I thought I’d be shopping more at local markets here in Accra, but I confess, groceries are generally gotten at the supermarket. Our area (North Ridge) is pleasant but market-less, though there are always street vendors with fried plantain, pies and bread rolls. It’s a weekend hop by taxi to one of the supermarkets, since we do not have a car, and we manage. I went to Agbogbloshie Market one weekend with a colleague, near the river, where you can smell rubbish burning and going in is easier by taxi as the road is rough. It is a great market, though – we only looked for vegetables and fruit, which seemed to be sold primarily by female stallholders.
An olunka (large can) of tomatoes, twenty oranges, two watermelons…. you wander from stall to stall, looking at produce and discussing price. It gets heavy, carrying all of this, but you can get someone to carry it for you (on a metal bowl on their head) which feels a bit odd but is practical, as the maze of stalls stretches out and you are still looking for good avocados. It was really nice, having a wander in a good market again. Of course I know that hygiene is an issue, but the quality was good and everything was washed well before consumption. It’s not easy to get there, but I might try Nima market soon, that is closer and smaller. Makola market here has EVERYTHING but it is huge, and a bit more intimidating. Foreigners were scarce at Agbogbloshie market – some colleagues say they think the market is dirty, so they just send their maid or shop at one of the supermarkets. I miss markets, but am a terrible haggler and supermarkets are easier, as well as more accessible by taxi. No buying imported imported red bell peppers there though – those are 79 cedi/kilo, almost 20 USD. The local green bell peppers are fine, at a fraction of the price.
I still find supermarkets interesting here. They are generally South African or Lebanese, and the selection and prices can differ quite a lot, so it takes some trekking around to get what you need. Getting groceries in Accra is actually much better than expected. Most good are imported, and expensive, though here the vaguely Disney-themed Vietnamese rice was cheaper than the local brown rice. There are sometimes weevils in some items, so we have learned to keep cereal in the fridge (sometimes after freezing it to kill off remaining wildlife) and I decant everything to sealed containers. At home ants are omnipresent, and they are fast and fierce if anything is left out, so my husband is getting much better at wiping up crumbs. The ants haven’t gone for dry pasta yet, I am not sure why.
It seems to be somewhat aspirational to shop in supermarkets, many people will buy only a few items (no wonder, groceries are expensive!) and well-dressed younger people will often pose for selfies in the aisles and post it on the shop site. There I am, pushing a small cart with French UHT milk, Coco Pine cordial (it’s coconut and pineapple), wondering about the ridiculous price of toilet paper and when Shoprite will have bread flour again, it’s been several weeks, and – oh dear, I wandered into someone’s photo shoot again, in the detergent aisle. Three teenage boys posing with baseball caps and cool-dude gestures, and the slightly sweaty obruni (foreigner) walking into the picture frame. I apologise, scoot past them and continue my search for a plunger while they continue their stylish selfies, next to ant spray and laundry detergent. You would not see that in London or Rome (“Whoohoo, I am at Tesco’s! Or Carrefour!”), I have not quite figured out yet why this is so popular.
Today I found very small green cucumbers in the produce section! Very exciting! So I’ll be making pickles this afternoon, something I had not planned to do in 33C but we have been pickle-less for ages, so I shall try. A very good Sunday to you all!
(For reference, if you are looking: no plungers at present at Shoprite Osu, Koala, or LaraMart, but we found one at Marina Mall.)