Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just Another Sunday Afternoon in Burkina

On my way home from a little store near our place recently, I spotted a little place that offered cold drinks. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had gone out to the store both to pick up some items and to get some much-needed exercise. When a proportionately large amount of your time is spent as a desk or keyboard jockey, you start looking for any excuse you can to keep your other muscles in as good a shape as your fingers!

The cold drink place consisted of a small cement block building with a tin roof and a wood-pole and straw-thatch hangar out front under which patrons could sit in the shade. The building contained the stock, consisting of numerous cases of various kinds of bottled drinks, as well as a refrigerator/freezer to get and keep them cold. Under the hangar were placed a few rough, locally fabricated tables and plastic chairs.

Selecting an empty chair, I sat down, glad to be out of the sun. Ordering a cold drink, I looked around at the other people there. There weren’t many. Two men sat nearby drinking beer and eating from a plateful of grilled meat that they had gotten from somewhere nearby. A teenage girl and a twenty-something lady (who turned out to be the owner) sat at the other end of my table, carrying on a conversation with the two men in the local language, Mooré.

As we sat there, various kinds of ambulant vendors dropped by, hoping to make a sale and offering everything from phone cards and sunglasses to shirts, shoes, and kitchenware. Everyone waved them on, not interested. Then came a lady with a large plastic bag which she put down and opened. Out came a selection of women’s clothing, neatly folded in plastic packaging: dresses, skirts, blouses, underwear, and bras. The two ladies sitting near me took each article to inspect and check on themselves for size. The owner placed the bra over her chest and nodded. It seemed to fit, so she asked the price. But upon hearing it, she shook her head and handed it back.

After the vendor left, she informed me that at 3,000 francs (about $6), the bra was far too expensive. Normally, she said, she paid 500-600 francs for bras that were a lot prettier and more adjustable than that one, and went on about how uncomfortable it would probably be. Besides, for 3,000 francs she could buy enough material to make a whole dress! Nope, that bra just wasn’t worth it.

A few minutes later, I finished my drink, paid, and headed home thinking, “Only in Burkina!”

1 comment:

Laura Dun said...

Hehe! :-) I love it. Indeed, only in Burkina...