I remember when I went to Venezuela in the summer of 2005 and I learned of the informal economy wherein people sell small items all the time, everywhere, anywhere. On a bus and want a candy bar? No problem. Walking down the street and have a sudden desire for a scissors? Just wait a second. Button pop off your pants? I think that guy is selling tiny sewing kits.
Chile is the same. There are always people selling trinkets for pennies and most of the time, it annoys me. There I said it. Whew! It annoys me. If I wanted a pair of fingerless mittens, I’d go buy a pair of fingerless mittens. I don’t need to sit through a five-minute promotional push that extolls the many benefits of fingerless mittens as I sit, unable to escape, on a bus.
That was until the other day when I was grating carrots for a salad. (Oh how I dearly miss are carrots that come cleaned and pre-grated and other convenience foods.) I looked away for a second, my hand went rogue, and before I knew it, I had shaved off a scale-shaped piece of my right thumb. Since we have no band-aids, I held a napkin to it until it, er, stopped gushing. TMI? Sorry. Then, we polished off the salad in relative peace.
It wasn’t until later that we were coming back from a jog that it occurred to us that
I we never removed my skin flake from the grated carrots. Remember how you used to react in elementary school when you got invisible “cooties”? Imagine two sweaty adults walking along a secluded street at dusk convulsing, gagging, and thrashing while screaming “YUCK!” in two different languages.
Two days after that, I impaled the same thumb on a knife as I washed dishes. (SEE!?!?! Domesticity is dangerous, I tell you!)
On Friday, as we drove to our reception, we saw a man selling band-aids at a stoplight. I don’t think you’ve ever seen a car stop faster, or the occupants gesturing as wildly and fishing around for 100 Pesos (about 20 cents). You would have thought the guy was selling chocolate-coated crack.
He handed them to me, “Keep these in your purse, you know, for your accidents.”
My thumb is healing nicely, thank you, but it appreciates your concern.