day twenty seven: salt

sometimes when i come home my host family sends me out “grocery shopping” with my host sister to buy  the last couple things we need for that night’s dinner.

it’s really fun… i hold the money and we go out walking to the pulperias (little street shops that sell basically everything) and she usually knows where to go even in the dark and we have conversations on the way and once we get there she matter-of-fairly orders everything we need.

also, she’s five years old.

outside of the fact that she’s way more comfortable than i am walking around in the dark in San Juan (not because it’s dangerous– it’s not– but because there are no street lights and if i tripped over the curb and fell on my face that would be the Most Chela Thing Ever), she’s also pretty much the most self-confident kid ever. but this friday, we were both stumped.

we’d gone to three pulperias and none of them would sell us salt.

keep in mind, these are the same shops that casually had several dozen eggs on hand when we bought them a couple days ago. these are the same shops that carry everything from chips to umbrellas to deodorant to hot sauce. so why didn’t they have salt?

in fact, i was almost sure that they had some in the last and biggest pulperia we visited… i almost thought i saw it… but the lady smiled and shook her head and told me “no hay” when i asked her if they sold salt.

“none? at all?”

“no, no…”

at that point i was wondering if maybe this had something to do with my pronunciation. maybe i wasn’t using the right words? who knew? 

frustrated, we headed back and i explained to my host mum that there was no salt. in any of the shops. at all.

she laughed and told me that there’s a superstition here — if you sell salt after 3pm, it’s bad luck and bad business. i might very well have seen the little bags of salt, but they weren’t about to hand it to me. 


anyway, we (my host sister and i) ended up going getting salt from one of my host sister’s tias, which was convenient (my host family is related to basically half of San Juan i swear) and so everything worked out just fine. thank goodness!

p.s. also here’s a picture of the victorious salt packet. you’re welcome.