The Mother of all Markets

San Miguel de Allende is a small place, but its Tuesday market is a big, big world. We went to the huge El Tianguis market on the edge of town, and everything, everything was waiting for us there.

Cowboy boots in size six for a  nephew back home, sparkling new car radio, every single brand new movie, including Oscar contenders and porn –bootlegged to an quality worthy of a home theatre – SMA 997tortillas with half purple, half-white corn meal; in fact, a fantasyland of food to eat – steamed, fried, stuffed, roasted or dried; and mountains of food with magical properties – herbs in big plastic bags marked for the ailment it treats: arthritis, fever. Cancer.

Market day is one day a week, but to sample a fraction of the food, made fresh today from a thousand years of tradition, would take at least a year of Tuesdays. And finding the perfect pair of shoes from the mountains of actually pretty good-looking shoes that are heaped on the rows and rows of tables would take a month of Tuesdays.

SMA 999And it would take at least one entire Tuesday to visit every vendor who had Aéropostale hoodies, which were looking fresh the day we were there. CNN said the chain had closed 75 stores just before Christmas, and here it was mid-January and the stock had already migrated south where it could live a new pink or green cool at the Tuesday market. So Aéropostale is written with a French accent. So? This is a welcoming, tolerant, democratic Tuesday market.SMA 993 The police are there to make sure it’s so – at least we hoped that’s what they were there for: they wore full body armour, balaclavas so the drug lords couldn’t recognize them and exact revenge (someone said) and carried Kalashnikovs, and if they weren’t working for the Polizia Municipale, we were all potentially in big trouble. Of course, that depends on who you ask. The familes of the 43 young people who went missing in 2014 in Iguala at the hands of the police would tell you another story. And there was nothing you could buy, trade, steal or eat at the market that would change that.

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story © Dianna Carr         images © Francis Tremblay