I have been looking forward to this day for quite some time. We wake up in Kona Lodge that morning, and it is safe to say that for most of us, we had more Imodium in our stomachs than actual food. The 9:30 a.m. bus arrived on time at 10:45, and before we knew it we were on our way through Freetown. As we pull up to a warehouse in eastern Freetown, the talk of exchange rates, prices of wooden elephants, and how not to get pick-pocketed begins to pick up and there is a clear nervousness for what is about to happen.

Entering the first floor of the market, we are instantly greeted by the smell that we have grown accustomed to, and immediately vendors hop out of their chairs, over to their stalls, and begin trying to lure us in. We quickly learned, thanks to the help of Afiju, a college student from the CRC, that the real fun was on the second floor. Every stall had a slightly different collection of the same couple things, and each worker assured you that you were their friend and their first (and best) customer. When asking for a price, no matter what the item, is always at least twice what you should be paying if not more. As you work your way down to a price that you would like to pay, you are told about how high quality the wood is, how much they have to buy the materials for, and how they have a family at home to feed. Eventually a price is agreed upon, and usually ends up leaving both parties less than satisfied, however after just a short amount of time, I reach into my wallet, and realize that I had just spent my last Leones. As we are called back onto the bus in order to ensure we catch the ferry, everyone begins looking through what they had bought, nobody really remembering what they bought and how much they spent. However everyone walked away from the market with a sense of accomplishment and plenty of presents for the loved ones back home.

-Taylor Culman

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