Shopping takes lots of energy, especially when one is expected to bargain. I learned today to approach a vendor with the amount I am willing to pay for an item and be ready to walk away, knowing that I will see the item again and will ultimately be able to agree on a mutually acceptable price. Sometimes I did not have the requisite enthusiasm for the interchange, and probably paid more than I should have, but other times, I was able to stick to my plan and come out feeling good about my purchase. I know that no one will sell me anything at a loss, so I have no doubt there were several happy shopkeepers today. I spent every penny I had, and left with far more shopping to do in the next few days.
There is an artisanal market in the Mariscal, with stalls lining narrow passageways. Many of the vendors are from Otavalo, and much of the merchandise is exactly what I would have seen in Otavalo. It felt as if the prices were comparable. I love going to Otavalo, but that will not happen for us before Christmas, so the markets in Quito will do. There is another one near El Ejido park, where I will go on the weekend. I have a long Christmas list, and am about a quarter of the way through.
Quito felt a little more active today, with a little more traffic, and more people on the street. My taxi driver told me that all of December is a holiday for Quiteños, who have a reason for a fiesta everyday. The Christmas markets remind me of those in Italy and Germany, and the enthusiasm for the holiday fits in with my usual Christmas mood. I looked for the right 'presebre' or 'nativity scene' at the artisanal market, but have yet to see the 'right' one, although I have little time to make a decision, because the nightly celebrations ( 'la novena de niño Jesus') start nine days before Christmas (on the 15th). The 'nacimiento' will be placed in front of the tree and each night the family will meet to pray (we will have to get a 'guia para la novena') and sing Christmas songs and have tea and cookies.