Traveling Salesmen


I bought a bra on our beach!

I was cleaning and raking our beach one day, when a traveling salesman trudged through the deep volcanic sand swinging an arm load of bras. He held out the bras, like a rack in a department store, so I could compare them. “They are very beautiful,” I commented.

“¿Cuánto cuesta?” ( How much?)

He responded, “For you, beautiful lady, only 75 cents. They are on sale.”  Well, who can pass up a bargain like that? I usually don’t wear bras in the tropics…it’s too damn hot. Maybe he noticed. Six years ago, the only Christmas present I received was a fancy bra from my neighbor. I know that she noticed. Since we were making a transaction on my beach, there was no fitting room, so I took my chances and bought a pretty little brown bra. As luck would have it, it didn’t fit. It will make a fine present for my neighbor this Christmas.

Traveling salesmen come to our house almost everyday. The word is out that two gringos live on the beach. They arrive hauling encyclopedias, fruits and vegetables, kitchen tools, clothes, vitamins, and tonics. We try to buy something from each vendor. After all, they walked over two miles along the rutted, volcanic beach path to get to our house. The day the vitamin salesman came to our house, I bought calcium tablets. He tried to sell me vitamin B 12. He said that it would make my husband virile and strong. Jokingly I replied, “Oh, believe me, my husband doesn’t need those pills.” It was my first joke in Spanish. I think I embarrassed him. He blushed, and thanked me for my purchase.

Bargaining and bartering are arts in Nicaragua. I don’t think I’ll ever learn how to bargain or barter because everything is so cheap here. Francisco told me this joke one day about a traveling salesman.

A Nicaraguan traveling salesman is riding his bike home after a long day of selling his wares. He sees a friend walking along the side of the road and picks him up on his bicycle. His friend notices a plastic bag wiggling on the rack of the bicycle. “What’s in the bag?” he asks the bicycle driver. The driver says, “It’s a piglet. I got it for my wife.”  His friend is silent for a moment, then says, “Good trade.”

The mattress vendor

The mattress man walked past our house the other day. When the planting and harvesting season is over, the farmer’s take to the roads to sell their wares. We never know what to expect. Next time, I’m going to buy one of his mattresses. It’s the least I can do to lighten his load. Maybe, he’ll trade for a piglet.

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8 thoughts on “Traveling Salesmen

  1. A well written glimpse of a “day in the life” on Ometepe Island. Only two gringos live on the beach? Are there others more in-land? In some not-too-distant future we may be immersed in another culture and experience it first hand also. Like Nicaragua, maybe.

    Looks like the traveling salesman brings an opportunity to chat and ask about happenings around town. A future blog story, maybe?

    Certainly if I was outside raking leaves and wanting to befriend the people around me, I would want to buy something from the many traveling salesmen.

    Not a bra, however.
    Not even for 75 cents.

    • That’s so funny, Steve. We are the only gringos in our little beach community. There are more foreigners living inland, however. I chat with everybody that passes by our house. I’m usually outside raking up mangoes, or leaves, or picking up trash on the beach. I meet the nicest people walking or bicycling past our house. Of course, now that I can converse in Spanish…it makes life so much more interesting. If you are ever in Nicaragua, stop by and say ‘hola’. Thanks for your comment.

    • HB, thanks. Hey, it looks like I commented on my own blog. I think when I was at your house I forgot to close out of the admin site on my blog. If you go to the top right hand side of my blog where it says Debbie, you can sign out of my admin site. Ha! Good thing you are a close friend. You could have some real fun with my blog site. 🙂

  2. Was just thinking, this morning, how I wish an underwear salesperson would walk down my street here in Asheville, N.C., US. I am in desperate need of new underpants (it is getting cold here) and I hate going to the mall. We don’t even have sales people on our buses. Talk about lessening the carbon footprint…let the sales people walk to our door and save everybody gas, I say.

    • Haha! So funny, Paulette. I can trade my bra to you for a piglet. Those Asheville buses are so sterile…nothing like a lively chicken bus for a good bargain. I bought underwear on a chicken bus once. Hmmm…you should think about starting a little business using the Asheville public transportation. 🙂

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