San Miguel Tuesday Market


Every week ordinary Mexicans and ordinary Gringos go to the huge market that is set up above the town. I always marvel at how this vast emporium is put up and taken down all in one day.  Want an axe handle, a Barbie,, sexy underwear, second-hand clothing, fresh,and,tasty fruits and vegetables?  Get on that bus at the square and enjoy the bumpy, chugging ride up the steep streets of San Miguel until you come to the market.  But wait, there’s construction up on the hill and this morning to my consternation, the bus sailed on past the site and sped along, through narrow streets and then back onto the highway until I was sure I would end up in the next town, 40 miles away!  An aged grandmother with a large walking stick had taken the seat next to me and the bus was so bumpy that I hesitated to make her get up so that I could ask the ticket taker if we were on the right road.  But then how would I ask him and how would I understand the answer? I gazed out at a burned landscape punctuated with large cacti and waited to see what would happen. ( It is tax time and if fields are not ” clean” people pay a higher tax. ). I think the idea is that fires should not start.  Hmm!  Logic?

Anyway I resisted the impulse  to jump out into the wasteland and to my joy the driver suddenly made a U turn at a big hotel and the sign announcing the city limits of San Miguel hove into view.  There I was with the little old lady getting off in front of me, her hair braided down in a grey roap and her apron unbuttoned in back.

The market was the usual cheerful chaos.  Even at 10 am, Mexicans were seriously digging into the cooked foods, particularly what looked like delicious soup.  It was unusually windy and that played havoc with the big coloured tarps that are strung up over the stalls.  They protect from the sun but the pink and orange filtering the strong rays make it impossible to see what color garment one is buying.  The flapping made me feel I was in a galleon carrying Mexico along to her fate.  The plastic sheets were like huge sails and the vendors struggled to get control of them and to stop the wind carrying away their goods.

The kids were out in force.  It was aschool day but there were a lot of youngsters “helping” or crawling around under the tables, getting lost or selling mysterious things out of plastic bags.

There are no San Miguel souvenirs at the Tuesday market, just people getting on with their daily lives.  I resisted the impulse to buy a pair of spurs, gathered up my bundles and headed for the bus bound for “Centro”.  Last Tuesday Market for at least a years. Other adventures to enjoy at home.

The Tuesday market in San Miguel

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It is astounding.  I went once last year but I had forgotten the sheer size, noise and variety that confronts one at this huge weekly market. It takes place well outside the city.  Finding the right bus was a bit of a,challenge as I had to look up a few words in the dictionary and then construct a sort of question about going there.  Well, it worked and after a ten muinute bus ride up a windy hilly road we arrived and trooped over an overpass.  Tiny children and ancient crones managed to get up and over the highway and then we decended into a dusty, noisy, chaotic, seething mass of humanity all hell bent on a bargain and a damned good meal.  Some of the most popular tables were second hand clothes and I saw quite a few gringas supplementing their wardrobes.  You name it, the San Miguel market has it.  Shoes, knock off clothes, lurid underware, tools, cosmetics, toys, kitchen utensils, electronics, fruit and vegetables of astounding quality and price, cowboy hats. . . .well, the few pictures I post should give you an idea.  All this shopping can make a muchacho hungry and there are several makeshift kitchens set up.  Fried fish is a great favorite and the smell is wonderful.  Tamales,cook on griddles and some sort of pork and onion combo twirls on a spit a bit like a Mexican version of gyro.  The drinks are huge and thirst quenching.  I had coconut juice in a small bucket. I prudently only drank half as the ” banyos” at the edge of the field did not appeal to me.  I met a few friends, as one does in San Miguel, and we decided on steamed fish.  Who knew nouvelle cuisine had wormed its way into the big market.  We had fish, steamed veggies and very hot sauce out of a piping hot styrofoam container and withdrew from the tables and chairs, for,shade and to avoid the earnest singing of a woman with a microphone.  She raked in quite a few tips.  Oh, I,forgot that some people didn’t have stalls but wheeled their,stuff around in wheelbarrows ( wonderful walnuts) or wandered around the market grounds hollering their wares…anything from carrier bags to clothes pins or sponges.  The sweets were out of this world…huge mounds of smarties, gummy bears, lickorice.  It was overwhelming.  I managed to find the knock off Real Madrid jerseys I wanted as presents for my grandsons.  I almost gave up,but finally found the stall right at the edge of the grounds.  Very nice too.  Needless to say I spent a good bit of time in the hammock later in the afternoon reading Thomas Moore’s ” Care of the Soul”.   Just the thing after a few hours in bedlam.