How much for the race relations?

Winding down, winding up! Our apartment is barebones, the mattress is on the floor, and the peripheral piles of miscellany were revealed. So: Wednesday junk market time. They open the hall for sellers to start setting up at 1:00, we showed up at 1:30 and the epic dustbunnies had already fled to the far corners to escape the chaos.

The main room was packed, these were the real deal junk marketers, elbowing for space, cigarettes poking out of their faces, so we were put in the back room, which was smaller, only large enough for a few basketball courts, a jumbo jet, or a moderate sized ferris wheel. K set up our little tables while I ferried stuff in from the car. The market officially opens at 5:00 but the pro’s were already prowling, eyeing me with predators’  eyes as I carried our crap in, twice stopping me to bid on stuff tucked under my arm.

We sold some things, chatted to some folks, and had some serious gold-star people-watching. These markets draw an interesting set of people and genetic codes. My favorite part though was the interaction of cultures. We heard Flemish, French, a bit of Arabic, and Russian/Polish (I can’t tell them apart unless they use one of the handful of words I know). When the first customer dug out a handful of change from his pocket, it was a mix of Euros and Moroccan dirham.

Integration is always difficult, and Belgium is no exception, but at the market everyone mixed in the search. I can’t assume it’s pure roses (in particular cultural notions of bargaining conceivably lead to some tension) but I saw no evidence of discord. In the world at large, there are so many barriers to contact and familiarity, but last night frequent customers greeted frequent vendors, and people interacted, seeing that we’re all people, and that is the best cure for prejudice.