Nope, Amazon doesn't ship here and it's downright depressing (and one of the things I miss most about the U.S.!). Mail is generally unreliable so ordering online just isn't an option. We don't have Target or Costco - I was shocked and envious when I found out there were locations in countries outside of the U.S. And local store-bought items here are generally tacky, imported, and over-priced.
BUT! We do have many affordable, stylish, and unique local goods to choose from. And believe it or not, there are several winter gift sales hosted in Dakar (mainly targeting the expat community), featuring a plethora of crafts made with local materials. Megan and I had a booth for Six Bougies at the Dakar Women's Group annual Christmas Bazaar a couple weeks ago...
Last night, Megan, C. and I braved the crowds on one of the last few days of the foire, and we came out with some exciting holiday finds ;) The array and variety of items you can find at the foire is quite impressive... seeds, refrigerators, crafts from all over the world, used clothes, gaudy furniture... you name it.
Behold. (And don't mind the iPhone pictures, it was the only way to document this outing!)
The ticket booths slightly resemble a prison. I guess this is for security purposes? Unfortunately no hands were sticking out from the darkness when I snapped this picture.
Gaudy gold chairs, anyone? Miraculous two-week weight loss, straight from the U.S.???
Marabout-art, made with shells. (These are photos of renowned Senegalese spiritual leaders, which hang in many households. The shells are a new twist, though.)
A reenactment of Ahmadou Bamba (renowned spiritual leader and founder of Mouridisme) walking on water. In an aquarium. Led by magnet.
The Chieftain has arrived, donning royal garb from Burkina Faso. (I spy hoards of beautiful woven fabric above!)
Terrible picture, but I had to snap this enormous jug of shea butter and other mysterious and strong-smelling creams. This stand was extremely popular, perhaps for the natural remedies on display.
Some of my finds: mud cloth from Mali, a wicker basket bag from Madagascar, and a coin purse made with woven cloth from Burkina Faso.
We also found homemade honey from the Casamance (southern Senegal) and Megan snagged a few more textiles from Togo and Burkina Faso.
All in all.... great success! I highly recommend visiting the Foire Internationale de Dakar - and tomorrow (December 11) is the last day. In general, I think checking out local fairs targeted at locals can be a very enriching and interesting cultural experience. People watching, people. Do it.
I can only imagine what the traffic will look like tomorrow...