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I have been going to the market for as long as I can remember, every saturday morning I would go with my mother (and when I was younger my two brothers) to the market. Since my more youthful days even though I have grown more experienced if there is one place that still manages to continually surprise me, its the market. The environment is one which certainly takes some time to get used to, the noise, the excitement, the smells... If you haven't grown used to it, it would not be smart to simply think you can enter the market and walk around without being consumed by all the sensations that you would instantly feel. It certainly is an environment that takes a bit of getting used to.
The first issue is the noise. Imagine walking into a room where there are 50 people who are all trying to get your attention at the same time and who are also trying to draw your attention to different objects. That is the simplest way in which one can try to describe what happens in the Jamaican market. As you enter the first thing you are likely to hear is "HUNDRED A POUND!", or "HUNDRED A DOZEN" bellowed at the top of either woman or man's voice. Your next step will then be to find out what exactly it is that is being sold. However that will not be the only source of your noise, you also have to contend with the noise of the handcarts being pushed through the market streets, the people riding bicycles through the market, the jokes being given as these friends meet up after not seeing each other since the last market days the week before.
If you manage to get used to the sounds, you will then have to deal with the smells, and being a market of fresh produce and numerous other items this can confuse your nose as well. Oranges, Banana's, Melons, Coconut, Ground Provisions, and Spices are some of the items that are bound to fill your nostrils with their wild fragrances. However these are only the good smells which waft through the air. The bad smells can sometimes be quite overpowering, the smells range from the rotting fruit and vegetables, to the sweat dripping off the bodies of the numerous sellers who have had to sit in the overwhelming heat for the entire day, fish and meat are other smells which you may happen to come across as well, because you can literally get everything you can think of in the market.
An artist looking for inspiration will find that there is much to see in the market, however he can only hope that his pallette has all the colours which he/she will need to properly fulfill the requirements of a market scene. The variety of fruits can certainly number in the hundreds as even things which I originally thought could not be grown in Jamaica (such as strawberries, and grapes), somehow make their way into the market in a local variety.
I've always had a love hate relationship with the market. I love it because I always admire the comraderie with which everybody treats each other in the market setting. Even people who seem like the worst enemies in one week can be seen the next week exchanging pleasantries as if they grew up together. On numerous occasions I have seen people leave their bags filled with fruits and come back to find them, and even seen sellers leave their goods behind and another person sell it for them with no charge for that service. I however hate it at the same time because the smells and the noise can get frustrating, even to a veteran like myself... and to a lesser extent because I'm always walking around with my mother's findings for the day (a service that I guarantee you is not easy).
In the end there are so many things that happen in our markets that I can in no way fully justify it all with one single post. I however hope that you all take the time to go visit a market though, just for the experience.