May 12, 2009

The Love Of A Bargain

Last night was my 18th wedding anniversary with Adrienne, and as all anniversaries do it brought back memories...

When Adrienne and I were married in 1991 we chose Cancun for our Honeymoon, and I hadn’t been to Mexico in some years.


One of the first things anyone thinks when they visit Mexico is that you can score great deals haggling in the marketplace, and I do love a bargain, although I hate to haggle (big difference there). The true issue is whether you really want what’s being sold, and not getting caught up in something just because it’s a great price. So I planned ahead for what I wanted: a pair of shorts made of that colorful material from Guatemala, popular at the time.


 When we got there, I asked about Guatemalan clothes at the hotel front desk, and with no surprise they directed me to the hotel gift shop. I knew there would be no bargain there, but I priced them anyway: $24 ea. I was just doing my homework, so we went to the mall across the street, and they had the shorts for $22. Well, not much better; I would wait for the market.


Well, what a drag that was. Like jackals in The Lion King, the locals jokingly touched Adrienne’s purse as we passed through the aisles, sneering disrespectfully mostly out of boredom. Through this jungle of intimidation I found my shorts, $18 at first, and then $15, maybe $14 ea for 2 or 3 if I felt like the awful bartering. "Screw it", I thought, "I’ll wait and pick a vendor I like".


          Then we went over to Isla Mujeres, an island people talk about all the time for it's more relaxed people and atmosphere. We took a leisurely walk, and I found a lady with tons of those shorts, and she wanted $12 ea, or $11 ea for two. By that point I finally gave in to the bartering thing and told her it had to be $11 for one or no deal. She resisted at first and then relented, and I succeeded my mission in scoring a great deal.


          When we got home I wore the shorts often, including to the trusty Berkeley Ashby Flea Market where I was excited to find a table full of the same shorts I had on.


“How much?” I asked with some self-satisfaction, and the reply came:

“Eleven bucks a pair.”


So, stick to the beach when you get to Cancun, (and you might try the Berkeley Ashby Flea Market if you’re in town).