Monday, 21 May 2012

Where have the barrow boys gone?

A really striking change this May is the complete abscence of barrow boys. Usually they are ouside the mosque and on the corner of Place Asserag selling the most perishable and seasonable crops.; strawberries, avocados, pears, quince. Also there have always been stalls by Bab Taghout selling kitchen equipment, tajines and diffusers. Hawkers sold mint and herbs at the gate and ouside were banan stalls and also pavement sellers of the very poor selling just a few bananas or aubergines. They are all gone, even though there is a new raised semicircle of paving which would be a good place for them. We discuss their abscence with Moha. I think that the city has had a clearout to protect its market and clamped down on them. Moha blames the international financial situation but then adds evidence for my theory by telling us of one fruit seller going from shop to shop in the Souk and the market manager came up to him accompanied by a soldier with a gun!!! and told him to move on and he could not sell. A clampdown seems much more likely to me because the short-term effect of a market failure would be that as one supplier went out of business the others would pick up their trade and there would be a gradual decrease rather than a total and sudden stop.
 Meanwhile I am bereft.We have to go much further to get mint and herbs and I have no idea whre to go to get fruit. Fortunately it is the melon season and greengrocers are carrying them as they are not too perishable but they generally don't carry perishable produce like strawberries and pears or the nectarines and peaches which should be available now and are in other towns but not here. Will we have to go to the Sunday Souk? I hope the authorites change their minds before they are next in season because if only shops selling to the affluent have them that is the far side of town to us.
The worst effects are in the square at the centre of the Arab Souk. This has always been full of vegetable sellers from blankets and baskets on the ground interspersed with the ware of the secondhand furniture sellers spred down the centre of the square. They are all gone. what is also gone particularly there but as you walk round the town is the vibrancy, colour and interest which accompanied them our visitors always enjoyed that and I think they have taken away a lot of the charm and attraction of the town. 

The square in the arab souk which is usually a market now only has bikes parked.

The mosque without stalls outside

View into town from top of bab Taghout showing some of the stalls 15.10.11.

That area today with new pavement but no hawkers.

A barrowless Place Assareg

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