Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Last week a few of the expat wives here asked me to go to Baligun Market with them. From what I heard, Baligun Market is the place to go to get fabric for your Nigerian outfit for Nigerian culture day the end of September. I already got some fabric last week, but I thought it would be fun to go and look at the different fabrics that were at Baligun. Later in the week last week, I told some other ladies that I was going to Baligun. Their eyes looked really wide and they gave me a ton of tips like: don't take pictures of the vendors at Baligun..they may get very angry with me and tell me I stole their soul, don't carry a purse....put your money in various pockets in your clothes, don't look at anything when the vendor sees you because she will only want you to buy, etc. So, I really was not sure what to expect. I did know that we would have to bring security with us because Baligun is on the mainland. So, yesterday was the day we went to the market. We did have a security guard ride in the car with us. Also, one of the lady's stewardesses came with us also to guide us through the market and help insure that we would not get the "Oyibo" price. When we arrived at the market, I cannot tell you how much traffic and people there were. It was jammed packed. When the other two ladies, myself and Hannah, the stewardess, got out of the car, we were very closely followed by a security guard who was armed with a machine gun!!! Yes, we shopped all day with an armed guard following us everywhere we went just in case there was trouble. I wish I could have taken pictures while we were there because I don't think I can really put into words what I all saw while I was there. The only way I can think for anyone to picture in their heads what the market looked like is to think of pictures you have seen of the slums in New York City during the turn of the century and take it even a few notches below that. The streets were full of cars and women carrying various dry goods on their heads in baskets. There were so many babies tied onto the backs of the women carrying their goods. I never saw one of the babies crying, though. I think they like the feel of being close to their mothers. There were vendors on the side of the road everywhere we went. I must have heard, "Oyibo, Oyibo, come and buy!!!" about a thousand times yesterday. The noise on the street and in the market was so loud. You could hear the horns blaring and people yelling at each other if something wasn't right. While we were walking on the side of the road a small bus almost hit myself and one of the ladies with me. It was about 1 inch from us....God must have been watching us! After getting off the main street, Hannah,guided us into the fabric market of Baligun ( Baligun has several different markets...we only went to the fabric market part...which was huge). Thank God Hannah was there to direct us where to go. There are so many shacks and little passage ways, that it would be so simple to get lost in there. I had never in my life or maybe in 5 lives seen so much fabric as I saw yesterday at the market. There had to be hundreds of different fabrics ( sold in 6 yards) in every shack and there had to be at least 500-700 shacks selling fabric!!! Needless to say, we didn't go to every vendor there. It was unbelievable. It was a seamstresses dream. The fabric was being sold for about 25 dollars U.S. So, the deals were unbelievable. I couldn't help but think that here we were in tiny passage ways in this huge market and we were being followed by a guard armed with a machine gun in his hand and no one in the market even seemed to care that much. We stayed there for about four hours, and we all found some fabric we really liked. I ended up getting some more fabric for an outfit for Elizabeth. I think going to this market and seeing all this fabric from Nigeria, Ghana, Dubai and so many other places really made me stop and think. It made me appreciate all the wonderful things I have in my life just by seeing all the people there in the market who are just hoping to get enough money to buy their dinner that night. I know when I look at where my clothes are made...I will also be thinking..where did this fabric come from???