June 8, 2007

Vendors came for Carnival

Carnaval street vendors

Carnaval street vendors, La CeibaThese are some photos of some of the vendors who come and set up their little huts for carnival. These are the big operations who use a special vacant area off the main street north of town. They usually come a week or two before Carnaval and stay for a week or so afterward.

The achines (smaller street vendors) in El Centro were a big problem this year. Achines is related to the word achinado which means oriental. Not that the vendors were oriental, just the junk they sell.

Carnaval street vendorsThe achines took over the streets, some of which barely had room for one car to pass. They lay their products out on tables or tarps covering the streets and sidewalks. They live there on the street for two or three weeks with their products because of course they can't leave their stuff at night.

There were complaints that they were haciendo sus necesidades (taking care of necessities) on the streets and in the park. Well, of course they were. The city grants these permits but doesn't provide 'facilities' for them. What do they expect? By the way, when you ask to use a restroom, lots of places here will just say no, even if you are a customer.

Achines, street vendors in La CeibaAnd then the achines wouldn't leave! The TV news and newspapers reported that people and businesses were outraged about it. La Ceiba has a big traffic problem, believe it or not, and having the streets and businesses blocked with t-shirts and pirated CD's only made it worse. This photo from La Prensa shows the side street in front of Hotel París completely impassable.

Nicaraguan furnitureMost of them sell junk, junk, and more junk, much of it from China. Some of the vendors come from other countries in Central America to sell this stuff. I think the furniture is usually from Nicaragua. At first glance it looks okay, but it's very poorly made and finished and the fabrics are awful. They always seem to bring ten times more than they can sell.

Carnaval street vendorsWhere is the artesania?! The first year, I was so excited thinking I might find crafts, clay pots, or other decorative things. Try as I might, I couldn't find anywhere to spend my money. This stuff makes WalMart look like Neiman Marcus. Now I don't even bother to look unless I need a t-shirt or a pair of flipflops.

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