Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pulgita de Antiqüedades

Flea Market
Altagracia returned yesterday afternoon after spending 4 days in Elias Piña trying to spring Kiki from prison. The newest version of why  is that Isido, who we really trusted, as the Alcalde, turned in Kiki’s name  as the perpetrator who beat and whacked the Haitian with a machete even though the Haitian says he does not know who hit him and Altagracia met the Haitian who, she says cannot even barely speak Haitian and only has a small mark on his wrist that could have been from years before. Kiki was ORIGINALLY arrested in conjunction with the rape and it seems that the ammended charges for assault are dated the 10th but the actual alleged beating took place on the 13th.
         While she was gone I built a frame to hold privacy curtains in the corner of the kitchen where she has her altal set up where she reads taza and I built a table to use in the flea market so I will not have to continuously borrow the taza table. The rough lumber for the 2´x4´table came to about $20 or about 600 pesos. The flea market has been erratic but last Sunday I sold $40 worth of fotos and some people claim to be planning on returning with more money. Most of Antique Flea Market Sundays is spent either sitting in the shade talking with other vendors or reading (also in the shade). I bring tunafish sandwiches with lettuce and tomato and folks seem very impressed with the preparation although they stick with the plato del día lunch special from La Despensa on el Conde which consists of rice, beans and chicken for about 80 pesos.
         This Pulga de Antigüedades convenes on Sundays yearround in the Plaza de Maria de Toledo who was the wife of Nicholas de Ovando who was governor of Santo Domingo around 1500 and who was responsible for instituting the mandatory work sentences for the Taíno in the mines where most workers died within 9 months from disease, overwork, starvation or broken hearts. The plaza is on Calle las Damas which is considered the oldest street in the New World and is in the oldest part of the colonial city. Right across the street is what is now the 4 star Hotel Ovando which was originally the home of the Ovandos themselves. In a recess in one corner of the plaza is a small chalkboard with initials etched down one side and a place to put numbers which is how the tourist guides, who spend most of the day lounging on the steps and talking about either baseball, women or politics, determine whose turn it is to give the next tour for a wandering tourist.There are about 10 vendors.

The Vendors--
         Pedro, 60ish fat balding and friendly but who tried to start a political argument by claiming that Pedro Santana was the true father of the republic and not Juan Pablo Duarte and who has a tent with glass display cases to display jewelry, medals, trinkets and who speaks English and is planning to move to Fort Worth, Texas next year and who has lived in NY City.
         A tall man who, with his newly pregnant wife, sets up a larger tent and sells new jewelery-- amber, larimar and silver and even comes Saturdays even though there are hardly any other vendors to help attract customers.
         An elderly fat, sometimes bearded man who sells trinkets, broken camaras, piles of obsete coins, war medals and used silver and larimar jewelery with his son and a granddaughter who also has a large tent.
         An even fatter Frenchman, who looks like an enormous Rodney Dangerfield and who sometimes merengues by himself while waiting for a customer, sets up a row of broken,sloping tables of varying heights along the far wall where there is usually shade and sells old watches, walkng canes,mother of pearl buttons and bric-a-brac.
         Sanibel, frail and thin and 50ish who, usually with a harsh looking but friendly woman who visibly relishes her lunch special, sells genuine Taíno artifacts-- well some of the smaller ones might be genuine but I understand that the nicer pieces come from modern Taíno artifact factories in the interior.

         One week a man came who leaned a board against the wall of the parking lot next door and tried to sell plastic decorative refrigerator magnets. Sometimes people wander in carrying an old lamp or pair of reading glasses or a wad of baseball cards and sell or consign them to a vendor. A coffee vendor passes through carrying urns of sweet black coffee, shoeshine boys are always present and, in the afternoon, a man passes through with a 5 gallon white plastic pail filled with ice selling bottles of mabí, a slightly fermented, champagney, not too sweet, juice made from bejuco de india.
         In the front of the plaza, in the sun, are a large amount of swords, statuettes, used books and posters of Marylin Monroe, laid out on the ground and leaning against the wall. The vendor darts out from distant shade when a potential customer approaches his wares
         Estelle, 20ish, tall lean and pretty who lays out a tablecloth on the ground and tries to sell her 15 or so used books. Last week she also had a vicks vaporizer for sale although she did not know what it was even though Bicksbopperroob is very popular here for everything from headaches to loss of appetite to chest congestion, as well as a used pair of shoes and three small ceramic ducks. She sits in a borrowed chair or on the carry on suitcase that she carries her books in and squints out into the sun beating down on the plaza  and sighs and says, “É difícil.” (It’s tough) Sometimes a man with his own car drops her off with her suitcase and some similar things of his to sell but she says that he is just a friend, that she is single and has no children.
         Carlos, alert, 30ish, shaved head; who brings antique brass platters and urns, looking glasses, old silverware, a mahogony coffee table and a three foot high Haitian carved bald eagle but has not sold anything in three weeks. His area is next to mine so we sit in the shade under the limoncillo tree and chat. He works with his brother in a glass and mirror shop during the week and has a 6 year old daughter who lives with his ex who left Carlos for no obvious reason. We observed a slowly passing couple-- a pretty, young dominican woman and a middle aged, lean,slumping Italian looking man, pause, lean against the far wall to, apparently, get to know each other before adjourning somewhere more private. This event gave Carlos the chance to rant against the immorality of Dominican women and how they so easily line up boyfriends, called chulos, who are not really johns in the sense of blatant prostitution, but are sexual companions who buy presents and food and clothes in return for the intimate favors which are perhaps enjoyed by both anyway. So, I reckon, that Carlos’s woman began lining up chulos which is what led to the end of his marraige.
         Partly because it is nearly summer, and partly because of the economy, not everyone sells something every day. If customers have spent much time talking at a booth later a vendor will stop by and ask-- Did you sell? and if yes-- For how much?  and then congratulate the seller. Some of the vendors arrive with their boxes of stuff by taxi which can cost $15 round trip. It is a long day when one sells nothing.

I have installed a thermostat in the guaguita and am adjusting the carburetor as I go-- almost literally since I can lean over toward the passenger side while I am driving (or idling by the side of the road really) and turn the adjustment screws on the carb with the passenger seat flipped back out of the way. I am looking forward to the next mileage check.

Niningo just asked me if I knew in what countries Portugese was spoken and before I could answer Jhoanglish yelled confidently from the next room-- “France.”

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