WITP: Selling Belts in the Street
By Jed Herrmann
As opposed to some other parts of the country (specifically one old town), there are blessedly few wandering vendors on Xela’s streets. Unless you go to La Democracia market, you’re likely to be only occasionally hassled by someone approaching you to hawk their wares.
Most of these roving vendors are filling a clear market need- even if the boys offering shoeshines to people wearing sandals may be a little confused as to their target market. If you need a snack on the run, then buying a candy bar (albeit one you’ve never heard of and that will likely taste terrible) from the woman with the basket of goodies makes some sense. If it is cold out (by Guatemalan standards), perhaps you’ll buy some gloves or hat. This month’s WITP explores the slightly more confusing subset of selling belts in the street.
1. Oh, my pants are falling down?! Frequently, people don’t notice their lack of a belt until their pants are falling down and they are too far from home to go back without being much later to work than they already are.
2. You can never have too many belts: With different belt needs for different occasions, you can always use another belt in your closet.
3. Post lunch belt blowouts: After a big midday meal, the capacity of one’s current belt may be exceeded thus requiring an emergency belt purchase to keep things as they should be.
4. Pending pant height regulations: Following the lead of Florida public schools, the Xela City Council is considering legislation banning saggy pants that reveal a wearer’s underwear or midriff; these belt vendors are getting a jump on things to corner the market on emergency pant heightening devices.
5. Belt collectors are always on the prowl: Some people collect vintage cars, other people shoes, but Quetzaltecos collect belts. With people always looking to add something new to their collection (a camouflage belt perhaps), selling belts in the street is a way to service this vibrant group of packrats.
Whichever explanation you choose, you know that your belt needs can always be taken care of on the fly in Xela. And in any case, it is much better to be occasionally harassed by the strange phenomena that is street belt sales than to have someone constantly blowing a shrill flute into your ear (take that, Antigua).