Street trading… actually “on-the-street” trading

At every intersection, countless street vendors offer their wares: water, baked goods, toothbrushes, small electronics, fruit, cosmetics, furniture, snacks, maps, mirrors, toys, books, audio CDs and most importantly – paper, not the one for the printer. Shooping while standing in traffic jams is an insane time-saver. However, these vendors do not stand on the pavement or the edge of the street as they most often do around the world – with some small stall or chair. That would be a crazy waste of an opportunity to sell their goods. Oh no! These salesmen manoeuvre between cars, taking advantage of traffic light changes and not infrequently even knocking on car windows in an attempt to interest the driver in dog, cat, rat and lizard poison or to interest the children sitting in the back with a toy.

Reading the description of the product range, you probably thought for a split second – what do you mean furniture? mirrors? Well, yes. Every once in a while there will be a physically tough and stubborn salesman who will flit between cars offering a large mirror that no one can fit in the car for the hell of it, unless they are travelling in an SUV. Furniture like tables, stools and shelves are also not uncommon.

But 90% of the time, especially when standing in traffic jams, you can save a ton of time. Instead of wasting several dozen minutes driving down the ring road (in traffic jams) to a car park next to a shop (where you won’t find a free space right away), you can, perhaps paying a few pennies more, buy the most necessary things without leaving your car. And despite the fact that there are sometimes pushy sellers, this form of trade is absolutely sensational!

My favourite ‘goods’ are the local delicacies: plantain chips (made from local fried bananas), sweet potato chips, atchomnom (read. aciomo, terribly addictive tiny square biscuit-cakes, and in the Ewe tribe’s version, hard mini biscuits in the form of crescents peeled from the dough with a cap) or burkina – sweet yoghurt with millet (I myself don’t know if this is actually millet as we know it, but in English it is called ‘millet’). Burkina is unfortunately notorious for cases of e-coli or aflatoxin bacteria in it, so it is better to buy one “from a company” – i.e. produced by some company – with a sticker. But in a decade I have not had a single such case happen to me, nor have I heard of any friend or acquaintance of a friend getting poisoned.

On top of that, I still have to mention FanYogo frozen yoghurt – there is simply nothing better in the heat.

If you’re thirsty, there are plenty of women selling drinking water in plastic pouches around the cars. Just like our communist lemonade, but without the tube. All you have to do is shout “pia-łota-ra” (pure water-ra), i.e. “pure water salesman!” and a young girl comes running towards you with a huge bowl full of water on her head and often other drinks splashing in ice cubes.

Nothing makes the half-hour journey to the city centre more pleasant for a glutton than something exotic and delicious to eat.