Friday, July 30, 2010
No, not another “shopping for bathing suits story”. This is all about shopping IN your bathing suit. This week I’m in Puglia, at a beach resort where I have been going with my family ever since the kids were little. It’s easy, comfortable and thoroughly relaxing. Kind of like being on a big cruise ship that never leaves port.
The best part about it of course, is the pristine beach. Gorgeous white sand, crystal clear water. And, over the last few years, more and more shopping opportunities. Now, I know it’s been a while since I spent time at the beach in other countries, but as far as I can tell, this kind of shopping doesn’t exist elsewhere.
When we first started coming here, about 15 years ago, there was one local guy who used to walk up and down the beach with a blue bucket yelling “Mandorle Fresche! Coco Fresco!” Fresh almonds and coconut. He’s still there, but is now joined by at least two dozen other roving vendors.
I’m sure you’ve seen these guys in Florence or Rome. Spreading out their wares on the streets. Usually knock off purses and sunglasses. But here in the south they walk up an down the beach, selling all kinds of stuff. And, since I’ve got not much else to do other than read the latest Stephen King novel, I’m all up for a bit-o-shopping.
Like the vendors in the cities, these folks come from all over. Senegal, Togo, India, Pakistan. But here are a few locals as well. It certainly is colorful.
One of the first guys to show up, at least 10 years ago, lugs three HUGE trash bags around. When he plops them down in front of our beach, the crowds descend and start pulling out his colorful beach cover ups, holding them up as they blow in the breeze. I’ve gotten some of my favorite cotton dashikis from him over the years.
All of a sudden this year there are scores of Indians. They are very elegantly dressed, and usually carry a small bag over their shoulder. They kneel at your feet, and gracefully lay out their wares: silver earrings, bangles and necklaces.
The Africans are usually weighted down with all sorts of stuff. Sunglasses, wooden carvings and beach gadgets like beach volley paddles, goggles, etc.
Every so often you see a local guy, with incredibly expensive ‘local’ crafts. This guy had some lovely baskets and purses, but since I was almost 100% sure they were all from China, I just couldn’t justify spending 50 euros for a small evening bag. (although another family snapped up five!)
Does this exist in any other country? Has anyone seen them in France or Spain?