Photo by Kim, somanyplaces.com
Remember truck farmers? These vegetable and fruit trucks come from Esmeraldas, Cumbaya, and the agricultural valleys between here and Santo Domingo. There may be some schedule, but I don’t know it yet. As well as parking in town, they move around the neighborhoods announcing their wares. Some are only one product, for instance 10 mandarin oranges for $1. That was two weeks ago. This week there are 10 small unripe mangoes for $1, or 30 naranjillas (a citrus fruit) for $1. The products seem to be overflow during harvest season, so one must go with the flow, so to speak, buying what is offered that week. It’s the opposite of my usual mode, “I think I’ll make potatoes au gratin” and I go buy potatoes. No, it’s more like I’m lying in my hammock and I hear the loudspeaker and wonder what he’s saying. “Potatoes” I think. I run get my keys and cross the rio casa zen (where the broken hose has been fixed twice but still is overflowing), issue out my gate and flag down the truck. I buy a bag of potatoes, and wonder, “where will I store these? What shall I make with them?”
In Cotacachi these trucks also exist, and in Quito, and throughout Ecuador. The difference is that Mindo is such a small isolated town that I can only get some things from trucks. There are trucks for internet service, satellite service, to pick up old appliances, to sell bedspreads, for shoes, pineapples, macadamia nuts, tires….Being ready to run outside at any moment demands that I have keys to the gate in my pocket, cash, and an ability to make out auctioneer speed Spanish.
“Are they organic?” I can hear my friends asking. Well, maybe or probably not, or if the truck is old and the vegies are pretty grody looking, then yes, these people probably can’t afford chemicals. The use of GMO products is officially not sanctioned so probably it is not common. No use asking. Everyone says yes, since they use the word organic to mean not plastic, or that it grows. They know if you ask that question you are only going to buy if the answer is yes. There are a few small fruit and vegie permanent shops as well, but if I want the good fresh stuff for good prices, listening for the truck loud speakers is the way to go.
This is the bank. It also sells shoes along one wall and camera and computer accessories, like memory cards, along the other. In back, in the dark is one man at a desk with a computer screen. Here, I can make deposits, but nothing else. For everything else, I go to the cash machine, or to the next town.
Magdalena, my laundry lady, lives a couple blocks away. She has no doorbell, as no one here does. It seems one goes to the gate and calls, Mag-da-leeee-na! After awhile someone calls that she is coming. It costs about $6 a week to get my laundry done, and while I can wash by hand and hang on the line, it takes too long to dry that way. She brings my laundry back when she is done. She stands outside my gate and calls me, Kaaar-laaaa!
mmmmm, fresh coconut water, every day, then young coconut meat.
A small vegetable vendor
This store is about 6ft by 10ft