The broad avenue leading to Calle Feria begins to crowd with people. The sun is bright and the birds are loud. Everyone is on foot, smoking cigarettes, carrying children or baskets with colorful food, fabric, and other goods. This motley crew is ambling towards Calle Feria, site of the El Jueves market, a centuries-old bazaar in the middle of Sevilla, Spain that is held every afternoon on Jueves. An always unwieldy crowd comes to this street market looking to barter, buy, and sell anything from old electronics to American baseball cards. Miles of tables line the narrow cobblestone streets and men are yelling and waving their hands, enticing onlookers with promises of fine silver and jewelry. I am astonished by the site, and take my time as I side-step around broken typewriters and oriental lamps.
I move along slowly trying to take everything in, to find a special something to take back to America with me—the excitement of telling people I bought something at a gypsy market in Spain already building. I browse a table with antique bronzed door knobs and second-hand toys. I pick up a harshly used doll, wondering about the child who could have hugged that doll so much one side of the doll’s plastic face was dented in, not allowing that particular eye to look in the same direction as the other. As I broke my gaze away from the doll it was met by a somber man staring right at me wearing faded blue jeans and a Ralph Lauren polo shirt two sizes too small. I think he was expecting me to pay for that frightful thing. I sheepishly put the doll down and move away from the table, quickly, and so American-like.
At the next table, I spot a pair of boxing gloves, with a homemade cardboard sign reading, “Objetos perdidos. Al no encontrarse el dueño, los vendo” (Lost objects. As the owner cannot be found, I am selling them). I thought this was so intriguing I asked the man behind the table if I could just buy the sign from him. He looked at me peculiarly, and sternly said no; something must have been lost in translation. I had to settle for just taking a picture of the sign, because I could not afford the 15 euros he was asking for the objectos perdidos.
Sitting down on a small piece of concrete jutting from a 115 sq foot indoor bakery, I watch the colorful women barter for kitchen utensils, and a scruffy man selling whiskey flasks with someone else’s initials engraved on them. I watch an escalating argument between two men concerning a television that was bought under the pretenses that it worked. The wide-eyed seller began screaming “no refunds” in Spanish, but the hot tempered buyer was not ready to back down. After throwing the nonrefundable television on the ground, the buyer proceeded to aggressively charge the man behind the table. I suddenly had a flashback to the bullfight I witnessed earlier in the week while the smell of churros con chocolate intoxicate. It has happened. I am smitten with Spain.
Photo credit: secretolivo.com