I am revelling in the serious second-hand shopping scene in San Miguel. The classic is the Tuesday Market high up on a hill outside of the town. It’s overwhelming, muddled and chaotic but sometimes it yields good results ( a North Face jacket for my granddaughter for $2 last week). The vendor even congratulated me for digging that one out. If you crave something a little more genteel, there are the discrete second hand shops. I saw what I am assured is a “real” Louis Vuton purse last week for less than $40 and it’s seriously haunting me. Today I dressed carefully in a pair of shoes I could easily slip off and a comfortable skirt. Although it was a little chilly today and we even saw…horrors!…showers, no way was I going to wear pants. I had a feeling the garage sale I and two lady friends were going to would not have a fitting room. Although my underwear is eminently respectable, I thought trying things on under my skirt might be a little more tactful if my hunch was right. It was and …it was. In the private garage sale I stocked up on basics like a lambs wool sweater and one of my friends got pants. She wasn’t so prudent as I so her two cronies made a sort of tent affair with coats and she managed to be convinced that the pants fit.
By now our blood was up and pants lady ( her name is Susan) suggested we go to Alma’s. Ah, Alma’s, enchanted name for bargain hunters in San Miguel! The other musketeer, Lindy, was driving and like a modern day Cinderella, she had to be home by noon. “No worries” cried Susan. “I know the way and if you miss today, you’re out of luck until next month.” That’s all it took to persuade Lindy.
Alma’s is a nursing home not far from the centre of town where Mexicans and ex pats are cared for. They’ve been in operation for about 20 years. One of their big fund raisers is this monthly sale. When we arrived I was astonished to see a large courtyard full of racks of very nice clothes but Susan, the cognoscenti insisted I start in the little room. Such a mysterious turn of phrase. The best stuff is in there, she assured me, and it was. I have heard stories of heated exchanges in the ” little room” but today we were all perfect ladies. I even saw a husband seated quietly on a stool waiting for his lady to get it out of her system. A wise man!
I was thrilled with a very pretty and usual skirt which cost the equivalent of $5 and a tremendously funky purse that cost $3. Can’t beat that, you say. Yes, you can. A rummage of the racks outside produced a very nice pair of pants ( Gloria Vanderbilt, no less) and a heavenly silk blouse…each cost 10 pesos. One dollar? Now you see why I wore the skirt, right? While my friends were guessing or estimating, I was dragging things on ( up?) with abandon.
At these prices there were lots of Mexican buyers too. There were many many helpful volunteers. I have a feeling some of these pieces may be re-sold in the little informal shops that crop up on fences or in garages on Saturdays.
I wondered where all the clothes came from. We must remember that San Miguel has had a huge ex pat population for decades and that many of the ladies who live here enjoy a fairly affluent lifestyle. It all makes for a lot of recycling which is good. So I can fit my new things in my suitcase, I will be giving lots of things I brought here to LIlly, the nice cleaning lady.
So, I if you want to shop without spending lots of money, don’t forget…Alma’s Nursing Home on the last Saturday of every month. It’s quite close to the Mega Shopping Centre near the round-about and I guess a taxi would take you there for about 40 pesos. Clothes, clothes, shoes, household items and mysterious electrical items. Go and support a good. cause. If you’re like me, you’ll spread all the stuff out on the bed and congratulate yourself on how little you spent.