The suuq there is massive. It wasn’t my first time going there, but it was my first time going there with people who knew their way around. I much prefer the latter. The whole suuq has to be a couple of square miles and there are sections for anything. If you can’t get it in that suuq, then you can’t get it in this country. There are clothes, shoes, fruit, veg, meat, touristy things, dry goods, a whole street for bridal things, fabrics, curtains, beds, cabinets, all kinds of fake bling, birds and bunnies….and on and on. There is even a camel market section. No joke. I haven’t made it to that part yet, but one day.
It is a bustling place, but not overwhelmingly so compared to markets I have been to in other areas of the world. There are boys with wheelbarrows, rickshaws, donkey carts, and the occasional large van making their way down the aisles along with you. I also like that, here, the shopkeepers are much less pushy than other places. They will yell at “itfadall” (welcome) and such as you walk along, but you can pretty much browse in peace without too much hassling.
Today we found some bead vendors, which was awesome. I have no idea if these are from China like most of the stuff here, but they are real glass and look legit. We also went into a few shops with touristy-type things (much of it imported from Kenya). My absolute favorite though, was a small antique shop. It had old authentic pipes, some jewelry, stools, stuff made from animal skins, all kinds of beautiful stuff. There was some sort of ibaya (the complete black covering that some Muslim women wear) with the most intricate, beautiful bead work. I learned that much of the stuff comes from the Darfur area. Many families and refugees have had to sell their keepsakes just for money to eat.
Much of the stuff was crazy expensive, but I was able to get some sort of old multicolored beaded necklace and an antique real silver bangle. I went with a lady who is great at bargaining and I was able to get it for about $13. It’s my first little splurge here and I love that it comes with a story.
There really are not a ton of handicrafts and things around. The different people groups and areas have their own sorts of things, but these days there are just a lot of things being imported. Art is not that highly regarded and many things are poorly made. I heard the downfall of these things started with the cheap imports from China. Thanks globalization. In the city especially there just isn’t a whole lot of cool handmade stuff. So I absolutely hope to go back to that area of the market again sometime…and hopefully venture out of the city at some point. 🙂 But anywhere takes a special permit and permission and such, so that may not be for awhile.
One thing I do need to work on is my bargaining skills. It is totally part of the culture and part of the process…I know this, but I always start to get nervous or feel bad and I’m just really bad at it. So going with this lady today was good for me. Plus for most of the vendors it’s kind of a game. They really enjoy a good bargaining session. I need to learn to have fun with it. Will be working on it!