know they were my size?! :)


Shoes for the whole family. Now that's more like it!! Especially liked the USA flip-flops.


Boiled peanuts (which are quite good and as addictive as any snack food), and dictionaries...


Ties.


Popcorn (sweet or salty)


Plastic wall clock. Like gold!


Unrefrigerated yogurt drink. I always fear the wrong kinds of active bacteria will be in there after a day in the sun in traffic...


Basketballs, footballs (Soccer balls) - these must do well...


Salted cashews and cashew butter - yum!


Handkerchiefs - everyone seems to have one in Ghana for everything from sweat removal to nose blowing.


Various power bars and sockets and even a universal television remote. This guy was a walking hardware store.


This was my favourite. The portable gym - Tummy Trimmer AND a scale to check if it's working!!!


Last but not least - the lord Jesus poster. The bigger the better for your lounge.
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42 comments:

Captain Dumbass said...

Add a shirt and pants and you could head to work naked and buy your whole wardrobe on the way.

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Thank you for your so interesting pics:)

Nevine said...

What a feast! I miss seeing that, and it's one of the sights I most enjoy when I'm home in Cairo. Thanks for bringing it to us, and sharing!

The pale observer said...

Thanks for the comments! It is fun and yes I'm sure you could get a full wardrobe, plus all your hardware and decorating needs as well as get fed - all just on your way to work!

Esi W. Cleland said...

Nice! I love it. I also like how you use so many photos. I should learn that from you.

The pale observer said...

Thanks Esi! Also someone has just sent me a link of how to make photos bigger in blogger - so moving forward my pics should be larger too!!

4evernite said...

So interesting. Enjoyed the photos. A regular drive-thru Mall. That way if you forgot something at home you can just buy it on the way. Neat!

Chad Sayban said...

LMAO! Tell me he isn't selling a Tummy Trimmer? Well, I guess we are even exporting our fitness junk. Amazing! Thanks for the photos.

corvedacosta said...

Lovely photos. They remind me of the streets of Jamaica. So interesting.
Lots of things to buy in this recession.

The Old Gray Egg said...

My wife and I lived for two years in Accra back in the days of Jerry Rawlings. This brings back memories. Also add to the list bananas, lobsters, and the Ghanaian chewing stick (chew the end until frayed and brush your teeth with it ... actually has antibacterial properties). Glad I found your blog!

The pale observer said...

@4evernite - thanks for visiting and commenting!

@Chad - you wouldn't believe the amount of cheap Chinese rubbish that gets sold into Africa!!! Whenever they have Chinese New Year - the Ghanaian roadside sellers are touting little Chinese New Year rear view mirror trinkets!!!

@Corve - having been to Jamaica many times I agree - there are alot of similarities!

@Old Gray - wow! What brought you to Ghana then? Alot has changed. We even have a mall with chain stores and proper movie theaters now!! :) Thanks for visiting!

GutsyWriter said...

I'm exhausted shopping and imagining being surrounded by all these vendors. Do they accept, "No" for an answer?
Also DVD's, in Belize, always the violent ones sold. Very sad.
Great images of your life. Thanks.

Miss Footloose said...

Great, Holli, to see those familiar (to me) images again. I remember being afraid I'd run over their feet when I'd start up the car again after stopping at a light or being held up in a jam. Don't they mind when you shoot their pictures?

By the way, your site came up fine with all the followers icons showing!

jan said...

Oh my gosh! I can totally imagine this, sort of like a crazy dream!

The pale observer said...

@GutsyWriter - if we didn't have aircon and the windows were open it would be worse... so a closed window does say no quite clearly. Having said that - they will mime at the window - some much longer than others, no matter how many head shakes you do, indicating 'I'M NOT BUYING!'

@Miss Footloose - I normally show the window sellers that I'm going to 'snap' them if they don't move along so most of them stand there blank faced - sort of seeing if I will. This is my indication that they are ok with it! I figure if you push up against my window, and persist when I didn't ask, then I can take a picture. No issues so far...

@jan - yes a bit like a crazy dream that is reality every time you head out in the car!!!

blunt edges said...

its like a supermarket on road!!!

Solvang Sherrie said...

They must actually make sales, or they wouldn't keep doing it, right? It's so interesting to see how different life is there.

Unknown Mami said...

What a fantastic post! This reminds me of crossing the border form Tijuana to the U.S. The wait is always much more bearable because of all the vendors and I always end up buying too much Mexican candy.

The pale observer said...

Hi blunt and Sherrie - they definitely sell or they wouldn't be doing it. A veritable mall on wheels!

Hi unknown mami - now if there were candy.... hmmm

Mary and Sean said...

I was looking to see if there was a guy with a scale to weigh yourself as that is one of my favorite "shopping" experiences in Zimbabwe, and of course there was! Love it!

Dean Grey said...

The pale observer!

I'm really curious if the street hawkers' merchandise was affordable or overpriced?

How much were some of those items going for? The bags of popcorn? The designer ties? The pirated DVDs?

Just wondering!

-Dean

charlie said...

Ha! This made me laugh as I am sitting on the pier at work and a man just came here selling stuff. I bouth some tissues, some pegs but decided against the frilly ladies underwear that he tried to get me to buy!

The pale observer said...

@Mary and Sean - not sure what the obsession is with weighing scales. I bet it has more to do with what the Chinese market has to export than the local demand... :)

Dean - thanks for visiting and commenting. The beauty of buying in Ghana is the art of bargaining. Usually whatever the first price they mention is, you can count on paying half of that after the bargaining. As for the popcorn - it's dirt cheap - no bargaining needed. Max .30 cents for one of those bags...

Charlie are you in Ghana? If so, you've got a common name! Hee hee

You prove that these items can be useful - you bought! But also that the sellers can be a bit pushy and unrealistic. Trying to sell you ladies panties and me men's shoes!!!

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Wow...better than going to the mall!! How cool is that. Thanks for stopping by. Love your blog!

staceyjwarner said...

So happy to have stumbled upon your blog...I love the photos and experiencing a different culture. Thank you!

The pale observer said...

Lee and Stacey - thanks!!! Always appreciate visitors - but those who comment are BETTER! :)

Anonymous said...

Takes me back to Durban days! But you seem to have a more inspired set of hawkers there with a far wider range of wares. Coathangers and shoe storage pockets were the hot items mostly.

Do you get many kids begging or selling, Holli? We were advised not to contribute, as it only went into the pockets of their minders, hiding in the bushes somewhere - or in a waiting car.

Must say, this blog is addictive stuff - and bless you, you've brought Ghana so alive for your readers. Keep at it girrrl!

Karen (ButterflyandBarnacle)

The pale observer said...

Thanks Karen!!! So glad you visited. Yes, there are lots of kids hawking and begging and it's true their good for nothing fathers sit around the corner and collect the spoils!!! GRRR

So - have you by chance seen Shiloh over there on your side of the world?

Dutch donut girl said...

Hahaha...
That Jesus poster and the plastic wall clock are epic.
Thank you for all the pictures!

The pale observer said...

Those plastic wall clocks sell like hotcakes here! Well, better than hotcakes since there are no hotcakes here... :)

Dolly Daydream said...

Hey, thanks for the comment on my blog, glad you like it! A friend of mine is also an expat in Ghana she also blogs and I love it! Maybe you will too. Check it out http://missingbaconbutties.blogspot.com/

The pale observer said...

Thanks Dolly - I discovered her blog yesterday! :)

Prissy said...

ahahaha I love this post. Oh how i miss Ghana. It's been 17 (soon to be 18) years since I left. I miss seeing all of this. I guess Toronto's China Town will have to make up for it for now. But I couldn't agree with you more on the tiger nuts. Yup not my choice of snack either. The watch guy reminds me of the "hey you wanna buy a watch" guy from Coming to America.

Robyn said...

Thanks so much for sharing your photos - these are great! Love the Jesus poster, tee hee! :)

The pale observer said...

Thanks for the visit and comments Prissy and Robyn! I don't think Toronto China Town compares!! :)

Tracey said...

I'm a little late on this one, but China blocked blogger so I had to get a VPN to read your posts again. My favourite thing to buy out of my car window was toilet paper. Seriously, I thought it was brilliant, I'd be about to turn the corner to go home after going to the grocery store and I'd see the toilet paper and think, "I knew I forgot something important"!

The pale observer said...

Glad you found your way back. China is serious about this site blocking :(

I never like the brands of toilet paper they sell at the roadsides..

I have my preferred brand... but still, it can be quite convenient!!!

Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren Quinn said...

Amazing post. Simple concept that reveals so much about a place and its people. Love the candid nature of the photos, the minimal text--makes me feel like I'm there! Thank you so much for this.

The pale observer said...

Thanks Lauren - its great to share!

Vacation Deals said...

lot of things to buy on your way..
great thing that people did not forget who created them (HIM)..

cheap flights to accra ghana said...

wow...its really great experience to purchase things on road but even more you can purchase your all house hold things..... Cheap Flights to Accra .......

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