The pits? More like pit bowls.
On the island of Majorca, Palma is a resort city with a great deal of nightlife including salsa dancing. I am glad I did not stay there. Instead my writer host and I enjoy the relative quiet of the cove-like beach towns on the other side of the island: Alcudia, Puerto Pollensa, Cala St. Vincinc. Relatively quiet, except for perhaps Market Day.
Market Day in Alcudia will not get you the best prices on Majorcan pottery, leather works from Africa, hand-stamped sarongs/scarves or anything else displayed in gorgeous array. However, Alcudia has the best atmosphere. To walk on marble streets or mount the thick walls of the ancient Roman city with its Moorish influences is a delight. My host tells me which of the cool linen dresses are literally half as much at the market we will visit Tuesday. I make only a couple small purchases.
Alcudia’s Sunday market gets all the tourists, there is very little bargaining (even if your Spanish and French are well oiled). “Fixed price,” says one seller. My host frowns and moves on.
The prices will be better, she tells me, and negotiable at the Pollensa Market on Tuesday–and of course this is true. Items marked 8 euro each become 2 for 10. The 65 euro leather purse the man from Senegal is selling might be yours for only 35. English will not get you the best deals. Though the marked price on the local pottery will be half what it was at the stalls in Alcudia. Arrive before 2pm so you can visit the family-run factory store of L’Agora (Joan Mas 7, 07460 Pollenca). They will have unique pottery patterns not found at any of the outdoor markets. Even the family shop beat those Alcudia market prices. Tourist beware!
My friend is localizing, becoming known by name in the shops, restaurants and seaside hangouts she frequents. The presence of her 10 month old puppy encourages peoples’ memories. Bella, sometimes endearingly called Belly-button, is less than 6 pounds (2.8 kilo), a schitzu-poodle-maltese mix. She loves to be loved by cashiers, al fresco diners, and children or anyone else who shows interest.
When I first see a Mallorcan pit bowl I don’t recognize it for what it is because my host pulls it from her purse and fills the small concavity with water for Bella. How perfect! Then when hot tea is served at the flat, there is this small bowl for the used tea bag. I want one–no two!
Sadly I am not a fan of the many types of olives served in Mediterranean countries. When the pit bowl appears at supper out, I make no use of it. My host informs me she gives these bowls as gifts for ladies to put on their bedside and leave their rings or other jewelry in overnight. Suddenly I envision my oldest son dropping his change in the bowl at night, and I know one item everyone on my gift list will receive.
Do I ever put pits in the bowl created for them? Cherries are in season as well as quarter-sized apricots. Delicious! Finally I use the small bowls for their original purpose.
Kristin King is an author, publisher and co-founder of the nonprofit Future Hope Africa which is based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is from Kentucky (USA) and lives as an expat in Holland.