Little Daily Details
I’m not talking about anything profound or spiritual. You win some, you lose some is not referring to gambling, but it is about money.
There are supermarkets and malls here in Asunción, but many people make the majority of their purchases at street side vendors, tiny shops in homes, or the markets. The catch with these “shopping” locations is that the prices may not be marked. You have to ask. In some settings, bartering is appropriate but it isn’t a necessarily the norm. However, in the case of a foreigner – such as a blue eyed, white skinned, non-Spanish speaker such as myself – you can count on the prices being jacked up when you ask.
Now this is what I mean when I say you win some and you lose some. Here are two incidents that occurred in the same week in nearby shops.
One day I went to get some bottled water. (Flashback to grade school word problems). The bottles were four mil apiece and I asked for three. However, he told me it would cost 16 mil. I asked again about the price and he quickly corrected the total to 12 mil. Innocent math mistake or not? I don’t know and I won’t try to figure it out.
The same week I went to another store where the prices are marked on the items but I failed to look at them. I bought soap and toilet paper. He quoted me a price which seemed high, but I just paid because I couldn’t remember what it would normally cost in the super market. Walking home I looked at the items closer and realized there were price tags but I had been duped! Never again will I go to that store without verifying the price of each item. As my Spanish improves and my understanding of the culture develops these incidents decrease – but will never vanish.