The Municipal Market is found on the right hand side of Rua Lisboa just over half way up, past the Lisboa bar, by the way, this bar has no toilets, OK during the day when patrons may use the public conveniences located to the right of the Municipal Market entrance, not so pleasant when one’s only option at night is the side street, also frequented by the ladies of the night and their “customers”. I went to Bar Lisboa late one night with friends but stopped drinking when I was told where I would have pee! I digress, back to the Market!

Above: photo taken in 2008 of Rua Lisboa.

The entrance to the market is wide and opens into a foyer type area of a couple of meters wide then to either side is a staircase, straight in front is a tiled wall. Taking either staircase one actually goes up to the hall where the market stalls are. There are quite often a few of the local beggars loitering around in this area, they will hold their hands out to everyone in the hope of getting a coin or two. If one takes say for example the left hand staircase and were to turn left at the top and left again you would find a few more steps to the gallery area, where for some reason, I know not what it is, all sorts of folk like to hang out and watch the activity down below.

Up the stairs on the first level there are shops to the left and right hand sides, there’s a café and bar,  a shoe mender, a seamstress, a health food shop amongst others. In the centre of the hall there are two rows of back to back stalls and three aisles to walk down. At the far end is another entrance, where there is a butcher either side of the building.

The stalls themselves are laden pretty much with the same items, dried herbs, fresh chillies, small ones red and green along with small water bottles of the home made chilli oil favoured by the Cape Verdeans, peppers, red and green, potatoes, yams, mandioca, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, pumpkin, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, bananas, mangoes and if you are lucky, this week, lemons and garlic bulbs. I say lucky because there is a shortage of both on the island, the lemons on the only stall I found selling them were 400$00 per kilo, I bought six lemons for 800$00 (over 7 Euros) Ouch!  I thought I had quite likely been ripped off again, but on sending my bar manager in to ask, he came back to say he had been given the same price. The stall holder must have known there was a shortage! Fair play to her, however I don’t think I’ll be buying any more at that price!

Back in November 2009 I swore I wouldn’t go back to the Municipal Market to buy vegetables when it was pointed out to me that I was being ripped off! One of the empregada de mesa (table staff) in the Irish Bar kindly weighed the veg I bought there and said I should have been charged about 500$00, I’d been charged double. This is a great shame as the market stall holders have really let themselves down here, so short sighted.

Being just another white person to the Cape Verdeans, visiting for a week or two then going back home, I suppose it makes a big difference to their takings for the day if they over charge, why should they care if a tourist is ripped off?  Sadly, they lost my regular long term custom. There are many fruit and vegetable shops, as well as the supermarkets, they all sell the same available groceries at the same prices. With the exception of one enterprising new grocer and wholesaler, who has priced his bulbs of garlic at 1000$00 per kilo, reckon he knows no one else has any?

Some of the stalls also sell the small round goats cheeses, these are not refrigerated. Please do not buy one and eat it, like I did in my first week on the island. Unless of course you like to spend much of your day on the loo with a seriously dodgy belly.

But if you want to visit the Municipal Market to haggle and have a bit of fun, be prepared to walk away to get a better price, there are many stalls to chose from and I have since got better prices by taking this approach. Oh, remember to take a carrier bag with you as they charge 20 escudos for one!

Bye for now,

Karen Madej