The lifeline of a community can found at the market.
Think about your own local grocery.
It’s a place where everyone comes for the fuel they crave – all income levels, all backgrounds, all lives, choosing between avocadoes or apples, beef or tofu, potato chips or rice cakes.
The market highlights the items we crave most with promotions that shout:
“Flower Bouquets for your loved one!”
Generic soft-rock music plays in the background. Smells fill the air. Colors fill your vision.
This is our market.
Traveling to a different world, the market still speaks volumes.
Wall walks of life convene here – mothers shopping for the evening’s meal, children grabbing a snack before school, men coming in for a hot lunch and a shoeshine.
Vendors promote their wares:
“Come, senorita, I make you pina juice”
“Look at this beautiful papaya”
“Buy some bread…try this soup…I have arroz con polllo, carne, pescado”
Rows and row, aisles and aisles, offering a deeper, more visceral version of the markets I know from home.
Here, the pig’s head reminds you how fresh the ribs are.
The chickens still have claws. The cow’s tongue hangs next to its stomach.
Life and death are in your face.
The fruit is piled high in rainbows of colors. Vegetables, potatoes, cooked pinto beans, rice, quinoa, almonds, dried apricots… the bulk bins at Whole Foods have nothing on this.
And textiles… alpaca sweaters, leather bracelets, silver earrings, woven bags.
Stalls of toiletries cover everything from soap to toothpaste to laundry detergent.
In the back of the market you find the cafeteria…rows of benches face countless women, stirring massive cauldrons that emit intoxicating smells of soup, rice, and meat stews. Then draw you in, calling your name for a comfort meal for less than $3.
This is the market. This is where people come.
Grab a seat; dive into a bowl of quinoa soup.
Taste the history of a people.
Smell the richness of a culture.
Eat it up.