Have Bag, Will Travel
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““Do you like that?” I’ll say in surprise since it doesn’t seem like her type of thing, and she’ll look at me as if I’m mad. That!?” She’ll say, “No, it’s hideous” “Then why on earth,” I always want to say, “did you walk all the way over there to touch it?” Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From a Small Island’
After the excursion tour bus breakdown fiasco we were so relieved to be back at the sanctuary of the apartment so we sat on the balcony with a beer and debated dining options. It was our intention to go out for a meal but as we sat there the clouds began to crawl over the hills, it started to rain and a greyness descended all around us like a damp soggy blanket.
So we abandoned the dining out option and I went to the shops and to a nearby restaurant for some carry-out food. As I walked back the sky transformed itself dramatically from grey to lilac and then to purple all fringed with black thunderous clouds and then the electrical storm began. I only just made it back before the heavens opened, rain ran like a river down the road and there was a total power-cut.
So we had a difficult candle-lit dinner and afterwards watched the electrical light show as the storm continued to rage all around us.
The lights stayed out so eventually we gave up on restored power this evening and went to bed but sleeping proved immediately difficult. The wind outside was howling like a pack of wild dogs and our bedroom was on the top floor underneath the balcony where furniture was being continuously rearranged and above that on the roof were the satellite dishes and the solar panels and water tanks – quite a lot of cables and ironmongery and anything that wasn’t firmly bolted down was banging and crashing away as the gusts swept through. It was like trying to get to sleep in the front row of a Cream concert while Ginger Baker performed an all night drum solo.
In the morning it was still disappointingly grey and every now and then there was a squally shower of rain so we drank tea and ate breakfast inside and then I remembered that this was the day that I had been dreading – Market Day.
I have explained before that I don’t like shopping. Kim would crawl over hot coals to get to a market but personally I would prefer to walk through Palestine wearing a Star of David tee shirt.
Anyway, it was only fair to go because after all Kim had indulged me for a couple of days visiting ancient sites so we took our umbrellas and made our way to the bus stop and then took a ride to the market.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I dislike markets. Even after fifty years or so I can still remember the weekly trauma of being taken to Leicester Market by my mother and this experience has scarred me for life. To begin with I don’t think it is cheap as people say it is because you have no control over quantities or selection and I don’t think it is much fun either. I hate bartering, it is not in my nature and I much prefer to go to a supermarket where everything is clearly labelled, nicely washed and presented, where shop assistants don’t round things up to a kilo or so and I can buy a single grape if I want to. In fact I am so far out of personal comfort zone that I could be walking about on the surface of the moon!
I don’t like the shouting, the pushing, the intimidation, the guess work and the random pricing. I don’t like the lack of control over what I am spending and I am suspicious of the rapid transactions and not being absolutely sure that I haven’t been ripped off. I was in such a state at one point that I walked off with someone else’s trolley bag and the distraught owner had to come chasing after me to get it back. I could have ended up in prison for stealing!
We filled the bag with vegetables and I offered to take it back to the apartment and thankfully Kim thought that this was a good idea and released me from my ordeal. I quickly made for the exit and the bus stop in case she changed her mind and Kim disappeared into the labyrinth of genuine fake stalls to try her luck at negotiating and to see if she could bag a bargain. This release wasn’t so much an act of kindness on her part more a sense of relief that I was no longer tagging along.
I don’t want to generalise here but in my experience men and women have two distinct shopping styles. Women browse and compare and ponder and take their time and men prefer the direct approach. Women get pulled into shops by a sort of invisible tractor beam to admire shoes and drool over sparkly things but men are unaffected by this phenomenon and walk right by, women surf and men are purposeful and the two styles are completely irreconcilable.
I took the bus back to the apartment and on the short walk back stopped to do some proper shopping – beer and wine – and then I went back to the balcony to open a can and calm down.
After that there was no real improvement in the weather for the rest of the day so we spent the afternoon dodging the showers and using the balcony whenever we could and later as afternoon turned to evening we watched the sky turn from grey to purple to black and then prepared ourselves a meal (tuna nicoise and baked potato followed by baklava and ice cream) and hoped that there might be improvement the next day.