Shop ’til you drop!
Today, when I left for a “quick shopping trip” I had no idea I would be gone for over 3 hours. Such is the way of La Cancha, Cochabamba’s huge open-air market. Because it’s Saturday, the market was hopping and there were a lot of people. (Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days, when fresh produce is brought in and there are more vendors are around. For these reasons, there are also more people…)
Because I don’t normally go on Saturdays for anything but vegetables, I was able to see how the market changes from other days. There were stalls set up in one of the streets blocking out the sun with their tarps where normally there are parades of taxis and buses trying to push through the crowds. It was fun to “window shop”, but there was so much I felt my eyes blurring. I find it hard to concentrate when I go to the market because there are so many items in a small space.
Sometimes I find myself missing Target, Shopko, Walmart, Kmart… you name the store, they’re all about the same. Labeled prices are the exception rather than the norm, and I feel like I always am asking for the price of something (which, I suppose, I am). Often vendors ask what you want and then offer the options they have. Sometimes I just want to be able to walk into a store, pick up what I want, and take it to the checkout. No asking prices. No haggling.
But I think we miss out on relational opportunities when shopping is like it is in the U.S. Every time I buy vegetables in La Cancha, I go to the same vendor. Although I still don’t remember her name, she knows who I am and we chat while I buy my vegetables. Shopping is more than just shopping here, and I like it that way!
…and most of the time, it’s a lot of fun!