I have always been fascinated by night markets, because, not only do you experience the hustle but take part of the haggle which is their very nature. Almost every city has a night market. Some may be interesting while others are taking it to next levels. I have been to the night market of Koronadal and Davao and I do not even know if one exists in General Santos. Well, we have the Tiongson Arcade and I think that qualifies. Carbon Night Market, though, has always been on the list but despite having repeatedly gone back to Cebu, I never really find myself in the area. No, not this time.
We are going to Carbon Night Market basically because Caña wants to buy chorizo badly. He says that the chorizo is not only affordable but very good. Since we find ourselves in Cebu maybe just once a year, we do not want to leave any stones unturned.
The Carbon Night Market is regarded as one of the oldest markets in the city. Being also a farmers’ market, you can find various products display on each of the makeshift booths, tents, and umbrellas.
We arrive at the place just as the drizzles stop. Crossing to the opposite side of the street, we see the huge USJR lights blandly flickering on top of the building from the side of the street we come.
Street food vendors busily cooking on their cart and vendors arranging fruits in their stands welcome us from both sides of the street. Different stalls stand busily on each side with various displays under the umbrellas. While some stalls display fruits and vegetables the others are decorated with other merchandise.
Despite having just rained, people crowd the market. Storekeepers call the passersby then offering their products in the fastest way they can enumerate them.
Carts full of wet fruits and vegetables stay on the corner unattended. Near it, a sack full of something moving lays on the damp road. After a while, the sound of chickens can be heard from inside the sack.
On the right corner of the first crossing we pass, BBQ stands and small eateries serve people who come and go. The left corner stretches into more dry goods merchandise on each stall.
We continue walking and pass by the wet market. Seafood, mostly of fishes, comprise the displays on each stall. Likewise, storekeepers randomly ask the passersby whether we are looking for the fishes they have in their stall.
By then, I don’t know if it is my rhinitis striking again but the strong smell begins assailing my head. The bad smell remains in the air no matter how you try to ignore them. Not sure if it is the rain, but small potholes full of water become the playground of flies. Thin mud spreads to the walkways like peanut butter but you are allergic to. Despite the abundance of merchandise I want to check, I cannot shrug off the strong smell which seems to come from every direction.
Shortly afterward, Caña, Dello, and I turn right to an obviously wet market only with the majority of the stalls closed. A few feet from the curb, a couple of chorizo stores remain open. Caña, then, excitedly chooses from the dangling chorizo seriously knowing what he is doing. Dello pretends to be checking the displays while I’m pointing and shooting my camera to whatever and whoever.
The vibrant red colors of the chorizo invitingly glow under the yellow lights of the stall. About only six stalls open that moment and we only go to the nearest. Looking closely, I notice that the chorizos come in different shapes and sizes. Pellet-shaped and cylindrical chorizos dangle from the nails hammered halfway to a plank. Threads connect each chorizo as though they are beads. Some smaller cylindrical chorizos wrapped in transparent plastic lay under the dangling displays. According to the storekeeper, each bag of chorizos sells at only P15.00 each.
After a few minutes, Paragele arrives from wherever he comes from. Caña finalizes his business with the storekeeper proving to have bought a lot of chorizos.
We then decide whether we will be eating in Carbon Night Market. We unanimously agree not to.
A few meters from Carbon Night Market, Magellan’s Cross remain at a small chapel near Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. The last time I am at that place has been almost ten years ago that memories remain blurry. As far as I remember, the place becomes busy during daytime as vendors swamp it with their offers of different colors of candles and various designs of Sto. Niño statuette. I can only guess if times have changed.
Fort San Pedro
After the dinner we so badly need, Paragele offers us to a walk to Pier 1 passing by Fort San Pedro. The Fort, a museum by day, and its park, a dating place at night, is a huge piece of the city’s, if not the country’s, history. The closed Fort San Pedro stand illuminated by the lights which only show its facade. Its old bricks, now covered in different algae, stand the tests of nature and time and remain one of the formidable pieces of history in the city. (Now, I’m just spewing whatever out there).
Rather fascinating at this nighttime is the people in the park. The park has numerous benches occupied largely by couple cuddling, spooning, and invading each others privacy. I know how to mind my own business and it doesn’t need observation skills to register what is going on around. I chuckle at my own thought of them having made our ancestors proud!
We proceed walking to the pier only to realize we are on the wrong one. After hailing motorcycles, we bid goodbye to Paragele, take the ride to the pier, and jump in the ferry to take us to Mactan Island.
How to get to Carbon Night Market?
If you find yourself in South Bus Terminal or Elizabeth Mall, you can walk toward the market if you are being pumped. Alternatively, you can ride a jeep or multicab for just P7.00, after confirming which coded vehicle you need to go there. From Carbon Night Market, just walk to Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro!