Sunday, August 26, 2012

MMA in the Local Market

This is Tyson writing today - sorry. I'm going to try and write on the weekends and Diana will take the weekdays. So, yesterday we went to the local market - not the small farmer's market near our home, but the massive market that sells EVERYTHING and is one of the craziest places in the city. It's called the Wuse Market.

My interest in the Wuse Market was first piqued one of my first days here in Abuja when I was detoured down an unknown road and found myself in a . . . traffic jam of sorts. It wasn't your normal traffic jam, but rather a mass of cars, people, buses and motorcycles all jammed into the area of four lanes and a T intersection. You see, there were painted lines on the road, but even moreso than the rest of the city, lines, lanes, traffic laws - all disregarded. I spent about 20 minutes negotiating a 30 yard stretch of road, avoiding people carrying all sorts of wares walking across the roads completely disregarding cars, buses stopping where and whenever someone motioned interest in a ride, and motorcycles driving against direction, across traffic, on the median - whereever they found an open section of land or pavement.

When Diana arrived and saw the beautiful dresses worn by the local women, she started asking around about where to find the best deals. Last week, we were at the small medical clinic inside the embassy. Diana asked one of the nurses where to find a good deal on cloth. The nurse said she buys her fabric at the Wuse Market, and immediately an outing was planned for early Saturday morning. The nurse recommended early in the morning because there would be fewer people - less of a chance for the kids to draw a crowd.

We got ready early (at least for us on a Saturday morning!) making sure we dressed down and brought only what we needed. We picked up the nurse and arrived at the market about 9:30a. Sawyer had dozed off on the way to the market, so upon waking him up, we were happy to find our chubby little man-child had trasformed into the Hulk! As if we weren't a big enough sideshow freak show, now we had a screaming Stay-Puffed Marshmellow boy announcing our presence to everyone in a 1 mile radius!

For the first 45 minutes, we followed Diana Agnes, the nurse, going from store to store searching for the right kind of fabric.  We bypassed several stores – one offering fabric for USD800/6 yards.  Yes, USD800.  Sold in a market that looked as if my kids were building a fort from leftover materials found from a demolished building and a garbage dump.  Diana settled on a store selling fabric for around USD10/6 yards (on average).  By that time, the kids were bored, restless, and completely uninterested in the unique setting all around them.  I was sitting on a wood bench with Sawyer sucking on his thumb snuggling with his blanket on one knee, Logan playing “horse” on the other, and Alexis sprawled out on the rest of the bench.  We had a small group of locals thoroughly entertained even though we weren’t actually doing anything.  We then realized the crowd wasn’t just for us – a fight had broken out not 10 feet in front of us between a girl and a boy.  I had seen them earlier and noticed how upset the woman looked, but also how aggressive she was.  Not that I condone hitting a woman, but from what I had seen, she probably hit the boy first.  Regardless, several locals pulled the two apart and chastised the boy for hitting girl.  It was time to go.  
So, I got the kids up, made sure Diana could call me when she was done, and I set off with the kids to find some toys.  The kids finally began to understand why we had been calling this an adventure!  I allowed them to lead me all over the market – down alleyways, over make-shift bridges spanning open sewers and into random stores to look at cheap, plastic knock-off toys, watches, hair bows and necklaces.  I started teaching Alexis and Logan how to negotiate, and that while we should be cautious, we don’t have to be scared and we can actually have fun!

We returned to where we had left Diana to find her finishing up – taking pictures with everyone who had helped, spoken to, or seen her!  It was pretty funny.  On the way out of the market, we retraced our steps in order to find a watch Alexis had found – she wanted to buy a watch as a birthday present for a friend.  We found the stall and helped Alexis to negotiate a good price.  She was a bit timid, but did a great job for her first negotiation in Nigeria.  She bought two watches for about USD7.00.  Of course she kept the cuter of the two watches and gave the other to her friend. 

One of the Fabric stores at Wuse Market.....  with our salesman, and friend Agnes (wearing the hat).

Alexis and the guy who sold her the two watches.  His name is "Gabbi"

Alexis dressed and ready for her friend So'lene's Birthday Party!!

When we explained to people later that we had gone to the market that morning, I was asked who had babysat the kids.  "No one.  They came with us and had a great time."  People were astonished we took our kids there.  We're surprised more people don't take theirs. 


  1. Good for you! Why would you keep your kids inside when they can learn about a new culture? live there!! I'm so glad you aren't some of "those" Americans. Anyways, loved hearing about it all. Makes my adventures in Oklahoma seem a little dull....oh wait, it is!

    1. Your adventures in OK Rock!!! you guys should come visit! You would love it!

  2. Awesome! We just had a similar experience on Saturday too! You guys are totally beating us on the blogging thing- blasted temporary housing! We had our girls there but you guys are braver than us cause i am going to have to work up my courage before we take our girls there again! Glad you guys had a blast!

    1. Can't wait to see your pictures!!! Sory you are stuck in temp housing. That is lam lov you guys!!!

  3. Sounds like a crazy adventure. I'm excited to see the dress you make out the fabric you purchased!