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Culture —– Ensenada Mexico Part II

by Brandi

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July 20th, 2009

This week we are going to talk more about shopping/bargaining in Ensenada and Mexico in general.

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago before the holidays, when we went to Ensenada, we had an excellent tour guide named Miguel. He gave everyone in the group tips on how to bargain in Mexico. For example, he said that if you’re shopping and something you want costs $10, you should automatically offer $5 (half the original price). The vendor will never go that low, but it gives you some leverage to begin the bargaining process. Eventually you’ll work the price up to about $7. After bargaining, you’ll probably end up getting things for about 20-30% off the original price. Like I mentioned in a previous newsletter, you can bargain at any small street shops but most likely large department stores or malls will not bargain.

It’s slightly different hearing about bargaining and than actually being on the streets of Mexico (or other parts of the world) doing it. For example, my wife Melanie had only shopped in Latin America once before, a long time ago, and didn’t remember what it was like. When we passed by a street vendor selling hats, we saw one that she really liked and wanted to get as a souvenir for her mother. The man started off with $10 as the asking price. I gave him a look as if he were crazy and offered him $5. We went back and forth for a little while and after threatening to buy one cheaper somewhere else, he finally agreed to sell it to me for only $6! At that price we decided to get two hats, one for my mother and her mother. As I was bargaining, I could tell that Melanie wasn’t comfortable watching me try to get the vendor to drop the price. She simply isn’t used to the culture of bargaining and felt a tiny bit out of her comfort zone.

As you go to Latin America for the first time to shop or if you have never bargained for things before, it can feel slightly awkward at first, but it’s completely normal and actually expected. As for me, there are several things more fun than bargaining for the cheapest possible price on an item. Bargaining/shopping is a fantastic cultural experience and gives you good practice in Spanish as well.

Now changing the topic a little, our tour guide Miguel gave us valuable advice for purchasing any type of silver in Mexico. Any time you buy silver in Mexico, you must make sure it’s engraved with the numbers 925. For example, if you buy a pair of earrings look on the back and make sure that “925” is engraved somewhere on it. If it is not engraved on it, the silver item is probably fake. Also, one last tip on wearing silver—don’t wear it in the shower! I am not quite sure why, but Miguel said this is VERY important you don’t wear it in the shower.

Moral of the Story: If you go to Latin America, make sure you try bargaining with the street vendors. It’s one of the best cultural experiences you can have while you’re there. Besides it being fun, you can also get items at great prices! Also – remember, do not wear your silver in the shower.

Sneak peek at next week: Ensenada Part III!

¡Hasta la próxima semana! (Until Next Week!)
David S. Clark — President / Director

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