Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Know Your Market

Ah, back in The 'Bique, where the fresh vegetables are cheap and the bananas practically jump out of their peeling and into your stomach. Although I have had some run-ins with mosquitoes and some misunderstandings due to my terrible Portuguese, it's been a nice few days over at Maputo Royale and I have a feeling it’s going to go by very fast, especially in the action-packed weeks to come.
            Today my dad, Caleb, Adozinda, Eduardo and I all piled into the car and went to the market together to get some fruit, and get some copies made for tomorrow’s English lesson. The copy-shop will make one copy for one Metical—that is, a thirtieth of a U.S. dollar, and they don’t only make copies but also sell things you might find in the non-medical sections of a pharmacy, like pens, erasers, and, okay, if I am to be totally honest, sanitary napkins. The latter of this list I happened to need, so I asked my dad to add them to our purchase. When the woman at the counter gave us the price for the copies, we put them on the counter and said:
            “E este também.” (This too.)
            “Você vende?” (Are you selling?) She asked. I was pretty confused by this response, but figured I had misheard or that I was unaware of all of the applications of the verb “vender.” Uncertain, my dad said yes. “Quanta custa?” (How much does it cost?), the woman asked.
            “Não sei,” (I don’t know), I said, a bit surprised that she didn’t know the price of her own product and wondering if she wanted me to make an offer. Finally, amid a few more comments from all of us, my dad and I realized the misunderstanding: she thought we were some sort of door-to-door maxi-pad salespeople! So much for me being discrete. I not only repeated the story to Caleb and then to John but now I’m posting it on the internet. It really does seem like some things can only happen in Maputo, though. Next time you go to Staples, try making some copies and then when you get to the counter say: “I don’t really have any money, but I’ll trade you these maxi-pads.”

            On a different note, though, we did visit the orphanage/boarding school yesterday where I taught one English lesson last year, and we visited the girls and sat in on their Portuguese lesson. Tomorrow we will teach a real lesson there and I will let you know what kind of shenanigans unfold. In the mean time, have a lovely day, and remember that the strongest currency is whatever people need. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I (quite litrally) laughed out loud!