Each year, our team piles into the van early on a Saturday morning and heads off to the market. The task is to buy the food for our annual BBQ party- a celebration of our Big Big World Family.
We stop at the orphanage to pick up Mrs Hoa, the house mother, and half a dozen or so kids. Thao (our translator and lovely friend) and Mrs. Hoa do the shopping. It seems that the main task the children have is keeping us out of the shopping team’s hair- babysitting us, preventing us from wandering off. This can be a lot like cat-herding. We often scatter in different directions, mesmerized by the sights and smells and the frenetic explosion of offerings that is the market..
The market has seafood that is so fresh it is still splashing in its buckets. Meat is being butchered, heads and hoofs are visible. We are witnessing food sources very close to their beginnings and the sight often makes me consider vegetarianism.
The vegetables are a kaleidoscope of bright colors, a feast for our cameras. The kids hold our hands and guide us through the complicated maze of pathways, through the stands. Scooters compete with humans for space on the walkways and the honking blends with the bartering and chopping to complete the sensory overload experience.
Market day is important because it is a role reversal for us. The kids get to take care of us, and they take their jobs seriously. They buy us cokes to keep us hydrated, give us gentle shoves out of the way so caged chicken laden scooters can squeeze by. They shoo us away from loitering in front of stands where we are just chatting-not buying- so we can escape the irritated shopkeeper’s wrath. They tell us “good job” when we all make it back to the bus, sweaty and happy and with a coke injected sugar buzz. I love market day