Although I’ve complained about the lack of European charm here, I do have to say that there are some very nice things about Torrevieja. One of them – well two, since there are two of them – are the outdoor markets. Barely had Coral and I arrived in Torrevieja when David was whisking us off to the market which happens every Friday morning and takes place right outside of our apartment building – right outside! In fact, you step out of the building and you’re immersed in it! A sea of people whisk you downstream if you’re not careful. And you better pay attention to where you get whisked off to because the whole neighborhood becomes unrecognizable as various merchants have set up stands and stalls selling anything and everything: bathing suits, summer tops, shoes for adults, shoes for kids, cds, fake Diesel belts, pots, pans and paintings. (You also better be paying attention when the market closes and the vendors start cleaning up. Driving their huge trucks through the streets made narrow because of the stalls on both sides, vendors threaten to run over the very customers they were catering to just moments before. Pedestrians are forced to walk single file, crushed between the trucks and the merchandise while truck after truck attempts to arrive at their stalls.)
But there was no time for window shopping the first day we went. After all, we were heading out at 1:30 and trying to reach a certain stall before the market officially started cleaning up and closing at 2:00. So, without much time to spare, we headed straight for the fruits and vegetables section where numerous vendors had set up their stands. Following David through the maze of produce with everything from mini watermelons to artichokes to plums, apples and bananas, we finally reached the stand we were in search of: David’s aunt’s, uncle’s and cousin’s fruit and vegetable stand. Barely had we greeted them when David’s aunt got to work picking the best cherries from her dwindling stock. She also gave us red tomatoes and delicious peaches.
While that Friday was just another Friday for them (every Friday, they wake up at 4 am to prepare for a day selling produce at Torrevieja’s market), for me, it was a very significant day. I had just arrived into a foreign country the day before. I had only just seen my new home for the first time and here we were visiting with David’s family in a market that I had never been to before. It was a magical moment. And it reminded me of why we had come to Spain. We had wanted to be closer to family and there was something comforting and earthy and beautiful about finding David’s family doing business in a very local, thriving marketplace.
And though I can’t speak with them (as referenced to in my last post), David’s aunt and uncle are extremely inspiring people. They are the perfect role models to illustrate a type of success that only comes from dedication and years and years of hard work. They started with nothing, selling garlic in the markets. Now, 30 years later, they have a whole stand of fruits and vegetables. They travel to a different market every day selling their produce. They have a professional truck, a newly remodeled home in Cox (a village about 40 minutes away), a huge basement equipped with the necessary machines to wash and treat the produce as well as huge walk in fridge, and a very close knit family (their son is already actively following in their footsteps). And while the work is extremely labor intensive – they’re working with farmers to find the best produce, they’re attending auctions trying to get the best prices, they’re loading and unloading and working under the intense sun every day – they work together and are finally able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The other market takes place at night and is only open during the summer, catering to the mass of tourists that arrive each year. The merchandise is fairly typical but it’s there that you can find the waffle stand that has been there ever since David was a kid and get churros and even go on a ride or two at the small fair located right behind it. Though this one happens daily, it’s more touristy and we don’t go too often; therefore, I won’t say too much about it. Instead, I prefer to wait for Friday mornings when we can step outside our apartment and go see family.