Markets of Bolivia - huelos galore!
01.05.2012 - 25.05.2012
Without accurately calculating, I can confidently estimate I´ve spent the equivalent of at least 4 solid days just wandering in and out and through the tiny alleys and isles that make up the enchanting markets at the centre of every Bolivian town. A browser´s heaven - these colourful mazes are a wonder to visit, a delight to taste and a fascination to just observe. Ladies dressed in layers upon layers of robes, rags and aprons (I still don´t know why they need so many layers - though it´s amazing what they pull out of hidden pockets - change, notes, paper, produce, and more often than not - babies) set up stalls at dawn´s crack every day and holler at any potential customer tempting them with bites to try, taste, smell or sample. Pyramids of bananas, pillars of watermelons, piles of apples and mandarins stand on ceremony next to fresh tomatoes, greens and every other vegetable in the rainbow creating a visual work of art to appreciate - before you even buy anything.
Freshly squeezed coconut juice (con leche) has been my daily tipple for the past month (the only hardship is choosing which seller to park at each day), closely followed by fresh avocado (heavy bargaining needed for these - worth their weight in gold it seems), and then freshly baked ´pan´ to accompany the market soup (for less than a dollar I´ve become accustomed to a huge bowl of spiced broth with a lucky dip of maybe chicken or pasta or rice or another bit of meat carcass - best not to ask).
My favourite market lady sees me coming a mile off, "Hola mama-cita, que linda mama-cita, que quieres mama-linda....?´she coaxes in a high pitched almost baby-like voice. Pleasantries and ´good days´ are exchanged before any business is done yet we both know the important bit is to come - the daily haggle over half a cent of carrots or one Bolivianos´s worth of spinach which could sway her profit/loss balance for the day quite severely.
I´ve deliberately avoided the meat isles which still haunt my dreams (think beheaded creatures with fur attached and even teeth on show - it´s like dead horse Cruffs - no joke!).
Sticking to the spice isles, flowers stands, cake stands, potato harvest piles and heaps of different grains as tall as me... it´s been a pleasure to be part of this colourful community and be on the receiving end of beautiful food, fresh produce, smiles, greetings and local language exchange - and without being ripped off. Just watch out for the cow intestines - ooooffff!