Yesterday was very exciting! I had my first Guatemalan shopping experience! In the morning before lunch, Lettie and Vilma needed some things to prepare the food, so two of the older girls (Francisca and Angelica) and I volunteered to go to la tienda.
The little stores were surprisingly close. All we had to do was walk down our driveway (about the distance from my parent’s house to the entrance of the Franklin Hills neighborhood), enter the “highway,” and just a few steps later we came to the shops. They are pretty small, and you simply go up to the window and tell them what you want (thank goodness I had the girls with me, because I would not have had the slightest clue as to what to say).
The guys manning the windows were very friendly to the girls, but they stared at me like I was an alien! I thought that the one guy who was measuring our flour (or something like flour) was going to miss the bag with his scoop because rather than looking at what he was doing, he was just staring at me with this puzzled look on his face. I KNOW I’m not the first Gringo they’ve seen (I have no doubt that Karen and Mike have frequented their stores), but for some reason I threw them off… It was pretty funny.
Later on in the day, Karen took Francisca, Zuleidey, Lucia, and me into the Rio Dulce marketplace to do some Christmas shopping. The kids all need new clothes, and so rather than purchasing something on her own without knowing if the clothes fit or if the girls like the style, Karen decided it would be special if the older girls got to pick out their own outfit… And it was. We had a blast!
Adventures at the Market:
First of all, simply GETTING to the market is quite an adventure. When coming into the marketplace, the traffic is crazy. People are walking in the road, taxis are pulled over causing traffic jams, motorcyclists and scooters are weaving in and out of traffic, and it’s just a mess! I have a new appreciation for Karen, who did a great job navigating us through it all. Anyway, once we finally parked, we were able to start shopping. It was really fun seeing what styles of clothes the girls liked. They all like the jeans with lots of embellishments on the pockets (like rhinestones and glitter). Those jeans are very popular here (but it seems like in the US they’re only popular for little girls under the age of ten or so). Anyway, I could TOTALLY relate to the girls in that they all have very oddly shaped bodies (but don’t get me wrong- they’re all so beautiful), and it was hard to find pants that fit them well. Eventually we found a pair of jeans and a top for each one of the girls, and they seemed very pleased with their purchases… And I was very pleased to have my first marketplace experience.
The Market’s Layout:
There is only one street that runs through Rio Dulce, and the Marketplace is made up of a row of little individual shops on both sides of the street. Many of the shops are just one building with walls dividing them, and they paint their store’s name over the entranceway. It’s really neat, but VERY crowded…
There are SO MANY different smells in the marketplace. We would be walking by a stand selling fried chicken that smelled delicious, then we would enter a store that smelled like body odor, then we would be in a bakery that smelled of fresh cakes and bread, then we would be down by the Rio Dulce river that smelled kind of mucky, and at one point we were stuck in an alleyway that smelled like pee. It was quite the aromatic experience. ☺
Anyway, I was shocked at how many Gringos I saw! When I had asked Karen and Mike how many Americans live in Rio Dulce, they both said, “Too many.” Apparently there are a lot of white people who come to live cheaply and “to spend half of their day looking for the cheapest beer and the other half of their day drinking it.” How sad…
Well, the children are getting up, so I better put my computer away before they start begging to listen to music and watch old Selena music videos on Youtube (the older girls are a little obsessed with her)… I hope you are all doing well, and I’ll try to write some more later on in the day. Adios!