The people in the street market set up their booths early in the morning as the sun is coming over the horizon. This market is about two blocks long; the booths set up on both sides of a main street near the airport. I walk from our house carrying three large sacolas (bags) down a hill on a dirt trail about two blocks long, then half a block on a brick-paved street where women are outside of their walled houses, sweeping the side walk.
I have my list in my hands, the translated names for the fruit and vegetables are on the paper so if the people working in the booths don’t understand my accent, I can show them the names of what I want.
I’ve carefully calculated that ½ kilo = 1.1 lb., 1 kilo = 2.2 lb., 250 gramas = ½ lb. and I’m ready to watch the balance scales closely as someone rapidly throws the proper balance weight into one side of the scale and then piles the fruits or vegetables on the other side to balance it out.
My written list of words comes in handy for I’m not yet succeeding in saying well words like pera (pear), goiabada (guava), mamão (papaya), cenoura (carrot), alface (lettuce) … and oh! So many more!
One of the street urchins who earns money by carrying people’s sacolas comes up to see if I want his help. Three bags = 3 boys. The haggling of who are the 3 is completed: I give a sacola to each one, and turn back to my shopping.
About five minutes later, I hear kids behind me, laughing. I turn to see what they are laughing at and, to my dismay, I discover they are laughing at me! I return to my shopping, trying to ignore the laughter.
But it becomes too much to ignore, so I turn to look again. Now, it isn’t just the three boys, but there are about 8 boys following me; every time I say something to someone in a booth they start laughing, some of them even falling down and rolling on the ground – laughing at the way I am talking.
I am chagrined! I don’t dare let them know how much they are upsetting me, so I turn, finish my bargaining and put the rest of the fruits and vegetables in the bags, and head for home. As I walk, I pray that this whole gang will not follow me all the way home. Thank God, they didn’t! The lure of making some money carrying sacolas for others walking in the market was stronger than being able to laugh at this strange lady and her barbaric murder of the Portuguese language.
As I walk back up the hill to our house in the mid-morning heat, those sacolas are heavy for those kids carrying them, but I feel no mercy. I’m still steaming!
We arrive at my home, I pay them for their help; they thank me and turn, giggling and run back down the dirt path.
I carry the bags, heavy with those strange named fruits and vegetables, into the house; then I slam the door – HARD!
My family looks up, startled. “Mom, what’s the matter?”
My voice almost cracks as I answer heatedly, between tears and laughter: “It’s one thing to have adults smile huge smiles when they hear me speak, but I DID NOT BARGAIN FOR THIS – TO HAVE THESE LITTLE STREET KIDS ROLL ON THE GROUND LAUGHING, EVERY TIME I OPEN MY MOUTH TO SAY SOMETHING!”
I want to go into the bedroom and have a good cry! Instead, I head up the stairs to the kitchen – to get cold water, cool off, and tackle the extra prep cleaning necessary to use what I’d brought home.
As I work, I have a very detailed conversation with God about the whole situation! I gradually calm down. Yes, my pride was hurt – but I also had to smile a little. “Those kids definitely had had a good time . . . and I don’t think they have many opportunities for fun – even if it was at my expense. But, oh! Dear Lord, is it going to happen again at the next street market? HELP!”
I wonder: how many times have you gotten things you didn’t bargain for?
That aren’t supposed to be part of your life?
Have you been laughed at? Made to feel foolish?
The thing I have to keep asking myself:
“Is my self-esteem based upon what others think of me? Or upon the fact that God calls me His child and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, calls me His friend?” And the ever present reality that I am loved by Him! Thank You, Father and Lord!
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me.
He delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalms 34:4 NIV