Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Day at the Market

So today I got to go with Lida to the HUGE fruit/veggy/meat/fish market called Carbasto. Lida and I got up at 3:30AM and Jorge was outside with his truck a couple minutes later. We headed to the market, and picked up another friend along the way. All four of us packed into the little cab of the truck, listening to ranchera/love ballad music the entire time.

Once we got the market, I could barely believe my eyes. It was still dark out, and there were thousands of people running from building to building, buying and selling their goods. The delivery men carry box upon box on their shoulders, running to the parking area to drop off the products in the buyers trucks.

Today is the Dia del Virgen, so some people we also shooting off some big fireworks in the parking lot/loading area/hangout area. I´ve come to realize that large scale, explosive fireworks can be used for everything in South America, be it the start of a fútbol game, a workers demostration in the streets, or a holiday.

Each building contained something different, carrots in one, pototoes in another, mangoes and tropical fruit in one, and so on. If you wanted to buy ANY type of fruit there, you could

I followed Lida around for about an hour, watching her mingle with sellers and figure out who has the best prices for everything. It´s interesting to note that no one uses there names in the market. Every buyer uses initials or a code for their name. This code is what the delivery people use when they drop off the goods that she purchased. Lida´s is AP, the initials of her late husband. So, as we´re walking, you could hear people yelling out "Ah-Peh!!" trying to get her attention. Lida doesn´t exist at the market, only AP does.

After we did some buying, we decided to do some whiskey shots, with a nice vendor that Lida knew, to warm up. We did three little whiskey shots each and had hot coffee, all at about 4:15AM. After the whiskey, we continued our journey buying all the things that she needed. She knew exactly who had the best deals and she was sure to chat up people and was always really nice. She introduced me to everyone, and it was definitely obvious I was a foreigner. I was snapping pictures left and right while people we working all around me.

Once we were done with all the purchases, we went to a little coffee/liquor stand, and had some coffee and empanadas. Lida´s friend Nelson showed up and we decided to do a shot of Aguardiente, a liquorice flavored liquor. Well, once you start doing shots, you don´t stop. Everyone was buying us shots and we probably did 4 in total. Good stuff.

At the coffee stand, Nelson and I had a really good conversation about Colombia´s world image, among other things, and how their president Uribe, is going a great job at promoting the country and all it has to offer. He was telling me about how when he is introduced in the US or Panama as a Colombian, people get really nervous and tense up, while when you introduce a foreigner(like me) to a group of Colombians, the Colombians are amazingly kind. When Lida introduces me as a student from the USA, they people are alway so intriuged about what I think of Colombia, the food, the women, and everything in between. They´re proud of their country, and they want to know what we think of it. They are also very impressed that a young US student is traveling in Colombia and came to see family and just hang out.

All in all, I had a great day. It was really fun to see what goes into running a fruit stand. I had a good time doing it for one day, but I don´t know if I could do it every day for four years. It´s definitely hard, respectable work. I´m becoming really comfortable with the family now and I´m really happy I came. I was really nervous before I arrived, but now it´s like I´m hanging out wiht my own family.

More To Come!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


it incorporates all the most hilarious items.... whiskey shots at 4am shopping trips, huge fireworks with little kids running nearby... and the prior one with kids playing marbles in the streets, cows grazing in the yard!!!! ahhhh!!!! i'm so happy you are having a great time!

love you! keep up with the great posts!

love holly