so, there are just a few things i need to buy from cotonou before moving back to the states, and funky fabric is one of them. last week, i was on a mission to find toothpaste fabric… today it was the virgin mary as well as chickens and eggs (not all on the same pattern, mind you!)
so my french tutor (angelica) went with me to dantokpa, west africa’s largest open market. the place was crawling with guards, as someone had fired some shots there on tuesday… which is pretty unusual here. cotonou may have crime, but no one can afford guns.
anyway. we’re out shopping for fabric when i point to a huge pile of long strands of multi colored beads. the untrained eye would take these for jewelry… but if you’re been in africa long enough, you know “les perles” are worn low on the hips of just about every woman (and little girl) around. i asked angelica if she wore beads, and she said yes, that she actually needed to buy some new ones… so we stopped. she pointed out some and said, “these will catch the light at night, you should try them.” i said, “who is going to see my beads at night but me? i think that’s a bit overkill.” so we picked out several strands for each of us, i bought them, and the shopping excursion continued. then i turned to angelica and said, “why do women wear beads on their hips?” she said, “to seduce men.” EH? i just bought my french tutor seduction beads? i said, “but the little girls wear them too!” and she explained that the young girls wear beads in order to give them hips (we’re talking infants and toddlers on up), but women wear them to “excite” their husbands.
there are some questions better left unasked.
so we’re still shopping. i was searching high and low for fabric with the virgin mary (this is a very common pattern) and finally we decided to check out a boutique by one of the catholic churches. bingo. only, oddly enough, the virgin mary fabric was more expensive than the Jesus fabric. who knew? i bought the Jesus fabric. it’s awesome. like Jesus.
when you put it all together, it makes for quite the eclectic shopping list.