Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mercado Bazurto

This morning, after breakfast i hailed a taxi to Mercado Bazurto - a large market well outside Cartagena's centro historico where locals sell all manner of food and household items and operate shops and eateries. It is not a common tourist destination i am told and it has a reputation for being very dangerous. I don't know how well deserved that reputation is, but to be on the safe side, i left my bag at the hotel and took just enough cash to get there and back, plus a bit extra, and my camera (and a few cigarillos).

me, before heading to Mercado Bazurto
The taxi driver dropped me off at the most chaotic, labrynthine, dirty market i have ever been to. There were roads for vehicles, unpaved and soggy with mud and bits of rotting vegetable matter and scraps of fish and meat, all of which the birds and dogs were fighting over. Other than the main roads were dark passageways, covered mostly by tarps and lined with ramshackle wooden stalls. Everywhere people were descaling and gutting freshly caught fish, cutting up various animal carcasses, and selling all manner of fruits and vegetables. Cars and colorful busses, taxis, and donkies pulling little carts made their way loudly through the streets with no sense of order. The shops played loud salsa music or less frequently, rap. Men walked around selling juice, cafe tinto, and lemonade, or pushed carts selling arepas, buns, and other items. The whole place smelled like garbage, wood smoke, fish, and rotting flesh and plant matter. Not surprisingly, i loved it. It was a complete sensory overload. I enjoyed wandering, though i avoided the darkest alleyways.

I attracted a lot of attention. People wanted to sell me things, but mostly they just wanted to say hello. I wanted so badly to take pictures of the market and the people and buildings which were crumbly but painted with bright colors and pictures of fruit and chickens, but i did not take a single photo. I felt very conspicuous and it seemed like it might have been rude to walk around and take photos, so i just walked, and smiled and said buenos dias. I did sit down at one stall where a woman was making cold drinks and had an orange and milk smoothie while watching people cooking up meat in a big pot over a fire next to a small shack that operated a single person hair salon.

It was a terrific place to visit; i'm so glad i went and did not allow the fear-mongerers to convince me to stay away. It did not feel at all unsafe, but i certainly felt like it was best to stay to the busy areas. I walked out of the market, past lots of roadside eateries (basically, small wood stoves with a few tables and plastic chairs), and then through a fairly nice (and mercifully air condiditoned) mall before catching a taxi back to the old town.

Today is my last day here as i fly back to Bogota tomorrow. I shall spend the rest of the day, walking and enjoying the beautiful weather before returning to the cold and misty Andes.

1 comment:

Betty-Lou said...

Was this the market you were going to go to with that girl? What happened to that plan?