I love visiting markets. Not the touristy ones that sell cheap souvenirs and overpriced snacks; the ones where the locals go to get everything from food to screws and anything in-between! I love the colours and smells of markets, the hustle and bustle and the raw energy. You can learn so much about a country and its people by going to the locals markets; by observing, engaging and trying some of the local food and drink.
In places where I can get by with English, I often venture out on my own together with the hubby (provided that the we have established that it is safe to do so). But in countries where English is not widely spoken (as is the case in Madagascar), we try to find a local guide to take us. Not only can a guide explain more about what you are seeing and facilitate a conversation with the people you meet, but they can also show you markets in areas that you might not find by yourself.
I love taking photos at markets; everything is just so photogenic! However, it is always important to ask permission first. I never pay for photographs, but I often buy something from the vendor (even if I end up giving it away later). Buying something often also helps to make people open up, and have a conversation with you. Once you get people talking, it’s amazing how much you can learn about everyday life in the destination! Usually, I ask about their family, where they live, whether they grow/make their own products and often I end up getting whole life stories.
These are some of the pics I took during a visit to Antananarivo together with a great local guide. He was a little reluctant at first to venture deep into the local markets (being used to just taking tourists to the souvenir places), but in the end he even took us to his own neighbourhood one, far away from the city centre. We chatted to the butchers, fruit sellers and a lady selling live animals (anything from geese to guinea pigs – and no, they were not intended to be pets she told us, giggling, when I asked).