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Posts Tagged ‘mercados’

I returned to Oaxaca late Sunday night, a little dazed and confused.  Of course, getting the dreaded “red light” at customs didn’t help.  All was fine, though the word “bagels” didn’t register until someone behind me offered the word “pan” (bread), I nodded my assent, and the customs officer smiled and nodded hers.  Whew!

First on Monday morning’s “to do” list was a trip to my local market, Mercado Sánchez Pascuas.  It felt SO good to be walking again, even up hill!  Reaching my destination, completely unbidden, an “expletive deleted” popped out.  How could I have forgotten?  The mercado was in the midst of a month and a half renovation!

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This is a three million peso project that includes replacement of the roof, waterproofing of the slab area, and structural maintenance.  Most of the approximately 100 stalls have been relocated to the patio in front of the Tinoco y Palacios entrance and the parking lot at the Porfirio Díaz entrance.  The latter, I was pleased to see, found room for the annual display of poinsettia.  I will return!

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But first and foremost, food!  I found (or they found me) my favorite vendors.  They may not know my name, but they recognized and called to their gringa customer, who they haven’t seen for almost a month.  Quesillo (Oaxaca string cheese), verduras (vegetables), fruta (fruit), tamales (mole, verde, amarillo, and rajas), and salsas (green and chipotle) were purchased.

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My two shopping bags filled, I headed back down the hill to home, sweet, Oaxaca home.  It’s great to be back!  The icing on the cake, especially coming on top of the sticker shock of el norte, was the above, plus 8 bottles of beer, came to a grand total of 335 pesos — that’s $16.42 (US dollars), at today’s exchange rate.

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Monday, I returned to Oaxaca following a mini-vacation to the state of Jalisco to visit mi amiga J in Ajijic and to attend the annual Feria Maestros del Arte in Chapala.  It’s a nice place to visit, but I must admit, its appeal escapes me.  I guess I’m spoiled by Oaxaca’s countless charms, like today’s “music to shop by” at Mercado Sánchez Pascuas.

Muzak, it most definitely is not!

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If it’s Sunday, it must be market day in Tlacolula de Matamoros.

Women doing their marketing.

Women doing their marketing, and the men who follow.

Carne for the carnivores

Carne, right off the hoof, for the carnivores.

Delicious dining for the rest of us!

And, delicious dining for all!

Another delightful domingo in Oaxaca.

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Sunday morning, walking up Avenida Morelos, The Iceman Cometh.

Truck with blocks of ice

Arriving at Mercado IV Centenario, marimba rhythms start to play

2 men playing marimba

Down to the zócalo.  As Winnie the Pooh said, “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”

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Sunday morning strolls through the streets of Oaxaca always make me smile.

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Sunday is market day in Tlacolula.  The sounds and sights…

piles of gourds

The smells and tastes…

Chicken on a grill

And, most of all, the people…

Woman carrying tlayudas on head

Much needed chicken soup for my soul.

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After 6+ months of being Under construction,

today, the waiting is over!

This morning, Oaxaca’s governor, the city’s mayor, and the head of the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Development opened the newly constructed entrance on Independencia…

and welcomed vendors and shoppers to the newly renovated Mercado IV Centenario.

New stalls, with improved electrical and sanitation systems are part of this renovation project.

Vendors, including one of my favorite vegetable sellers, began moving their goods from the temporary site in Jardín Morelos to their new stalls.

After only a few hours, my vendedora de frutas already looked happily ensconced in her new digs!

There are still a few stalls waiting to be filled…

Any takers???

 

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Sunday, blogger buddy Chris and I drove out to Tlacolula for market day.  It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t your usual Sunday market — there seemed to be twice the number vendors and twice as many shoppers.  It was the Sunday before the Días de los Muertos and this mega mercado was providing those who live in the surrounding area with everything they could possible need for their ofrendas (Day of the Dead altars).

Mounds of apples, tangerines, and other fruit.

mounds of bananas and tangerines

Rows upon rows of pan de muerto (the special Day of the Dead bread).

Pan de muerto

Wheelbarrows full of peanuts and pecans.

Wheelbarrow full of nuts

And, in the city of Oaxaca, special Muertos vendor stalls have been set up between the Benito Juárez Mercado and 5 de Mayo Mercado for city dwellers to stock up.  Intricately decorated sugar and chocolate skulls (calaveras) to satisfy the sweet tooth of Mictlantecuhtli (Goddess of Death).

Shelves of sweet calaveras

Decorated clay incense burners…

Clay three-legged incense burners

waited to burn copal resin and perfume the air with its wonderful, and now familiar, scent.

Bags and piles of copal resin

Doll house size tables were filled with miniature clay food and beverages (favorites of the departed) …

Tiny tables with miniature clay foods and beverages

and included these diminutive plates of mole and arroz (rice) — which I couldn’t resist buying for my altar!

Tiny plates of ceramic mole and arroz

And, of course, there were mounds and mounds of Cempazuchitl (marigolds), the flower of the dead, that grows wild in Oaxaca at this time of year.

Pile of marigolds

All the necessary purchases have been made, now to build my ofrenda.

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I’m back in Oaxaca… arrived last night after a brief trip to El Norte.  However,  over the last three years, culture shock (on both sides of the border) has subsided and I am struck and heartened that despite our differences, humans share so much more… especially the compulsion to make even the most common and utilitarian, beautiful.

Artist, Zio Ziegler added a little pizzazz to a car in Mill Valley… (Yes, I know, a Porche!)

Porche painted decoration

Car in Oaxaca… (Ahhh, a VW bug!)

VW bug painted with decoration

Wall in Mill Valley (also by Zio Ziegler)…

Painted horned creature riding a bike.

Wall in Oaxaca…

Savannah scene, with elephant in foreground, painted on wall.

Veggies in Mill Valley…

Vegetables in bins at outdoor market

Veggies in Oaxaca…

Vegetables mounded in mercado

From one of my favorite journalists, Linda Ellerbee:  “People are pretty much alikeIt’s only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities.”

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One of the pleasures of living here, is grocery shopping at the traditional mercados.   As the map from my local Mercado IV Centenario shows, the variety of items sold rivals any US supermarket chain.

Color coded map of Mercado IV Centenario stalls painted on wall.

The freshness and quality far exceeds anything the chains have to offer and you can’t beat the personal attention.

Woman vendor in her produce stall.

There is something comforting about being recognized and greeted by favorite vendors and gratifying about purchasing tamales proudly sold by the loving hands that made them.

White-haired woman sitting behind two plastic buckets full of tamales

However, on May 14, 2012, Mercado IV Centenario, operated by the municipio of Oaxaca de Juárez, began a much-needed major renovation.  The doors have been locked…

Chains locking double doors.

and demolition has begun.

Construction workers demolishing interior of mercado

According to a May 25th article, the project includes a new roof and bathrooms, waterproofing, installing tile floors, interior and exterior painting, and rehabilitation of the water, sanitation, and electrical systems.  In addition, an access door on the busy avenida Independencia will be constructed.

For the duration of the renovation, the merchants and their stalls have been relocated under a big blue tent in Jardín Morelos on Independencia, across from the chain supermarket, Soriana.  Rather than hurting business, the vendors report sales have increased at the temporary site and are hoping to bring the new customers along when they move into the newly renovated Mercado IV Centenario.

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Last night, under starry skies, I returned to Casita Colibrí.  The streets were wet and potholed (more than usual) and even in the dark, my garden looked green and lush, all thanks to the rains Hurricane Carlotta brought and a storm track that continues to have Oaxaca in its sights.

After a verrry slow morning spent renewing my apartment’s acquaintance (remember, no TP in the toilet), gazing at the view, and unpacking, armed with two shopping bags, I headed down to Mercado IV Centenario (my local mercado) for some much-needed restocking, only to find doors locked.   Ooops!  I’d forgotten, as of mid May it was temporarily relocated to Jardín Morelos, due to a long overdue renovation project.  So, down the stairs and across Independencia to the new site, I went.  How nice it was to see the familiar faces of my favorite vendors and what warm greetings I received.   Ahhh… it’s good to be back!

The route home took me up through the Plaza de la Danza.  And, what to my wondering eyes did appear?   A boxing ring, boxing fans, and a boxing match in progress.  Darn, I neglected to bring my camera.  Hey, it was just supposed to be a grocery shopping trip!  However, this from my iPod Touch camera.

2 boxers in boxing ring with referee in background.

Concerts, dance exhibitions, fireworks staging site, ferias and now boxing in the Plaza de la Danza.  As I’ve said, the public spaces in Oaxaca are well used!

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I love going to my little local mercado on Sunday mornings.  Steps leading up to it from Independencia are lined with vendors of street food, flowers, religious trinkets, herbs, you name it!  Inside, the cavernous building is teeming with more activity than on weekdays.  And, these guys are there to entertain diners and shoppers…

Man, teenage boy, and young boy playing marimba

I suspect this is a father and his two sons.  Marimba playing seems to be a (masculine) family affair.

Close up of young boy

It isn’t unusual to see these beautiful instruments being carried through the streets and sidewalks of Oaxaca…

Parquetry detail on marimba

… on their way to set up and play traditional “sones” from Oaxaca and/or old pop standards at a fiesta, in front of a shop, or inside a mercado.  Muchisimas gracias for a delightful soundtrack!

One of these days, I’m going to shoot video of some of them, but in the meantime, here are a couple from YouTube:

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Thursday is market day in Zaachila.  And, along with the baskets, aprons, succulent fruits and vegetables, mouthwatering food stalls, kitchen and hardware, it features turkeys (hobbled and unable to trot), goats of many colors, yokes of oxen, and little piggies going to market…

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I love it!

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Challenges and rewards

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s been a week already!   Living in Mexico requires a rewiring of one’s brain; wrapping one’s mind around a much more fluid concept of time.   As writer Tony Cohan pointed out, in his book by the same name, one must learn to live On Mexican Time, or endless frustration will result.

This morning I spent an hour at the Telmex office (yet again) attempting to upgrade my internet connection speed; my fourth trip to the office in six days.  Friday, I was assured that it would be taken care of on Monday and that my presence wouldn’t be necessary.  This morning, a check at speedtest.net revealed my connection speed had not changed.  So, off I went with as much documentation, patience, and good-nature as I could muster.  Eventually, after great deal of consultation and computer inputting, I was told all would be well in 24 hours.  We shall see…

Feeling not a little frustrated, I trudged up to my neighborhood indigenous mercado for some much needed provisions.  It’s never bustling with activity nor is it bursting with atmosphere, but it’s my local market and, though unlike Cheers, nobody knows my name, I am recognized and greeted with smiles by the gals who regularly sell me cheese and produce.  And today, there was a woman sitting next to the stairs selling hand (not machine) made tortillas.  My lucky day!

I walked back to Casita Colibrí smiling to myself.   How could I not, when returned home with big ball of quesillo, pimiento, epazote, warm tortillas, 2 aguacates, and flor de calabaza???

quesillo, pimiento, epazote, aguacates, flor de calabaza, torillas

Yummm… comida beckoned!

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