Friday, July 31, 2009

Stories from Camp... Buying Dirt...

One of the best ideas I think we had for camp was having the kids all plant flowers during Environmental Week. After all, the environment is about more than picking up trash and reusing stuff. Whitney's (one of my favorite PCVs who lives about an hour north of me) mom provided the seeds for us. Thanks Mrs.Bey! We decided part of the project would include making planters out of old soda bottles. The only other thing we had to do was get the dirt. Easy, right?

About a week before started camp Jaclyn and I headed to the bazar to procure the dirt. Her host sister, Hadija, came with us in case we needed help explaining what we wanted. We walked into the bazar and up to the row where all of the plants and flowers are sold. We got to the first xanim and asked about dirt. Here's how the conversation went...

"Dirt? Why do you want to buy dirt?"
"We have a project with students where we will plant flowers."
"I have flowers. Beautiful flowers. You can buy my flowers."
"No, thank you. We need dirt."
"Dirt? Why do you want to buy dirt?"


At this point the news that the Americans wanted to buy dirt, why would they want to buy dirt?, rippled down the bazar. Heads turned. Not whispered conversations about the strange Americans trying to buy dirt ensued. Hadija, pretty much mortified to be seen with us, disappeared to buy fruit.

We explained several more time why we needed dirt - not plants - until the xanim finally understood that we were adamant about the dirt.

"How much do you need?"
"A lot. Enough for about 150 small pots."
"150? No. I don't have dirt. Do you want some of my beautiful flowers?"

Accepting defeat, Jaclyn and I moved on. Since our attempt to buy dirt was the news of the bazar, we knew better than to try any of the other stalls. Frustrated, we moved on to our other errands and brainstormed about other ways to get the dirt.

As we headed to the school supply store, we passed a guy on the road who was also selling flowers and plants. After a pause and a short conversation about whether or not to try again (all the while, Hadija looked ready to bolt the minute it got embarrassing again), we bit the bullet and went up to him.

"Hello. How are you? We need dirt. Will you sell us dirt?"
"Dirt? Why do you want dirt? I have beautiful flowers. I can sell you flowers."
"No we need dirt. A lot of dirt for a project with students."
"You need dirt. I can get you dirt. How much dirt?"
"Enough for 150 small pots."
"Wow. That's a lot of dirt. How much will you pay?"
"Ummmmm. How much is it?"

Pause while he makes up an answer for our ridiculous request.

"18 manat."
"18 manat?"

Pause while we pretend to decide we have any idea whether or not this is a good price and factoring in that this is the only person willing to sell it to us.

"Sure. 18 manat is good. When can we get the dirt?"
"I have to go to the forest to get it. When do you want it?"
"Sure. Saturday. It will be here."
"Excellent. Thank you! See you Saturday."

Walking, feeling both elated that we got our dirt and skeptical that the dirt would actually be there on Saturday (which it was), we took a deep breath and checked one more thing off of our list.


Eli said...

That is an awesome story. Make sure you let us AZ7 kids know how to find this guy next year so we can do similar projects.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed! What happened to your grear negotiating ability?