Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bartering Up A Storm

Bartering with local vendors is truly a way of life here in Colombia and the coast. It is common practice to be able to talk any price originally given to a consumer down to something more reasonable. It's a skill that Colombians seem to possess naturally, but tends to be more difficult for Americans as a whole. Me included.

This past Saturday, my language group (Esther, Jordan, Alex R., and myself) joined forces with another language group (Christopher, Nina, Amanda, Caleb, Robbie, and special guest, Mike) and headed down to the Centro, or main market area. This part of town is home to vendors of anything and everything. There's a section that sells knock-off phones, fruits and veggies, bags, kitchen supplies, flowers, etc. You name it, it's probably at some stall in some part of this labyrinth of stalls and vendors.

Our mission was to request the price of any item (Cuanta cuestan?) and then ask them how much lower they would actually go on that item (En cuanto lo baja?). We practiced in the electronics department with a few of the cell phone vendors. The point of the excursion  was to help us become comfortable with asking and talking to the local vendors. We each did this a few times and then spent the rest of the time perusing through the market. I was able to purchase a nice sized bag for $24,000 Colombian pesos (approximately $12 USD) using the new vocabulary and phrases that we learned that day.

After we finished that experience, we walked around the rest of the market for a bit longer and then headed home. This past Wednesday was Jessi's birthday, one of the girls in our group. So Saturday night, a small group of us headed out to help her celebrate. Kathleen, Christopher, Jordan, MC, Stacy, Jessi, and myself all met at a corner store ("tienda") by Jessi's house and hung out there for a while before catching some cabs and heading to a bar/club called La Troja.

This "club" was littered with tables and chairs filled with Colombians enjoying various styles of music with very limited dancing space. It was so brightly lit that I'm pretty sure small airplanes were mistaking this building as a possible landing site. Derek, Hayley, Esther, and Erick met up with us here and we ended up hanging out upstairs for about 20 minutes before deciding to move on to Calle 84, another popular destination for night life. The conditions at the next location that we ended up at were more ideal to a group our size, especially on the conversation front. Christopher, MC, and myself ended up catching a cab home around 12:30 am because we had our volunteer site visits the next day and had to be up pretty early to get to the office in time to leave for those.

At the end of the day, Saturday was a successful adventure that helped build some confidence in dealing with street vendors and enabled us to get out and see some more of Barranquilla that we had not yet been exposed to yet. However, in all honesty, the true fun and adventure was still waiting for me - in Puerto Colombia...

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