Wednesday, April 06, 2011
bras and baskets
It is Wednesday.
In Melaque, that means the flea market has come to town.
Some people get upset when I call it that. How about giant garage sale? Junk dealers? Tourist trap extraordinaire?
Here, we call it the tianguis.
Every Wednesday, cars and pickups stuffed with -- well, stuff -- descend on a five block stretch of our little fishing village and turn it into the Adam Smith Entrepreneurial School of Marketing.
Blue tarps are stretched over poles, and tables appear like mushrooms. The result looks like something between a Bosnian refugee camp and a fence convention.
On my first trip to Melaque, my land lady told me that I could not miss the tianguis. It was "the market of Mexico."
I took that literally. I had seen photographs of vegetables and fruits stacked in colorful mosaics begging customers to barter over dueling kumquats. It was exactly the type of adventure that had drawn me south.
Well, that is not what I found. Instead, I found table after table of items for which I had absolutely no need.
But that was over two years ago. So, come with me as I once again try to find something to buy in "Mexico's market."
First, let's establish one thing. Year-round expatriates and Mexican citizens shop here. But the target market is tourists. And they descend en masse to be charmed and to buy the perfect gift for the house sitter -- something unique, but typical. And there is plenty of that here.
Perhaps a tray or a pot or a basket -- all made out of reeds? Or a handmade duster for your niece?
Or choose from a crayola avalanche of ceramics for the perfect bowl to serve salsa -- probably out of a jar from Safeway.
These bra tables are beyond all male understanding. But the shapes and colors together are enough to keep me fascinated.
How about filling the cosmetic bag with some pigments that have never been seen in nature? Unless it was on some extinct bird unable to camouflage itself.
If your moral compass suffers from non-polarism -- and you are feeling a bit like an outlaw -- you can buy a pirated DVD or CD. And, at the same time contribute to the drug cartels, who control most of the pirated market. How often do you get to indulge two vices with just one purchase price?
Or you could dress an entire Cecil B. DeMille harem with these snazzy sandals. Someone was even thoughtful enough to take the foot fetishist consumer into account -- with feet to go. Mexico knows its niche markets.
And if you want to combine a love of jewelry with an interest in exotic wildlife, you need not look any further.
But my favorite tables are the hardware tables. You can find almost anything you need to fix a crack, a break, or a blowout in any home. You could almost rebuild a cooker with the pieces on this table.
Late in the afternoon, the vendors will pack up all of this stuff (at least the stuff they did not pawn off on consumers), take down their tents, and drive off to the next town -- where they will go through the same routine. Until they return to Melaque on the next Wednesday.
In my two visits to the tianguis, I have come home empty-handed. But, that is not true, is it? I did get some photographs.
And a chance to talk with you again.