Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Trip to Kermel

Not to far from our home is the covered market - Marché Kermel - within the interior it's a mix of stalls mainly selling foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish and meat. And the exterior - souvenir shops galore - wood carvings, baskets, flower stands and lots of jewelry.

It took us a few months to muster up the interest to go there. We'd seen the market from a far when we first arrived as it was a stones throw from the Novotel but with so many other things to keep us occupied and overwhelmed - in order to settle in officially with a phone, address and bank those first few weeks - this market would have to wait. And wait it did. 

We knew this is where  Esperance, our bonne,  was going go to pick up most if not all items needed for a days meal.  Finally with life feeling settled way back when - we had her take us there. It's not that we couldn't go it alone but we also figured that our initial 'intro' to the place and people and it's surroundings would be easier with her by our side.

Truth is, when I think of a 'market' - my mind wanders off to France - pristine and orderly. I can be in my little world peacefully meandering, looking and oggling over all that I see.  While it's not impossible to do this in Marche Kermel - it seems more like a 'mission' to get what you need and get out. Like any market over time as you build relationships with the sellers it makes each visit easier and more pleasurable since they remember you.

At times Kermel can be chaotic - although it probably depends on when you go, not so clean and slightly disorderly in an orderly kind of way. There are a fair number of cats around who benefit - if I was a cat I wouldn't turn down some free fish lickin's that land on the floor. Then you have  the flies that have to be waved away. You can't really get the 'peace' that you want because there is always one souvenir vendor who wants to follow you through the interior to be sure to 'catch you' before you leave to come to his stall of African goodies on the outside.  The upside of being with Esperance is she can fend them off a bit with some Wolof. Although I've been known to do a good job myself with polite persistence. But truth is as well - she gets her own interesting experience by having us with her as she knows there is more attention paid! 

Other than that - it is a must to do experience and always on the agenda when our friends came to visit because like everything in Dakar - you go away with a new sense of how life is here - for yourself and the vendor. What you can't really see posted on anything is the price per kilo and I'm certain it changes as the seller sees fit - which is actually and likely the biggest challenge of shopping here if you are not Senegalese. My price would likely be higher than the price Esperance pays so the learning here is she is given the money earlier on and handles the transactions. Now of course the more time you spend here in Dakar and learn what prices should be or what prices Esperance pays then you can manage the negotiations accordingly. I have to say though I never got up the interest to shop in Kermel on a regular basis. But Sandaga, Malian and all the African Art object shops on the Corniche - the other markets - now that is where I *love* to bargain!

So take a peak at what we see....



The only history I know is that the original 1860 construction burnt down in 1994, and in 1997 it was reconstructed - closely modeled on the building's initial structure and decoration.












Esperance and Marie Diop - she has a vegetable stall




Pictures of  various Marabouts











the broom like thing on the counter is the fly mover.....

6 comments:

  1. Looks like a market I went to in France once.

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  2. Hi,

    My name is Alex, and I am a grade 8 student from Northern Canada. My teacher has assigned me a project to learn about the city Dakar, senegal. From reading your blogpost, you seem to know a bit about Dakar. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions for my assignment! If you could maybe email me back at alexandra.hornyak@fsdnet.ca i would highly appreciate it. Thank you for your time. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I have received your post. I just tried to contact you via the e-mail you provided but it bounced. I am trying again but sure hope you come back to read this so you know I can help you!

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  3. Sorry, our school email accounts seem to not be working to well right now. Can we talk here?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. It would be more appropriate to communicate on this outside of the blog and truthfully much easier if we use e-mail. Can you either use an e-mail from you parents or perhaps they will let you create a new e-mail account just for this assignment. You can try directly to ayearindakar@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you

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