More Than Food At Kapaa Market

Anahola farmers Dang and Pit Promnonsri offer warm spirits along with fresh vegetables at the Wednesday farmers market in Kapaa | Jane Esaki photo

Anahola farmers Dang and Pit Promnonsri offer warm spirits along with fresh vegetables at the Wednesday farmers market in Kapaa | Jane Esaki photo

I am at the Kapaa Sunshine Market looking for just two things: the greenest, perkiest bunch of cilantro and a crispy Japanese cucumber.

Problem is, I can only muster a grand total of $2.50 from my purse and the jumbled recesses of my car. The cilantro is going to cost at least $2 and the cucumber at least a dollar.

What to do?

It is raining and the parking lot is emptying out and causing a massive bottleneck. I sit in the driver’s seat for a few long minutes, debating whether I should drive to the nearby bank or walk there in the rain to get more cash. Just to buy these two items? No way. Ready to see what manifests, I march into the farmers market with the inadequate funds stashed in a tiny reusable handbag.

As suspected, no vendor is offering cilantro for less than $2 a bunch. There is no way around that one. I have to find an inexpensive cucumber for 50 cents, which just isn’t going to be easy.

Finally, I come upon a booth where two young Asian men are trying to get rid of a few smaller cucumbers at two for a dollar.

Bingo! All I have to do is ask them if I can buy just one cucumber for 50 cents, thinking they can easily sell the other one for 50 cents.

I ask one of the men.

He doesn’t flinch and is unyielding, probably thinking that I am just trying to finagle a bargain. But somehow I realize that he just doesn’t understand what I’m saying. His partner is listening, and I repeat myself to him as I empty out my little bag. They both understand what I’m saying this time, and agree to make the deal. I give the first man two quarters as I express my sincerest gratitude.

The strangest thing is, after second-guessing my earnest bargaining, unexpectedly and like an angel descending from heaven, the man passes the other cucumber to me as a gift, not uttering a single word!

My heart is filled with gratitude at this generous gesture, so alive with love!

As I walk away, I reassure him that the next time I come to the market, I will surely visit them again. I’m thinking that I will repay him for the extra cucumber and buy more things from him the next time.

He manages to say in broken English, “Yes, next time, come again.”

Cucumbers and cilantro in hand, I walk out of the market laden with more sustenance than any food could ever give me.

janeesaki@live.com

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