Why being blonde costs you a few extra bolivianos…

8 Aug

Over a discussion last night about pants I realised just how much fun shopping in La Paz is especially when, like me, you are blonde…

The discussion started  on buying pants at stalls in La Paz and the fact that, in La Paz, there is a fixed price for everything you buy with the only difficulty being trying to find out that price. It takes probably a few weeks to find out the optimum prices for stuff and then when you go to the stall you just give over the exact amount to save you being overcharged….otherwise being blonde you will always be charged that bit more…

take bananas…the optimum price is 1 boliviano for 3 (10p) but as a blonde if you don’t know this the assistant will try to sell you 1 or 2 bananas for the same price…..with such guises as “are you sure you want three just now?”…

tissues…the optimum price is 1 boliviano for a pack but as a blonde if you don’t know this they will try to sell you the super exclusive menthol ones for 1.5 bolivianos….

a fruit juice..the price for a juice with fresh fruit either with milk and water is 4 bolivianos (40Pence) but again being blonde if you don’t insist on a small one they will give you a huge one for 6 bolivianos and then refill it…aarghhh I love fruit but there is only so much you can take…the exact same rule applies to fruit salads..insist on a small one…

You can tell when the “blonde tax” is being considered when there is that momentary hesitation before you ask the price….now let’s be honest they sell hundreds of juices a day at the same price why should there be any hesitation when you ask the price??? It’s a basic case of deciding whether or not the blonde tax should apply…

There are those who simply charge the blondes more..I’ve had a few experiences of this so far..An avocado, cheese and tomato sandwich costs me 2.5 bolivianos but a local 2 bolivianos…a banana bread costs me 2.5 bolivianos but a local 1 boliviano…a milanesa with rice and salad costs a local 5 and me 6!

It’s a simple case of the seller working out what you can afford…And in a country where a miner earns five quid for a full day’s work should there not be a difference between what I pay and what a local pays?  It’s a novel way of doing business but is it really so wrong?  Should those from richer countries not pay more because they can or should the same prices apply to everyone?  This is not an easy question and not one to which I have an immediate answer…

Now this discussion started off with pants so let’s finish with buying pants in Bolivia.  For a blonde pants cost 5 bolivianos (50 pence).  That’s not dear and they have a great selection…but stick with your instincts when buying them…the seller will try, try, try to persuade you that you can fit into medium (which is itsy bitsy in Bolivia).  Be brave….ask for “XXL” (equivalent to a size 10 – 12).  They will hum and haw and stretch the medium ones to oblivion to try to show that you will fit into them…keep calm..eventually the “XXL” ones will come out from under the table….and being blonde you will pay the 5 bolivianos and leave happy!


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