This morning, after my bitter cold shower and delicious breakfast of papaya, bananas and pineapple, Daniela--Ana Maria LaFuente´s oldest daughter--and I went to La Cancha. La Cancha is supposedly the largest outdoor market in South America. It´s open air with a few buildings, but mostly consists of mini-shops covered by overhangs. Indigeños sell just about everything in La Cancha: clothes, groceries, toys, meals, beauty supplies, shoes, blankets, appliances, everything. They carry huge loads in colorful mantels tied upon their backs, and shout out the prices of their merchandise to passerbys. La Cancha is vibrant, loud, and crowded: the perfect place for ¨loosing¨things from your pocket.
I needed to buy a few items to keep me warm since I didn´t pack appropriately for the brisk evenings and mornings in Cochabamba. I wanted sweatpants and a sweatshirt to sleep in, socks, and sweaters. La Cancha has no shortage of all four items, but nothing comes in a size larger than mediano (medium) and the mediums are from the Juniors section at best. Most of the sweatpants had playboy emblems so it took over an hour to find something semi-suitable for my taste. I bought a nice sweater for less than $10, sweatpants (which will likely be waaaaay too tight for my taste) for less than $10, and three pairs of socks for about $1. All of this would not have been possible without Daniela who navigated through the narrow paths and negotiated for me. As soon as people saw she was with a gringo, the price went up, so I tried to blend in. At 6ft tall and with skin as white as snow, that was no easy feat among the indigeños.
Despite the overwhelminess of La Cancha, I would consider my shopping day very successful: I left with the items I wanted, and even those I came in with--the true test!