Trip Start Jan 11, 2009
Trip End Jul 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  , Pacific Coast,
Monday, March 2, 2009

The Campesino

On Saturday Morning at five am I went with the Help to the Campesino with a truck load of table grapes to sell.  The Campesino area is a large market area that sells all types of produce and bits and pieces.  We followed some other trucks heading in that direction and we all stopped nose to the kerb in one street.   I had a fantastic time.  The place was alive with people even at 5 in the morning.  People had come in from outlying towns with their produce.  There was tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, peas, beans, peaches, grapes, coca leaves, lettuce, chiles, and a hundred other fruits vegetables.  

The producers all parked in one street and sold their goods out of the back of their truck, car, motorbike to the innumerable vendors.  These vendors would then take their goods into the market and re sell them.  Some would take them to other little stalls around the city.  The place was like an industrious ant farm with people going every which way but all with a purpose.  Some with heavy sacks on their backs, others would pay the many men with bicycle wheeled carts loaded to the brim to take their goods to the market.  I helped some of these guys push their loaded carts up the small hill.  They were so loaded that even though the hill wasn't that steep they had to zig zag across it.

There were many indigenous peoples in traditional dress with their colourful blankets slung over their back with the babies inside barely visible.  There were children everywhere, sleeping in the cabs of the trucks or even on top of the sacks of peas.  The whole time I was there though I never heard one crying child.  Not one kid who was bored and was nagging his mum "this is boring, I want to play on the video game, or go watch telly, or Sammy keeps hitting me".

Unfortunately the white grapes were much more popular than the black grapes.  The truck next to us sold out of their white grapes before we had even sold one box.  As it was slow going Sebastian, (I call him the winery manager) took me on a tour of the market.  There would have been close to 700 stalls all closely packed together, with a lot selling the same goods.  Sebastian was telling me all the spanish names for the fruits and veges.  Some strange looking ones I had never seen before.  Of course I'd be lucky to remember one of them now.  In one ear out the other!  People were busy setting up their stalls.  Putting up canvas shelters and displaying their goods.  At the end of the day they leave all their goods there and put the canvas shelters over them and sort of tie it all up.

We went through the fruit and vege section and into a large warehouse type building.  This was filled with butcher stalls.  Meat hanging everywhere just as you see in the travel magazines.  Whole carcasses hanging with the butchers working away hanging the cuts of meat around the stall.  And yes there were the bits there that us gringos think is funny to be selling at all.   There would have been at least 60 of these stalls.  Some only selling pork, some beef, and some "the bits".  

After the meat section we went through an alley with handicrafts.  Mostly pottery and wood products.  Some amazing pots and urns that would be great back home but you would never get there.  When we were in La Paz and visited the Ethnographic Museum we watched a video on how these pots are made.  It was an amazing detailed process from sifting the clay dust, making the clay, making the pots and firing them.  Another alley I called junk alley.  Full of chinese crap.  I didn't even bother going down there.  We made our way back to the truck through the Fish alley.  I think that Sebastian and I agreed  we both liked fishing and he offered to take me.  Either that or we both agreed that fish tastes best in an old shoe!

Not many grapes had been sold by the time we got back so Sebastian and I left the ladies to the vending and caught a "micro" back to the house.  I'm not sure why I enjoyed the visit to the market that much.  It just had a vibe of humanity that seemed to be uplifting. 

I returned with the family in tow one Sunday and took the camera this time.  The kids did not enjoy the "press of Humanity" as it was packed with shoppers and vendors.  Photos to come!
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