Monday 14 May 2012

A First Haggle.

So here I am, in Mexico.

Not today obviously, but there I am.

It’s hot, it’s sandy, it’s Mexico; I had crossed the border just a few days before and here I am in a Mexican market.

I buy some tortillas and start wandering around.  I’m pretty much the tallest person in the place. Boy these tortillas taste good.

Someone is trying to load a pig onto the roof of a bus, the chickens already up there are not happy about this.

I wander a bit more.

I came here with my girlfriend but I seem to have lost here in the crowd; it happens to me a lot. She’s pretty small so I can’t see her in the crowd, she can probably see me.

Everybody can see me.

I could probably get a job in the Mexican basketball team.

My Spanish is getting better and I’m feeling pretty good, I’m not really worried about anything and the pig is not my problem.

I’m due to head south in a couple of days, I’ll probably get the ferry across to the Baja, spend some time eating mangoes and get the ferry back across the Tropic of Cancer and keep heading south.

Way down south I’m going to buy a hammock but right now I’m just wandering around this market up here in the hot, sandy borderlands.

But I’m already an expert on hammocks.

I read the entire People’s Guide to Mexico back in London and i know the importance of the different weaves, the choice of cotton, the size, the length, the smell and I know the name of the village way, way down south where the best of the best can be bought.

I know the name of the old man who lives there, whose blind brother makes the hammock of hammocks of hammocks.

I’m ready.

But for now I’m taking it easy, wandering around the market thinking – I wonder where my girlfriend is?

Hey, what’s this?

It’s a hammock seller.

Wow, a great opportunity to add visual knowledge to my reading, I’ll check them out.

Check, check, check.

Hey look at this, that’s interesting. Good weave.

I smell it.

Wow, nice.

Then I turn to wander off.

Then I stop and think – when I get down south I should have an idea of price, I need some comparison.

I turn to the vendor.

Buenas dias senor. (there should be a squiggle on the n there but I’m not sure where it is on this keyboard).

Buenas hombre.

Cuanto cuesta? (there should be an upside down one of them at the beginning …. see note above).

He tells me a price, I make a mental note and I start to wander off.

Hombre! He calls me back.

He halves the price.

No thanks mate, I’m not interested.

He halves it again.

No, thanks again, it's a lovely hammock but I’m really not interested…

He halves it again.

I smile and walk away.

He calls out half of that and I wander off.

My brain is clicking. Wow, that was a good price.

And it was perfect, the weave, the cotton, the size, there was even a drop of the makers blood mixed into the natural cactus dye used by the best of the best of the best of the best.

Still, I’m not in the right village.

I wandered over to the buses, my girlfriend is there waiting.

This is our bus she sais, pointing.

Turned out that the pig was my problem, it sat on my lap for the next three hours.

I travelled for three months in Mexico, went everywhere, even met the blind hammock maker’s kin.

I didn’t buy a hammock though.

I never found anything remotely close to the perfection of that hammock way, way north in the sandy borderlands.

But I learnt how to haggle.

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