Posted by: Jessie Kwak | November 7, 2009

“Front Porch Day”

Every day we hear the cries of a couple dozen street vendors as they pass by our apartment, and so yesterday, having nothing better to do, we decided to sit out on our front porch and interact with everyone who walked by to sell things.

Maybe Fridays are the mellow days of the vending world, or maybe people were caught up in some grand market elsewhere. But either way, we saw only a fraction of the normal stream.

Who did we see?

Motorcycle cart of old appliances

Have any junk to sell?

First came a man yelling unintelligibly through a loud speaker, riding a bike cart loaded down with an old dishwasher and other ancient electronic goods. We stopped him and asked what he was doing. “I buy things that no one wants,” he told us. He glanced past us at the door to apartment. “Do you have anything you don’t want?” We were sad to tell him that we haven’t been in Huanchaco nearly long enough to collect unwanted things.

Garbage truck in Huanchaco, Peru

Pickin' up the trash.

Next came the garbage truck. Normally they come very early, shattering the peace of the morning with their clanging bell (that is, if the marching band practice in the nearby high school hasn’t shattered it already), but today they didn’t come until almost ten. With dogs roaming the streets relentlessly, one can’t just leave garbage on the street overnight. Instead, we wait until we hear the bell coming closer, and then set it on the curb. (Or we don’t hear it until it’s too late, and we run out to the gate, screaming at them and thrusting bags of trash).

Ice cream vendor in Huanchaco

Ice cream (number 2 of 9)

The rest of the day was a blur of ice cream vendors–6 D’Anfrio in yellow and 2 Lamborgini in red. Rob patronized the first two, and discovered tasty ice cream sandwiches.

Bus in Huanchaco

And all the buses are going to the same place.

Every few minutes the buses roared by. They have to climb a slight hill just before they reach our apartment, so our whole day is filled with paused conversations while we shrug and wait fro the bus to finish its ascent and to shift into a higher gear, roaring its way down the road.

Boy poses with his bread bike in Huanchaco, Peru

Bread bike at last!

Finally, just as we were despairing of him, the bread bike came by with the squeak of a horn. Rob flagged him down and bought bread for tomorrow, as well as tasty apple tarts for an afternoon snack.

But we missed the lady who comes by early in the mornings yelling “ta-MAH-les,” and the man who sells math textbooks door-to-door. And there should have been at least a half-dozen more ice cream bikes. I wonder where they could all have been today, while we just sat on our front porch and watched the world go by?





  1. I love stories like this! lots of local detail about ordinary life. Do they have those singing peddlers there?

    • Thanks, Mary! We’ve been sung to at dinner, but as far as I know we haven’t been sung to by vendors. Where have you encountered singing vendors? That sounds fun!

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