Monday, July 14
Kaolack, Senegal

One street vendor in particular made Andy and I laugh this weekend. He kept following us around, trying to get us to buy this huge, box-shaped battery.

Did he actually think we might buy it? We joked about what we’d use it for, how we’d fit it into our backpacks.

He was the perfect example of the Senegalese phenomenon of selling one thing and one thing only. Vendors offer a crazy variety of goods here: from Q-Tips to women’s underwear to rabbits. But whatever they sell, they seem to sell just that.

The sport of hawking requires physical fitness, particularly for those who work the freeways. During Dakar’s rush hour, which as far as I can see occurs all day every weekday, traffic crawls in and out of the city’s one major road. It’s horrid for drivers and passengers, but convenient for vendors, who weave in and out of traffic trying to sell their goods.

Occasionally, a passenger will signal he wants to buy something just as traffic speeds up, so the vendor runs alongside the vehicle to make the transaction happen. He’ll pass, say, a cold bottle of water through the car window, take payment and sometimes even make change while running alongside the road. It’s impressive.

Then, of course, there’s the art of carrying whatever the vendor is peddling on his or her head. I promise to dedicate an entire post to that in the future.

Anyways, I’ve been thinking: If I was a vendor who sold just one thing, what would it be? I’ve got to ponder this a bit…

What would your thing be?