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  • Lorraine Caputo

Galápagos Sketches: The Saturday Feria

Updated: Mar 12




The morning mist has ended. Now the hammering of a new house being built and the

crowing of a cock echo through this Saturday’s streets. Occasionally a white pick-up truck

taxi winds through Barrio El Eden towards the Saturday market. A block away the music of

some vendor and the bustle of people weighed down with bags greet me.

 

I enter the open-sided pavilion. During the week this is a basketball court. Saturdays it

becomes the weekly feria. Here and on the street in front, vendors set up their stalls

displaying their offerings. In the back of the pavilion are the local growers. On the concrete

risers they have fruits and vegetables spread out on tarps or in a few crates. These are where

the cheapest prices are to be had – and I hope this Saturday I haven’t arrived too late and

missed out. With the garúa of the past several weeks their wares are plentiful. Green peppers,

green beans, cucumbers a-plenty, cabbage, chard, lettuce. And tomatoes - the ripe ones have

already been bought up, leaving behind only green ones.

 

I quickly stop at doña Anita’s stand. Her meager offerings are laid out on plastic sacks on the

floor and in a few crates. “My woman, where have you been,” we both greet each other. I

stow my cheese and papaya in a knapsack. We exchange a hug, her aged skin softly brushing

my cheek.

 

I continue to the back, past more rows of bags spread on floors and plastic pails with cheese.

The amount of goods this week bowls me over - the vegetables and fruit – oh, and the

cheese!  Everything had been scarce for over a month. You couldn’t get a round of farmer’s

cheese if you begged, borrowed or stole. But, indeed, those misting rains have been a

blessing.

 

In the front of the market are the tables spread with everything you can dream of:

strawberries, apples, peaches, pears. Those plantains, those white potatoes — all of it is

imported from the mainland. And you will pay a price for it. At the very front edge of the

pavilion, just before the street, the butchers are chopping meat. Flanks hang from overhead

hooks. Women wait with bags open for their purchases.

 

In a side patio beneath lawn awnings, women are preparing breakfasts. Here is the meeting of

Ecuador’s cuisine. Hot grease splatters as another empanada or another llapingacho (a

cheese-filled potato pancake) is prepared. At the tables, over their steaming coffee, men talk

about the up-coming presidential elections. A dog, its black fur dull and full of ticks, noses

through fallen leaves for something to eat, and wends through these bustling aisles,

searching….

 

Out on the street under the still-rain-threatening sky are the fishmongers. Clouded eyes stare

into the clouded sky. And there are more stands, more crates, more spread-out tarps with

more produce — and household wares, and mosaic-colored mounds of used clothing. Live

roosters and chickens are bound upon a cropping of brown lava boulders beneath a yellow-

flowering cordia tree. A man in yellow-flowered shorts walks bent-legged beneath a

racimo of green bananas to a pick-up taxi. The mist begins again, a bit heavier now. An

anciano in a raspberry beret and black sweater vest sells the two white-handled knives in his

gnarled tanned hands. A young boy yells sandía, sandía. The bright red slices of watermelon

gleam under plastic dewed by rain drops.

 

I leave all this behind until next week. It’s now time to walk the two kilometers back

home. But first I’ll stop at the seaside fish market for some of today’s catch.


____________________________________________________


Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 400 journals on six continents; and 23 collections of poetry – including In the Jaguar Valley (dancing girl press, 2023) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011), and nominated for the Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com.

 



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