First Day at the “Big Market”

As part of our training Peace Corps took us to the market in a town 40 km (or 30 minutes) away to practice our numbers and bargaining skills.  To do this they gave each of the trainees 5,000 Ar (equivalent to $2.50) and a list of stuff that we had to buy.  We were informed that we could only spend that money and if we had extra left over to buy whatever other food items we wanted and that all of it would be prepared for us for lunch on Wednesday when we came to the PCTC.  The list I was given to buy was as follows: 3 kilos of oranges, 2 cups of wet beans (fresh beans), and a bunch of
green peppers. 
            After a long, slow, and bumpy ride, we finally arrived at the “big market.”  I had been to the market in Mantasoa a few times just to look around and to practice speaking with people, but it was nothing like this new market.  This market, which is only open on Mondays, was really big and completely packed with people.  There were people all around you at all times and I being taller than almost everyone there could see only a sea of people in all directions.  This market sold everything.  You could buy any type of meat, vegetables, fruits, clothing, electronics, everything.  Some of the trainees went in alone; others like me paired or grouped up.  I paired up with Gabrielle from my study group and we helped each other find the different things on our list.  This was not an easy task at all, because there was stuff everywhere.  It was a controlled ciaos of vendors with their wears in stands or laid out on mats on the ground and people looking, touching, and talking.  So we jumped in and went from vendor to vendor asking their prices for the certain items on our lists.  Some were easy to find and others evaded us, but we were able to supplement with like items when necessary.  I myself was able to finally find all of the items on my list and bargain them down to what I think was a good price.  The wet beans took a while to find, because everyone only had dried beans, but I finally found a vendor who had them and was able to bargain him down and get an extra half a cup.  After buying all of the items on my list I was left with 600 Ar and Gabrielle was left with 2000 Ar (I do not know how she managed that).  So with the extra money she bought 2 kilos of potatoes, I bought 2 bunches of onions, and then we combined or last bit of money to buy 2 bunches of pibasy (this is a little fruit that grows in trees in Madagascar and is amazing). 

*Sorry no pictures of the Market.  I did not trust taking my camera for fear of pick pockets.

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