Friday, May 29, 2009

Do you do voodoo?

Saturday Dec. 13, 2008 (cont.)

Miriam and I had heard that there was a Voodoo market in Accra. Some of our friends had even tried to find it a couple of time. There was apparently a voodoo section at the “Timba market” in Jamestown. Without thinking too much about it, we decided to ask around and see what we could find. The man who led us to the top of the lighthouse pointed down the main road leading through Jamestown. We asked if we could walk but he told us the market was too far – we needed to take a cab. But we felt empowered after visiting the slum fishing village and decided to at least walk as far as we could. We strolled down the road getting lost in deep conversation (a definite theme when we are together). We asked a couple of friendly faces if we were headed in the right direction. Before we knew it a women had offered (through a third party since she didn't speak English) to take us there.

She walked quickly. Miriam and I must have looked like two straggling ducks trying to keep up with their mother. The women looked back at us every so often to make sure we were still behind her. She stopped in front of a dirt area connecting two larger buildings that faced the main road. There was a tall wooden fence between the buildings and a couple of cars parked in front. She motioned with her hand that we should follow her. I looked at Miriam confused and uncertain. She motioned again and disappeared through a small cutout in the wooden fence. As we got closer we could see the sign hanging above the cutout doorway. “No trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted.” Miriam and I shared another quick glance and a mischievous smile. One after the other we ducked through the doorway and hurried to catch up with the woman who was quickly gliding through the small passageways.

It was the most astonishing thing – there was a whole market community behind that fence. We walked through the narrow dirt paths that were lined by wooden stands. People were selling everything a person could possibly need. Our curiosity couldn’t keep up with our legs. We thanked the women for her help and said goodbye. We were on our own, completely lost in the middle of the market. We figured we would start asking around about the supposed voodoo section. We weren’t quite sure how to ask someone if they knew where we could find gigi charms? Did they even call it voodoo? Would that be offensive? We were surrounded by bags of nuts and bolts - the home depot of Accra. The men were eager to help us find whatever we were looking for. I got the feeling it wasn’t every day that two oburoni women came to visit. After the appropriate greetings and a little bit of flirting, we tested the water – “do you know where we can find voodoo?” The men looked at each other, thought for a moment… “Medicine. You are looking for medicine. Follow me” Before we knew it we were off and clumsily chasing another graceful Ghanaian who had probably grown up weaving in and out of market passageways (I almost got knocked out multiple times by men carrying wood on their heads). As we moved through the market there was a buzzing sound that kept getting louder and louder - the sound of electric saws cutting wood. There was sawdust everywhere, the cutting of Timber. All of a sudden it made sense… “Timba Market” = Timber Market.

We finally reached the section of the market we had been looking for. Skins, bones, hair, bark, shells, coins, and wooden dolls were hung and stacked high inside the stalls. We couldn’t believe that we had actually found it. We walked around and stopped at a stall owned by a woman named Mercy. She explained what everything was used for. She explained how to use coins and red string to make wishes, which dolls were used for fertility, and how to get rid of illnesses. By asking questions, we learned that generally speaking, everything could be used for anything. I asked Mercy what was used for love. I bought some dried up seedpods that are supposed to be brewed into tea and given to a lover - the perfect wedding gift for my sister. We had such a fun time looking around and talking to the vendors. We found our way out of the market. Sitting in the back of a cab as it drove away, we knew we would never be able to explain where the market was located. We probably couldn’t even find it again ourselves. As we recapped the events of the day, I realized once again that it was not just the destination that was inspiring; it was the entire journey.

love from Tustin.

The voodoo section of the 'timba market'

Miriam and Mercy

1 comment:

Mike Czyzewski said...

I just stumbled onto your blog and wow! This is really, really interesting...a look into a world which exists only at the periphery of my mind. I've not read your entire blog but do you plan on going back?

And, because my blog is mostly about food, what'd you think of African cuisine?

p.s. I see you went to Berkeley. I currently live in Rockridge! Small world!