One of my favorite parts of being in Peru is arguably arguing in the markets. (Get it?) I like to pretend that I am an outstanding barterer, knowing all of the tricks of the trade. What my fellow students have found to be successful is walking away after the vendor gives you a price in order to encourage a lower, final price. One can also mention how there are other options that are cheaper in a different section of the market, or one can make a face that conveys one’s disdain with the price. However, I have only found myself successfully perform these tactics a few times – maybe because I find the vendors, who tend to be sweet, old women, to be too cute to barter with. We just arrived back from Pisac, though, where the town center has a massive market. Originally, this market was only open on certain days of the week, but now it is open every day. We had a sneak peek on Saturday, when the market had some stalls open; however, Sunday is the only day when produce and freshly cooked food are sold, and we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit the market on a Sunday that was also Mother’s Day, the 14th of May.
The stalls had a wide range of items to sell, most notably small trinkets, backpacks, chess boards, plates, bowls, and many other commodities that you didn’t know you needed until you saw them. Unlike the market in Cusco, the market in Pisac had a lot of blankets for sale. Since I live in South Carolina, where the majority of the summer is roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, I naturally wanted to buy a blanket for my room. As a foreigner, it was difficult to tell the difference between the “real-deal” blankets that were of high-quality and actually handmade compared to the ones that were synthetic and made by a machine.
After perusing multiple stalls that offered blankets, I finally found one with the blanket that I wanted to buy; however, my Spanish-speaking-skills suddenly flew from my mind and my tongue, and I was stuck there unable to speak anything. Obviously, I ran to profe for help. He talked to the seller, and negotiated a price that was lower. As I was preparing to whip out my wallet to pay, he told the boy that we were going to take a walk, and that we would be back later. Slowly walking away, profe told me that it was a very good price and it was a lovely blanket, but we were going to try to get the price from 150 soles to 130 soles. Pretending I knew that that was the plan all along, I put my wallet away and proceeded to go to lunch with the rest of the group. After three empanadas too many, we finally returned back to the stall, where I bought my blanket for a nice 140 soles, learning both bartering skills and Spanish along the way.