Picking and Selling Plums Part III

*I´ve been posting these entries on a pretty significant lag from when the events occurred because I tend to get computer access in fits and starts, but want to release the blog entries a bit more smoothly. I got tired of that though, so today I pulished three drafts all at once. Unfortunately due to the way blogs work, you now have to read them from bottom to top if you want them to be chronological. But I´m sure you can handle it. Merry Christmas!! *

 

Mr. Municipalidad ripped off the paper and explained that we could sell over the weekend but if we were there on Monday he’d have to charge us again. I looked at the paper. It had a lot of scribbles where he had filled things in, but the word “ingreso” was clear. “I think this is a ticket,” I told Danny. We figured this was the end of our plum-selling career. To be honest, we were about ready for retirement. Slowly, painfully, we made back the 30 pesos but not much more. Friday, apparently, is a slow day for plums. We stayed until the streets emptied entirely, irritated at having to haul so much weight the mile home at the height of the day’s heat.

The real plum stand, and Danny confusing all the Argentines with his maté

The real plum stand, and Danny confusing all the Argentines with his maté

View of the church on the plaza from our plum stand

View of the church on the plaza from our plum stand

At home we texted Maud the bad news. “30 pesos is a lot” she responded. Maybe try selling in front of Lindsey and John’s house.” They were away too. On Monday we picked only half as many plums as usual, partially to avoid having to haul so much into town and partially because the pickings were slimmer and slimmer as the plum season began to wane. Before going to Lindsey and John’s we stopped at a corner store Maud had said wanted the plums. Desperately, we hoped that this woman would take our entire stock off our hands and save us having to risk another ticket.

“Thanks,” said Maud’s would-be business associate, “but we’re fine for now.” Irrational thoughts of Argentine jail floated through my head until I remembered how fatherly Mr. Municipalidad had been.  Already soaked in sweat from the walk to town, we wheeled over to El Instituto Montessori de Cafayate, John and Lindsey’s house, and set out our wares.

Before we were even fully set up a woman stopped and bought three kilos, almost half of what we had. Maybe this spot would be a winner after all. “I live right near Maud and I’m buying the plums here!” laughed our customer.

Our next customer was Moises, the 13 or 14 year-old working at the shoe store next door (Argentina has an astounding amount of shoe stores). While he was munching in his plastic chair, a car pulled up and an American looking young couple got out. “I think those are John and Lindsey’s roommates,” I said, (who I forgot existed when we decided to sell here, I didn’t say). We pulled our basket aside to let them into their house. They did not look happy, nor did they say anything. They seemed almost resigned to the fact that things like this happen in Argentina. People set up plum stands on your front stoop. Such is life.

Not having had a customer in an hour and having received more of the roommates’ less than pleased glances, we were about to pack up when Moises came back. “Are you drawing?” he asked Danny. “Si”. “What are you drawing?” Danny showed him the wolf he was working on and explained that he drew comics, “como Superman” I interpreted. “Could you draw something for me?” “Of course, what would you like?” “Mmmm, SuperMoises.” That was how we learned his name, which immediately endeared me to him. It’s a good name.

While Danny drew, Moises and I interviewed each other. No, Moises is not an artist himself. That was basically his shop. His parents had another one down the street, but he got to run this one. Yes, he still goes to school though. Who takes care of sales while he’s at school? His uncle. No, Danny and I are no longer in school. Yes, clothes are more expensive in the United States. I’m not sure exactly how much it would cost to fly from Salta to New York but probably almost $1000 roundtrip.

Chatting with Moises was worth enduring the pings of embarrassment I felt every time the residents of the stoop we had annexed entered and exited their house. It was even worth a few more minutes of hot sun and no sales. When Danny finished he handed over the drawing and we packed up. We left a kilo of plums as an offering for the roommates with a note of thanks. We gave Moises another bag too. With the plums harvest dwindling, the lack of sales, and the lack of permission to sell anywhere, we decided to cut Maud’s losses. We had only made 35 pesos in the new spot, just barely enough to have covered a ticket had we gotten another one. That really was the end of the plum-selling season for us. Moises was our final customer.

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