Markets of Manila

Taking my hand, she led me through the crowds of people who stared intently at us. In my newly assumed role as her charge, I kept close to her small steps manoeuvring around the stalls that spilled over our escape route – masses of clothes, watches, dolls and electronic goods sprawling across our path. A small sleeping child in shorts rode a motorbike backwards with his head titled our way. Stall owners leapt across existing customers to reach us. ‘You American?’ I shook my head but we had already moved past them. Men clucked suggestively at us, hawkers shouted after us and occasional motorbikes with three of four passengers rattled across our path. I clasped my bag to my ribs, not wanting to behave like such a tourist. A young child, buried alive by novel Yankee style hoodies smiled shyly out and held out his hand for money before his mother slapped it down.

A woman hacked at a coconut lid with her machete, and handed it to my friend with two straws. We stopped and found a quiet spot next to a table covered in leather which had the giveaway reek of plastic. Closing our eyes as we drank in the milk, the slightly bitty, watery, woody and sweet taste filled my head. Then we scooped the flesh out with the lid top, and let the gooey white flesh slip quietly down our throats.

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