Margarita, the market woman
For anyone passionate about travel and photography, experiencing countries like Peru is like an endless string of exciting photo opportunities and going to the market in Pimentel is no different. It is a feast for all senses. Fresh fish, vegetables and fruits pile up along the long ailes. The tangy smell of chili enters my nostrils as I walk past heaps of spices and salsa sauces. The meat section is both fascinating and repulsive and I can’t help but wonder what my vegetarian friends would say to the sliced carcasses of pigs and chickens hanging from racks of metal. Bloodstains on the floor testify to the freshness of the meat, because other than the breeze that penetrates the lofty market hall, there is no cooling whatsoever.
I have shopped at the mercado many times before, but feel a little uneasy this time. Carrying around my bulky DSLR camera is like screaming „I am rich“ into the faces of locals, most of whom struggle to make a living with the few goods they are selling. Trinidad and I approach a few elderly market women, that look like they have a story to tell. Their expressive faces are beautiful in their own way and radiate a kind of content you immediately feel drawn to. Every time I ask if I can take a picture, they kindly refuse my request.
„Old people here are sometimes very superstitious. They don’t want their picture taken, because they believe that something bad might happen to them. Like a kidnapping. Or someone might ask them for money.“
Margarita tries to explain the behavior of her neigbours to us, as she hands over a bag of vegetables to a customer. She has been working at the market for 24 years, selling produce from the region. She is picking corn kernels from the cob and hands them over to Graciela, who grinds them to a mash and then wraps them in corn husks to be cooked later and sold as humitas, a traditional native American dish. We don’t get to talk much, but she is happy to have their picture taken.
A few weeks later I return with a print of the photo and get a smile and three corncobs in return.