Day 21 – At Any Cost

June 14th, 2014 – Otavalo

That infamous and characteristic silver tongue has now replaced my warm and fleshy pink one, allowing for the best bargains at Otavalo artesian market. I have noticed that alpaca fibers now occupy a considerable volume of my pack after inspecting my winnings from the events of today. With 89 of my own dollars and 1 borrowed dollar (from Joe L’Huillier), I managed to purchase small trinkets and mementos of my fond memories abroad for myself and the 16 others that I had committed my time and resources towards. Granted, there was a steep learning curve for me, in which in my first negotiation I had neglected to even attempt to engage in the time-honored tradition of these mercantile residents. In the market square, bartering is encouraged, no, required. It is their way of life. The shop owners will purposefully give you much higher prices than you should pay for any of the items you will find here, so it is your primary objective to put the limited Spanish vocabulary you own (or for those of you that have mastery) to its fullest potential and get the price down as low as you can! Speech increased to 31.

In the market square you are free to roam and shop to your heart’s content.
In the market square you are free to roam and shop to your heart’s content.
Pretty colorzzzz…
Pretty colorzzzz…
“What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere.”
“What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere.”

Now some general tips for the inexperienced shopper:

1. Keep Your Money Hidden

By being American, you are by default a susceptible target for petty larceny by local small scale syndicates. When they see how much money you have and where you keep it all, you are in for certain misfortune my friend. Just pretend this is like a teenage date in middle school with a supervisory chaperone and just keep your hands in your pocket at all times.

2. Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself

Try to blend in with the locals. Whether you do this by activating the “Morph” skill or by pretending to know what you are doing, if you fake it until you make it you will move away from the typical tourist stereotype.

3. Don’t Spend it All in One Place

I suggest walking around the market at least once so you have an idea of what there is at these stores. You wouldn’t want to buy something and then find it cheaper at another store.

4. Learn the Language

This one is clearly obvious, but so many times today I heard foreign shoppers shout their English louder and louder (“until it was a battle cry” – fans rejoice) at the store owners as if somehow a higher amplitude will transverse the barrier of language that they hoped to overcome… Just don’t.

5. Be Prepared

There really is nothing more to be said on this one.

This is the ultimate game of “The Price is Right” that you will play with virtually every participant at the market. Though keep in mind to play it fair here. It’s a business just like any other. They need to live too.

Testing the blanket in 90º weather. Yep, it works…
Testing the blanket in 90º weather. Yep, it works…
Alpaca party!!!
Alpaca party!!!
I have finished inspecting my garbage bag of loot.
I have finished inspecting my garbage bag of loot.