Wet Market Revisited
our first visit to a wet market).
The place was not quite as packed as the first one we encountered, but still well stocked with rows and rows of vegetables, fruits, coconuts, rice and every cut of meat from every living beast imaginable. People were selling and cooking food outside on fires and using machines that looked like industrial sized food mixers turned on their sides to shave off coconut meat. The floors were concrete, but with small channels cut into them, covered with metal grates to allow the various liquids to flow underfoot. Women were selling all sorts of green leafy vegetables, carrots, eggplants and mangoes and the men were chopping off fish heads, hanging pig legs on hooks from the ceiling and stuffing sausages. In another section, a dozen different types of rice were piled in bins lining the aisles, as well as several men and women operating decades-old sewing machines. A million and a half great photo opportunities!
I hadn't come prepared to buy, so I took out the camera and made my way slowly through the market. Everyone was very friendly and talkative- asking me where I was from, if I was a journalist, how long I was staying, and if I wanted to buy a chicken. A couple of small boys were following me, so after making sure nothing of mine was pick-pocketable (I know it sounds harsh, but it's what you have to deal with here), I turned around and said hello. I've been getting much better at the raised eyebrow form of non-verbal greeting, and it's amazing how much it puts people at ease when you can tell they're a little nervous or unsure of your presence. It turns out the two little boys just wanted their picture taken, which I did, which then turned into an entire picture taking frenzy of everyone working at the market. I was specifically told to take a picture of the "75 year old man cutting pork".
After thouroughly examining the market, I turned back toward home- with the 2 little boys following me for several blocks. I was excited to check out the pics, because I hadn't done much review, other than the quick 2 second flash the camera puts up after each shot. Apon getting home, however, I found that I still had a lot of work to do with the camera, given that too many of the shots had evidence of camera shake or motion blur -not to a terrible degree to the average viewer, but to a highly self-critical photographer, enough to be unacceptable and irritating.
So today- given the need for some fresh veggies and some camera work- I trekked back to the market. This time with a canvas grocery bag (thank you Whole Foods, South St. Philly!) and several hundred pesos in cash. Apon entering I was instantly recognized with a many "Hello, sir, welcome back!". This time I scouted out the freshest looking peche and bought an entire kilo for 20 pesos. Afterwards, a woman named JoJo (about 75 years old at least), who was manning a coconut stand completly seperate from where I was, took it apon herself to guide me through the market picking out the various vegetables I needed, even arguing with one of the shopkeepers about which type of pepper would go best with the leafy greens I had just purchased.
As expected, several kids again began shadowing me and mimiking what I was saying. I bought a coconut from JoJo as a 'thank you' for her assistance and took a bunch more shots, being more aware of my shutter speed and hand steadiness. I also bought some tomatoes, another type of green vegetable and several yellow mangoes on the way home.
This evening we stopped by Elizabeth's place to say hi to her as well as Patrick, Justin and Billie, who had all gathered to give her moral suport as she packed up to go back to the states. We'll say our final goodbye when we come being with the kids tommorow night.