Saturday we went to Grace Life International to help paint some of the classrooms, and Kate and I went around the community with Ms. Felicia conducting interviews. After finishing at the school we went to a market not too far away on a mountain that Eric had recommended to us because it was less expensive and a lot of the stuff was made there. Many of us had travelled previously and gone to markets where people are very pushy getting you to come in to their shops and buy things, and then you have to haggle with them, so from those previous experiences and what Carole had told us about the Accra Market the year before we were preparing ourselves for some chaos, but we were all very surprised by what we found. The market was very open and quiet, and there weren’t many people there. When we got out of the tro-tro the shop owners were very excited to see us, some came up to greet us and others called from their shops to welcome us. We all buddied up, but being in a group of 3 I jumped around a lot between buddy groups, and I felt okay doing that because there were so few people, it was such an open place, and everyone was very nice. Some of the kids came up and showed us where they were working on sanding and painting the wooden sculptures and masks, you could watch people carving and could see how genuinely handmade the majority of the products were. It was really awesome to see how they made these pieces of wood into these beautifully crafted pieces of art. I enjoyed walking around and just getting to look at everything, and I appreciated that I was able to do that without the shop owners constantly trying to get me to buy things. My main goal was to get a drum that I liked and I was happy to find one that was not too big or too small, I also got a couple of masks, some elephant statues, a giraffe, a bowl, and a painting. Everything was so beautifully made that I wished I had had more money with me because I would have loved to buy more things. I got some drum lessons from one of the guys, and continued to walk around enjoying myself. I think everyone was pleased with what they purchased and we were all very glad that Eric recommended that we go to that market because it was such a nice experience.
Monday was a holiday in Ghana, so we did not get to go to New Horizons like we had originally planned, so most of us decided instead to go to the Accra Market to see what it was like and probably to get some more stuff. We knew right when we arrived that this was much more of what we were expecting the market to be like compared to the last one we had gone to. It was not very busy with shoppers, probably because of the holiday, but it was busy with people. From the second we got there everyone started to swarm around us trying to get us to come to their shops and break us off from our groups. I had my shopping buddies for this market and I was definitely going to stick with them. They had a lot of interesting things, but much of their merchandise seemed to be more commercially made than at the last market we had gone to. You could tell just from the atmosphere that this was a much more touristy market, prices were higher, people would haggle less, and they were much more aggressive. Since it was a holiday we hadn’t gotten to go to the bank to exchange money and I didn’t have an ATM card to take any out. I didn’t have many cedis left but I was kind of glad because it made me really think about what I was buying and made it easier to walk away when shop owners were handing me random things that I had briefly looked at and asking how much I would pay for it. It was definitely an experience with all of the people trying to get you to come and look at what they had, which was often almost exactly the same as their neighbors. Somehow we made our way through the really chaotic part of the market to the back. We had been told to be careful and not let people lead us far back in the market because it got a little sketchy, but after we got through the front part the back seemed much calmer. We figured if we stayed together and in the main rows we would be fine and we were happy that we did. The people towards the back of the market were much calmer and quieter and weren’t as pushy. The sculptures and artwork also seemed more hand-made or at least less commercially produced as the things in the front of the market. At one shop I played on the floor with a little girl while Becky and Caitlyn looked at all of the beautiful bowls and coasters. Her mom told me that I could take her for free and we all laughed. We enjoyed walking around this part of the market much more, and since we had time to kill we got to talk to some of the shop owners. Walking back to the tro-tro it was interesting to experience all of the noise and chaos of the front part of the market again.
I found it really interesting how different the two markets that we went to were. One being more rural it is fitting that it is more relaxed, but it surprised me how much cheaper it was than the urban market, especially because it would have been so easy for people to say things were more money than they did and we never would have known. It also surprised me how much the Accra market varied in its way of being from one part to the other. While the back part of the market was still loud and people were still a little pushy it was still much more similar in feeling to the rural market that we had gone to on Saturday than it was like the front of the very same market.