Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sexism Produced (and Washed Too)

I am a fruit and veggie addict. When I worked in an office, I was known to bring a veggie bag to work everyday as a snack. Since arriving in BA, I have had some dreams about Whole Foods. I either dream about the one on P Street in DC or the one in Columbus Circle. All of these dreams usually involve the produce section where I can see for miles and miles and miles the endless rows and piles of crunchy fresh overpriced goodness. In my delicious dreams, I see 55 types of apples, every newly plucked spice known to man and piles and piles and piles of exotic organic greens harvested by some third world child.

Oh how I miss it.

Here the produce is pretty good. You can buy it in the grocery store (which I do on occasion) or you can but it at the verduría (vegetable stand). I prefer the verduría, if only because they usually have more variety and the stuff seems fresher. Plus, I like to help the small guy and it appears that many verdurías are owned by Bolivians or Peruvians. Sometimes you can hear them speaking quietly in Quecha or, even better for me, in the gently accented Spanish of the northern half of the continent which I find much easier to understand.

There are two joints by my house that I frequent and I’d say the quality is about the same. It ain’t Whole Foods but it ain’t the Soviet Safeway, know what I’m sayin’? One is located on the main drag near my house, the purveyors a group of young men who barely understand my slowly evolving Spanish. I typically ride up on my bike after the gym and don’t even lift my big tush off the seat while the boys scramble around fetching my spinach, tomatoes, apples and peaches. It’s like a drive thru veggie joint, Jill-style.

The other place is about a block or two away and is a little darker and danker than the drive-thru. It is filled with a couple of women who come up to my armpits and flurry about in long skirts with their midnight hued hair pulled back into messy buns. The weird thing about them is that after they gather my broccoli and red peppers, they won’t take my money. They direct me towards a man with pockmarked skin and a little belly who manages the funds. The women are not allowed to touch the plata.

This is also something I noticed at the lavadero where I get my laundry done. The chicks do the work, the men take the dough. Why?

When I see those nice woman all look at me meekly from behind their inky bangs, I get pissed. These chicks birth the kids, clean the houses, do the labor. Is it about trust? Is is about sexism? Is is about women being bad at math? Who knows. Maybe the women of Latin America need a hand from Barack to get a little more equality.

Update 6:27 pm: Just picked up some laundry and guess who took my 20 pesos? A chick!

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