“Guagüita a la vista,” cheap prices
Santo Domingo, DR
They are not invisible. Nor are they here to stay. Like aspirin or the Chinese ointment “The Arrow,” they relieve the everyday headache when coins are scarce in the pockets, and domestic emergencies should not wait. Someday they will end, according to some. Others say that their source of survival is where cheap food reigns: “In this country what goes up in price, never goes down, that’s why I believe in the guaguitas,” says Mildred Jiménez, a neighbor of Ensanche Quisqueya and a regular user of these popular stores.
People in the neighborhoods hunt them as if they were carrier pigeons. But, of course, they bring everything at affordable prices, although unfortunately, they contain the increases of this present where everyday money is worth less. But it is indisputable that their offers are better than those of the supermarkets.
One of the main concerns affecting different national life sectors is the increase in prices that hits the consumers’ pockets. Such as the increase of the products of the essential family basket, which has been the lament of the Dominican families who live from day to day.
In the face of this inflation of some goods of the basic basket, the guagüitas bring better prices. However, sometimes they are rejected due to the noise of their obsolete engines and annoying loudspeakers. Nevertheless, they continue to roll around the capital to solve the current crisis.
Johnny Manuel Lázaro is one of the many vendors who have turned his guagüita into a home supermarket. He gets up early at 4:00 in the morning. Then, he leaves his house in Los Guaricanos, heading to the Duarte market to stock up on merchandise to take his usual routes and sell his products at a more comfortable price in the sectors of Greater Santo Domingo.
Accompanied by Luis Méndez, his friend and co-worker, he turns on his loudspeaker to warn the neighborhood of the arrival of these peculiar markets on wheels.
How many melons? The melons have arrived, “Uuuiiiiiii give them melons!” is the announcement that sounds in his little guagüita and the alert for them to come and buy their fruits.
The trip they make from the time their guagua starts is approximately 16 hours. They travel along 27 de Febrero from the new market until they reach the fair. Then they continue along Independencia Avenue into some of the sectors they visit regularly. The first stop is at 12 de Haina. And around 9:00 p.m., they arrive at the Km. 9 terminal of the Duarte Highway, where they conclude the tour.
The system used by these vendors consists of buying at reasonable prices in the markets and then selling at home, with a slight mark-up.
“This assures results, “assures J Johnny,” sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win. This is not to get rich but to take something home for lunch.”
Among the fruits that Johnny offers are pineapple priced at 3 for RD$100, melons at RD$70 per unit, and 3 for RD$200. Watermelon costs RD$125, lemons at RD$4 and 25 units for RD$100, while a dozen chinola is at RD$120.
With a routine similar to that of his compatriot Johnny, Miguel Antonio Ortiz gets up at 5:15 am to arrive early at the Duarte market and buy the products that he then sells in his peculiar vehicle.
Unlike other street vendors, he decides to locate himself in a strategic place where he has a fixed clientele while getting new buyers every day who come to ask for prices. Proud of the work he does, he articulated some words that honor his work and thanked me for the opportunity to be able to do it. “I feel good about what I do; I have no other way to support my family. For that, I have to work, and I do it with a lot of love.”
Ortiz said he works so that her daughters are educated, and tomorrow they will be good people for society. His firstborn daughter already has a degree in Accounting, and he is helping his youngest offspring down the same path.
The salesman and father, satisfied with the results of his work and training provided to his lineage, showed his hands as a sign of his great effort in daily life. Look… look! He demanded more attention to what he was expressing and showed his hands with mud. It was not dirty. It was the sweat of clean work done with love.
Miguel Antonio insisted on continuing to talk about his daughters as the engine that makes him get up early every day. Still, he was interrupted by a lady looking to buy his products.
“Give me two pounds of yucca,” they asked him, and he gladly proceeded to sell one of the many purchases that had already been made in the course of the morning.
When he resumed the conversation with this journalist, he mused, “you see what I mean, people buy from us because we sell them cheaper, they will buy at the grocery stores and reject the prices there.”
Even though Antonio’s little guagüita does not have a loudspeaker to announce the vender, he is doing very well in his sales. He says his customers are a relief to his pockets because they cannot go to the markets to make their purchases.
Miguel Antonino’s walking market: he prepares a series of products that includes the groceries that cannot be missing in the breakfast or dinner of the Dominicans.
The prices of bananas in the grocery stores are between 20 and 25 pesos. In the guagüitas, they are sold at RD$12 and RD$15. The guineos from RD$5 to RD$6 pesos, and a pound of yucca at RD$25 and RD$30.