Back in Quito after our weekend away, we went right back into Spanish lessons in the morning and exploring (and sometimes studying) in the afternoon. We stopped off at the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal thinking it would be a bit… more than it was. After so many months of traveling, I think tourist markets like this one have lost their charm on me. I noticed this in Peru, with my Mom. She would be bout it bout it walking into a souvenir store or a market that was geared towards tourists. If you haven’t noticed by now, Andrew and I tend to prefer the markets that make your nose wrinkle a bit in reaction to the not so fresh smell of butchered meat. A market should have fresh produce and locals shopping in it. If the only customers are tourists (or travelers if you will) you’re in trouble. In my very humble opinion, if a market is clean and orderly, chances are you’re not going to find something unique, and you’re definitely not going to get a good deal.
I recently was talking to my Mom about bargaining. She’s not the greatest. At least, she wasn’t in Peru. She explained that she knew a few dollars to someone in Peru meant more to them than it did to her. I agreed that she was probably right, but pointed out that she hadn’t been traveling around the world for over a year, and she had to think of other travelers and their wallets, not just the woman selling scarves in the street.
“Just buy more souvenirs instead of spending more for than you should for one!” I insisted. If I really like a vendor, I won’t bargain hard, but I’ll still bargain. It’s usually expected, and sometimes it’s considered rude not to (not all the time, keep in mind). I might even buy two of something instead of one, or sometimes I’ll leave a little tip.
I love bargaining. Not necessarily because it gets you a cheaper price (even though of course what’s easiest on my wallet is always good), but because it’s a way to interact with a local. Sometimes it’s a way to practice a language. And sometimes it’s just plain fun. Unless, of course, you really really want something and you know your bags are already fuller than full. (Which obviously happened to me. a lot.)