Neighborhood tiendas (stores) are part of the fabric of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. They supplement larger grocery stores by stocking single rolls of toilet paper, small containers of milk, yogurt, ice cream, cooking oils, sugar, and other daily essentials.
Tiendas have daily necessities
Let’s say you are seven years old and helping your siblings fix a bike in front of your home. Your mom is making dinner and realizes she is out of milk. She calls to you, hands you money and sends you to get milk.
|Tienda door visible on far left
Two tiendas are about a minute from your house, one in each direction.
- The tienda uphill (left edge of above photo) has a locked door with bars you can stick your arms and legs through. The bars allow the owners to remain open while free to be elsewhere in the house. If you choose this tienda, you call out “Hola! Hola!” and wait for someone to wait on you.
- The tienda downhill has a wide open door. A family member in this home is always in the store. Sometimes it is the 12 year old daughter, sometimes the 14 year old son but occasionally the whole family is sitting at the plastic table and chairs in front of their multi-use house.
You select the first since your favorite cousin lives there. After buying milk from your cousin, you run home.
Tiendas have Dessert
After dinner, you pick up your cousin and together run to the other tienda for their homemade coconut ice cream on a stick. Ice cream melting, you head to the fútbol field and join your friends practicing penalty kicks.
Do you have neighborhood stores? How old were you when you first were allowed to shop on your own?
A look back
Last year, I wrote Tide Pools in Puerto Lopez.