This is a city with a very low rainfall. This doesn’t stop the arrival of unidentified fluids appearing along the footpath. We’ve coined some of our own phrases that we use for various situations but you can imagine how cute it was to hear Truce shout, “Look out mum, mystery liquid.”
People set up stalls of all sorts on the footpath. They lay a blanket down shuffle their goods about then wait for the customers to walk by. We’ve had keys cut by someone who set up a machine under a tree, books laminated and purchased a sewing kit. You never quite know what you’ll see for sale as you walk about and invariably these products are cheaper than what’s in the shops. It does mean that you have to be constantly thinking about what you might need in the future because you don’t know if you’ll see that particular vendor again. Or you may see them again but the next time instead of selling fleece socks they’re selling cutting boards.
Talluah experienced the irony of this intuitive shopping. She spent three days looking for a dairy for me to use for classes. Just a basic diary. She tried the supermarkets and book shops and eventually settled for a normal exercise book and lovingly ruled up the pages into a diary for me. The next day there was the blanket with every type of diary known to man sitting on it.
Street vendors are allowed to hop on buses whenever they please, sell their wares and then get off at the next stop. Sometimes they can do all their transactions while waiting at the traffic lights. Products range from ice-creams, to pens, nuts, socks and Band-Aids.
We bought a slab of milk today. Twelve, one litre containers in a box. They cost CL$525 each. I told Indiana that I’ll give her a map and she can ride the buses selling milk for CL$600 a litre. Her response was, “But where are we going to get a cow?”
Everyone tells us to be careful and warns us about potential crime. A little while ago our neighbour had her back pack stolen as she rolled it off her shoulder to get her keys out. Apart from that we’ve seen no evidence of crime.
A friend of ours was walking down the street when he felt a spray of goo land on his back. Immediately a kindly stranger offered to help wipe it off but our friend was savvy to this bird poo ploy and immediately guarded his wallet. Apparently it’s a common trick used by pick-pockets to distract you while they relieve you of any valuables.