La Boquilla does not have any grocery stores or any type of chain stores for that matter, but what we lack in name brand establishments we make up for with the crazy amount of tiendas around town. There are tiendas about every 100 feet which makes getting things around La Boquilla pretty easy. Need a banana? Go to the tienda. Need a baseball cap? Go to the tienda. Need rat poisoning? Go to the tienda? Need a bag of soda? Go to the tienda.
Living in a predominantly Afrocolombian community it was apparent from the moment I got here that the vast majority of the stores were owned by cachacos, people from the interior. However, it wasn’t until recently, that I started to wonder why. I started asking people all around town why this phenomena existed and was told every single time that, “Cachacos are good with money.” Upon asking further questions I realized that there are only three families that own virtually all of the stores around town. So that leaves teenagers working many of the stores by themselves.
I have nothing but respect for these hard working cachacos. They work everyday from 7:00am until around 10:00pm. In my 19 months in La Boquilla I do not remember seeing the tiendas ever being closed. Not on holidays, not on Sundays, not even on Christmas--for Christ’s sake, literally. Not only are they open everyday for around 15 hours, but I tend to get stressed when standing around the store for more than 10 minutes. First off there is no such concept of a line, the customers all know they get served on a come and see who can scream louder biases, so they adjust their volumes accordingly. Unfortunately for these hard working cachacos the hassle doesn’t end there. People get very impatient when having to wait, but with no concept of a line and if yelling isn’t your thing what else can you expect. So it is very common to hear harsh comments thrown in the direction of these young cachacos, even if they are in a playful manner. Also customers get really upset when they think a product should cost less than the asking price. So this often leads to a debate where the cachacos are forced to pull out their notebook and add to the running total of store credit. I am just glad they lowered the price on Powerade to under a dollar and for that I want to thank the two 17 year old boys that work at my favorite tienda.
|My favorite tienda|