Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In which "Vitacura" and "bargains" appear in the same sentence

This evening, I went to a book fair in Vitacura, a part of Santiago I rarely visit. In fact, before today, I'm pretty sure it had been five years since I´d last set foot there.

I suppose it's all for the best, because, as the municipality with the highest per capita income in Chile,* Vitacura is out of my price range. I confirmed this today while walking up Alonso de Córdova, were I passed Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Armani boutiques on my way to the fair. By the time I arrived at the tent that housed the event, I was convinced that the prices of the books were going to be just as exhorbitant as those of the designer bags in the shop windows.

I wasn't entirely torn up about it, though, because the primary reason I had come to the fair was to attend a book launch -- which, I learned when I arrived, had been suspended until further notice because "the authors couldn´t make it." Thus, I was left to wander around the tent and be tempted.

The Ferial del Libro de Vitacura -- yes, that´s Ferial -- pleasantly surprised me. It´s smaller and much more manageable than the gargantuan Feria del Libro de Santiago. Sure, most of the merchandise is marked down just slightly from bookstore prices, but good things come to those who dig: I strolled out of the tent with three books that had cost me a grand total of $4.990 pesos, or under US$10. So, it would seem that there are bargains to be found in Vitacura -- at least until Sunday. Also, the fair is set up on the edge of the lovely Parque Bicentenario, where I´d never been before.

The most humorous moment of the night was when a salesman tried to pitch me an English course. I jumped slightly when he appeared out of nowhere and intercepted me as I rounded a corner.

"Can I ask you a question? Do you speak English?"

I´m used to people asking me if I speak Spanish, so this threw me off a bit. "Yes," I replied apprehensively, hoping I wasn´t about to be drafted into translation duty. The last time that happened, I was stuck in a police station until midnight...but that´s another story.

"Would you like to perfect it?"

I grinned.

*According to the 2006 CASEN survey, if anyone wants to get rigorous.

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