We made it to the flea market around the corner last Sunday morning. I actually went in search of the black market for hard-to-find essential things, like laundry detergent and bath soap, which are scarce in regular shops because of the shortages and rationing. I figured that wherever there is a shortage of such, someone will have hoarded the stuff and be selling them off for three times what they paid…but no luck. Ninety percent of the stalls were selling secondhand fashion. There were lots and lots of old shoes and clothes, all too small for a big fat gringa like me! Cheap costume jewelry, three-quarters empty bottles of nail polish, battered-looking handbags, and bridesmaid’s gowns. There were plenty of fried food stalls, and people selling cheap, mass-produced stuff, like plastic food containers, from China (brand new). A few stalls did have second stuff that wasn’t fashion-related: boxes of dusty, tangled computer cables, chipped dinnerware sets, dog-eared playing cards, gift sets of tiny perfume bottles (the kind you buy in-flight on planes) being sold off, one 20ml. bottle at a time. Old things. Worthless things. Sad things. I didn’t really expect to find a ‘treasure’ at a market like this. The tang of desperation and hard-times filled the air. But there it was. The treasure. A vintage camera, the Kodak Retina Reflex, made in Germany between 1957 and ’58, still in its leather holster, complete with a bakelite flash unit and reflector dish that looks like a pie tin. And it was in working order (well, maybe not the flash unit)!
-Dos mil quinientos. (Bs 2,500.00)
Sold. To the sweaty gringa who looks like she’s just barely managing to hold back a triumphant roar. I’m in love with it. It looks beautiful, it weighs a ton, and I can’t wait to get some film for it someday, if such a thing still exists (not here…not in a country where you can’t even find bath soap easily!)