Today I went to the local market, which in Spanish is known as Mercado Bazurto.
It is located at Avenida Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena 130001 Colombia
What you will read before visiting it: smelly, dirty and dangerous.
What, however, you will find: colorful photographs of the true life of Cartagena and its inhabitants, a chaos of smells, people, music and people who announce and publicize their particular merchandise.
Certainly dirty and smelly and untidy as in my expectations of a market that is located in South America in a city of almost one million inhabitants, but nothing dangerous, uncertain or that will make you feel uncomfortable.
Some agencies organize tours, but I advise you to go there on your own for various reasons:
Advantages of going by your-self: you can stop where and when you want, take pictures, ask to taste and see, you can easily reach it from the center with a cheap taxi or bus ( taxi will charge you from downtown around 8.000 COP ) Air condition bus ( 4.300 COP ), regular city bus ( 2300 COP ) bus directions in Spanish : Mercado bazurto ( name of the market ) or the part of town where the market is ” pie de la popa ”
Dangerous?? like every place in the world especially when it’s so crowded: use your common sense and keep your eyes open… as you were a tourist on the subway of new your city in rush hour. I went with my purse, my reflex camera and money of course I had lunch inside and not for a single second did I feel in danger or not comfortable, nobody looked at me in a strange way or noticed my “pale” skin color…and when I got home I still have all my belongings ( apart from money that I spent it all :-)) and actually I had a very good experience.
Ready to go in?
No map, but follow the logic path or / and the smells.
The first part is on the road where non-licensed sellers try to sell what they have and to make their day.
Here two useful tips :
– Do not wear flip -flop whatever is on the ground will eventually get into your feet.
– A branch of mint ( in Spanish hierba buena ) : I learned about this when I was a tour guide in Morocco and I was going in the Marrakesh Suk ( Suk is an Arabic market ) : smell it and rub under your nose if you do not have mint do the same with a coffee bean, coffee cancel the previous fragrances or smells.
Go in: you will find a first part where you can buy fish, seafood, if you want they will cut it, clean it and they can prepare it for frying (Spanish: “para freir”)
you will find shrimp, prawns, red snapper, mojarra (type of sea bream), shark meat and many other kinds of local fish.
Do not let the stinky atmosphere to stop you! When you sit down and eat it will be very tasty and well cooked all made over a wooden fire made of old pallets and wood that seems to be “found” by street people and sold to the restaurateurs.
That’s what I ate : Seafood rice ( Rice,Crab, Shrimps, red snapper, saffron, with a side of a kind dry fish meat price: 10.000 COP ( around 3.5 usd )
And a kind of Stir fry shrimp dish with a very tasty red rice side price: 10.000 cop ( around 3.5 usd )
But you can have the very typical fried fish : usually a red snapper or a mojarra all served with coconut or regular rice, fried plantains and salad ) price: 12000 cop ( around 4.00 usd )
And by the way, here’s a picture for the Chefs and sous Chefs of all the home kitchens …FOR ALL THE PEOPLE who complain that have a small kitchen ( ME I am one of them !! )
After the fish section and the ” food court ” there are many other sections and of course the meat section… go early because when I went at 10.30 am it was pretty much closing up.
But here are some pics of very “fresh” meat you can get!
And here the vendors pick your dinner and they will kill it for you ( creepy !! )
…you can choose from the alive ones they have back there ( double creepy !!! )
Going on you will the find fruit and vegetables section where finally you get into a much better nose friendly environment.
Do you want an ice cream after lunch ? This was a great idea, this guy built his own ice cream machine with a lawn mower motor!
This market is a labyrinth and it’s easy to get lost inside ( you will!! whether you want it or not ).
This is just a brief description of the most interesting areas in my opinion.
Go there, lose yourself in the colors, smells and flavors of a real Cartagena. True as the walk in its wonderful old town, as real as its walls and the smile of this people who needs our tursimo after so many years of wars and looks outraged by us making parts of the first world.
Coming out of the market two photos that I liked…smiling children who spend Sunday at the pool in their own way and and those who still work hard for, perhaps allowing those children to have their Sunday party.
As always, Cartagena offers me the two diametrically opposed faces of the same city.
Here are a few spanish words / sentences that you will find useful for ordering your lunch or getting around:
Cuanto cuesta ? : How much it is ?
Donde esta la salida ? : Where is the exit ?
Pollo : Chicken
Puerco : Pork
Pescado : Fish
Robalo : Snapper
Camarones : Shrimps
Arroz : Rice
que tiene de tomar : what you have to drink ?
a la orden : you will hear it from everyone from anyone and you will wonder : it literally means whatever you need , at your order ..is just what they use to call your attention to they items
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