Bartering is exhausting

One of the first things one must learn while traveling in the developing world is that prices are dynamic. Sure, restaurants might have prices in the menu. And hotels will most likely have a nightly rate set. Or an hourly rate, depending where you are. But most shops just make prices up on the spot.

What’s that? You’d like a Coca-Cola? That will cost you $1. It doesn’t matter if it was only 50 cents yesterday—today it’s a dollar. Pay up, sucker. Wait, you’re walking away? Okay, you can have the soda for 50 cents, just like yesterday. But only because you went and got all dramatic on me.

I’m not used to bartering for goods. I personally find it exhausting. I miss the days when I could go to the super market and leave my brain at home. You don’t realize just how easy and relaxing it is to pay a set price for an item until you move to a country where you have to negotiate for every little thing.

“How much for these sunglasses? ¿Cuánto cuesta?

“70 bolivianos.”

“That’s too much. 10 bolivianos. Diez.

“No, no, no. 50.”

“15.”

“20.”

“17.”

“18.”

For fuck’s sake, just give me the bloody shades. 1 boliviano = 14 cents. We’re arguing over pennies here. And since those pennies mean a lot more to someone in this part of the world than they mean to me, I choose to just pay. Eventually. But not before I talk my way into a 50% discount.

At the end of the day, the bartering experience can be boiled down to one simple rule: If you pay full price, you’re a chump.

Or maybe you’re just tired of fighting for every little thing.