Here’s a little video Natalie slyly shot at our most recent souq. Note the angry looking boy that walks along the bottom of the screen and read ahead.
I love souq. It can be frustrating at times, always at the mercy of the elements, but always some kind of adventure. The thought of going to a sad, fluorescent-lit supermarket for food and other necessities at my beckon call doesn’t appeal to me anymore in the slightest.
Souq, as I may have mentioned before, happens one day each week, the day depends on where you are. My village is too small for a souq, so we travel 6k away to the next town for Sunday souq, the next closest town has souq on Thursdays, and another on Tuesdays, and so on. Souq has different sections, or departments if you want to look at it that way. There’s the used clothing, shoes and whatnot section, the “plastic plantation” for all household products you might need, there are the spice guys, the bucket guys, the 3 dirham table, the furniture guys, the rug and blanket guys, the egg guys, the chicken guys and so on, and then of course, the main event, the fruit and veggie area.
Its much like the Farmer’s Market, you buy your produce by weight, only nothing is labeled and it’s very crowded. It used to stress me out and I was often not in the mood for crowds, but it’s so ingrained now. I love greeting people I know and being able to scoff at the few still quoting high prices like I’m a dumb tourist. Shoot, I’m amazigh dude!
One not so great aspect of souq is what this blog title is about-the mika eshra boys, and sometimes, girls. Mika is the word for plastic, any kind, including plastic bags, and eshra means ten. Ten refers to the cost in ryal. Something that first infuriated me but now is just an accepted little test of my multiplication memory is ryals. Except in the big cities, everyone quotes in ryals here. Even though the coin says 10, they only see 200 ryal. I know it’s odd, but its reality. So I’ve gotten quite used to it. The mika boys yell 10, for 10 ryal, which is half a dirham.
When you buy produce the seller will bag it up unless you protest like I do, in a regular mika. The boys sell these fancy, sturdy, big mika for fellas that didn’t bring real souq bags. I bring my extra mikas from home to separate veggies or just let them all get mixed up in my souq bag; I really don’t care, point being, I hate acquiring any new mika.
Since these boys are fascinated by foreigners and are dying to make some dirhams they often follow us all through souq, screaming “Mika eshra! Mika eshra! Mika eshara!” the whole way. I love kids, but not when they get bratty and gawking. We’ve told them off a few times, but ya know. Like all annoyances, you have to make a choice about whether you’re going to let it bug you or not. So that little boy in the video is one such little monster. You can also hear a donkey bray, see me sifting through zucchini, and men yelling “miya!” which means 100. Which is 5dirham, which is something under a dollar, I have no idea (I stopped thinking in dollars about three months into service).