As I mentioned in the previous publication, a couple of days ago I had to go to the Coche Market despite my bad experiences with it in the past. We were visited by my mother-in-law, who came from very distant lands in the east of the country. Christmas dinner was approaching, I wanted to buy a couple of foods but my budget was too small to buy from small local vendors or supermarket chains. Being a December 22nd and living in a country loving party and non-working days, my options were as limited as my pocket, so I opted for the most popular and dangerous of all, visiting one of the most risky markets in one of the most risky cities on earth.
The Coche market is a strange mix of danger, euphoria and a sense of community (and therefore protection). It’s as if we were putting about 10 Indian spice markets in a vacant lot the size of two football fields, taking away everything exotic and instead adding native fruits and vegetables, men and women shouting at decibels unimagined by man, and an important amount of tricked scales to mark more kilograms of what really weighs. Coche is a diverse market where men and women of the most varied moral play the bread day by day between corridors of people cornered between precarious stalls of vegetables.
Caracas has a particular characteristic that makes it a city with multiple personalities. Each area seems to have its own energy, in a matter of meters you can feel yourself in a completely different city. Coche is no exception to this rule, from the moment I left the subway station, I could feel the hurried air, as hurried as the people who breathed it. The yelling of “I sell food” was heard far and wide, as if foretelling the storm of hustle and bustle that was going to ravage my ears in a matter of minutes.
I tried to pretend to be an expert, to walk comfortably despite the fear of being assaulted. As I entered the market I felt completely disoriented and confused among a tide of people who had nothing to envy of the Shibuya crossing. I walked like an automaton towards where the crowd allowed me space, suddenly I found myself walking with my back to all the counters and without the possibility of seeing the price written on cardboard of any food. I decided to go where people walked, letting myself be carried away by those who surely had a lot more experience than I did shopping in that place. I set out to observe…
And not just food.
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