Monday, July 03, 2006

Mexco Zidane's Ataye Shop

Ataye Shops are a fairly new phenomenon here in Liberia. "Ataye" is a strong tea served in tiny glasses. The fun is in the mixing of it. The server puts the already brewed tea in a small plastic cup, puts in some sugar, and, instead of stirring, he pours the tea from the plastic cup into the glass and vice versa several times (in a very long stream) to mix it.

Ataye shops have become men's clubs ("because women don't like the strong flavor of the tea," someone explains to me) and are always alive with discussions, debates and answers to Liberia's problems. Today, at Mexco Zidane's Ataye Shop on Maryland Avenue in Harper City (Maryland County), the talk is about who should win the World Cup. I'm not really following the argument but I hear the words "Ronaldinho" "Brazil" "Portugal" "France" and something about unequal match-ups and some country taking all the African players. Mexco (aka Mohammed) offers me my very first glass of Ataye. I say no at first, but he insists and I accept. It is strong, but surprisingly sweet and not at all unpleasant.

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