Market Maddness

Dakar is known for its many street markets where you can find practically anything you could want. There are several main markets that are open every day and consist of hundreds of vendors, all crowded together on the street. There are also weekly and monthly markets, varying in their speciality and each with a slightly different personality.

Marché Sandaga, one of the largest daily markets, is located in the heart of the city and is one of the most well known and populars places to visit. It consists of several blocks filled with stalls selling a huge variety of goods. Along the outskirts, you can buy practical home and auto appliances, like cleaning chemicals and work tools. As you move towards the center, you’ll see school supplies and books, mixed with CDs and electronics. In the center of the market you find the clothing and jewelry stalls. There are many stalls selling used clothing or knock-off shoes and handbags. Brightly colored fabrics move with the wind and gold jewelry sparkles in the light. Vendors are constantly coming up to you, asking what you are looking for or if they can bring you back to their stall. It takes a lot of energy to deal with all of the attention and because its crowded, you always want to look out for pick-pockets. If you do decide to buy something, be prepared to bargain. Vendors will often try to charge foreigners double or triple the usual cost of an item and it is up to you to bring that price down. One helpful trick I learned is to simply walk away. The vendors will usually call you back, lowering their price in hopes that they will make a deal. The other day when looking at a dress, I was inititally told it would cost 12,000 cfa (roughly $20). After bargaining for a few minutes, I walked away with the dress having paid 2,500 cfa (less than $5). The markets can be very tiring and the constant attention and sometimes harassment can lead to negative experiences. You have to be mentally prepared before even walking in the general neighborhood and understand that everyone is trying to sell you something. All that being said, it feels great to walk away having purchased the perfect outfit for a price you feel good paying.