El Mercado (Posted 6-8-2010)

This morning Julia and I went to the market and bought some fruit. Easy enough, right? Riggghhhht. Maybe easy isn’t the right word, but it was a culturally enriching and emotionally stretching exercise.

The adventure began with a ride in our borrowed missionary vehicle (manual, of course) through narrow twists and turns. Julia drove us to the market, and she fearlessly stared down such challenges as cars fussing and bleating behind us, and paper thin avenues ahead of us. When we finally found a spot in the thick of the bustle, Julie casually parallel parked like a pro (See photo above for evidence).

The market etiquette was different. A group of people surrounds the booth where they wish to buy fruit. At every booth, there is nothing even closely resembling a line. In fact, the next person’s turn might be someone at the very back of the mob. In order to get in “line” you boldly approach the fray, and shout out“¿El ultímo?” Someone, anyone in the group, will raise their hand. Now you know who you must follow. The next person who comes along and asks, “¿El ultímo?” obviously needs you to tell him he is next after you. Once the person in front of you is done, you proceed to the counter to make your purchase.

In the course of our waiting, at least two fights occurred regarding who was where in the line. Of course, we understand very little vocabulary, so for us, these fights consisted of shouting and a bunch of arm waving. As we waited, we couldn’t help but think, “What in the world would we say if they pick a fight with us??”

The ride home this morning wasn’t quite as smooth, that’s because Chad (Eric, chema, whoever I am) drove. Only three times of killing the car, so I guess next time I’ll shoot for two or less. 🙂

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