Aug 6, 2008

Madrid Street Vendors

(Madrid) There are countless thousands of street vendors in Madrid, and this city is really no different than any other metropolis with a population numbering in the millions. The pictured vendors on Madrid's Gran Via are selling a variety of contraband goods, though, as opposed to the folks selling abanicos or castanetas or the usual tourist trinkets.

If you look closely, you can see a thick string on the fabric upon which the vendors spread their wares. This is to enable a quick exit when the police inevitably arrive to break up the illegal trade in items like pirated DVDs of first run films, faux designer clothng, Manolo Blahniks, and gold-plated junk being passed off to unsuspecting buyers as solid-gold jewelry.

Within minutes of being rousted, this group of about a dozen vendors had set up shop three blocks away. I saw the police lights and sirens, and within five seconds the men drew their strings and bolted around the corner. The crowds parted and then swallowed up the men, whose departure and relocation took mere minutes, and I suspect that pirated DVD sales were little affected by the disruption.

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