Thursday, March 4, 2010

Retail Therapy

As a way to battle with all the Cameroonian frustration that I've had to dealt with, I've taken up retail therapy once again. The markets in Bafoussam have quite the gem if you are willing to take the time to dig, and deal with obnoxious men who yell ridiculous things and grab your hand in passing. The fripperie sells clothes, shoes, handbags that come from the US, Europe and elsewhere. Most are used, and not great. But sometimes, they have pretty decent things for a great price. I was never into digging for these gems, but now that my days left in Cameroon are marked, I now have more vested interest in finding the goods to take back with me.

The items that you can find in these African markets are absolutely hilarious. They range from cheap plastic, shiny shoes from China, to big poofy, 90's prom dresses, but sometimes, brand new, expensive designer shoes that still have stickers from TJ Maxx on it marking at $29.99. Today, I bought a pair of new BCBG heels for a whopping $14. Also, two skirts from European boutiques and a collar shirt for a total of $10. These are consider more "high-end" products that are being sold in small stalls within the market. There are also vendors who push around a cart with a pile of clothes on them. They look a bit like the bins you see in stores during sales. The other day, I got a crew-cut t-shirt for a total of .... 80 cents!

For my remaining days in Cameroon, I will be spending a lot of time in the market looking for hidden gems and haggling with the bargaining skills that I've honed up over the past two years.

Oh, and if you are wondering what obnoxious things are being yelled at me, here are some examples:
  • mon bébé, viens ici, viens voir! (my babe, come here, come look!)
  • ma chérie, vous êtes belles, hein? vous me mariez? (my darling, you are pretty, marry me?)
  • la blache! la blanche! viens! (white girl, white girl, come!)
  • la chinoise! hee haw (Chinese girl! random sounds that are suppose to be Chinese)
Usually these things are yelled at me in a variety of combination. The obnoxious thing is that even with my poker face on, they'll still yell various things at me for a long time after I've walked away. I used to hate going to the market for this reason. But now I'm more used to it, and also I'm there often enough that some people know me. A good number of the vendors are actually from Batié, so we've became friends. If the guys just yell things at me, I usually just ignore them and keep walking. But the moment they grab my arm or touch me in anyway, then I would turn around and smack them. That works well and the guys around usually get a kick out of it. They laugh at the guy and make him more embarrassed. Double the effect!

Oh the quirks of Cameroonian markets! I've started to find them rather endearing and I will probably miss it in the future. I know I will definitely miss designer shoes for $15 for less!

No comments: