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 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.