Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen
Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen
We’ve been to some large markets, or mercados as they’re called in Latin America, and the one in Oaxaca City is by far the largest one I’ve seen so far. It’s four acres of stalls, stands, and goods spread out on the ground right in the southwest section of the central city. Everything you can possibly imagine is here for sale.
Belts, bras, shoes, hats, all clothes – new and used. Produce, spices, herbs, nuts, candy. Live chickens, live turkeys. Dead chickens, dead turkeys. Baskets, blankets, cell phone cases. TVs, radios, flowers. Batteries, baby strollers, mops. Music CDs, movie DVDs. Plastic bins, pots, pans. Dishes, glasses, pastries. Hair accessories, sporting goods, cheese. Furniture, lamps, pottery. Rugs, towels, speakers. Roasted grasshoppers, raw cow brains, umbrellas. Pinatas, purses, bird cages. Party decorations, shopping bags, puppies.
And that might be about a third of what’s there. Seriously.
Abastos Market in Oaxaca City
Saturdays are the best days
The market is a mix of indoor and outdoor stands. On Saturdays, people load up pick-up trucks from the surrounding areas outside the city. They come Mercado de Abastos with their goods to set up temporary shop and make money.
We never buy things like TVs or rugs or pots or furniture, but if you want a good deal, haggle away. It’s expected.
We go to people watch and to get our produce.
(*Note, these are 2017 prices.)
Just look at these prices! I like avocados a little smaller – creamier – so I opted for the 45 peso bin. At the time of this writing, that’s $2.55 per kilo (2.2 pounds)! Who’s getting anywhere near that stateside? Can you tell I’m in ecstasy?
Why is the price so jacked up stateside? Corporate greed, and litigious greed from citizens looking to make a buck wherever, whenever, however they can. Before I digress further, back to the size of this market.
Every time we turned a corner, it went on and on and on, as far as our eyes could see. It was actually a bit overwhelming, and somewhat claustrophobic inside for me, especially around the carcasses for sale. I cannot stand the smell of dead flesh and blood, so I do not linger in these aisles as the spouse buys his meat. (Often, these aisles are wet with some kind of liquid, maybe a blood, bleach, water mix. Ick! Flip-flops are not recommended.) I always wander off to a safe distance and observe.
There is so much to see in any market – but especially this one because of the sheer size of it. Women with bins approach and ask if you’d like some chapulines, or grasshoppers, sometimes a flavor of barbacoa, or barbecue.
Older people wear shopping bags on their arms and ask if you’d like to buy a reusable bag. Women from the fields sit in corners with their produce spread out on any kind of blanket or cloth they have handy.
Some women loudly announce what they’re selling, over and over and over. Other women simply sit there and stare off into space, leaving me to wonder where they are, where they came from, if they’ll make enough money for the week at this market.
Old men meet up and shoot the shit. We rounded one corner and heard an older gentleman speak a bit of English to us: did we want to buy one of goods? He had been sitting with his friend, and they’d been chatting as we came upon them.
Tedly explained our story, as he’s done so many times before. We are budget slow travelers with no home and we are always on the go so we don’t buy any goods because we travel light. The man understood and wanted to chit chat anyway. So Tedly ended up buying a small change purse for just over a dollar. The man was happy.
We made a little more small talk and in his broken English, he agreed that Trump is the devil (ok, ok… he only said Trump was no good). He wished us well as we went on our way – down more aisles with more goods and more people and more… everything.
So much we needed a break!
The mercado is a tourist draw, yet we didn’t see any other Caucasians there that afternoon. Doesn’t mean they weren’t any there — the place is a gigantic, intricate labyrinth.
After nearly three hours of wandering the roughly four-acre site, we decided to cross the street and sit in a bar for some refreshments. Bar Toc was a pleasant enough place to get a bit of rest. I don’t go into too many Mexican bars, since I have no reason to as a non-drinker. But it was hot, the bar was close, I was nearly dizzy from our market experience, and we were thirsty. Bar Toc is on Periferico across from the market.
You can’t miss it
And where is the market? It spans several city blocks. More like a chunk of the city.
Here is a link to a Google map. Click on the link – it’s easier to just show you a map.
Holy cow! I’m tired from just writing this blog entry and uploading all the pictures. How’d I ever survive in real time?! Mercado de Abastos was quite the adventure. It’s probably still busy on days other than Saturday, but why not go when it’s jam packed to the hilt? It’s a little chaotic and crowded, but a ton of fun.