Monday, August 20, 2012

Mercado Oriental

After about a twenty minute bus ride, I arrived and was really a bit confused. Sure it looked like a market: random fruit and meat stands, bustling people, sellers anxiously trying to draw your attention, but it did not seem any bigger than the Mercado Huembes I had visited a week prior. However, little did I know that I had not even actually entered the market.  My  unofficial Nica guide, Jose,  clearly knew the market by heart as he darted off into the entrance. My friend and I curiously followed behind ready to see Mercado Oriental had in store.

The first thing that hit me was the smell. Stronger in some areas, it resembled dirty animal blood. Sounds strange, but its the most accurate description. My friend said it might be rotten fish, but my host mom later declared that it is the mass amounts of dirty water! Once I accustomed myself to the smell, I was overwhelmed with the amount of things being sold. Every booth was jammed with anything you could imagine. Some of the booths appeared to be regular store, something you could find at a mall. For example, many of the clothing booths had racks and shelves and were laid out like a mall stores. Other booths like this included: music, baby supplies, school supplies, bras and undies, jewerly, shoes, and even a pharmacy. Of course many of the booths were not like this and offered random items from dried herbs to books to dog treats. I had heard that "if it exists in Nicaragua, its at Mercado Oriental" and now I do not doubt it.

The bustling crowd filled the narrow walkways, pushing and shoving whenever someone paused to gander at a booth. The situation worsened when the occasional traveling fruit stand or restaurant wanted to pass. Then everyone would be crammed into the booths as the cart was maneuvered through the bumpy, uneven hallway.

One of my greatest enjoyments of the Mercado was the many compliments I received from every seller, obviously just trying to catch my attention and rope me into buying something. My nickname here is apparently Chela, white girl. "Chela, mi amor, tell me what you want" and "Oh bonita, I have what you need here"  were probably the most common lines I heard. These comments were in addition to the people trying to grab my hand or arm to really get their point across. I just looked forward and tried to keep a straight face through all the chaos.

After catching up to my guide who seemed to only to want to lose my friend and I, I was able to buy a backpack for school and a pair of cute flats. Jose was in a bit of a hurry to leave, so unfortunately I did not get to explore as much as I wanted. Even with the chaos, I loved Mercado Orienal and hope I can go back and see more!

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