>This morning as I was slowly waking up, trying to open my eyes and think clearly (the usual thoughts “where am I? Why am I sweating already? What’s going on?), my roommate burst through the door with the most exciting news so far: the three of us were going to the market! All alone! I was suddenly very awake.
As I threw on a head covering and sunglasses and rushed out to the kitchen, our supervisor prepped the three of us girls, handing us money and carefully repeating our lines: “salata lee fein” “shu khran” “ma salama” (or however you spell those) .
So in our city, crossing the street is an art form. We approached the main street and were immediately hit with the dust of the speeding traffic and paused on the side of the road. As we surveyed the scene in awe, my wise, slightly insane, roommate Sarah said with deadening calm: “Well, if we don’t just go, we’ll never go.”
With that, she started walking into the street, followed by Maria. A brief glance in the left direction showed a white car coming towards us all at alarming speed. A glance back to the roommates proved they showed no signs of stopping. I shifted my eyes straight forward to the other side of the street and sprinted as daintily as possible after them (trying not to hear the car honking). By dainty I mean as fast as possible in a skirt and head covering.
We managed to make it across the street in one piece (amazing feat) and looked up to see the shopkeepers laughing at us. But then again, we’re stupid, we’re white, and they don’t expect much different from us. At the vegetable stand we all recited our carefully practiced lines to the vendor and he grabbed the tomatoes, onions, and salad greens from his wooden crates. Soon we each had a small plastic sack filled with vegetables but were at a total loss what to do next. Our supervisor had given us a little coin purse filled with several bills and handful of coins (coupled with a hasty explanation of how much we would probably need, a shrug, and a “well, come back with whatever you can”). At the time it had not made much sense, but as we gathered around the small purse (not obvious, right?) discussing how much we should be giving them, the shopkeeper began to become impatient. I handed him a large bill (or it seemed large to me) and but his hand did not move. We eventually handed him every bill in the coin purse, one by one until he seemed satisfied. We walked away, slightly defeated, but convinced that the supervisor wouldn’t have given us a whole lot of money—not on our first market outing. Surely they knew that newcomers get ripped off all the time. Surely she hadn’t given us more than we needed. Surely not. Whatev. We held our head a bit higher after crossing the street for the second time without an incident. I mean, crossing the street twice in one day without loosing a leg has got to count for something.
Or that’s what we’re telling ourselves. That salad was really good too, totally worth every cent.