In case you don’t understand queso de cabra: goat cheese, the kind people at the Pochote Market cheese stand, are here to help you know what you are getting.
Pochote Market is an organic farmers market that draws a lot of wealthy folks and tourists (who speak English and other languages).
Who needs words to make an effective sign? Plus, who can resist an adorable constellation of miniature goats? I can’t!
The first time I went to Ocotlan, I missed the show. Look a this empty plaza, the few people hardly bustling around town.
I was determined to return to capture the colors and energy of a market day, and it was worth the 20 peso, hour bus ride each way — even on a Taco Friday when Oaxaca City already has two excellent farmers’ markets: Pochote in Xochimilco and the tianguis in Llano Park.
I couldn’t help comparing my experience against those I have had in other markets. Initially, I noted people don’t seem to commune in the church grounds as they do in Tlacolula.
It is a non-stop exchange where it is, at times, difficult to tell who is selling what to whom. Sometimes it appeared that the people at the stands were buying more from the people hauling items through the crowded aisles.
Ocotlan’s offering is nearly as sprawling as Tlacolula’s, but it is not as well-organized. In Tlacolula, the differnt types of products seem to be coralled together. There are aisles (which are really streets) as one might find in the supermarket.
However, in Ocotlan, one quite literally runs into roosters in the middle of the mounds and mounds of roma tomatoes or among the bedspreads and again among the shoes. It is a delightfully disorganized scramble that means both more search and more serendipity.
I could buy a pet fish (or mouse) in the market and earrings and socks and bags and bootleg music and videos and almost anything plastic and flowers (and plastic flowers), and Mary K cosmetics.
Some afternoons, I am about to bring home a fish or a plant or one of the rocking chairs with a horse carved into it or an antique iron or a basketball hoop or maybe just a soft blanket for the bed. But I don’t live here.
So I take photos.
This mouse was for sale for 35 pesos, $2.41.
I started this story by saying there were fish for sale at the farmers’ market–and mice. And, M stopped me and said, “Wait, mice to eat?” And, I realized I should have said goldfish and tetras, so I clarified.
The rest of the story is that a mom decided she wanted to hold the mouse to show it to her two-year-old son.
The boy was not as enamored with the mouse as she was.
A young guy interrupted to ask whether they had mouse food in addition to fish food. The salesman explained that he could get some grains and veggies from one of the other market stands.
And, the mouse struggled to escape the mother’s grasp. He finally dropped dramatically to the pavement, landing on all fours.
The mom feared for the mouse’s livelihood. The salesman promised, pantomiming for me (in case I did not understand Spanish), that he fell on his feet (he showed us the palms of his hands) and not on his head (he pointed to his own head).
The mother decided that instead of grabbing the mouse, she’d hold her son up to the aquarium holding the mouse.
He squirmed just as the mouse had.
The wind was blowing just enough to make the ultra sunny day tolerable, and people were in Llano Park celebrating what I like to call Taco Friday. They were also unwinding on the zocalo, outside the cathedral, and in restaurants. Here are some of my favorite views on a Friday.
Today was Taco Friday. As I went to retrieve three carnitas tacos for Mari, I did two laps around the park to determine whether my favorite vendors were around — and approximately where.
At first, I had a hard time warming up to the crowds and asking permission to take photos or surreptitiously snap shots, but when I did inquire, people obliged my requests generously in the park and throughout the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.
These are some of my favorite shots of the day.
I reminded Mari on Thursday evening, “Tomorrow’s Taco Friday.” She seemed as excited about it as I was. On Friday morning, as I was heading out, I cheered, “It’s Taco Friday!” and she clapped. The thing I like most about the way cheap and delicious experience of eating tacos at a stand in the park (and bringing them to Mari) is the joyous activity that fills Llano Park.
Sort of like the Davis Farmers’ Market, another place I love to eat and walk and eat and listen to music and eat, Llano offers even more delicious stands, more than a food court in a mall and way better, more music and variety, and way more color.
It’s a place where people have fun out in the community together. Children can paint on little easels, play ball, rent small vehicles and circle the fountain. Teenagers go there with their crushes and crowds of friends to buy sweets; others break dance. Families find time. It feels good to be a part of it.
As I was sitting on a wall, taking photos, a dog strode into the fountain in front of me. I ran to get a couple of photos. He came to the edge, as if to ask his companion, a man I recognized as a waiter at a local restaurant, if he’d be joining in. When the man didn’t budge, the dog went in to drink from the falling water, and then ran toward me. The waiter, recognizing me, said hello and commented how much the dog enjoys the fountain. He was picking up avocados for the restaurant, and her name is Bacha (I still don’t know his).
As I was showing the kids how to use the camera, they saw the photos of Llano Park and instantly asked, “Parque Llano?” I agreed. As I showed them Bacha, I told them her name. They wanted to know how I could know a dog’s name. I wanted to tell them she told me.