Like Anja, the author of today’s guest post, I am fascinated by local markets. So when I heard about her experiences in the markets of Angola, I asked if she would consider sharing her stories here at Inside the Travel Lab. Luckily for us all, she agreed!
For those of you who don’t know her work, Anja Mutic writes for The Washington Post, Lonely Planet and many more, as well as keeping up with her own travel blog, Ever the Nomad. That’s probably about enough from me…Over to Anja
The Markets of Angola
I’ve wandered through many markets across the world – strolled through the souks of Morocco, roamed the rickety stalls of Phnom Penh’s Russian Market and shopped for talismans at the Witches’ Market in Bolivia’s La Paz. Each one has its own personality, its style and charisma, its particular way of being. Each reflects the living culture and gives a sense of place better than any city tour ever could.
So when I visited Tunga N’go market on my first morning in Luanda, I knew that I was seeing Angola. This run-down but real-life market in the neighborhood of Rangel offered a glimpse into another world.
I’d tasted funge, Angola’s typical dish, many times in Portugal yet I had never seen how this manioc pudding is actually made. To watch women at the market grinding the manioc into the flour was fascinating, as was learning about the process of creating the staple that accompanies every traditional meal in Angola.
Then there was the outing to the legendary Roque Santeiro, an experience I will always hold in a special compartment of my travel memories. Claiming to be the largest open-air market in Africa, even if the superlative doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, this giant remains one of the continent’s largest. Sprawling endlessly amidst Luanda’s slums, this city within a city is a sight to behold. I consider myself a pretty intrepid traveler, yet the wander around Roque Santeiro with three Angolan men, one of them a police escort in uniform (don’t ask me why and how but, in short, I’ve got connections), definitely put me on edge
Even though the local police gave me permission to film, I got into trouble
Even though the local police gave me permission to film, I got into trouble with a group of hefty-looking guys the minute I took out my video camera. After what could have led to an incident and a confiscated camera, were it not for my diplomatic partner in crime, I was very careful with recording anything. I so wish I could have. This bewildering market is a mini-universe where just about anything can be found and bought – from bizarre-looking roots and vegetables to pirate CDs, high-tech TVs, stereos, clothing, and hair extensions. Just think of anything at all, Angolans say, and you can find it at this mammoth market, at the best price. The only thing is, you must be brave enough to get in there and look for it.