By John Fisher
Going to the open air market is always worthwhile, even if the experience is negative. I've shopped in markets in Kosovo, where I've been living for six months, and the experience has always been positive. I have never been taken advantage of. Rather I was always welcomed, maybe because Kosovars like Americans so much.
But, in Senj, Croatia, I feel I was cheated - because I was a foreigner. At the Saturday morning market, I was swindled at every stand except one. The merchants made a pretense of weighing the product, but then they added much more than it was worth. I know because I had already paid regular prices at the super market. A small melon was listed at 15 kuna per kilo. It weighed about 400 grams and the price I was charged was 15 kuna (about $2.25).
I bought a single fig at one stand and paid 1 kuna (15 cents). Then at another stand my wife went to pick up two more figs. She gave an old lady a 20 kuna bill. (I'm seventy-one. Anyone who looks older than me is old). The lady gave back a 10 kuna bill and then I started arguing with her. I didn't speak Croatian; she didn't understand English, but she knew what I was talking about. She looked up in the sky and crossed herself with a look of disgust on her face. I thought, "Who is the patron saint of liars and thieves?" She gave me back 5 more kuna. Two figs ended up costing 75 cents.
At one stall, my wife went back several times. The products were good, but I think she really liked the way she was treated by the woman. She sensed something different about this woman. That she was honest and fair. Her final purchase was a half dozen small potatoes. The merchant said, "Take those - they are my gift to you." She must have known how frustrated we were by the whole experience.
Vegetables and fruits I would have paid five euros for in Kosovo cost three times as much in Croatia - 100 kuna or about $15.
|A vegetable stand in Senj, Croatia|
|Indoor market in Senj|
|Clothes and flowers|
|The offending melon up front|
|Picking figs straight from a tree|