A Shopping Trip to Yesterday

Hey friend, let’s go shopping.

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Let’s hit some of those wire-strewn narrow streets that time seems to have forgotten. Let’s pop in a store-front or two along the way, then drift into the main market square.

Rich colors beckon, wool sleeves sway with each wind gust. Facets of glass beads catch the light, while wooden ornaments click together.

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Shyly smiling women huddle near wares.

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“Make this my first sale of the day,” they entice, fingers pressing tightly knitted knots, ruffling through piles of sweaters.

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Saturated hues pile up on seemingly impossibly organized tables; stacks of silver, strands of gold wound around smooth brown necks. Thick, straight hair severely parted and smoothly tamed into a braid that snakes down each back, abruptly ending in a woven inch of trim.

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Mid-length sleeves lacily flutter with each movement, each re-stacking of the pile. Chest ruffles make embroidered flowers dance as arms reach up to re-hang pants.

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Feet shuffle, or sit crossed, tucked under straight navy wrap-around skirts. This is a people proud; a people who haven’t changed dress, or home or handicraft in hundreds of years. Their sheep provide the wool, the plants the dyes, their skilled fingers and eyes the flair. And whispered instructions pass trade secrets from generation to generation. One’s great great grandfather may have sold to regal Inca kings, now this one sells to salivating tourists with pale, sunburned skin.

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If the clothing costs are too dear, even after a bargain beginning at half the proposed price, a few coins and a smile will buy a knotted friendship bracelet. You can tie mine on, while I fasten on yours.

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And with wallets empty and arms bearing bags of goods, we’ll tote our wool and scarves and leather and beads to the tourist van, which will carry us across the barren plain to home.

Come back, soon.

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