Tuesday, February 7, 2012
This was a random shot of a street vendor from my taxi on the way home today. He's one of the better equipped ones w/ cart, multiple products, and umbrella. Most walk around w/ a few goods and try to get the attention of anyone passing by. In some places it seems relatively obvious. The coffee vendors (and no doubt this soda jerk) have a more or less regular clientele at a regular location. Fruit vendors also tend to have some sort of shop location that holds their goods. Many, however walk the streets looking for eye contact which most people studiously avoid. One brief look in their direction and they're on you. The phone card vendors seem most ubiquitous. I really don't understand how there can be a young man on each street w/ a plastic sheet of phone cards. Each one is a recharge card w/ a code you type into your phone to add prepay minutes. On my trip into town yesterday, I walking street vendors were offering flip flops, large hideous clocks, kleenex, scrabble games, sunglasses, phone chargers and phones, universal remotes, coat hangers, roasted peanuts, baked cookies and fruit. It's hard not to wonder how many people driving in the city really want to add to their coat hanger collection. What I don't see often are cigarettes. In Morocco there was always a guy selling singles in case you were in need. Here, I see few people smoking anywhere. I assume it's too expensive.
On the road back into town from Bambey, the women fruit vendors stood out- literally. The fruit of the season seem to be oranges, nuts, or Moroccan clementines. In the horrifically exhaust filled roads, women gathered at each village or each place traffic slowed coming into the city. At some places, a dozen women worked one side the street weaving in and out of traffic waving the fruit in the windows. Stopping in the right place and looking at them in the wrong way earned you half a dozen holding them in the window each calling out the price- 500CFA (about a dollar for 6 or 7 clementines). I couldn't help wonder why they wouldn't cooperate somehow, take turns, give each other a chance to get an unpolluted breath. And some of them had babies strapped to their backs and others were pregnant. Like much of those who live such difficult lives here, it was heartbreaking to see, especially over and over again.