My guilty pleasure is: street markets. I absolutely haunt the one in the park next door: La Devesa.
This market shows up every Tuesday and Saturday morning, and for some reason I always see things I haven’t seen before.
Unlike all other markets I’ve seen, this one has aggressive barkers. These are usually men behind the display tables who are shouting:
- Ay Ay Ay! (Translation: Ay Ay Ay!)
- Guapas! (You beautiful women!)
- Marcas de calidad! (Quality brands!)
- Tots tres euros! (Everything three euros!)
- Barato! (Cheap!)
At the same time, the barkers are scrutinizing every potentially sticky finger in the mad scramble for scarves, striped teeshirts, voile tunics, bed slippers, and harem pants, making sure that nobody slips a marca de calidad into her rollerbag without handing over the three euros. This dual skill is surely something that is passed from one generation to the next. You can’t be a man until you can shout “Marcas de calidad!” and really sound like you mean it.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I tend to shy away from the calidad barkers. Being a native New Englander, I much prefer marketplaces where the vendor gives you a chilly nod when you walk in and then goes back to reading Leaves of Grass. Or places like a Chanel store, where they sort of stare you down if they suspect your credit maxes out at $15,000.
But enough. What can you buy at my market? Garlic presses, baskets, bikinis, fry pans, scarves by the bushel, Chinese jewelry, espadrilles, sequinned teeshirts, hammers and nails, suitcases, toys, gardening tools, those polyester pull-on trousers that are worn by 80- year- olds worldwide, crocheted vests, lace tops, tights, jeans, belts, (gosh, I wish I were being paid by the word, or paid at all….) plants, hot dogs, jeggings, housesdresses, purses, wallets, backpacks, teeshirts with nonsense phrases in English, and —TA-DA! — wedding gowns (60 euros; assortment at left). Although that stall actually has more cocktail dresses (40 euros.)
Now you probably want to know what I have actually bought. Comfy black espadrilles, a big yellow not-quite-leather backpack, and Super Glue. But who knows what I’ll find on Saturday?