STREET BEAT: The City rush is on
BRIDGETOWN MARKET. Saturday morning.
This popular Gabby song is as true today as it ever was as Barbadians descend in their numbers to shop as the song dictates – in Bridgetown on a Saturday morning.
There was barely room to walk when Street Beat visited the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) open air market in Cheapside, The City, early last Saturday morning to see if people were indeed shopping for breadfruit, corn, fresh apples, bananas, potatoes and, of course, guava.
Of course, this Saturday morning was not quite like any of the others earlier in the year as Christmas is fast approaching and things such as sorrel and peas may be more in order.
For Ahmed Patel, it was all about coriander.
He said this miracle herb had many uses and he always made sure he bought it on a regular basis.
“Every Saturday morning I come here to buy local herbs and peppers but I particularly like coriander. It builds muscles; it really brings out the flavour in meat and it separates oil from gravy,” he said.
Patel said he frequented the BARVEN market as he liked the atmosphere.
“There are people here who, if they don’t see you two weeks in a row, they will miss you and ask for you. Also, you meet a lot of Bajans here,” he said.
John Rouse sells this hidden treasure known as coriander. A self-proclaimed bona fide farmer, he said he sells what he grows.
“I sell [ground provisions] and herbs, especially coriander, which is known as cilantro, which is very good for the heart muscles,” he said, adding he had been a part of the BARVEN market “since inception”.
As for business, he said it had slowed down but he would still survive.
Denis Cumberbatch was also spotted shopping.
A bachelor, he said he only needed to shop once a week and his favourite place was at the BARVEN market.
“I believe in getting my greens from here to make my salads as I am very health conscious. The market here has a good atmosphere with people you can create friendships with, like the fish cake woman,” he said, adding he usually shopped for oats, lettuce, bananas, tomatoes and christophine.
Karen Watson is the “spice woman” of the BARVEN market. She has a shopping cart loaded with all types of spices as well as a dedicated clientele, people such as Sophia Green.
“I buy from her every Saturday because the prices are nice and she is a very nice person. I have been coming here for more than three years and only to this market because the parking is easy and the prices are right,” said Green.
Watson said she sold more than 40 different spices. She said she usually sold in Swan Street during the week but found the BARVEN market to be a better place on Saturdays.
It was a family outing for Tara Collymore as she was in the market along with her mother, sister-in-law and niece. She said her mother was the shopper but she liked the market.
“It has good, fresh, quality food and the service is [good] too. My mum comes every week but today I came with her. It is a good place,” she said.
Barbados Labour Party candidate for St Michael East, Trevor Prescod, is also an infrequent shopper but he too was spotted in the BARVEN market that day. He said he was preparing for his annual Christmas luncheon.
“This is the Christmas season and I am having a Christmas luncheon at the Barbados Community College so I am shopping for vegetables,” he said.
Prescod said he was impressed with the market because it was representative of how a traditional vendors’ market should be.
“This is the appropriate structure and environment for a market; all that is needed is upgrading the quality of the stalls. You meet a lot of people here too,” he said.
But not every camper was happy. David Bynoe was none too impressed with the prices, something he said was a nationwide thing. However, he said it was still better than the supermarket.
Effendi Kadir is here from Singapore. He and his wife Rukiah Amin were quite impressed with the old style of the market, something he said he missed back home.
“The markets in Singapore used to be like this 55 years ago but now we all live in high-rise flats,” he said.