Pulperías come in every size. It’s interesting to think of when exactly a neighbourhood store becomes a pulpería: if a housewife sells batteries, chips, consommé and matches form her living room, is that a real pulpería or not? Or does it need to provide toilet paper, lard, eggs and 2 litre Coke bottles too?
And where does it end? Is my favourite store, Doña Berta´s, a pulpería or a small supermarket?
The store is actually called “Comercial Cruz Bueso”, but everybody (except for the tourists) refers to it as “Doña Berta’s. Doña Berta sells everything. And if she doesn’t, you bet you won’t be able to find it elsewhere in town. She sells, of course, the basics such as rice, sugar, lard, milk products, cereals, cookies, chips and soft drinks. But also pills and syrups in every possible colour and flavour; fabrics, sombreros, diapers, cowboy boots, underwear, sowing supplies and rat poison. Doña Berta offers mattresses, lamps, chips, school supplies and bullets. Food colouring, beer, picture frames and rubber flip -flops. Gift bags, envelops, deodorants, soap, lice combs, coffee makers, pots, pans, knives, make-up, cat food, snow cones and fire water. And wait for the seasonal ofertas: artificial Christmas trees in every imaginable size and shape from October on. Fireworks for New Year’s Eve and other occasions. And for Easter weekend: an enormous assortment of inflatable devices, displayed on the sidewalk, ceiling and any other spot where something else can be crammed in.
Every once in a while I permit myself the time to get lost at Doña Berta´s, savouring the smell of the rubber work boots in the far end corner, or the cinnamon bought in bulk from a campesino. I can spend hours at the store and always find something I’d never noticed before.
I love how the neighbours come by early in the morning in their pyjamas. How the women from the villages up north dress up to come down town to go shopping at Doña Berta’s. How in the afternoons people gather around the cash register to exchange the latest gossip. Doña Berta’s pulpería is the centre of the world. It’s one of my favourite places in Copán.