Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where There Is No Mall


It should come as no surprise to you that there are no shopping malls in Burkina Faso.  You may be interested in the kinds of place there are in my village to buy the things you may need.  Along the main road and near the place where there is a marché every three days, there are a number of small shops that sell various things.  I bought my 12 volt battery and lights at this "electronics" store.  They do have quite a variety of things in this small space including TV sets, DVD players, movies on DVDs, stereo systems, small radios, solar panels, and batteries of various kinds and sizes, to name a few.
On marché days you can find quite a selection of plastic products, including the little plastic tea kettles that are used in place of a bidet, buckets, bowls, plates, thermos containers, and so on.
At this place that looks like it might be a boutique but is only open on market days, you can buy the green 20 liter plastic jugs you carry water in.  They begin life as containers for palm oil, the most common kind of cooking oil. They also have the 200 liter blue barrels that the dolo ladies use to transport their local beer to their hangers, or that people use to carry water home from the pump or well.
Need a marmite to cook your food?  There are many sizes, but they all look about the same.
One of my favorite boutiques is run by Mathew, one of the polio victims who needs a crutch to get around.  He does a brisk business selling tailors small pieces of the cloth that is used to line garments, interfacing, zippers, bias tape (which is used as a decoration on clothing), and buttons. Here you can see the materials and, behind him you see his display of CDs and cassette tapes, machine oil for sewing machines and bicycles, razor blades for shaving heads, and school supplies.
Mathew also has some jewelry in this small display tray.  Notice the variety of zippers for the tailors next to the jewelry.
He has so many different kinds of things in his store that, when I am looking for something other than food it is the first place I try. Here you can see his yarn and the fishing line people use to make the bags they use to carry produce home from the marché.  There are also door handles with locks, floor brushes, clothes pins, light bulbs, a few tools, masking tape and tape for sealing boxes, soccer balls, and shoes.
I learned to crochet these bags and I make them to keep my hands busy and to feel like I am being productive for those times I know I am going to be waiting around for a while. Here is a sample.
If you want hardware, you might go to this shop that used to sell groceries but now is specializing in paint, tools and other hardware.  They do not have much variety. A far cry from our DIY big-box stores!
In front of the hardware store is a place where you can usually buy wood. Now that the rain has started, there is not much to chose from.  People a busy cultivating and planting, so there is not much demand for lumber right now.
If you do want someone to build something for you, here is one of the carpenter/furniture makers.  He does it all with this crosscut saw, a hammer and nails on the small work bench you see beside him.
Here is a set of storage shelves he made for me.  They are pretty crude, but I like the space and the strength of the shelves.
Here is a shop that sells things like suit cases, blankets mosquito nets, towels and bed sheets.
There is no mall, but you can find a lot of things in the town if you are persistent and keep looking.

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