Yep, that’s a crate full of dyed baby chicks. Without a doubt, they are all busy asking each other what the @%$^ is going on.
So apparently this is a Valentine’s Day thing here. Round February each year, some entrepreneur goes all Rainbow Brite on a crate full of pollitos (baby chicks) and comes to the market to get the kids riled up. Here’s what he looks like:
I love the look on his face. He’s so blasé and so cool, despite the fact that a limp sack of water is hanging from his mouth (fyi – the cheapest way to buy purified water here is in a 500 mL plastic bag, so don’t think what he’s doing is abnormal, it’s just that he does it with PANACHE)
The kids seemed pretty excited – in the five minutes I stood there agape and snapping a mess of photos, I think dude sold at least 4 chicks. The price of these little abominations? Just 1 quetzal, which is the equivalent of about 12 cents. Heck, why not buy two?
I sorta tried to find out if you’d eventually end up with a magenta chicken, but these little guys apparently expire in a few days because of the dye. It’s supposed to be nasty stuff, bleeding out when doused with water….it sounds kind of gross, actually.
These are disposable chickens here, temporary pets.
It’s wild but like I said, it seems to be a brisk business. I took the photos/footage at around lunchtime but by 8:00 pm dude had sold every one. I thought I’d find him in the same spot, but the peeping I’d heard turned out to be a solitary turquoise chick across the street, wandering on the floor of a bodega and flanked by its 11-year-old owner. She simply sat there and watched, unmindful, while the chick peeped around in circles, bewildered and oblivious in its own right. I stopped and stared, and then kept on walking home and grinning about the crazy stuff I see here in Guatemala.