The bustling Scarborough Market in Tobago is much more than its food.
For us, the story is the people behind the paw paw, mauby, roucou, coconut ice cream, special herb blends, essences and pepper sauces. On Saturdays, the market exponentially expands with vendors hawking fresh eggs, meats, plants, tawas, and more, along with the cooks that populate the market’s perimeter offering everything from piping hot aloo pies to curry crab & dumplings.
Here are six vendors that we chatted with on a Saturday market visit and their market stories:
Ms. Neptune (Les Cotteaux, Tobago) - “I’m 79 years old and been in the Scarborough Market the longest of all vendors here. I started out in the original market in James Park selling ground provisions. Today, I sell lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon in the dry season and during the rainy season I have yam, cassava, dasheen, sweet potato, plantain and green fig. You can also come to me get spices, coconut oil, and essences.”
Mr. Alexander and Mr. Rollocks - “My dad, uncle and I have been in the market for two years. We sell fresh lettuce, watercress, seasoning and herbs grown in Tobago. And, our vegetables have no pesticides, no fertilizer or anything like that. It just grows.”
Carol Ivonen (Mason Hall, Tobago) - “I was just home and at the time I had a pretty big garden. I like plants and always wanted to work with them. My neighbor who used to sell in the market invited me to come with my plants. I sell tropical plants, everything from ficus to herbs.
Ms. de la Rosa (Scarborough, Tobago) - “I sell herbs alone. One day though I sat down and got in tune with my maker, asking “What should I do?” The Holy Spirit told me to start this – growing, packing and selling herbs. I am a product of my product and I sell things like Dandy Root, Turmeric Strips, Corn Silk, Man Better Man root. They help with different ailments and pains or cleanse you.”
Ms. Vee (Bagatelle, Tobago) - “I started out in the market selling crab and whelks and then I added more products like homemade pepper sauce, seasonings, essences, oils and local candies. The best part about being in the market is the friends you make and meeting the customers from the Secretary of the Assembly down to the next man, you understand? You just meet everybody.”
Ms. Maise (Scarborough, Tobago) - “At my age you want to work outside the home because it’s a great stress reliever. I’ve actually been selling things for many years. I used to have a little parlour before I started in the market. My son was gardening and came into the market and then I came to help him sell after I closed my parlour. Now I have been here for twenty years.”