Friday, February 15, 2008

The Vega Report

I know it's wrong to start from the end, because what people really want is to start from the beginning. But it's the end of the trip, and it's the post trip blues/excitement about being home.

Today was not my first trip back to the Vega (fruit and veg market) since I've been back. I can't resist the lure of sickly sweet fruit and crisper than crisp veggies since I've been rooting around in tiny, sad minimarkets for the past two months, wandering the streets of population 415 towns with a vacant look in my eyes, asking "has anyone seen a tomato?"

So I'm back, and newly elated to wander the labryantine alleys of the disorganized Vega. A stray cat here, there a man shouting "coffee" as he humps along on a bad hip, a thermos of hot water over one shoulder, and a tin of Nescafe in the opposite hand. And everywhere, piles of corn husks. Corn is in season. Giant, baseball-bat girth corn with kernels as big as horseteeth. It's time to make humitas, the Chilean version of tamales, made with fresh corn, and probably more lard than I care to think about. And basil.

But there was no corn for me today at the Vega, even though I was called "queen" (mi reina) by several corn vendors. I had some specific things in mind when I pedalled over there today.

And here's the haul, with prices in CLP and then dollars. The dollar is trading at 465 CLP, which is bad bad bad for people spending dollars here, and maybe advantageous for the wealthy and technology-acquiring upper class, but bad in general for the economy, which is based almost entirely on exports (copper, salmon, paperpulp (cellulose), wine and fruit and veggies), the prices of which are calculated in dollars.

But I digress.

3 honeydews, 1000 pesos ($2.15)
3 red peppers, 500 pesos ($1.07)
1.2 kilos peaches 520 pesos (1.12)
1.5 kilos tomatoes and 2 hass avocados 720 pesos ($1.55)
1 kilo black beans, 700 pesos ($1.50)

Total: 3440 pesos, or $7.40 US, a steal at twice the price.

My only problem now is whether to admit that I am going to eat all three honeydews in three days, or pretend that I might still have some left over on Monday. Think I'm kidding? The other day I went to the Vega and I bought a watermelon. It weighed 16.8 pounds. Gone, all of it in 3.5 days. Ohhhhh, my aching tummy.

And the piropo (flirtatious comment) of the day: piernas blancas! (white legs). Shall I comment on this, or just leave it there, hanging? I opt for the latter.

3 comments:

jenniekabo said...

You're back! I look forward to hearing about more of your adventures.

Jennie

stilllifeinbuenosaires said...

Haha! I love piernas blancas. Me enojaria mucho. Pero, conmigo, es la verdad. :-)

My favorite piropo so far has been "We are so lucky that the U.S. has sent such an angel as you." I don't get many piropos, but that made me blush red.

Eileen said...

@stilllifeinbuenosaires it's true enough for me, too. But seriously? I don't need to be reminded!