Colourful, vibrant, noisy, gaudy, delectable, aromatic, pungent, tacky, genuine, ‚imported‘.
Most makets we have visited over time conjure up some story we‘ve experienced or tastes we‘ve savoured. The main ingredient of these markets seems to be the cacophony of colours and textures which hit you as you merge within their stalls.
As the lady sits over her wares, a young girl practises tightrope walking near the beach.
Let the pictures tell the stories and imagine for yourself the plethora of aromas and the buzz of activity. In some places, the urgent need to sell that one bunch of whatever it might be can be detected by the sellers‘ demeanour, in others it seems to be as much an opportunity to meet and catch up with neighbours as to sell the produce.
If you can avoid it, don’t make the mistake I made of taking a tourist excursion to this floating market in Bangkok (above) where, for the most part, the majority of floating items were us, tourists, or rather the little boats we were in. Most goods, predominantly souvenirs, were being sold from stalls on the banks of the canal rather than vice versa. I was able to find a few floating boats selling mainly food but it was nothing like the Mekong Delta in Vietnam where the floating market was the real thing.
and for a close up look at what they use the betel leaf for:
Markets in Ecuador:
I like this photo (above) because it shows the contrast in pace of life between men and women in some situations. Here we can see the woman with child on back and shopping in hand rushing along, presumably to get home and get on with her chores, while in the background you can see the man idling at the church door ‘minding his own business’ seemingly without a care in the world.
We bought a fedora for our son from this garage outlet near Otavalo market in Ecuador a few years ago and my son still wears it today.
He was window shopping, in I think it was Jermyn street in London, a few months back and entered one of the hat shops. The very stylish sales assistant asserted when he saw my son’s fedora that it was made in Italy (he even looked inside the hat) though my son assured him that his parents had bought it for him in Ecuador.
The interlocutor insisted that while his parents (ie: we) might have purchased it in Ecuador, it was definitely made in Italy. That made us smile. We saw them shaping the fedoras in the back room of that garage in Ecuador. Here’s a picture of Tomek in that very hat.
The smudges on the women’s cheeks is ‘thanaka’, a paste made from ground bark which is used as a moisturiser and sun protector.
and now a few pics of my local market in Gdansk:
When I asked the lady at this stand in Gdansk whether I could take a photo, she was happy to oblige and went about re-positioning her wares. I then felt compelled to buy the jar of fruit which she warned me not to serve to children. It is a home made concoction of raspberries and ‚spirytus‘ or rectified alcohol, 96% proof ( in the US that would be 192 proof…). She assured me it tastes best adding one spoonful to a strong cup of tea…
Last but not least, markets in Ethiopia:
When we visited this camel market, some 30 kms east of Harar, they tried to get our guide to make us pay an entrance fee which was not officially sanctioned. Not yet anyway, it might soon be though as we tourists are becoming a bit of a scourge in their eyes.
Kat/Qat/ (pronounced chat): tons of this stimulant leaf is consumed daily and also transported from Harar in eastern Ethiopia to Somalia and Djibouti from where it is loaded onto ships destined for Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Because of the delicate structure of the leaf, it doens’t stay fresh for too long, hence the speeding trucks chasing along the road east of Harar every day with fresh produce. You want to keep out of their way.