Monday, May 09, 2011

The Barter System

I have been wanting to practice my barter skills (or maybe find out if I have any barter skills is a better way to put it) for a while now. Planning the wedding was certainly a great way to hone them a little but I must say Jamaica proved that there was still a lot more honing to do!

Erin and I signed up for a shopping excursion that took us into Ocho Rios for the day. I was hopeful that we would get a chance to see the local flavor of the country - the side that tourists don't always get to see - and maybe find a piece of artwork for the house.

(Artwork is a story in and of itself but suffice it to say that pre-Jimmy becoming a permanent fixture in my life, I loved buying accessories from all the places I travelled. Accessories are small enough to pack, they last for a lifetime and if chosen correctly will always be in style therefore making it a perfect choice. Post-Jimmy though accessories were no longer the perfect souvenir - we needed to find something that would be a lasting reminder for both of us. Therefore artwork was at the top of my search. Okay, truth be told, I still might collect the odd fabulous ring or necklace if the opportunity presents itself!)

After a little 20 minute drive, we found ourselves dropped off at the Taj Mahal shopping centre. Anyone else find that a bit odd - we are in Jamaica interested in local artifacts and find ourselves somewhere named after an iconic temple found in India. Add to the facts that every other store is a diamond jewelry store and both Erin and I are on wedding budgets. Needless to say, we wandered in hopes of finding a local shopping area.

We were directed down the street to the 'Old World Market'. Now that sounds a little better. As we wandered along the street we were constantly declining offers from the locals to give us unique and personalized 'tours' of the area. A few blocks away we stumbled across the market.

It wasn't quite what I was expecting.Teeny little cubicles each manned by the local artisan. The cubicles are overflowing with a variety of products - 90% with a made in china tag and the remaining 10% handmade jewelry or weaved baskets. They are very polite when you are in another's cubicle but as soon as they can tell you are losing interest they try to entice you there way.

"Beautiful lade, see if there is anything you like over here."

"I have many pretty things beautiful lady."

"You like kids' shirts? I have many shirts for boys for you to look at."

"Pretty lady, come and see what I have - it is free to look."

"No cover charge here beautiful lady."

We finally made our way to the back where I found some beautiful paintings that I wanted a closer look at. Now I had a chance to barter. And barter I did. Breaking every bartering rule possible - talking to loudly, telling Erin what I paid for it, offering an insultingly low price and in the end tipping the one guy enjough that the price was back to what he originally asked for. Oops! Good thing I didn't have to make a living at bartering yet.

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