Stockel sits on the easternmost edge of Brussels, Belgium, and rolls up its sidewalks about 8 p.m. nightly. To be sure, there are a few stragglers searching for Christmas gifts in the stores beyond the lit pine arches decorating the byways. Frequently there’s a young woman wearing a hijab who kneels outside the metro station and asks for spare change. A few shoppers sip white wine and patiently wait for their orders at the fresh seafood merchant on the corner.
Every Saturday morning the crowds roll out for Stockel’s market. It begins early with tents and trucks that fill the main square surrounding the stop-and-go shop that sells hot frites. Fifteen to twenty rigs about half the length of a semi trailer roll onto the pavement and open their flaps to display cheeses, dried meats, fowl, seafood and, yes, Belgian waffles.
The tents usually offer other items: mushrooms in ten different varieties, assorted fresh vegetables, more cheeses, fresh flowers, olives, olive oils, pasta and baked goods. Then there are the tents devoted to clothes: sweaters for men and women, scarves, hats, shawls, sweater jackets, outerwear, and leather handbags.
Santa can make all his preparations here.
Currently the Lezovi crew is cruising by land through Europe and has house sitting assignments in Belgium, England and France. S/V Happy Times lies safely in Rio Dulce, Guatemala, awaiting our return in May 2013.