One of the “must see” sites in Cotonou is a giant open air market called Dantokpa. It seems like the sort of place I’d love — huge, overwhelmingly crowded, packed full neat things like African cloths but also strange stuff like hippo heads — but I can’t tell you for sure because I haven’t been. Not for lack of trying. I set out to go last weekend, but after an unfortunate hour circling the market area trying to find a parking lot we saw on a map, and then me snapping at Andy for not better helping me navigate the crazy traffic (see here), and Andy snapping back at me for snapping at him, and then Flynn screaming at us both, well, we decided a market visit wasn’t in the cards for the day.
Sometimes simple things here, like trying to get to a market, can be inordinately stressful. Which is why we are ever so grateful to have one shopping option that is largely stress-free: Erevan.
Walking distance from our house, Erevan is a European- or American-style mega store, like Target or Wal-mart. It feels so out of place here.
There is even an orderly, sensical parking lot! No circling for hours in traffic! No parking in medians or on sidewalks!
And shopping carts too! No carrying anything on your head, here.
Erevan is giant. And it has just about everything you could ever want, from lox to frozen pizzas to baby carriers to electric grills. The problem is the prices. While some things are reasonable (a few bucks for a giant thing of flour, sure), most things aren’t. $160 for an Oral B toothbrush? Um, I can live without. But still, it’s good to know that things you can’t live without can probably be found at Erevan.
The only reason I say Erevan is largely stress-free — and not entirely stress-free — is that we still have to use our French to get by. Once at the meat section I saw something that looked like bacon and had the word pig in it. Seemed like a sure bet. Well, not so much. I’m not sure what it was, but it turned out not to be bacon and to have big thick hairs in it. For the most part, though, it’s the pound to kilogram conversation that gives us trouble. Let’s just say it’s not entirely on purpose that we have tons of ground beef in the freezer.
Within the Erevan complex there’s also a Samsung store, a home decor store, a bookstore and a Mango clothing store. A number of other stores are also in a strip mall sort of thing outside: a bakery, a salon, a cafe, etc.
Yep, Erevan is kind of a big deal. It could just be in my head, but I feel like people even dress up to shop there because it’s such a big deal. But then again, that could be just because everyone’s always more dressed up than me, as it’s hard to be less dressed up than the person wearing cut-off jean shorts and a baby spit-up stained t-shirt.