Day 6 – Mactan Island, Cebu Philipines
Back to work. Not so easy when every grain of sand on the beach is chanting your name.
I have traded in my grainy, bitter Nescafe breakfast for a far more delicious and nearly intoxicating morning lover. The Philippine manga or mango. History tells us that Ferdinand Magellan died in a battle against Lapu Lapu on Mactan Island (where my bum is sitting right now) in 1521 over colonization. I think it was over mangas. Magellan was probably trying to steal these golden beauties to take back to his Spanish Queen. Lapu Lapu was not going to let that happen. I really can’t blame him. I am addicted.
So after a long day at the furniture show in a stuffy humid building that smelled of moth balls and boiling pork grease, I decided to stroll the old town market for some “fresh air”. What I might have learned, if I had read anything beforehand, is that Carbon Market is the of the oldest fish, meat and vegetable markets in Cebu City. So much for fresh air.
While just taking in enough oxygen to stay alive, I navigated the tiny streets and alleys packed to the gills (pun intended) with fishmongers of every species, shape & color you can imagine, rooster & chicken sellers, tamarind stalls, coconuts, guavas, horseradish, salt, mangas!, limes and spices spices spices.
The fish purveyors were my favorite with tables laid heavy with either fresh or salted fish. The vendor is there with his/her machete and an old board butchering the fresh catch to order. Gorgeous burgundy toned tuna, mackerel, lapu lapu, cockles, squid, gambas, conch, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish and the showstopper – mounds and mounds of bright pink teeny tiny shrimp. The dried fish market here is legendary and literally is a work of art to see. Talk about a high sodium snack. Mama mia.
The meat choice pretty much was…chicken! Live, fresh butchered or fried with batter in hot oil & served with a little rice ball wrapped in bamboo. Fried chicken, now I was feeling at home.
The veggies were the standard selection – carrots, cassava, onions, tomatoes & fresh greens. The spices were fragrant and concentrated – ginger, tamarind, chiles and garlic, the most popular. My favorite were the stalls that sold “all the fixins” for certain local dishes, prepped, portioned and on display in little bamboo leaf trays.
I ended my stroll with the purchase of yes, you guessed it, a manga. I sat on the sidewalk, peeled the skin gently away from the sweet flesh and went for it. As I was wiping the juice off my face with the back of my hand, I looked up just enough to notice I had a crowd. A dozen smiling, laughing, pointing sun-kissed faces were gathered around the white lady in awe. I smiled back. We all had a good chuckle. I left with a free manga from the seller. It pays to go local. 😉
Got back to the hotel and decided to read for awhile….ahhhh