It was quiet at Shuk HaCarmel when I arrived in Tel Aviv. Closing time in the evening: market stalls that normally showcase the day’s freshest produce and sweetest treats were empty.
There is peace in the way darkness and light are intertwined. I thought about this while walking through the market: the contrast allows space for gratitude and balance. Calm and vibrant. Bare and bustling.
The morning energy the next day was that much more exciting. Stalls were setting up again and the streets shook off the solitude: whirring of blenders at fresh juice stalls; whiffs of fresh, strong garlic alongside a rainbow of produce; bellowing calls in Hebrew from vendors of all kinds. They draw you in with free samples. I always say yes, especially to sweets: chocolate babka and sugary donuts.
A labyrinth of falafel and shawarma, halva and nuts, household goods and clothes. Local markets pulsate with the heartbeat of a place. I watch vendors interact with each other, exchanging large bills for smaller ones or trading vegetables. I grasp for any recognition of words in Hebrew: Hamesh means five and what was thank you very much again? Toda raba. The juice vendor, Tikva, graciously taught me phrases in the spaces between the roaring of her juicer.
She sets down my orange fruit elixir and quickly grabs EVOO to splash a drop on top for vitamin E. She quizzed me on my Hebrew the next day when I showed up and she remembered my order. Do you like it spicy with ginger? Just a little, please.
I squeeze in time at the market as much as I can, even in the evening. I amble through dark alleyways and stumble upon bars pouring local beer and arak, an aniseed liquor.
A transformation is coming when day breaks and I can locate Tikva again. I’ll say shalom and try my best to echo her Hebrew teachings.