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The Art of Bargaining

Confined to the four walls of the Spanish classroom, you've learned plenty of grammar and vocabulary. While you can distinguish between the preterito and imperfecto, do you know how to bargain?

Guatemala's bustling and vibrant street markets provide a wide array of products and invite visitors to experience local cultures. Street markets are the local crossroads of Latin American foods, textiles, crafts, and more. For example, Chichicastenango is a highland town in Guatemala home to Latin America's most famous market. But to visit this street market, you'll have to hone the craft of bargaining. In these six steps, we're going to prepare you to become a bargaining expert.


To begin, let's define these key phrases. While un mercado and un mercado artesanal may sound similar, these different markets are vastly different. While un mercado describes a traditional food and goods market with fixed prices, un mercado artesanal describes a market providing souvenirs for visitors where bargaining is a key element! Let's familiarize ourselves with these four definitions before jumping into the fun.


Now that you understand these key terms, let's find a market that interests you! Guatemala is home to a wide variety of street markets, and researching what each market offers prior to visiting is an important step! Here are three popular street markets in Guatemala.


Once you're immersed in your vibrant market of choice, it's time for action. With bustling crowds passing by and Spanish shouts coming from all directions, focus on using these key phrases. It may help to practice these questions prior to attending the street market.


While using your Spanish phrases included above, keep these 5 tips in mind. While you may be excited by the vendors' goods, maintain your composure and focus on your Spanish! Don't forget to bargain to pay lower prices.


Now, keep in mind that bargaining isn't always welcomed. While at some artisan markets, bargaining is important, keep in mind that local vendors create culturally significant, handmade goods. Respecting the local cultures always comes first.


Now, you're ready to put all these steps together! In this hypothetical conversation, you ask the vendor how much a hammock costs, and she responds 300 quetzales. Using your masterful bargaining skills, you respond, "Seriously? That seems expensive to me. If I buy the hammock and the bracelet, how much would it cost?". The vendor responds that she'll give you both the items for the original price: 300 quetzales! Success! Your bargaining skills came in handy.


Keep these tips in mind, respect local cultures, and enjoy the market!



"How to Negotiate in a Latin American Market" - Pimsleur

"Four Things to Know About Guatemalan Markets" - by Nestor Quixtan,

"Flea & Street Markets in Guatemala" - TripAdvisor

"Journey Through Guatemala's Ancient Culture & Natural Wonders" - Medium

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