1 February 2013
A Market of a Different Kind
It’s different than the last market I went to. The producers are replaced by companies; the smells of rotting meat, body odor, and feces are replaced by the smell of synthetic fabrics just off the production line.
The floor is carpeted rather than dirt, stone, and mud. The roof is made of steel rather than tarp or wood. It’s different. Outside the main market you hear people on cell phones talking about making purchases of thousands of dollars, whereas it was once the yells of men trying to get you on his public bus.
I don’t have to worry about pick-pocketers, but rather, not running into someone as I’m looking at my cellphone while walking. Yes, the exhibitors are here to make sales, but they don’t heckle me if I walk by without acknowledging them. Prices are set, not negotiated. Food is fresh, clean, and sure to not cause me illness. My eyes are filled by many colors, and elaborate booths, some with multiple floors. In the past, it was the vibrant colors of indigenous clothes, and booths that were only as high as one could reach. Those sitting on the ground aren’t beggers, but buyers and exhibitors working on their laptops and cellphones.
This is what I observed at Outdoor Retailer 2013 and Snowsports Industries America 2013, two trade shows that I have had the fortunate opportunity to experience. The comparisons are what I observed in the markets of Central America. It was oddly similar, and yet forced me to confront the concept of consumerism. Exhibitors at these trade shows sell product for thousands of dollars, whereas the producers and sellers in Chichicastenango are happy to make a few bucks. I must constantly remind myself to act in solidarity with those in Central America rather than cut myself off entirely from the way of life in the United States. I can still go out and purchase something, I can still travel and vacation, but I shall do so responsibly and consciously. I shall research the companies I purchase from, and act in kindness and positivity with whom I meet along my travels.