The market is the biggest landmark that I pass each day on my way to and from work. It is a place of bustling activity, traffic congestion, danger of being hit by cars and motorcycles, and risk of theft. In the morning, I usually pass the market in a private car with a police chief who kindly gives me a ride to work on his way to his office. He often comments on the bottleneck that results from drivers stopping in obstructive places when no officer is there directing traffic.
In the afternoon, I take a public van to the market, which is the end of the line, then climb into one of the little cars that take passengers down the highway on which my house lies. The stop at the market is made colorful by my conversations there in the local language with many in the area who recognize me as the foreigner who can speak it, albeit haltingly. As I struggle to understand their rapid-fire speech to me and to string together grammatically-correct sentences in reply, I provide amusement to them and they provide language help for me. The most common contents of these conversations are less-than-serious marriage proposals, which I dismiss in a nonchalant manner, explaining that I’m not interested. It’s a good thing these daily encounters with would-be suitors don’t bother me — otherwise I probably wouldn’t last long here!