What do you think when you walk down the street at home? Do you notice what is around you? Do you watch where you are walking or do you walk and keep focused on the task at hand?
This is what i see...
Here, you must keep your eyes on every step you take, watch for coming traffic, keep an eye on everyone walking with you, avoid bumping into people AND think about where you are heading. If you take your eyes off the road for one minute you are likely to fall into the gapping drains and gutters on the side of the road. They are most often full of sewage, garbage, you name it, it’s in there. It sits in the gutter, a green, stagnant, bubbling pond. And if you don’t watch your step, you may just fall in, like my friend I was walking with just last week. She was watching the street and as a car drove straight towards me, she grabbed my arm to pull me out of the way and woops, off goes her balance and down went her leg, into the green sludgy pit. GROSS! Super funny though!
So yes, watch out for coming cars. The streets are so crowded that the cars drive no matter how many people are blocking their way and the people move. The people set up their stalls so close to the edge of the road that they often have to move them aside for an oncoming truck to past through.
The people are also often carrying large loads on their heads. So you must look out.
Not only are you watching for all these things but the things you are seeing sold on the streets are catching your eyes. Colourful fabric or clothes from all over the world are sold, mostly second-hand and displayed on racks on the walls. Almost anything you can imagine is sold at the street stalls, including big wall clocks with pictures of Jesus on them, power-point adapters, bright torches, piles and piles of shoes, stacks of products for personal hygiene and packaged food. There are popcorn machines where you can buy sweet or salty popcorn for 500Le each (only about 12c). There are some soft serve ice-cream machines- often so soft the ice-cream is dripping out! I also love to buy the peanuts on the street, carried on a platter on top of a lady’s head. The different scoop sizes cost different amounts. You can buy the African version of peanut brittle or sesame seed snaps, even something close to a doughnut.
There are a few supermarkets in Freetown that stock mostly British goods. During one visit, much to my delight, I found Bundaberg ginger beer!
My feet turn African when I walk the streets. I love to see the colours, the noise, the people hustling around me, the odd things they sell in their stalls, the children playing, the babies being carried on their mama’s backs, the warmth of the air, the interesting buildings and houses people live in. It is a whole different world from the one I grew up in and I love it!