By Vicki Barnes

The kids used to tell me that I was missing the “shopping gene”. Unlike most women, I hate shoppimg.

I usually lack the time, the financial resources and the patience to go to the mall or the box store and wander through neat rows in tidy stores looking for who-knows-what.

A trip through the Centro Mercado in Granada is, in the strictest definition of the word, shopping. Who could imagine that this dizzying romp through time and space, through comingling smells, through colors and bright light and dark alleys couldcios have anything to do with shopping.

Stores in most of Granada are not strictly confined to buildings. There are stores behind gated walls, but there are also some set up in wobbly tables in the sidewalk. Some vendors carry their stores on their backs or on their headoe in a barrow that was probably constructed by their great-grandfather.

In the mercado, the stores are not confined to the inside of the building, nor to the sidewalk, nor even the street. The negocios – stores – are thrown up wherever space permits. The hat vendor who was in the gas station parking lot yesterday, might have his board of sombreros leaning against the wall of the church today.

There’s a man over there with a sewing machine and a hand written sign advertising that he repairs shoes.In an adjoining space there’s a young woman, two toddlers in tow, selling the empanadas she is frying on the single burner propane stove she carried in on her back.

Vendors and shoppers move in and out along the street. Taxis and bicycles squeeze precariously through spaces barely wide enough for either. A motorcycle and a horse-drawn cart lead the way for a brightly painted bus. Pedestrians hop between the street and the sidewalk, where there is available space, crossing back and forth between the vehicular traffic with hardly a glance.

“Pollo frito!” “Za