(Approximate reading time: 6 minutes)
A man pushes a shopping cart full of soaps and shampoos in front of me. People prepare fresh food on a portable oven or barbecue. A stray dog pees against a plastic bag full of garbage. Women breastfeed their little babies during a walk through the streets. Caged rabbits, ducks and guinea pigs wait for their next liberator or boiler. A promoter yells directly in my face to buy something. What was it exactly? I don’t even remember, because here are thousands of these scenes I described. Every meter of walking. Every second of spending here.
I’m in Gamarra where you can find the most vivid and exciting street market of Lima and maybe even the whole country.
I was already four years ago here and need to say, that NOTHING HAS CHANGED!
Once you arrived at the market, it’s really difficult to keep the focus. Everyone and everything tries to catch your attention. People are everywhere. Odd scents, sounds, lights and music are accompanying your path through the streets as well. Where to start? Where to go? Which building to enter?
We all know the so called impulse buyers. People who do not have a clear idea, what they want to buy but have sufficient financial resources and enough curiosity to browse through the shops/markets and want to discover something they like to acquire. Women with their genetic shopping addiction are more likely to be impulse buyers, but also men can be affected from it. Another ‘problem’ is to go shopping without having eaten sufficiently before. Your stress level is higher and you are more likely to have a higher bill at the end of the day. To not make the same mistake during my afternoon in Gamarra and being prepared, I started the day with a little lunch and was thinking what exactly I actually want to buy today. To be prepared, I ordered at a food truck Cevicaucha (Ceviche + Caucha) and beer. From there I spectated my surrounding and tried to get used to it .
You can buy almost everything here. Prices are low and both supply and demand seem to be infinite on the streets of this colorful and noisy district of Lima. Who is the buyer here? And who is the seller? It’s so difficult to find it out in this anthill of people where no one seems to have a clear and certain direction. Everyone crosses each others path. Absolute chaos and mayhem, but somehow the madness still seems to be organized a bit.
Another man tries to sell umbrellas on this hot day to be protected from the merciless sun. Good idea! Whitey didn’t put any sun blocker on his neck and arms and is threatened by sunshine during 35 degrees at 1pm. But I would probably never use this umbrella again in Lima. So I didn’t buy it. Higher temperatures on the other hand let also raise the stink level of the garbage. And people throw away a lot of garbage on the streets.
But some things are really funny and oddly satisfying to see. Such as hanging trousers on a line in 10m height. Or a man that prepares the next window mannequin to sell it.
Or that the people didn’t care about that because they got accustomed to the situation and didn’t take deeper notice.
Unfortunately not all products are original quality. Some are pretty obvious fakes:
At the other side of the train station, the food and livestock market begins. That’s a different story than the part where you can buy all sorts of textiles. Here the markets are sheltered to not harm the products. Food markets usually attend to offer the customer bulk ware. That means to buy sealed products in high quantities. But what I saw in Gamarra, surprised me completely. I saw completely raw bundles of products, that looked like fresh from the factory itself. Difficult to estimate, how many kilogram are inside of one unit. But the following three pictures should be enough to understand the proportions:
Peruvians are not the tallest people of the world, but if the selling units have double the height of a regular person, you probably understand how strange it was to see. And I should tell, that there are no fork lifts or pallet transporters driving around. All of these things are carried and transported manually with a sack truck.
Some products need to be imported, because they are not domestic. It looks like they arrived with a cargo ship at a harbor and are immediately transported to the markets of Gamarra without changing the original packaging. Well, from the harbor to the market of course with a truck, but from the market to the selling section with a sack truck.
I arrived with an empty sports bag to be able to carry all the products I bought and left with a full sports bag. But what was more worth, the acquired products or the experience I made during this afternoon at the crazy market?