Thursday, August 17, 2006

The 13th good thing about Lagos: You can get some help and make a boy's day for only 100 naira (about 70 cents).

I've gone to the Lekki market twice now -- it's a good place to buy African handicrafts, though you can find just about anything there -- I saw a Mary Kay cosmetics sign this last visit. The instant you drive into the parking area there, your car is surrounded by young boys who want to be your helper for your visit. We were advised to choose one -- and insist on only one -- and get his name. He is the one that will follow you around to the stalls and carry your purchases. There will be others that also follow you for a while, with the hope that you may need more help, so you must continue to insist that you only need one boy to help you (even if you really don't need anyone to help you, I was told it's easier to choose one, or else you will continue to be harassed throughout your shopping trip). When I went yesterday with my new friends and advisors, Angela asked for John, who is her regular helper. Here's a photo of John and his friend. Also below is another picture of other workers at the market -- people unloading goods from a truck.

I wish I had gotten a photo of Philip, who was our helper on my first visit to the market with Brent. We decided we would choose the smallest boy and we got Philip, who seemed to be a very smart kid. He brought us to some stalls where I could get a delicious pineapple and some vegetables and he advised me about prices. He led us through the maze of shops and showed us where to look for different items. He asked us to request him next time we came -- he said if we didn't see him to tell the boys we want Philip and they will find him. But he warned us that he is only at the market on weekends. He proudly said that he went to school during the week. Brent said "that's a very good place to be -- you need to stay in school." Brent asked Philip what he wanted to be when he grew up, and Philip said he wanted to be an accountant. Brent assured him that being an accountant is a good job to have and he should stay in school so he could do that. At the end of a visit to Lekki market, when all your purchases are in your car, you give your boy-helper 100 naira, and they walk away, pleased to have been the one chosen to help you.

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