Posted by : lara 6.06.2013
On the streets of Lomé, Togo
There's nothing like going to another culture, one drastically different than your own, to make you realize what a small view of the world you actually have. It's one thing to see photos, movies, tv . . . but another to experience it.
I write this knowing I am an American. A Caucasian female at that. And I've become over sensitive to how ignorant I truly am about other cultures. And how I might offend unknowingly and with disregard, but with total innocence.
The first day in Lomé we dove into the culture and went to a local market. It was a culture shock to say the least! I wanted to photograph everything! It was the first time experiencing "urban" Africa and it was chaotic and overwhelmed every sense. It was loud and confusing, smelled like exhaust and a myriad of different produce and fish and felt like dusty heat. I was constantly aware that my breathing was rapid and adrenaline on high alert.
I was bashful about taking photos of people even though I desperately wanted to capture the women walking around with the trays of fish on their heads, trays of coconuts and mangos stacked on their heads, stalls of magnificent looking fruits and vegetables, children running around unfettered . . . But these are people too - just living their every day life, and being one of four white women walking around made me extra self-conscious that they weren't on display like in a musuem.
Then, the one travel companion, who spoke French, said to me in an amusing way "you're causing quite a stir with your tattoos, many people are talking about them as we walk by" and I asked what they were saying, and she said "they have never seen those kind of tattoos and wonder if they're drawn on with pen or put on by a machine.” I've become so oblivious to people looking and didn't realize how even more out of place I must've looked! But once I started looking around more at people looking at me I realized how many were just staring, wide-eyed, not with any disdain, just a bit of curiosity. Then a man walked past me and took a photo of me with his phone which kind of made me feel it acceptable to start taking photos as well. Not in an obvious manner, but it just goes to show everyone has a view of the world they live in and we don’t often get to see parts of it we didn’t know existed. Everyone is on display in one way or antoher...
Here are some photos taken with Hipstamatic on iPhone 4S, that, to me, illustrate the sounds, sights and smells of the city. And to those who haven’t visited there, they are more images to log into your mind of a particular culture from an outsiders view.
and here are two other posts about this trip:
Project Day in Benin
Tour of Ganvié
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