Samoutou Family Blog
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About This Blog...

Family of 5 
from Gabon, Hong Kong and the UK   

Living in Impfondo,   
Republic of Congo   
Since April 2012 

Blog by Joyce the mum, 
Homeschooling novice, 
Eye Charity founding doctor / director. 
Reluctant domestic goddess 

Passionate about sashimi, 
helping people see 
physically and spiritually,   
and Jesus   


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Recent Posts

This Little Piggy Went to Market
August 25, 2015

Whenever I visit an exciting new place, I am always keen to spend some time at the local market. For me, the energy and etiquette of the market is always a colorful representation of the country’s wider culture, with a melting pot of merchants trying to flog their goods to probing onlookers. Now, I have been lucky enough to travel to see a fair few markets but, truly, none have come close to the chaos of Impfondo so far.

Looking down one of the busy corridors before you enter, you feel like you are about to dive into a death trap. Heads and shoulders appear to be literally rubbing together in their efforts to squeeze through the chaos. Long canes of sugar and huge bowls full of fruit and cooked fish swing around in the air, balanced precariously on people’s heads. Motorcyclists come revving through at alarming speeds, piled high with produce, almost whacking into small children. The whole thing feels tremendously fun, and with the usual deafening African music blasting out of the speakers from various stalls, it’s a bit of a party.

Joyce and the kids brought me to what they call ‘Aladdin’s Cave’, a section of the market walled, slightly claustrophobically, with an eclectic collection of outrageous African fabrics. Smaller shops sit in between the better established ones, selling a plethora of trinkets and any second hand bric-a-brac that the owners were able to get their hands on. A lot of the stuff on sale looked like it was taken straight out of those Christmas shoe boxes you make when you are at school. I found out later that it probably was.

The meat section is by far the funkiest. Its corridors are, in places, less than a meter wide. The floor is a bumpy dirt track, its pot holes filled with stagnant pools of blood-coloured water. On the wonky wooden tables lies an assortment of jungle meats from crocodile to catfish to gazelle. I even saw two large live iguanas, their head and limbs tied so they can’t escape, looking at me with a gaze full of fear and confusion. There are virtually no fridges in Impfondo, so half the meat is still alive to keep it fresh. As soon as something is killed and chopped in two with the cleaver, it is blanketed by a swarm of flies.

Impfondo’s market is so rich and challenging because it has not been tainted, in any way, by a tourist culture. There are no standardized stalls selling wood carvings or ‘I HEART IMPFONDO’ t-shirts, just a community of people trading to make ends meet. Merchants are genuinely surprised when you want to take a photo of a butchered-up crocodile; to them it is just food. The town, so far, seems to have avoided the homogenizing processes of globalization, and I am glad to have experienced it before it is inevitably lost. I feel like a proper traveler at last.

Guest Blog By

Rowan Cassels-Brown
New Sight Summer Intern

Filed under: Musings, Food, Living in Congo, Developing countries


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