A Visit from a Traveling Sewing Machinist

When you rip your jeans, you pay the sewing machinist to come to you to repair them!  We often see young men with a sewing machine on their shoulder, walking down the street.  They take their skills to your place, wherever you might be.  This machinist came to our apartment building to help one of our security guards fix his jeans.  It was so fun to watch!

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Interesting things in Local Supermarkets

2020-2-24 Market 1001 (1)This morning we went back to the Ghanaian Embassy with our paperwork to get our visas for our upcoming temple trip.  After that, we walked to the 1001 Wonders Supermarket.  This is a great place to shop.  Their prices are good.  Much of the inventory comes from the Middle East rather than Europe.  It’s a very Muslim store, which is interesting in itself.  Here are a few of the things I found interesting to look at as we wandered through the store.

Above:  ground corn, lentils, dry beans, chickpeas, and also several types of rice.

Below:  plastic good are very cheap and used by everyone here.  For example a large dishwashing pan was about a dollar.  These dipping cups were about 30 cents.

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The potty pots above are used in every bathroom (instead of toilet paper) and are used for ritual cleaning before prayers.  Everyone has them.

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Household goods:

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Cleaning supplies:

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Scratch pads for cleaning the large pots, hot pads made of wood, huge (long) whisks:

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Mosquito nets.  The government supplies these to people in the villages.  They’re not very expensive.  Everyone sleeps under a net here, including all of the missionaries.

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In the middle of the store is a prayer area where men can go to worship at prayer time:

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Prayer rugs and the Koran:

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Prayer beads for sale:

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Muslim prayer caps:

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Home decor:

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Clothesline ropes:

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The check out:

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Yes, we found Top Ramen!!  It might be fun to introduce that to the Elders here!  We found a few other essentials like bug spray, mayonnaise, TP, fruit juice, and some treats for the Primary kids.  It was a good day for shopping and looking!

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Cooking Plantain in the Village and a Good Recipe

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The last stop we made on our village wander was in this compound where we found only two young children.  They said their parents were out in the fields.  They were in their outdoor kitchen with some large stocks of ripening plantain.

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Plantain ripening–the darker it gets, the sweeter it is!

 

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If you want to try a good Ivorian plantain dish at home, here’s a link to how to prepare it: https://blog.arousingappetites.com/alloco-ivorian-fried-plantains/https://blog.arousingappetites.com/alloco-ivorian-fried-plantains/

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In this last compound visit, we saw this lovely bamboo work.  Eveque Mel explained that this is the “nice” bamboo.  It grows even and straight.

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The other larger bamboo is used for many things here, including drying laundry.

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And that concluded our village wander today.  It was time to get back to the church for the next meetings to begin.

 

Making Attiéké–A Woman’s Art

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Visiting this compound was one of the highlights of my day.  We heard women laughing and whacking and we went to see what they were doing.  In the back of their compound, we found this work area where women were gathered, young and old, preparing cassava root to make attiéké–the main food eaten here.

I think they were amazed to meet a stranger interested in what they were doing.  I told them I wanted to show my friends at home how attiéké is made and they laughed, as if to say, “don’t your friends know??”

The main food where I lived in Nigeria was also cassava, but there it was made into gari and foofoo.  Attiéké is a bit different, but the preparation is similar.  First you begin by peeling off the bark of the root.  Then the cassava is cut into pieces.  These ladies were working hard and fast.  Even the little girls had big knives and sure hands.

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I think we had 3 generations of women working together here today.  They were happy and I could tell they enjoyed being together.

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I wonder how many headpans of cassava have passed through this woman’s hands.

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The next generations:

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After the pieces are cut, they are washed to be as clean as possible.

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Take a look at this process again here:

These women were delightful and we had a fun time together.  The next compound we came to had just one woman working alone on the next step of the process.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the next steps:

The cassava is peeled, grated and mixed with a small amount of cassava that was previously fermented which is the starter.  The paste is left to ferment for one or two days. Once the fermentation time is over and the hydrocyanic acid that exists in a large proportion in natural cassava has been removed, the pulp is dewatered, screened, and dried, and then the final cooking is done by steaming the pulp. After a few minutes of cooking, the attiéké is ready for consumption.

This is the dewatering, screening and drying part:

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This is the press where they squeeze the water out of bagged grated cassava:

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Now this woman is screening it:

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Then it will be spread to dry.  The final cooking is done by steaming the pulp in a steamer like this:

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Then the attiéké is ready to eat!  Usually it’s served from a communal bowl with a sauce made from local greens, or tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

In town you can buy a serving of attiéké for about 20 cents.  It’s sold in little plastic bags tied in a knot.  It’s the fast food of the Ivory Coast and everyone loves it.  I enjoyed seeing the process today.  It is no small thing these women do to feed their families.

Living Spaces

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The next compound we came to had some action going on–lots of pounding.  We were invited in and we met these kind men who showed us what they were doing.  The old room for receiving friends and guests caved in.  It was made of mudbrick and thatch.  Today a new room was going up.

 

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I enjoyed looking at their tools.  There are no power tools here, just a couple of hammers and a box of long nails.

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Two boards are joined by adding a third on top.

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Imagine living in a place like this where you make the places you live in and you grow the food you eat.  It’s a simple earthy life.  But it’s hard work.  I often think they win the prize.  Our new friend showed us around his compound (the women were probably away working in the fields).  He had a couple of coconut palms, the tall and the short varieties.

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He was growing some pineapple.  You can see the new suckers growing here.  If you twist them off and stick them in the ground, they will start a new plant that will produce in a couple of years.

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Did you know that the pineapple starts as a spectacular flower?

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He also had sugarcane growing and he quickly cut two pieces with his machete for us to take with us.

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This compound was full of growing things.  It was like a garden.  You can see the cassava on the left.  This man had no idea who we were, but he welcomed us into his home and his space and he shared with us.  I hope he has a really good day.

Making Water Pouches for Vendors to Sell

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The other day, I heard a strange sound coming from a little shop in Bamako.  I went to investigate and found a young man sitting on a low stool filling large bags with small water pouches as they fell from a machine where they were filled and sealed.

In a country that has no drinking fountains, and really hot weather, vendors everywhere sell water pouches.  They carry them in head pans and dodge between cars in every traffic jam or go-slow.  They are for sale in most shops and from most street vendors.  They are cheap and plentiful, selling for 5 to 10 cents.  Some vendors keep them in coolers with ice, so that when you bite off a corner to drink, you feel really happy to have something cold.

One of the problems with these water pouches is that you never know how safe the water is.  It might be clean, it might not.   It looks like the water in this operation is being filtered before it’s bagged.

Come take a look at this interesting process!

This is a good business to have in a place like this!

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After filling the large bags with the pouches, they are loaded into the back of a Katatani, or a motorcycle with a bed in the back.  Then they are distributed to the vendors.

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Here’s an interesting article about some of the pros and cons of adding more plastic to this world where things aren’t recycled:

http://www.makery.info/en/2017/04/25/les-sacs-plastique-pure-water-inspirent-le-recyclage-en-afrique/

And this article will tell you all about the water packet industry in Africa.  It’s really very interesting.

https://www.smallstarter.com/browse-ideas/packaged-drinking-water-business-in-africa/

 

 

Road Base

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I find this very interesting.  Not many roads here are paved, so during the dry season they blow away and during the rainy season they wash away.  Most streets and roads are filled with ruts and potholes and you always have to watch where you step or where your taxi swerves.

When the ruts and holes are serious enough, someone comes along with a load of  what I’ll call “road base” for lack of another name–it’s just big bad stuff that comes from who knows where–junk piles?  constructions sites?  garbage heaps?  These truck loads are dumped in the roads to fill the holes.  The idea is that people will drive over it enough to break it down into something that will fill the holes and not wash away.

Here’s how it looks after a fresh dump-load.  Notice the toilet is here too!  Our taxi driver didn’t see a large irrigation stand pipe at the end of this dumped pile, and he accidentally drove over it, which high-centered the back tires.  We had to get out and help lift the car off.  I’m curious to see this street again in a few month’s time.

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