Balogun is the REAL Lagos - the one that you see in pictures. It's hectic, dirty,
noisy, smelly, energetic - and like NOTHING else that you will ever experience.
Amidst the craziness of the okadas (motercycle taxis), people everywhere hawking their products and the filth, there is an order to the chaos and a feeling that you are REALLY, REALLY in Africa. It taunts every one of your senses and yet, exciting to be right in the middle of it all.
I don't believe that there is anything that can't be purchased at Balogun,
especially if you have the time and the persistence (and the stomach) to find it!
Since this is the everyday Lagos, it's rare to see an Oyibo (white person),
so we hear the calls of "Oyibo, Come....Look here" as well as feel
their hands touching and pulling at us to get our attention.
(Woman carrying rolled, dried fish on her head)
They call us "Oyibo, "Ma" and "Sister" and hiss (pssssstt) to encourage us to
'just take a look'. I wish that words could adequately describe this place.
(Bras and sandals for sale!)
Our drivers park in dirty parking lots and lead us into the throngs of people.
Cars are parked all over and they just push them out of the way as needed.
Balogun for us, is a great place to purchase fabrics from all over Africa.
The selection is incredible - if you can locate what you need in the maze.
It's like an obstacle course to reach the fabric area. After dodging vendors, porters, and motorcycles, squeezing through crowds, and leaping over backed up drainage -
we make it to the narrow alleys, and a wave of color hits us.
Walls and walls of material surround us and we look around in awe.
Picking through thousands of folded multicolored cloth is almost impossible
and it is so easy to get overwhelmed.
I find a gorgeous Wootin Batik fabric which begins my
shopping excursion and it's my favorite pattern of all!
"Sister, sister", "See this one! See this one!" they lift folded cloth
up to my nose like I was meant to sniff them like flowers.
We negotiate a bit for the price, and they settle with us on a reasonable amount.
It's hard to resist the beautifully printed material so unique
that only a handful of people on earth own that design.
Treasures are found everywhere we look and this lady actually wanted to pose for a picture. We purchased from the stall in front of her and pulled out our camera with rare permission to photograph. I thought her dress was beautiful too!
We meander through small, dark alleys - stepping over
small babies sleeping and children playing, food cooking, people resting
on the ground, garbage everywhere and beggars pleading for naira.
(See the LARGE gun on his shoulder?)
Security goes along with us to prevent wahalla as we walk through the streets.
It's easy to get lost, so our guard helps us find our way back to the car too! :)
This fabric will be made into cushions and pillows for our wicker furniture on the balcony.
I especially love the elephants!
And more fabric purchases - DaViva, Java, Batik, Ankara....so many beautiful patterns!
(It's funny that the guard wanted to be in the picture too!)
This is the third time I've been to Balogun and have enjoyed every visit.
The energy, the excitement and the flavor of Nigeria - all in one place!
As common with expat circles, we seem to say goodbye often. Emily (in the yellow shirt) is leaving Lagos after many years here and she will be missed. However, I'll think of her often since I purchased her sewing machine! I have much to create with the beautiful fabrics!!