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Haggling With Vendors at the Pyramid of the Sun

Updated on January 12, 2019
Peter Strahm profile image

I am an avid traveler. After driving from Kansas to Alaska, my brother and I decided to try to drive south to Tierra Del Fuego.

My Haul

The Pyramid of the Sun is 216 Feet High

An Idea

As the massive form of the pyramid of the sun loomed into view the hawkers started to make their appearance. I had seen some hawkers at all the Mexican tourist sights, but at the Teotihuacan ruins the hawkers were everywhere. The number of tourists bringing public transportation from Mexico City to the pyramids makes the sight ideal. There were whistles shaped like eagles, jaguars, dogs, and Mesoamerican statures all making their respective noises. Cheap jewelry was everywhere, in every shape the imagination can form. Here there was hats for sale over there you could buy gaudily painted masks and skulls. My friend told me that I would have to be brusque with the vendors, and I don’t have a problem being grumpy. But then as I listened to the vendors blowing jaguar roars and eagle shrieks, I had a lightbulb moment.

My Reasons for Buying

First, though most vendors know enough English to sell you something, I would be able to practice the few words of Spanish I know. Then if required I could use google translate to discover new words and phrases. Even if I couldn’t make anyone understand me, I would still gain practice speaking with confidence. Second, if I bought something it wouldn’t go to waste, I usually don’t collect souvenirs but one or two won’t hurt me, besides I have four little nieces. Third, I would learn how to haggle and bring down their outlandish prices. Also, I am probably better off financially then most of the vendors. Buying a few trinkets means a lot to them and a few bucks to me. Purchasing a product may be a good way to give them something without treating them like beggars.

Necklace

My First Buy the Necklace

As the first few hawkers attacked me, I was working up nerve, and I shrugged them off. Then an especially vicious one came up with a medallion on a chain. I knew what to say “cauntos” which means how much. He requested 500 pesos. With the exchange rate at 19.25 five hundred pesos is about 25 US dollars. I really didn’t how much the necklace was worth so after much pressure I shot low and offered 50 pesos. The vendor acted shocked claimed that the necklace was “plata” silver and that it would cost 1500 pesos in a store. Then he pulled out a smaller medallion and offered it to me for 400 pesos. I stalled and shook my head and offered 60 for the smaller necklace. He went down and I went slowly up until I had offered 100 for the small necklace. The vendor acted like he would never sell so I turned to walk away. As he saw me give up, he made up his mind to accept my offer and I came away about 5 bucks the poorer.

The Other SIde of the Medallion There Were Many Styles for Sale

My Second Attempt

I quickly looked up some word on google translate such as solid silver “solida plata” and silver plate “vajilla de plata”. Then, with much more confidence I set out to try my luck with another item. I tried an eagle whistle but the man wouldn’t budge. Then I tried a bracelet of green skulls, but after coming down a few pesos the vendor wouldn’t move anymore. Finally, I found an old man who wanted 100 pesos for his bracelets. I offered 25 He went down to 80 about right away. I went up to 35 he went down to 70. I really didn’t need this bracelet so I decided to stick with 35, after a couple minutes I surprisingly got the bracelet for 35 pesos.

The Bracelet

I Need a Hat

I had learned a new word “demasiado” too much. I was also getting sunburnt so I went into a booth at the entrance where a lady was selling stacks of hats. I found she was only willing to move from 120 pesos for a nice straw hat to 100 so I went to the neighboring stall that was selling the same thing. Again, I found haggling tougher here but I got a nice broad brimmed straw hat down from 100 to 85 pesos.

Straw Hat

Looking Back at What I Gained and Spent

Haggling at the pyramid of the sun was a great experience. It helped me start using the few Spanish words I knew with confidence. Also, I learned to good deal about the vendors. First never ever accept their first price. I sincerely believe all three vendors I dealt with were more then happy with their sale. Second, no matter how guilty you feel, make your first offer as low as your generosity allows. From my experience making your first offer as low as 10 to 20 percent of what they ask is not out of line. And finally, stick with your figure for longer then seems necessary, and even turn away and try some competitor to compare. I also found the vendors in the big shops harder to move then the ones set up right at the base of the pyramids. The three items I bought ended up costing me roughly 11.40 US dollars. The necklace and the bracelet are cheap nick nacks I will never use but the hat I will use for years. What I truly gained is worth far more, I learned a lot about Mexico, and how the people do business.

I Set My Face Towards Mexico City WIth My New Hat

Comments

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      17 months ago from UK

      I have great memories of haggling in Tunisia. It was quite an experience. Your article is a great account of your experience.

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