I had been dying to eat crabs so three days after I landed in Cebu, I asked Nanay Cora to put on some red lipstick because not only were we going to the wet market, we were having a photoshoot, as well.
I told her I was gonna peddle her picture around to find her a nice Aussie bloke so she needed to look her best amidst a backdrop of fish stalls and shouting vendors. She laughed. She probably thought I was kidding.
The trip to the market usually involves a tricycle (a motorcycle with a sidecar), one of my favorite modes of public transport when going around in my local area. Not exactly the safest compared to my other favorite, which is the trisikad (a bicycle with a sidecar), but safe enough. I mean, I survived all this time, didn’t I? Sure, I get a little queasy sitting on a rusty sidecar while the driver pedals his calves and lungs away while cars and trucks zoom behind and in front of us but all in all, nothing that a silent prayer can’t handle.
Same goes with crossing the bloody streets. Modesty aside, I used to be so good at it. I was one of those who bravely held out my hand to signal oncoming cars to stop so I can safely get across and they would. It was all about confidence and I was full of it. Now I’m like, where the f%ck is the proper pedestrian crossing?!
I think I lost my mojo.
But having said that, fuck pedestrian crossings. I once crossed this street in Mandaue — right on the freaking pedestrian crossing lines — and I swear either I was invisible, or the drivers all came from hell and were quite eager to run me over. The assholes didn’t even wanna stop.
I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the horsemen of the apocalypse was a Filipino.
Anyway, we arrived at Tabunok Public Market safely, with me holding on to Nay Cora for dear life. (Gawd, have I become such a wimp.) Meanwhile, Jeff breezed the streets on his skates. Dude’s pretty adept with rolling around the street life now. That’s all he does around here.
A lot has changed with the market. For one thing, it’s bigger. And for another, if you set your standards quite low, it’s cleaner and more organized than what it was when I was still a kid and my mom would leave me and her shopping with some random egg vendor so she could go to another stall to buy some vegetables.
Getting kidnapped never crossed my mind. Or hers, for that matter.
Unfortunately, as it was a Tuesday, there was barely any crabs available. Seafood is usually in abundance on Sundays, a popular day for harvesting and delivering to the markets. That’s the nice thing about buying seafood in the Philippines. We get them fresh, not frozen.
Not to mention cheap. The crabs were Php350/kilo. With the current exchange rate, that’s roughly $10 per kilo. Back in Australia, crabs are usually sold at… I don’t know… at least $20/kilo? I don’t really buy crabs there, discouraged by the ones I bought before that felt like I was eating mostly air.
I bought lansones, too. A newly opened box from Camiguin so I got first dibs for Php100 or about A$3 per kilo. I know, I know, I keep converting. I mean, don’t you? A lot of times my brain freezes up and I feel like everything’s more expensive here but I think that’s only because the numbers sound higher up in value when they’re in hundreds and thousands. You know what I mean? When I start to complain and Jeff offers to do the math for me in Australian currency, then I’d be like, “Oh, that’s not too bad!”
Moral of the story is, I suck at math.
And, yes, it’s good to be back home. 🙂