Before we left on our spring break trip to Mexico, my mother mailed the boys 100 pesos each to spend on a souvenir while they were away. Zacharie had his heart set on a flute. I don’t know why, he just did.
We walked back with her to the stall run by her parents and my son picked out a blue one and immediately started playing it.
“40 pesos,” the man said. “30?” my wife responded. “Okay. 30.”This was the equivalent of going from $3.50 to $2.50. It may be “the game” to feel like you have to barter in Mexico when you’re shopping, but it’s not a game I am comfortable playing.
Earlier in the week, we had crossed the street to Walmart to pick up some sand toys for the boys to have for the week on the beach. We accepted that multinational’s sticker price without opposition when we reached the till of the largest retailer in the world and we didn’t budge at what they asked.
Yet when it came to an exchange with an 8 year old girl, we were thrilled at saving a dollar. I felt dirty.
Later, after being pestered for the 50th time by a peddler on the beach, my wife relented and asked about the cowboy hats. She’s not a fan of the one she has, and being from Calgary, one needs to be comfortable in your hat.
“250 pesos, senorita,” he said when she asked how much they cost.
After hemming and hawing and making him run back up the beach for more options, she settled on the original one she had seen and paid full list, about $20.
“I felt guilty making him run back,” she confessed.
When the man selling superhero kite/parachutes offered his wares for 120 pesos each or 2 for 200, we didn’t blink at handing him the bill.
We’re talking about quarters, dimes, and dollars when we barter in Mexico on the beach or in the market. We are shaving points off a purchase where the savings don’t really matter to us, but do matter to the seller.
When I buy a car, I’ll try and work a few thousand off it, it’s a big ticket.
But a 40 peso flute from an 8 year old girl in Puerto Vallarta? She could use that dollar more than me.
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