August 17th was National Thrift Shop Day. Who knew?! Since Spain doesn’t really have thrift stores (that we know of yet), we went with the next best thing and decided to check out the Mercat de Ruzafa.
In my opinion, the Ruzafa Market is a smaller version of the Central Market. There is a building where there are food vendors inside. The vendors are sectioned off based on what they sell, which is very similar to the how the Central Market is set up. This portion of the market is open throughout the week during normal business hours like any other supermarkets in the area.
Mr. C and I were not too overwhelmed with this part of the market because we already experienced the Central Market, which seems to be about 3 times the size of this one. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If I saw the Ruzafa Market first, I probably still would have been overwhelmed. I mean, let’s just say, American city girls are not used to negotiating for their tomatoes. They just go to their local Jewel Osco and pay whatever the sign tells them.
Anyway, no matter what you need to get, Monday is the day to go
Every Monday from about 7am-2pm, there is a street market for non-food items that happens outside of the Mercat de Ruzafa, which makes this a “one stop shop.” Like most great things in Valencia, this portion of market is not advertised very well. Honestly, I only found out about this through a lady I met at the church Mr. C and I have been attending, but It. Is. Amazing.
All throughout the surrounding streets there are tables and carts set up with almost anything you can imagine. Clothes, shoes, hats, purses, bags, underwear (Yes, you read correctly.), cookware, utensils, yarn, zippers, buttons, thread, fans, makeup, jewelry, and so much more!
Mr. C and I only spent about an hour walking around, but I could have easily spent more time. I am a sucker for bargains and this market was like a garage sale on steroids. I ended up picking up a few things simply because it was so cheap! From one table, I bought 2 sweaters, a skirt, a blouse and a tee shirt for 7 euros. I was fairly pleased with myself. However, this market brought up a few thoughts that the others did not.
For those of you that do not know, I spent a little time in Niarobi, Kenya a few summers ago. While I was there, I bought a lot of my souvenirs and gifts from street markets or single street vendors. Therefore, it is very natural for me to compare my experiences, especially when I am treated much differently. In Kenya, shop owners are constantly calling out for you to “come in and take a look” or grabbing your arm to pull you closer to their merchandise. In Spain, I have yet to experience that aggression. Street vendors are usually sitting by their tables enjoying the outdoors. They allow you to walk peacefully past their table without harassing you. When you do stop to take a look at what they are selling, they will respect your space and still smile at you if you decide to not purchase anything.
I think these differences reflect very bluntly on their cultures and their views on life. The main thought in Kenya is self-survival. You need to take advantage of every moment so that you can survive. In Spain, it seems that the main thought is experience. They are still taking advantage of every moment; however, there is not urgency about it. The Spanish do not like to take anything “too seriously.” On the surface, it would seem as if they didn’t care about life; however, I think they value it more than we realize. I have noticed that they want to experience every moment and not take any minute for granted. They don’t want to miss out on being outside because each day has its own distinct beauty. They take forever to drink (what I call) a shot of coffee because they just want to sit and spend time with the people around them, whether they know them or not.
Adventure Lesson Learned: Don’t take advantage of moments for survival, but for enjoyment.