Friday, March 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Skirts

One of the best things that's happened during my stay here in Peru is that I've lost some weight, thus leaving me with a limited wardrobe. Clothes aren't as cheap here, no Ross or Savers for me to pursue on Friday evening. However, down at the local market, I have found a seamstress to alter some of my clothes for me, for far less than trying to buy new things that still fit me (I'm still too fat for most Peruvian clothes), and are also modest. 

I finally had a little spare money and narrowed down two skirts that I wanted altered. One of the chosen ones was a black, lined front-pleated Dress Barn skirt. It literally fell off me when I put it on. I wanted to augment my actual professional skirt options. My second skirt choice was a long, paisley purple skirt with black lace on the hem. It still kind of fit, but the elastic was shot. I had repaired the lace that I'd stepped on and ripped twice.  I've had this skirt for at least 7 years.  I am wearing it in one of my pictures from Washington D.C., when I worked at the House of Representatives, and that was back in 2006. 

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

My friend and colleague, Leidy, one of the new American teachers, Carmen, and I went to the mercado. Leidy, a local, took us to a new part of the mercado that I hadn't been to before. It was clean and quiet as compared to the usual parts I'd been to - the parts rough with noise, dirt, trash and chaos. She said she knew a shop, but the shop keeper said she couldn't do the skirts until Monday. The shop I'd used twice before had done alterations the same day, but I figured I'd try a new place. Plus, I wasn't quite sure where it was and I didn't want to wander around aimlessly too much longer. We asked at another shop, but they didn't alter skirts, and they referred us to another shop. 

At the next shop, not much bigger than my bathroom, the shop keeper and Leidy negotiated what I wanted done. She also said she couldn't have them done until Monday. I didn't want to waste anymore time and agreed to have the skirts altered for s/.12. ($4.68).  I couldn't even buy a jar of peanut butter for s./12, so this was a good price. 

She measured me and it was amazing to see how much she'd be taking out of the size 20 skirt. On the purple skirt, she asked if I wanted it shorter, I decided I did and I wanted the lace repaired.  We agreed that Leidy and I would come back on Monday afternoon to pick up the skirts. 

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Leidy and I made arrangements to meet for raspadillas (snow cones) before going to the market. She knew a place near the cemetary, and we agreed to meet there after my class finished. This proved to be a bad idea in my opinion. None of the streets had names on them, so by my vague memory from looking at Google Maps, I guessed the corner where we were supposed to meet. It was hot, humid, and miserable waiting.  At least I was at the right corner, after I called Leidy with no answer, she appeared.  She took me to a neighborhood staple instution, it was like Piura's version of a snow cone shack in the parking lot of Smith's.  The owner had been there for years and years, it was a family business.  I ordered a pina (pineapple) raspadilla.  I sure enjoyed slurping the juice out of the ice and then enjoying crunching the ice (sorry Mom), as we sat in the shade.

We headed over to the mercado and found the shop again. The woman was sitting at her sewing machine, lazily reading a newspaper. She saw us and immediately jumped up.  Apparently, she had forgotten to mend my skirts! I was angry. Leidy and she worked out a deal that she would bring them to the main gate of the university that evening at 6:30.

I had to pay her there but she gave me a discount to s./10 soles ($3.85).  Leidy told me I'd need to let the security guard at the front gate know about the arrangement. I realized I didn't know what to say, so Leidy wrote a note, as we stood in the dirt road outside the mercado.  I passed the note to the security guard and he understood it and my poor attempts to explain. 

I let my 5-6:30 class out a few minutes early, and I raced to the main gate to get my skirts before my 7 pm class. 

"Soy Emily Johnson, tiene mis dos faldas aqui?" I asked the security guard.  "I'm Emily Johnson, do you have my two skirts here?"  I don't know how to say the verb to bring... so I was a bit clunky. 

"No faldas senorita," said the security guard. "No skirts, miss."

I was so angry. I had the shopkeeper's phone number but I didn't have time to call. What would I say? What would she say and would I understand?  I decided to check back after my 9 pm class.

After my 9 pm class, I again walked to the main gate of campus.  I was tired. I'd already walked a lot to the mercado, home, back to the university.  Again there were NO skirts. I was so ticked off. I was not happy.  I figured I'd call in the morning with someone to help me. 

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

I was still stewing about my skirts, I had hoped to wear my black skirt today. I asked my friend Laura to call the woman. She called and nobody answered. Argh! She called again and the woman answered.  Laura asked me if I wanted to go get the skirts or have the woman drop them off. I preferred that she dropped them off, I didn't want to hike back over to the mercado in the melting heat of  midday. 

After my class got out at 12:30, I went back again to the main gate, and guessed it. NO SKIRTS. UGH! I immediately tore over to the mercado, angrily rehearsing in Spanish what I wanted to say, was I going to demand my money back? My skirts? What if she hadn't done the work? What if she tried to stiff me the money? What if my skirts were missing? What was I going to do? I was on my own. I didn't have the crutch of a good friend to help me. 

I stormed to the shop and the woman jumped up from her table, and grabbed my skirts, shoved them into a bag, and handed them to me. I took them to examine each one.  She left thread trails from the black one, so I had her cut them off. Once I checked them over, I mumbled gracias and stomped off.  

What an aggravating experience, which of course, could happen in any country.  It maybe a 1st world problem in a 3rd world country but nevertheless, it ended well. My newly remodeled purple skirt has new black lace and is much cooler for this massively humid heat.  It's also nice to have new life in my black skirt, even though it's still a little too big. At least I have the skirts, the work was done and I have a few more options for my wardrobe.

And, in light of the theme, it is a far, far better thing that I use the same shop that I know. 
My altered skirts have new life again.

No comments:

Post a Comment