Something that I love down to my crunchy granola toes about living in Latin America, or more specifically, Santiago is the ferias. Ferias are our weekend (or weekday) fruit and veggie stop, a place to yammer with your neighbors and thump the melons (but not too harshly, and not today, it's winter here) of your casero, or person who you always buy from.
You can tell that a feria is nearby by the (usually) ladies, wheeling a kind of luggage cart with a floppy plastic burlap bag (often red and blue striped) held up via grommets on a system of hooks it has. If you see them, and figure out where they're going or check out who you see coming towards you loaded down with freshies, you can triangulate and figure out where to go. The streets surrounding the feria will be full of off-spec vendors with sheets on the ground selling old clothes and electronics, and right before the feria starts, you'll see giant metal carts that the ferianos (people that sell at the markets) use to get their goods close to the feria.
But you came for the pictures and the rundown, didn't you?
I left the house with two empty reusable grocery bags, a little bit of cash, and a desire to fill up on delicious fresh veggies for the week.
I returned with this:
and a free vocabulary lesson for you:
habas (fava beans), 1,000
alcachofas (artichokes) 4 for 1,000
palta (avocado, 1/2 kilo), 700
brócoli (brocolli) 500
zapallo (squash) 300
rábanos (radishes) 300
cebollín (scallions) 300
mandarinas (tangerines (this word is also used for clementines), 1 kilo) 500
manzanas (apples, 1 kilo) 300
cilantro (cilantro, 1 bunch) 200
limones (lemons, 1 kilo) 150
The exchange rate has dropped recently, to 514 pesos to the dollar (apparently it's best when it hovers around 550 for export purposes, and this economy is run on exports), but that means at 5,250 pesos, I spent just over ten dollars. Oh, and it weighed 17.2 pounds, which I mention because this is not my regular feria and I thought it was much closer to my house than it is, and I would have been sad had I not ridden my bike. This one was on Martinez de Rosas, and the one I usually go to is on Sundays on Esperanza. And it's absolutely true that the character and culture of the feria, held just a day and about 15 blocks away is thoroughly different. Remind me to talk about that someday.
Wondering where your closest feria is? Well, they've got a website for that. The Ministerio de Agricultura (Ministry of Agriculture) put this website together a while ago, and while I often kvetch about the quality and accessibility of information here in Chile, I'm pretty impressed with this one. Select your comuna, corroborate its location on Googlemaps or Mapcity, and you're good to go. Be a good doobie, bring reusable bags, and then practice your quick draw Spanish explaining to the caseros that you don't want a plastic bag. Trust me, it's a challenge.