Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Eggplants (November 7, 2006)

The price was great. 100 Guinean francs for three eggplants. But the eggplants themselves were pitiful enough. Yes, they each gave off a deep, purplish shine but they didn’t look as if they were picked that day. As I sat on a bench waiting for the 10 minutes or so that it takes for my container to get filled with peanut butter (hand sifting and grinding takes some time) I wondered to myself why I bought the eggplants. Maybe it was the lady. Old and tired looking, she was almost as wrinkly as one of the eggplants. Was it because I felt that today she needed some sort of sale? The market in Wonkifong is a small, daily affair that takes place under a covered area in the center of the village. At one side, prepared food such as bean sandwiches and a wide assortment of things deep fried in oil can be bought. The rest of the space is occupied by a lot of people selling a combination of essentially the same things. There are staples such as rice, Magi cubes (a type of bullion), and a seemingly endless supply of fish. The fruit and vegetable selection fluctuates a bit depending on what is brought in from the fields. I am definitely embracing the concept of seasonal food consumption. Today the following were in the market: hot spicy peppers (I recently made the mistake of putting too many of these in a dish), tomatoes, onions, peanuts, manioc and manioc leaves and my eggplants.

Throughout the market space, each lady has a small table with groups of produce displayed in front of her. For example, she may have a grouping of six peppers for a fixed price. At one point, there may be fifteen to twenty ladies selling the same groupings so who to choose from? The selection should be based on the produce that looks the best but sometimes one of these ladies looks like she is going to keel over so I feel obligated to buy from her. Just before my peanut butter finished the lady appeared before me and in her hand was a beautiful, fresh, shiny eggplant. In turn, she must have pitied me for buy her eggplants and rewarded me with another.