Using Local Farmers Markets As Practice For Travel
I love a good farmers market. I don’t care what country I am in. It is one of the first things I look up in a new place. Farmers markets are where you find local people and the local flavors of an area whether it’s just down the street or in an adorable town in the south of France (the Sunday market at L’Isle sur la Sorgue was one of my first abroad.) It’s easy to immerse yourself right away.
We are very lucky to have some fantastic summer and even year round farmers markets in Seattle. The colors, sights and smells call out to me. Even if I don’t need anything that day, you can probably find me pulling over with Dek on our way to an appointment to see what’s happening.
There is also another reason I love farmers markets. It’s a great way to prepare Dek for travel. This may sound strange, but it’s true. Farmers markets are open spaces with crowds. There is a lot going on. Sometimes other languages are even being spoken and certainly there are some unfamiliar foods offered.
Dek gets a chance to check out the crowd and maybe dance along to some music. I get to look out for him while surveying what the market has to offer. We’ve almost got it figured out so I can take a few pictures while Dek chats up the person working the stand (it’s amazing how much a 2 year old can babble about carrots.)
The experience is sometimes even more important for me, especially if Mike isn’t with us. Bringing Dek to a farmers market slows me down. I used to just pursue the stands and what they were selling. Maybe pick up a kilo of strawberries (yes, I like strawberries that much) or take a couple of pictures of the stinky cheese. With Dek along for the ride, I find myself stopping for more than 5 seconds and actually talking to the merchants, petting every puppy we come across, and seeing what else is on the table besides the strawberries.
I like this little bit of practice for our travels. Since markets are something we always check out wherever we go, the idea isn’t so foreign to Dek when we get there. Dek may not fit all of the pieces together, but he does notice stands of food and people behind them. He knows mama might just buy him a treat if he’s lucky, and more importantly, if she remembers cash.
I also get more comfortable following after Dek as he explores. I can step back and let him figure things out with out hovering 3cm behind him. I can now give him 12-24 cm instead. We both get to have a little stress-free (or maybe just slightly less nerve wracking) time together exploring.
This type of “practice” really can be done anywhere if you think about it. Travel can be filled with chaos and crowds or calm and quiet alleys. If your child is like mine, you are getting out of the house every day anyway to keep them entertained, why not head to the zoo, the funky art neighborhood across town or just a walk to your local market. Don’t look at it as a chore though. Look at it as an adventure. After all, that is why we travel with our kids. The adventures and excitement we find together is more than half the fun.