In a market where men are not welcome
Instead of a gift with a story of shopping with adventure.
While in the Czech Republic I devoured so-called gifts with a story, after two years of living in Luanda, I longed for shopping with adventure. Not that buying food at the local market was not interesting for me, certainly not, but despite the fact that I also had very hard times there, I longed to go shopping elsewhere.
I was not attracted to the food, fruit and vegetable market, but to the clothing market. I admit that I also wanted to enjoy buying my new outfit with a friend and not a husband. Shopping in shopping malls, which my husband prefers, stresses me more than it pleases me.
And it also has a different atmosphere with your friend, you have to admit. It's more fun than having a guy agree with you just to be away fast.
Of course, I could go to the shopping center with my neighbor, but given the prices, only I would shop and she would just watch, which was not my plan. I planned to really enjoy the day, in short, the kind of ladies' ride that I sometimes enjoyed in the Czech Republic.
Cut hands and torn ears?
We had long discussions on my visit to the local market in Sao Paulo, where the largest clothing and fashion market in Brazil was located.
I had information from my young neighbor Kelyne about how great goods can be bought there at very reasonable prices. She herself goes shopping there most often. My husband liked the idea of my ladies' ride very much, but he did not agree with the place where we want to shop.
Sao Paulo is a dangerous place, he repeated to me several times in a row. "You can't wear any jewelry there, you can't pull out a cell phone or money," he tried to discourage me, adding more stories he'd heard.
I have heard stories of torn ears, severed hands, stolen money, etc. I admit that I was a little frightened and hesitated to back down from my plan. But it wouldn't be me. When asked if he could come with us, he reassured me that if he accompanied us, we would not be doing well at all.
Men are not welcome in this market. As my escort, it would attract attention, prices would rise, and it would only attract attention, thus attracting a problem. After several hours of discussion, he finally agreed, and I was able to make arrangements with Kelyne and schedule our ladies' ride.
If Africans can, so can I.
In two days, Kelyne and I were sitting in the car and our driver took us to the market.
I didn't have a single ring on my hands, not even a wedding ring, I took the chain off my neck, took the earrings out of my ears, and had money in my pockets and bra, as my husband had advised. I was looking forward to it and I was looking forward to enjoying the shopping and especially to the pieces with which I would enrich my wardrobe. In addition, I had a young counselor with me, who will help me with the selection and, most importantly, knows where to go and is well-versed in the market.
Along the way, I told her all the stories I had heard from my husband, thinking she would refute them. She laughed and assured me that no one would run there with a machete or a machine gun, but otherwise she agreed with her husband. I was a little nervous, but in the end I waved and thought that if other women were shopping there, why couldn't I?
Yes, a lot of women shop there, but it's not a place for white women or women who (as my husband says) are on the same social level as me. He meant that no one from his family and friends would go shopping there.
Chaos, confusion and madness.
After less than an hour of travel, the driver drops us off at the edge of the market and continues with the car somewhere where he can park safely and wait until we give him a signal to pick him up.
The streets are full of people, each shop has racks full of clothes hangers in front of the entrance. The women call to each other and shout, and music screams and trumpets pass by.
At that moment, I'm glad I don't have a purse and I don't have to look after it. Kelyne watches me with a smile and leads me down the street, saying, "There's nothing interesting here."
We continue for a few meters before a woman grabs our hand and asks us what we would like. Kelyne suggests that we go look at her goods, because my denim shop and denim dress was one of the things on our list.
The woman leads us down a narrow alley, we walk through a shabby corridor in the house and we go out into the courtyard, surrounded on all sides by houses. I have no idea where we came from or how we'll get out.
I'm a little nervous and I feel blood rushing to my head. But I'm counting on Kelyn, trying not to hear my husband's words.
I look around in disbelief and I don't see any business anywhere. Before I recovered and knocked a little out of the fear I felt, the woman opened the tin garage door and threw up her hands with a smile on her face.
The garage is filled to the ceiling with denim goods, there are only three of us here, so we try different models and look in the mirror. After a few tens of minutes with a bag full of cloths, we say goodbye to the woman and she takes us back to the street. "You know, you can buy everything much cheaper in a garage like that than on the street at the store," I learn from Kelyne.
White is weird.
I still have a lot to learn, it will go through my head and I will laugh at the memory of my attempt to buy goat meat.
The whole time we walk through the streets and turn into smaller alleys, I watch the surroundings and probably act as a checkpoint from the tax office, because I literally feel the local women glare at me and look at me from head to toe. I feel like I'm under an X-ray. But I don't feel threatened and the worries I felt at first are there. Women look at me, maybe a little distrustful, but they are very nice and kind. At one point, however, I can't stand it, and I ask the saleswoman, who shows me a summer dress made of lace and doesn't take her eyes off it, "Is there anything weird about me? Are you scared of me?" I don't even know how it turned out to be. The woman laughs, apologizes, and adds, "No, you're just probably the first white madam to come shopping here and hug me around the shoulders."
After a few steps, another woman takes us, offering shirts and formal dresses. This is how we walked the entire long street on both sides before reaching a vast expanse where household goods and home-made food were sold.
I was already completely calm and I don't even notice the distrustful or astonished looks of others. The market was covered, so we could get a little relieved from the sun, which accompanied us throughout the shopping on the street.
The women here offered whisks made of grass, knitted baskets, honey, sweets made of coconut, peanuts and caramel, but also Marovo wine or the non-alcoholic fermented drink Kisangua, which refreshed us perfectly.
After several hours of walking down the street and adjacent alleys, we were already tired and had all the money spent, which we both gradually pulled out of our pockets and bras. It's time to call the driver and continue our ladies' ride elsewhere.
Don't pull out that cell phone!
We're standing in a small space next to a shop, and I'm pulling out a cell phone to call the driver. I hear someone shouting "Lady, you can't!" - so I turn around with my mobile phone by my ear and see a policeman running out of his booth, next to which we were standing.
He carefully grabs my hand and drags me to safety. He tells me that what I just did is very dangerous. He nodded understandingly as I explained the reason for my phone call, but until the driver picked us up, he wouldn't let us on the street.
We get in the car and move to the Ilha Peninsula, where we plan to sit down for a light lunch, a drink and coffee. We listen contentedly to the splashes of the ocean and watch the waves one by one wash the shores and make paths in the sand from which little crabs lick.
Sao Paulo? !!
In the evening, we sit happily with my mother in the garden with the whole family and my sister-in-law will not miss my new denim dress. I answer her where and for how much I bought them and she asks in disbelief the place of purchase. They don't believe me and probably think I confused the name, so it's time to ask my husband to verify it. He is sitting nearby with his mother and aunt, discussing the political situation in the country. His answer surprises them, and while I reap the admiration of my sister-in-law, who hold hands and break laughs at the waist, my husband reaps criticism from his mother and aunt for being so irresponsible and allowing me to go so dangerous. place. I have to stand up for him because the information they have is not entirely true and is undoubtedly very outdated.
I'm glad I enjoyed the day and was able to indulge in what I miss here. It's the "We're not going for coffee?" : D