Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

My favorite video store

(With apologies to Wild and Woolly. You guys are a close second)

My favorite video store almost certainly doesn’t exist anymore. I haven’t been in it since 1997 and I couldn’t even tell you where it is.

All I remember is that it was a short walk from my host family’s house in Cuenca, Ecuador.

It was a tiny store at the corner of a large building with just one room about the size of a living room.

All of the movies were VHS and it cost 1000 Sucres (roughly $0'25, at the time) to rent a movie for 5 days. They had a great selection of cheesy American action movies, most of them older. Endless Van Damme and Steven Segal titles.

There was also a tiny rack of naughty movies, although I never rented any. Not out of any moral objection, just because I couldn’t figure out how to watch one in the house without getting caught.

Most of the movies were bootlegs. Almost every movie I ever rented had been illegally recorded from satellite TV and had a piracy warning scrolling across the bottom for the entire movie.

I rented a Van Damme movie that had been recorded by someone pointing a video camera at a television. You could actually see the edge of the TV in the frame, including some of the buttons. At one point, someone walked across the room, momentarily obscuring the screen.

We had to read a book in Spanish for class and write a report on it one week. I had planned to read Como Agua para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate) but I didn’t get my act together in time to find the book.

I rented the movie instead and ended up watching it at least 5 times, I loved it so much. That was one of the few writing assignments I got 100% on.