Friday, September 28, 2007

The 69th good thing about Lagos: no shortage of fabric choices at Yaba market

Today I had a real Nigerian experience: a trip to Yaba market. This is the place to come when you need fabric and want a lot of choices. I mostly just wanted to go for the experience of seeing it. It's a place we have to go with security -- we can't just have our driver take us there. Though it's not far; it's on the mainland and a place that doesn't see as many white faces. I was a little worried beforehand because my ExxonMobil friend who organized in the trip warned me to wear closed-toed shoes because of the rats. Because I didn't relish the thought of rats nibbling on my toes, I took her advice. She said to bring a flashlight because the power is often out and it gets quite dark. And someone else mentioned that the place is a fire trap because it's lit by kerosene burners in the absence of power and he sees all those piles of fabric and the kerosene flames all over the place and thinks of Mrs. O'Leary's cow. The place is truly a firetrap. But I didn't see any rats, though I was glad to have closed-toed when we were skirting the puddles outside -- puddles are pretty much open sewers here. There were some electric lights during much of our visit -- the power did go out near the end of our shopping trip. And the place didn't go down in flames -- today. We were quite the attraction -- the only white people that we saw there today. We had a crowd of followers wherever we went. People were bidding us welcome and wanting to talk to us and, of course, wanted us to look at what they had for sale. The upstairs was cram-packed with every type of fabric imaginable. Downstairs was just about every other kind of household product, as well as a produce and meat market area. There were quite a few people who didn't want their pictures taken, but others that cried "snap me! snap me!" I must say, my pictures don't capture the truly claustrophobic and filthy nature of the place. But I'd still go back again, given the opportunity!

Seen from the van on the drive to Yaba.

This blue building was right across from the market. The building is painted to advertise milk.

The largest part of the fabric market was upstairs in an enclosed building. Outside there were lots and lots of stalls selling everything imaginable. Here we are walking toward the market.

There were people sitting at sewing machines ready to sew your fabric into curtains or clothes or whatever you wish.

Looking down onto the lower floor from the upper floor, you get a glimpse of the goods for sale and also the garbage piled up on the roofs of the stalls with ceilings.

Perusing the grains and spices for sale.

Doesn't this dried fish look appetizing?

And then there's this delicious fresh meat. Notice the hooved feet in the blue bucket. I wasn't able to get a picture of the three guys, each carrying a big raw goat carcass on their heads -- the meat just sitting right on their hair.

more meat sellers outside

Outside the market, our guide who was indispensible in helping us to not lose our way. We also had a guard with a machine gun following us around as we shopped. It's not every day you have that kind of service!

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