Archives for May 2013
Our last couple of days have been shopping days, and I am coming to appreciate the merchandise better now that I’m looking at it more closely. I’m usually hurrying part the stores to escape the narrow sidewalks and passing buses. And the merch is often so crammed together, it’s easy to overlook the more distinctive items for sale. I have to learn to slow down sometimes to see that, oh wait, that bedspread really is exquisite; that votive is really amazing. I’m inclined to think of all shops in the clatter of the “tourist zone” as junk shops, but really, there’s some good stuff to be had! And some of the stores display their things beautifully, as well.
When we decided that my Dad should have a guayabera, and Mom should have some embroidered blouses, we were forced to slow our gaze at the store windows of the Centro. First, we came across what looked like a guayabera outlet that had cotton ones for $300 pesos. I hadn’t really looked at prices before, although I remembered shirts at the Fiesta Americana for much more, so I figured we had a bargain. We snatched up a beige one with [Read more…]
Soon after we arrived this week, Paul realized he needed a simple brimmed hat for protection from the sun, and when we were in the Zocalo, a small, elderly vendor had stacks of attractive little hats, something between a trilby and a fedora, made of palmas de guano, which is not made of bat dung, but from palm fronds found locally. The material was quite attractive, with slight color variations, and didn’t smell too bad if you didn’t put it right up to your nose and inhale. He rocks that hat!
Our next trip to the zocalo, the vendors shouting “Panama hat! Panama hat!” to passersby were there, and the fact [Read more…]
Today we barged in to our construction site to show two new friends our work-in-progress. I say “barged” because we overlooked a sign the workers put up on the front door. “Se prohíben los visitantes!” … or words to that effect. We didn’t see the sign until we were on our way out.
It did seem that we were annoying the albañiles this time. We got some scowls, I thought. We are, after all, underfoot whenever we give a 10-cent tour, and they are moving swiftly to complete the job. But then the mood lightened when we inadvertently gave them a sideshow. They saw us clumsily [Read more…]
I woke up just before sunrise this morning and decided to go out for a stretch. Leaving behind the sanctuary that is Villa Verde‘s terrace, I left the birds and lush garden foliage behind and followed the distant sound of buses squealing and trucks rumbling. Usually, we walk north, to our house-in-progress, or west to Santa Lucia’s charming food stalls and artists’ stands. But if you go south, you find the Mérida that serves Meridanos. In just two blocks I was in the shopping district, just before the mercado, where a jumble of privately owned buses — gas stations are owned by the government, but bus companies are private — compete for commuters. Workers (of whose ranks I re-join on Monday) waited mutely for their rides, overtaking the narrow, uneven sidewalks, in the darkness of the early morning.
To me, this was a better way to see the shopping area. Just as sun is coming up. The shoppers aren’t out yet, the sun isn’t beating down, and you can actually see the buildings around you. A fairly attractive hotel (at least in this light) that I’d never noticed before. I’d forgotten that there was a Sears, and also a Chapur department store, advertising “SUMMER LAND 2013” in the display windows.
The smells of a busy, clogged city street remained, however, and I’ve eaten enough bus fumes this [Read more…]
One of our new neighbors commented on the tiny scrawl she found on her front wall. Her water meter was recently stolen, so now she’s more acutely aware of what goes on along her sidewalk. She was rightly alarmed that someone would vandalize her house like that, even with tiny scribbles that looked like a math equation written by an idle juvenile delinquent waiting for a bus.
Walking down the street, we noticed similar scribbles, discreet and with small variations. This wasn’t algebra, and it wasn’t tic tac toe. If it were a street gang’s tag, it would have been the geekiest street gang ever. It was a systematic code of some kind in an adult’s handwriting, starting with SSY in the upper left quadrant. Maybe the meter reader? Would a government official write on your wall like that? I’ve noticed the ease with which Meridanos write on walls.