I just love the noisy markets of Andalusia!
You are walking in the middle of a narrow street, passing on both sides colourful stalls and even more colourful sellers. Everybody is talking and smiling widely. All around you can hear loud shouts, like Solo cinco euro ** or las mejores manzanas*** that suppose to attract buyers. The shopkeepers seem to know all the clients perfectly and call them by name. They are paging audibly all the Marias, Anas, Joses or Pedros and their voices spread loudly among the stays. Well, there is always some person wearing one of these quite popular names.
You are passing some stalls with richly decorated textiles and you involuntarily lay your eye on them. They are so Spanish in their brightness … Then you realize that this specific multicolour is charming, but only when the native Spaniards wear it. Women with olive complexion and shiny, black hair really look lovely in flowery pinks and reds. However, when some delighted woman from Northern Europe dreams about buying this kind of fabric, she should rather think it over. Otherwise, afterwards you may realize that your sun-missing complexion is completely incompatible with Spanish patterns.
And maybe it has just something in common with different temperaments?
Some braiding baskets woman is tenderly calling you Reina. And you just know that her kindness is sincere. You are approaching to her with curiosity, but in the end your eyes are not attracted by all the diversity created from wicker. You are rather fascinated with the hands of the trader. Dark brown, covered with a net of wrinkles and therefore really beautiful. The hands of a mature woman. You can see all the hard work, sacrifice and infinite tenderness on them. Actually, such a basket would be prefect to carry your vegetables in …
Holding your brand new basket, you continue walking along the crowded avenue. Passing by the lively terrace of a local cafe, you feel like having a cup of café con leche **** . You are sitting at one of the tables and this is a great opportunity to watch the life of the market. You are looking at the carrying huge shopping bags inhabitants and at relaxed tourists, standing out from the rest by much lighter clothing. Colourful gesticulation, black eyes, talkative friends, wallets in hands … There is a huge mess, but at the same time you can feel a spreading, internal harmony. Joyful singing of the waiter who is just bringing your coffee completes the idyllic image of the market.
In the meantime the morning turns into the early afternoon and it gets definitively warmer. As a result you make a quick and firm decision to go immediately towards the vegetable stalls, the real goal of your market trip. However, maybe before that you will have just one look at these wonderful flowers – blood-red geraniums, hibiscus queens and wonderfully smelling roses. There are also amazingly blooming cacti here, although the most beautiful ones you can only find on wild beaches. But details about it will be given some other time. Now you need to move on before the midday, hot sunrays will break through your straw hat.
You are proud of yourself because you resisted the temptation of trying on some beautiful, summer dresses. Now you are going straight for your vegetables. People passing by are smiling friendly despite they do not know you. It has a butterfly effect and you also give them some sincere smiles back. At this point you notice how beautiful the human beings can be. This gleam of laughing eyes is priceless and has ability of recharging you with wonderful energy.
Choosing fruit and vegetables always gives a great pleasure. You prefer those not perfectly clean and slightly battered. They do not have to, they should not be too ideal and shiny. Usually, a non-perfect coating hides the tastiest interior. That is why you often shop at the smallest and simplest stands. Preferably those, that look the most inconspicuously. After many visits to the market you already have your favourite stallholders. These people, in addition to fresh products, give you also some warmth, friendliness and understanding towards your broken Spanish. Sometimes you can also get a piece of avocado or a bunch of green parsley gratis. However, in most of the cases you just receive a warm look or even warmer nickname, for example Cariño or Reina.
Somewhere between the big stalls, you find some small, wooden tables. There you can see just a few heads of lettuce, chives and half-ripe tomatoes. Behind the table, there usually stands an old lady with a headscarf and an soft, a bit uncertain smile. When you see her in front of you, then you can be sure that this is the perfect place to do your shopping.
A trip to the market is definitely not just an expedition to buy a weekly supply of vegetables and fruit. By going there weekly, you enter the wonderful, vivid and truthful world of the inhabitants of Spain. You cross the gate to their intense colours, cheerful temperament and overwhelming theatre of never ending clamour. This is the best place to feel the extraordinary atmosphere of this country.
And to take over the positive vibrations.
No doubts, they will last until the next Friday market.
* Señorita! Cariño! Reina! – Miss! Sweetheart! Queen!
** Solo cinco euro – Only five euros
*** las mejores manzanas – the best apples **** café con leche – coffee with milk