The cords that hold society together are often tied to the places people meet and share their joys and sorrows. Church and civic centers provide these opportunities, as do markets. This market was the pulse of Belize City. Ladies came to buy and gossip. Men told a story or two, visited and harped on social issues. People exchanged a smile as well as a few coins. Open markets are known the world over as the place to buy more cheaply those things locally made
Yvette came to buy fish and encountered her brother-in-law who is not in fact her brother-in-law, but her man’s step-brother, but in Belize, such details are not important. We’re all more or less family anyway, or so it used to be.
Markets do, however, have a peculiar smell: that pungent mixture of meat a bit too warm, vegetables overripe and sweat. It is the kind of uncomplicated baseness that makes city planners squirm. Surely, tidier is better. This usually means destroying the offensive and erecting something new in its place. It is hard, however to construct a pulse.
This market went the way of Fredrick Westby: both of them are dead now. The pillars, reportedly from a dismantled English train station, have probably been thrown in a heap somewhere. I’m not sure if Fred was in favor of preservation or demolition, but long live the political system that supports preservation of culture.
All that’s left of this place are the memories in old ladies” heads as they prop their arthritic hands on their stiff knees. Oh, well, neither can we ride anymore to Chetumal for $2.50 B.H. round trip.