The bus drops me the at the main terminus right next to the market. I dodge through rows of little Goan buses and head towards the quietest area of the market. I always think of this area as Banana Street because it’s nothing more than a short run of banana stalls leading towards the wholesale market. I usually pause here for a little while to soak up the calm before diving into the main market square.
As I move between the heat of the Indian sun and the cool shade of the covered alleyways I remember why I love Mapusa market. The sheer variety of this market is so fascinating. You can buy everything here. From lush garden plants to dried fish, from plastic toys to beautiful sari fabric, from heady spices to sweet sugarcane juice. You can even buy a live chicken should you find a need for one during your stay in Goa.
And the people. So many people here idling as they chat to friends, dashing across the market, even napping in a quiet corner. All bright, like butterflies. No blue jean and dark top uniform here. as you would find in any European city.
As you wander, check out the shops around the edge of the market. These shops are all numbered, although the logic of the numbering is often far from obvious. I found this out when I went looking for Shop 22. Heather, a good friend of mine, was wearing the most wonderful pair of sandals at a party. When I asked her where she got them she sent me to the shoe shop by Shop 22 to find a pair. After a meandering search around the edge of the market I found the shoe shop, but I didn't find anything as beautiful as Heather's party shoes.
I decided to console myself with a chilled coffee milk shake in one of the little bars across the market. If you love coffee you should definitely try the cold Goan version, maybe with a samosa or wada pav for a snack. The constant stream of locals filling any empty seats tells you just how good the food is here. Be careful of the prices they charge you in the cafes and throughout the whole market. They will charge you ridiculous prices if you let them. Then again, if I'm getting ripped off, but still only paying 45p for a kilo of fresh grapes I don't mind at all.
The cacophony of colour and noise and scents in Mapusa market are a sensory overload. It's a wild ride, especially on your first visit, but it's an experience you''ll never forget.