Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shopping: Casa Postal

I first discovered Casa Postal several years ago when I was working in the Biblioteca nacional. In those days I used to walk home in the afternoon, a little physicial exertion after long hours of reading or avoiding reading. I would try to take a different route each day, just to keep things interesting.

Which is how, on a stretch of Libertad I had never traveled before, I found myself entranced by the display windows of this tiny shop, crammed with old posters, calendars, post cards, wrappers, cut-out dolls. Perhaps it is a bit strange that after having just spent the day with old, dusty papers I would want more, but historical research does that to you: it convinces you that a great and unusual find is yours for the handling.

So I went in. Two of the walls were papered with more of the same—calendars from the 40's, advertisements from the 20's, movie posters from the 50's. But most of the space was given over to large stacks of flat file cases, each one labeled with a theme or geographical name that identified its contents. And in the center, two long wooden tables, where mostly old men would sit, having asked to see all the postcards on, say, Seville, or fly-fishing.

I was there again this weekend and it hadn't changed. Same crowded space, same old men thumbing carefully through stacks of postcards, same sense that a great discovery was contained there, if you just knew to ask for it.

Casa Postal, c/Libertad 37; tel 91 53 27 037

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