Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Haggling and Yapa

Here's another bit of information from the Cotacachi Living report, "50 Things You Should Know
Before Moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador."


21) Learn to haggle.

If you enjoyed the show hosted by Monty Hall, “Let’s Make a Deal,” you’ll enjoy shopping at the Otavalo market and in most places in Ecuador. The more drama you create, the better deal you’ll make. Buying in bulk will always save you money, but who needs twenty hammocks? Instead, inquire about their price for the item you wish to purchase. Upon hearing it, act incredulously as though you are on the verge of going into shock. Then offer (at most) half that price, which they will refuse and counteroffer. Offer a little more, and they will still refuse. Continue the back and forth, settle on a price, then ask for a “yapa” if you buy multiple items. A “yapa” is a small additional piece of merchandise to curry favor between the vendor and the customer. It bonds you so you’ll return at a later date and buy more merchandise or perhaps bring more customers to the vendor. At the food market, a “yapa” might be an extra bell pepper or a few carrots. It’s a nice and welcomed gesture on the part of the vendor.


The first time I went to Otavalo, to the largest outdoor market in the world (yep, the world), I didn't do so great at haggling.  In fact, I did lousy.  I decided that the next time I go I'm going to stick to my guns.  There is nothing there I need so badly that I am willing to pay full price for and that's that!

I discovered yapa here in Cotacachi without even knowing it.  I went to the market and bought my produce from my regular stall and the lovely woman who operates it handed me a green bell pepper.  That was so sweet of her.  If I hadn't already been buying almost everything from her already, I would have been far more inclined to do so after that, even though I don't even eat bell peppers.  Julio, my landlord, was very pleased to get it as a small gift from me the following day.

Speaking of Otavalo and the market, I need to go there one day soon.  I'm debating whether to go on Saturday and suffer overload but have the best possible selection of goods or to go on a weekday and see what's available when it's not totally crazy.  I actually have a special item I want to purchase.  I saw it the last time I was there and am quite glad I didn't buy it because I suspect I would have paid too much for it.  It's an oil painting (possibly acrylic) of women bent over in fields of flowers, either cultivating or picking them.  Their faces aren't visible, just their heads and backs and then the flowers in a blaze of color.  When I find one of them again and buy it, I'll be sure to take a photo and post it here. 

At any rate, there's no way I would try to take a large piece of art on the bus to get home, even if it wasn't completely jam packed full of people as it was the first time I went.  There's a simple solution--take a taxi.  Back in the States it never would have occurred to me to take a taxi that far.  Here, however, it costs $5 (that the bare minimum in Minneapolis and that will get you less than a mile).  It seems elegantly simple. 

I'll let you know how it turns out.

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