i took my porto novo class to the marché last weekend, and my cotonou class the weekend before that. the two classes couldn’t be more different, though i had a blast with both.
my cotonou class consisted of only 4 guys, all dressed very well with their brief cases. you’d think they were going to a job interview. they took my “no french, only english” rule very seriously, so as hawkers approached them to sell their wares, anthelme would say, “me, i only speak english. i’m sorry i don’t know french.” totally bewildering the men selling socks and ties off their heads. the guys had a great time and bought me cashews to celebrate a fun afternoon. very sweet.
in porto novo i hit the road with about 11 girls. they also dressed to the nines, excited to get off the school grounds (most of them are boarding students). we did have one guy with us, jonas, who used my camera to take pictures of our excursion. i was hoping he would take pictures of the marché mamas selling their goods (piles of tomatoes, pyramids of cans, baskets of bananas), but those are all common sites to him. who would want a picture? so instead he took pictures of the yovo in the market (me) pointing at items and speaking english. actually, because fewer foreigners live in porto novo, my presence caused quite a commotion, and soon my class had expanded to include random children off the street.
in both cotonou and porto novo, the marché mamas were eager to learn along with the students, once they understood what was going on. at first they would be frustrated we were looking at products, but buying nothing. but that frustration turned to curiosity as they joined in, pointing at garlic, okra and onions, repeating the words in english and laughing at one another.
more pics here.