Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Wet Market

I woke up early this morning and I heard a rooster crow. My thoughts went back to those mornings in the Philippines when you hear the early morning footsteps of people and tri-cycles passing by. No doubt most, if not all heading to the wet market.

I remember getting up and getting dressed so that I too could get to the wet market before the days heat began. While dressing I would hear people busy in the kitchen, the rustle of pots and pans and mumbled talking. Dressing and knowing full well that hot coffee and pandsal would be there to meet me when I descend the stair and enter the kitchen. Sitting at the table on plastic chairs more common in America to be use on the patio outside then in the house, I sip my steaming hot coffee and eat warm pandsal. The maid is making hot cakes or other such food items for Jan-Brian who’s still sleeping in his bed and Janet is busy preparing for market, but takes the time to kiss me and say good morning. Dogs bark, rosters crow and the occasional croak of a gecko hanging on the wall. The sounds of vendors passing bye shouting what food or drink they have for sale. All now, fond memories.

The morning is cool and it’s still dark out. The walk is short to the place where we will wait and eventually hire a tri-cycle to take us to the wet market. While we wait I hear the scrap, scrap, scarp of an old woman and her broom made from palm sweeping debris in to small piles that she will later pickup and dispose of or burn. My thoughts are broken as I hear Janet talk to the driver and ask if he would take us to the wet market.

Its lighter now as we ride down paved and unpaved roads in the tri-cycle, a tri-cycles who side car is a bit short for me due to my height. My head would bump the roof now and then when we hit a pothole or a ruff section of road, reminding me to hold my head lower. We are in a busy section of town now, you know this almost immediately as the sounds of life abound and of course the ever present exhaust fumes pumped in to your lungs from tri-cycles and jeepneys that abound in an areas such as this.

The tri-cycle comes to a halt with a slight yawn and jerk, I grab the pipe that’s welded to the front of the side car to aid me in getting out, my knees grateful to be able to stretch. Janet pays the driver the 3.25P fare and a peso as a tip, a sign that he’s been of service and gracious driver.

I love the wet market and as we enter I smile because I remember that the wet market is the place I took Janet on our last date on my trip to the Philippines prior to this one. Life is everywhere and the sights, sounds and smell of the market are fantastic. We pass the vegetables, row and rows of them cascades of colors fill you eyes as you pass by them and you can smell the freshness of the harvest.

Grains of all colors and textures in bins, buckets and barrels sitting side by side. The green of mongo beans offset by the tan color of a grin I can’t identify all melting in to so many varieties and sizes of rice.

I’m mesmerized bye the shear size of the area used to sell fish. A area the size if not larger that of one parking level in a Sears Roebuck parking garage. I stop often too look at the fish, some of which I have never seen before. This too, although smelly, is a colorful place gray and blacks, blues and yellow and the silver of course. Even the meat market has something to offer in the way of memories if not the smell of a slaughterhouse then the sound of each vendor competing for your business.

Most colorful and one that pleases the eyes is the fruit section. Bananas of every size and type. You can smell the sweetness of pineapple as you walk by the fruit vendors. They are cutting them removing the skin and eyes shaping them with spirals almost as if it were a works of art more than tasty treats to eat. Janet stops at a vendor and buys a small bunch of bananas, banana’s that are not much longer than my finger. She buys them because she knows I love to eat them.

I feel the shopping bags made from old cement sacks whose make shift handles are digging in to my hands. They are full and are beginning to get somewhat heavy and although I love going to the wet market, I’m glad when Janet tells me we are done.

How I miss the Philippines……………………………………

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