Photo Courtesy of Dr. Alyssa Summers

“Mache Mache!” Shouted a young boy who passed me among the hubbub of the Thursday Mirebalais market.The buzzing energy of his exclamation matched the general frantic of the market, and I imagine he could sense the overwhelming sensations I was experiencing as a blan in the Haitian markets. The Mirebalais market is an incomprehensible yet subtly complex system of pathways formed by hundreds of tents and shanties housing different farmers and peddlers of all sorts. The Mirebalais market is to the Haitians as Walmart is to Americans, and anything that can be bought can be bought there. Machetes, Charcoal, pain medicine, eels, and knock off Gucci sunglasses. While going to the market is one of my most favorite cultural experiences I’ve had in Haiti, it is vastly different from the quaint and earthy farmers markets I enjoy frequenting in Tennessee and North Carolina. There is almost always someone trying to pass by you, carrying either a wheelbarrow of vegetables or a couple of chickens flapping around. In order to buy anything, I have to employ my very limited knowledge of Kreyol, as well as attempt the mythical conversions from US dollars to Gourde (Haitian Currency) to Haitian dollars, which can’t be done without atleast one blessing from a Voodoo Priest. All the same, I wouldn’t miss a chance to be whisked up in the world of “Mache Mache” , even if all I do come away with is odd looks and a sunburn.

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