a little cameo

Life in Colombia and everything that goes with it

Stationery shopping

I really love shopping for stationery. There is nothing better than wandering around Officeworks, plying the stationery aisles of Kmart, making a round of Kikki K or Smiggle, or longingly browsing a boutique stationer. I just love it.

Here in Latin America it is quite a different shopping experience.

On my first day of Spanish classes, I found a papeleria where instead of wandering around, touching and feeling items that arouse curiosity, everything is behind a glass case, or tucked away on a shelf out back somewhere. So you have to ask for what you want. On Spanish Class Day 1 I was just looking for a notebook, a cuaderno. It is also important to ask for one with lineas, or lines, as the majority of latinos write on that graph paper with little squares. I don`t really understand that one at all. Perhaps a question to ask my teacher tomorrow.

At the end of classes last week, I needed something to put my photocopied handouts in. I asked my teacher to tell me the name of the plastic pocket he had, and he said separador plasticos. I probably should have used this terminology at the papeleria because when I said “Estoy buscando por algo para proteger mis hojas” (I`m looking for something to protect my pages”) the joker responded “¿Policia?”. It was quite funny and I laughed a lot. Instead of a plastic pocket, I got one of those coloured plastic things you close using the string and two circles. I am still debating the functionality of these closures.

Anyways, todays papeleria outing was for paperclips. While in the library doing my homework, I asked a couple of guys at the same table how to say paperclip, since I happened to have a sole example with me. It was funny to hear that the answer was “clip”. That is pretty easy to remember, and the girl at the papeleria knew exactly what I was after when I asked.

Whilst stationery shopping is rather different than in Australia, there are good points too. I only wanted a few paperclips, I didn`t need a whole box, so when I asked for 15 paperclips it wasn`t a strange request. It saves a whole lot of waste instead of buying everything in bulk like we seem to do at home and are constantly pressured into doing by retailers.

So my papeleria expenses so far are:

  • cuaderno, 200 page, A5 = $2,500 pesos
  • plastic folder = $2,500 pesos
  • 15 paperclips = $350 pesos

A grand total of $5,350 Colombian pesos or AUD$2.85 (the paperclips cost 18 cents).

Stay tuned for more papeleria shopping trips!

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