Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Souq Day

There is no shortage of good in our town, but one great thing is the souq. 

A souq is an open air market or commercial center with merchants hocking fruits, vegetables, grains, fake Nikes and plastics galore. A souq is dear, even defining, to any Moroccan town or village. It has a rich history of trade, cultural and social activities, story and idea exchanging, and even sanctioned neutrality from conflicts to permit buying and selling goods. Souq (سوق) translates to free market in both physical and abstract meanings. 

The souq depends on the town. Some have seasonal souqs, some have weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Others have permanent structures or places in city centers for these merchants to gather organized by products i.e. vegetable souq, gold souq, clothing souq, etc. 

Because our town is primarily dependent on agriculture, we have great souqs, a little piece of heaven for a farmers market lover like me. When running to grab a kilo of delicious tomatoes for salsa costs a grand total of about 30 cents, you know you've got it good. We have both a permanent souq in town and a weekly grand souq every Wednesday a short mule ride away. We've been to the wednesday souq  two weeks in a row now, and it is amazing. A city of makeshift tents and tarp covered shops emerges from the dusty desert to form an organized mess of markets, restaurants, and corals all packed up and gone without a trace before the afternoon heat at 2:00. On this wednesday, we took advantage of the fish market, wood market, and vegetable market buying food for dinner and a table to eat it on. 

At the souq now: Strawberries and avocados are on their way out. Cantaloupes and honeydew melons are in. I don't see many apples anymore, but everyone also has peaches, nectarines, and loquats. I don't yet know when or what I can expect seasonally, but there is certainly a movement in the feel and pace of the town as the weather changes that feels somehow dependent on these changes in the central and consistent souq. There is a subtle sentiment that these changes are a more trusted gauge of time than the often dismissed hands on our watches; like it is the merchant farmers, in their prayers to Allah, that are spinning the world on it's axis as our town spins around them.



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