Last summer, I spent two months immersed in the world of Heaven, a restaurant nestled in the hills of Kigali, the capitol city of Rwanda. One of my first mornings there, I joined Apollo, the restaurant’s purchaser, on a trip to the market for produce.
The winding streets turned from pavement to red dirt, back to pavement and, again, back to red dirt, as we made our way across the growing city towards the Kimisagara market. Our car was met by two teenaged boys, young men who joined Apollo each week and helped carry the heaviest bags. They smiled and shook my hand and I knew hardly any Kinyarwanda then so they spoke in slow, enthusiastic English and we learned each other’s names.
Our small group entered the market and the smells came over us like a wave: The sweet scent of ripe fruit and the pungent stink of dried fish and the chalky dirt of the market floor.
The market itself was narrow, two or three rows per floor, four floors in all built into a hill. We moved from stall to stall. I watched as sellers ran their hands over one piece of produce and then another, searching by touch for the best in each bunch. They filled our bags to the brim with fruits and vegetables.
We completed our list with eggs and sugar, measured cup by cup. The boys helped load the car, and Apollo and I drove back across the city, over pavement and red dirt, pavement and red dirt.