Old as the Stones

 

 

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Our visit to the market’s of Akko was a truly surreal experience. It took some time for the reality to hit home, but when it did, it landed with full force.

It is remarkable to see how completely similar the bazaar is today to what it was almost 1000 years ago. We are walking between buildings built through all periods between the Crusaders and modern-day, and the atmosphere, the smells, the sounds have likely hardly changed in all those centuries.

The coffee merchant still sits, perhaps in the same place, hawking beans from Saudi Arabia, India, Eastern and North Africa, the rich aromatic mixture rising from the large burlap sacks.

The assorted fish salesmen who wave yesterday’s catch out to you, offering deals and cheap prices on Mediterranean cod and eel. The stink of viscera and old fish fills the air as you walk past their stall.

On to a cloth woman and jeweler who promise that they have the best deals, only the finest of metals and cashmere. They insist that their scarves are handmade from the nearby Druizic village.

Next you see a baker and small restaurant sunk into the recesses of an old Islamic era wall, serving fresh squeezed juices, roast meats, homemade humus, and fresh-baked pita.

All these unchanged, familiar sights are joined by the new style of merchant, selling cheap, disposable plastic toys and knickknacks. Bad watches and knock-off electronics. The bright, neon of their storefronts clash harshly with the traditional, rougher stores.

This garish clash of old and new is very representative of the great shift ongoing within local culture. The garish clash of new and old creates a beautiful mosaic of the senses, creating an experience quite unlike any other I had yet to experience in my life and will likely not experience again for quite some time.

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