November 30, 2007

Bread Without Bakeries
Lima, Peru

I was walking the dog with Tatiana the other day, when she pointed to a little corner store somewhere in the neighborhood, and said: "There used to be a great little bakery over there."

…You know, bakeries are actually something new for this area. Back when I was a little girl, vendors would go around the neighborhood selling bread really early in the morning—like at 5:30 or something—selling fresh bread, so that you could have it with breakfast or for the day. That's how we use to get milk too. We'd get it in these glass bottles from a milkman that passed by the house each day.

While we let the dog run loose in a small park, an ice cream vendor pushing a cart walked by. He was blowing intermittently into some kind of palm-sized horn (that sounded like a strange type of kazoo). I think it was made of paper. Tatiana explained that this is one of the last vestiges of the once-common mobile street vendors in the district.

Each type of vendor has his or her own sound, so that people in their homes could hear the person coming, and identify who it was without looking. The milkman would make a clinking sound with an empty glass bottle; the ice cream vendor has his kazoo; and the knife sharpener, broom salesman, furniture salesman (that accepts barters such as a pair of shoes and a shirt for a plastic chair), fruit vendor, Inca Kola vendor, and the black woman selling tamales (on Sunday's only) all sport his or her own unique sounds as well.

I actually saw the knife sharpener pass by recently. I'm told it's rather intermittent these days, and I was caught in the neighborhood in a rare moment without my camera. He pushes a slender metal cart with a single, large wheel, while tooting on his unique, recognizable brand of horn. It looks like a scene out of the Middle Ages, and I'm quite ticked that I didn't have my camera handy to document it.

The family is going keeping an open ear for me so that I don't miss an opportunity to capture him again.

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