|Yummy pineapples for under two dollars each!|
Want freshly squeezed orange juice? Just wait for the beep-beep of the moto horn at your front gate. Need a 20L bottle of agua purificada? Two blasts from the delivery truck horn and the squeak of the truck springs – and you know the Cristal delivery truck is outside the gate. Feel like fresh tortillas for your breakfast or lunch? Several young kids patrol the Colonias on basic, no-frills bicycles with a cooler chest strapped to the back of the bike - filled with hot, freshly baked tortillas. Their marketing tool is a series of blasts on the little bulb horns that we probably all had on our bikes when we were 6 or 7 years old. The cheese salesman has his unique marketing tool. He sings a short song offering "queso, queso" (cheese, cheese) as he walks the street carrying his produce balanced on his head.
|Sharpening knives and garden shears|
The knife-sharpening man has a set of Pan pipes that he plays as he rides his bicycle though the various neighbourhoods. When flagged down to do a knife-sharpening job he turns his bicycle over and uses the pedals to power the grinding stone. He did a great job on our pruning shears and garden clippers.
Yesterday a furniture maker walked past our house dragging a wheeled contraption with his creations stacked on top. It looked like he had the base of a double bed, a single bed and a complete book case on his cart. He was headed into town to sell his wares probably along the seawall where most of the locals and tourists are during the day.
Two blocks away from our house is the start of the Colonias, which is the main residential area for locals. It is situated in the centre part of the island and is crammed with small homes and even smaller businesses.
|Francisco and Juan recovering our cushions|
Another small tienda about two blocks away changes with the seasons or holidays. In February it is a Valentine’s Day store, a few weeks later it’s an Easter store, in late August a school supply store, or this week it is a kid’s toys and clothing store. It’s situated out in the front yard of the owner’s house – just a couple of display cases and a table.
A few blocks further on is a Papelería, a stationary store. The owner was a little taken aback when we wanted to purchase 20 envelopes. She only had 25 in stock, so we compromised and purchased 10. Computer paper is sold by the sheet, but if you insist she will reluctantly sell you the entire package. How do I explain that when I was working I ordered 10 boxes of computer paper at a time? Ah well, a few sheets will probably do just fine.
|Furniture manufacturer and salesman|
Last week Lawrie spotted a shoe store that was so small the buyers were trying on shoes out in the street, and further on a tiny station wagon – stuffed with boxes of shoes– set up as a mobile stockroom. Frequently during national holidays or around Christmas time a variety of shoe and clothing companies from Cancun will set up tents near the town square to flog their wares to the local people.
It’s the number of tiny businesses that amazes us. In the one block we counted four grocery stores, a pharmacy, three vegetable stores, two butchers, a fresh orange juice stand, the tortilla factory, shoe store, two video stores, a hardware store, a bakery, a bar, arcade for kids, hair and nails, bakery, the veterinary, a dentist, and Francisco’s upholstery place. For the most part these stores are around 10 feet by 10 feet in size, and stacked floor to ceiling with goods not displayed particularly well as space is definitely at a premium. Most of them have owners’ residences attached either in the back or above the tienda, or in the case of the tire repair shop where Lawrie gets the car washed, the kitchen-dining-living area is next to the air compressor.
|The juice guy ran out of bottles!|
It's amazing what these resourceful people will do to make a living.
(PS: I had 'font size challenges' today. Deleted and restarted this article three times! Finally said to heck with it !! Cheers, Lynda)