The rickety, fading sign was singing in the wafted wind. Fresh Markets Every Saturday. It read. The unbound gravel road bumped us along to the crowded space, cars slowing filing around us, people pulling trolleys across our path. Horns sounded solemnly, hands signalling people from their way. We slowly wound our way through the honking horns and creaking trolleys, a precious gap relieving us from our troubles.
Feet struck ground and I walked, quickly following my parents to the path, a sanctuary from the cars but not the trolleys. And slowly, one step at a time we came to our destination. The immense warehouse home to the weekly markets.
As I stepped over the unmarked threshold my eyes saw the scene laid out. Tables and boxes, piled together, housing layers of fruit and vegetables, people piling higher, crying their wares to the world.
A sweet scent whittled to my noise. So many delicate fruits, so many vigorous vegetables, all playing into my senses.
A trolley came to our reach and we began, stepping into the first of the hollow rows. Trays hoarded over each other, laid out in coarse rows. Prices shouted everywhere.
"MANGOES, FIVE DOLLARS!"
"GRAPES, NINE DOLLARS A KILO!"
"BANANAS, TWO DOLLARS A BAG!"
Until so many sounds merged to form no more than names and prices.
I followed my parents, dodging the darting shoppers. As they stopped I stopped, watching as they picked up a tomato, smelt a pear.
"Five dollar a box, cheap, cheap!" The man exclaimed, pointing at the apple in my mum's hand.
"Shall we buy a box?" My mum asked, directing her gaze to my dad.
"Why not?" He replied, rummaging in his pocket for change.
"We'll take a box," my mum said to the smiling man.
Money was exchanged for goods and the box of apples thumped onto our trolley.
"You like apples, don't you?" A question charged to me.
I nodded, eyeing the foreign apples suspiciously.
We continued down the aisle, dodging at a slow pace, bodies bending around us. Stopping, smelling, me eyeing the vendors and their commodities. As the aisle-end came in sight, I smelt the new dealers around us.
Freezers packed together, housing layers of exotic seafood. Then the stench came to me. The fragrance I had always despised.
My parents seem oblivious to my disposition, continually pointing at oddities not often seen.
An exalted breath came from me as we turned into the next lane, taking in the perfume of fresh foods.
Slowly our troller piled higher, as cheaper values came to us.
Out of a half-row we stopped, another row ahead of us.
"I'm think I'm going to go get those grapes," my mum declared.
A nod from my dad and she was walking off in the direction of the round greens.
"I'd better go make sure she has money, mind the trolley."
And I was left there, with my dad chasing after my mum, the troller sitting next to me.
Slowly I gazed, turning round the scene before me.
People milling between me, lugging their hoards of treasures. The noise deafening all other sound.
But in all the clamour and uproar, the mangy smells and sweet scents, the pushing crowds and bustle. It was peaceful. Somehow it was peaceful.
Here there was no chance to think about things other than the multitude of masses. No chance to think about the stress and troubles of the world outside this building. No chance to even think a quiet world is alive somewhere.
"C'mon." A voice broke from my demeanour.
I escaped from my reverie, noticing the quiet surrounding my ears.
"Got everything we want?" My mum questioned, positioning the grapes onto the trolley.
"I'd say so, let's get going." At my dad's command we started to wind our way through the throng, for the last time ducking our way to the exit.
Again my feet passed over the unmarked threshold, and my eyes darted rested on the piling cars, the pushing people like us, my ears filling with the silent chaos.
Lagging we retraced our steps to our car, my hand guiding the side of the trolley from the menace of lifeless metal.
With the boot loaded to the fill we filed in, me lounging casually over the back seat. And so, with the windows down, the car close to the ground we singled out, and with a final glance I looked back and saw the rickety sign swaying in upturned wind. Fresh Markets Every Saturday. I did not know when I would return next to the peaceful markets, but I knew that today I had discovered something. At my day at the markets.