Friday, October 27, 2023

VALLADOLID, SPAIN - Spooked in the Mercado del Val

Today I had a really ominous feeling as I walked over to the Mercado del Val. 
That enclosed marketplace... 

Right off the bat, in front of the statue " The Chiseler? " 
with his mallet and sharp chisel in hand.
I was photo-bombed...

Minutes later walking pass a second hand store, three figurines jumped into view...
an exotic performer...   a Spanish Toreador (bullfighter)...  a little blonde girl... 

What do they represent?

Spinning around, a gossamer mirage of a painted lady is staring in my direction...
there but not really there... 
Tilt your head slightly, she disappears, 
only to re-appear if you look into her eyes.

My hands goes out, but an invisible barrier protects her...
or is a reflection or reality?

Where does that street go?

Walking a bit further, am taken aback mid-stride...
as I try to understand the significance of this in a Christian city.

Unknown man covered by a long robe, face hidden, tall pointed hood...
offering what to a golden haired child?

Is this the same little girl we saw in the shop window?

Something about a secret society, Knights Tem....

Why all of this so early in the day?

Men in hoods, dancing godesses, stranger photo-bombing, haunting female mirage, a bullfighter's stare... ?
Is any of this real ?

Riding the motorized ramp up into the market, all is unusually hushed, 
a chill hangs in the air. 

Where are the people?

Had that old feeling of a thousand eyes staring at my back,

raising the hair on the back of my neck. 

Unblinking suspicious eyes watching my every move.

Who would be intently staring at me? Why?

How many of them are there? Shall I make a break for it?

Spinning quickly around, I confront...

there,...  there...   there...  hundreds of eyes... 
silently... staring... 

frozen... unmoving...  unfeeling...  always watching!

A woosh from the dark recesses above suddenly releases a cascading cloud of white.
As the crystalized mist envelopes the  school of wide eyed coho,
the steely-eyed lady in a trenchcoat waits, unfliching, 
braced for the wave of cold to dissipate.

Quietness once again reins throughout the dark hall...

until the soft touch of a shopkeeper is heard methodically squeezing, testing, smelling,
carefully placing her fruit,
hoping to appeal to skeptical shoppers seeking a bargain of her best.

Suddenly a loud slap comes from around the corner, making me cringe at a familiar sound...  
WHAP... WHAP...  CRACK..! the sound of bones breaking! 

A focused Spanish maiden with a broad razor sharp cleaver expertly separates a foot from the leg.
With a well trained eye and fast hand, she quickly splits the whole into parts 
with a...  WHAP... WHAP...  CRACK..! 
Sounds of a blood sport!

I fear she could remove my gizzard with a swift twist of the knife.
Gizzards here are sold by the Kg.

The glow of many weird colored lights illuminating the meat on display
plays games with my mind. Different vendors have different glows.. a secret code?

Anxiety is calmed when warned, these special lights are to keep the red meat 
 free of bacteria...  insects. 

Or is it to cover up the smell of fresh blood?

With hundreds of pounds of soft animal flesh being chopped, sliced, slivered and weighed each day,
am taken aback how their white shirts and sleeves are free
of red stains, blood splatters. 
Too clean... too professional... too clever.

As morning shoppers slowly mingle in from who knows where, 
the hassling and bargaining over prices versus quantity grows in intensity and volume.

Once the haggled amount is settled, her credit card takes a quick swipe.

While the meat vendors are competing to sell the same cut of flesh
 to a limited number of consumers,
a ray of sunshine radiates from the cheese merchant.

He offers a relaxed friendly smile.

Because maybe he is the only cheese vendor in the marketplace? 
There is no competition, he is not haggling today.
Pay his price or leave empty handed.

An angry customer complained, "Your prices are too high,!
Your sign says 'Popular Prices'".

The merchant softly smiles: "Well, I like them."

After waiting many years
I finally get to use this expression...

"Oh, what a pear!"

Happy Halloween everybody!
Feliz Dia de los Muertos Muchachos!


Not a footnote, but a foot joke:

Have heard that beef in Spain would be sparse on Monday, 
were it not for the losing bulls on Sunday...
Toreadors  3,   Bulls  0...



  1. Your prose sent little chills along my spine. Glad I’m reading this in the light of day . . .

  2. I think you need some more Spanish Vino to "settle your restless spirit", mi Amigo.

    1. Gracias RR, Spanish vino is highly rated, one might say, spirited too.
      The many adults here enjoy dressing up for halloween as much as the children do.Haven't seen any trick-or-treating, just the role playing for fun and laughs.


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