One of our cultural experiences in Cancun involved the local market where upon arrival we were greeted by every vendor within shouting distance seeking to sell us overpriced t-shirts, wood carvings or jewelry among many other trinkets. We reached the market via the local public bus which was an experience in and of itself. Racing through the streets hoping that you figure out the correct stop before going beyond the presumed safety of the tourist zone while the driver is petal to the metal and hard on the break as if he is racing and jostling for position in the Indy 500.
We managed to safely arrive at the market and were greeted by numerous vendors ready to negotiate their goods for our hard earned American dollars. Besides the overall cultural experience of the market, our goal was to locate some local señoritas to braid the gals hair in Caribbean style. We got our negotiating feet wet by haggling over the price of the hair braiding with three separate señoritas. We managed to talk the second señorita into reluctantly accepting $15 for both girls (vice $30 for 2). Feeling good about our negotiating tactics we decided to walk away to see if we could do even better further inside the market. After the third señorita reluctantly agreed to $15 we guessed that this seemed to be the rock bottom price. Susan, however, after seeing the 2nd señorita looking forlorn after losing our business and watching our every move with seeming desperation for us to return, felt the tug of empathy for the local señoritas trying to earn some currency. We walked back to the shop of the second señorita and offered the woman and her daughter $20 if they would braid the girls hair. They were initially a bit confused considering we haggled to get them down to $15 but they didn’t seem to mind ;).
As it turned out, the hair braiding fell out after only 2 days so we made a second bus trip to the market to have the hair re-done. The señioritas were more than happy to accommodate and pretty much re-did the braids. The newly braided hair lasted for 2 weeks after we returned home.
After the hair braiding and meandering through the market for a while longer, we haggled over a few additional items and received our fill of the experience. We hopped onto the next bus and returned mentally exhausted from shopping in this way.
If there is one thing this experience taught the gals, I hope it is that it is ok to walk away from a product (or anything else in life) if you don’t feel it is worth the cost. If there’s a second thing, as my wise mother-in-law stated, the goal of any transaction should be win-win for both parties.