Monday, May 9, 2011

The Anaconda Salesman

"Do you want to see my snake?" the man says (in Spanish, of course).  I am on my way home from the corner tienda where I just bought bananas.  I pause.  I think briefly about whether this is a nasty pick up line in Spanish, as it might be in English.  The man notices the expression on my face.  He holds up his gallon water bottle and points.  "It's for sale!"  I look inside. There, floating among some pieces of lettuce, is a thin, eight-inch long snake with brown spots.  ...Bizarre...  "It's an anaconda from the Amazon," he says.  I have no interest.  I smile at him, admiring his belief that anyone in Guayaquil would ever want to own a snake.   

It's a crazy reminder than in a place where you can sell almost anything on the streets, almost anything will be sold on the streets.  A teacher at my school was once offered a baby three-toed sloth.  Another time, a parent offered her a Galapagos tortoise.  On some street corners, there are men who carry handfuls of "purebred" puppies.  Adorable?  Yes.  Legal?  Probably not.  Fortunately, on my street corner, illegal sales don't happen often (that I know of), but I do see virtually every other type of salesman. 

Below is a sampling of everything I can ever remember seeing for sale in coolers, bike carts, and truck beds.  I call it my "Oye!" list; all I have to do is give a little shout and a wave and it's waiting for me curbside.  Read it and weep!

The "oye!" list (so far):
water, gas, produce, humitas, morocho, lottery tickets, newspapers, cleaning supplies, grilled plantains, kebabs, choclo, popcorn, clothes, fish, shrimp, sour mango, candy, umbrellas, junk pick-up, repair services, blow-up penguins, beach towels, ostrich-shaped pencils, knock-off jewelry, leggings, sunglasses, phone cards, cds, dvds, magazines, and at least 7 types of ice cream (yes, I'm counting...).

After this, riding my bike to 7-11 won't ever feel as fun and convenient as it did before.  Oh, and it definitely won't compare to having a conversation with the local anaconda salesman.

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