A great number of things in Mexico are named for the country’s most beloved historical leader, Benito Juarez, born in a Zapotec village in the State of Oaxaca. It’s fitting, then, that the original market in the city is named for their native son. Just south of the ZÓcalo, the heart of the colonial Centro district, the atmosphere changes from grand, upscale and refined to the multi-use buildings and congested streets of middle and working-class Oaxacans.
Infinitely more interesting than a modern supermarket and occupying a full city block, the building is cavernous and haphazardly lit, with categories of goods providing a loosely organized basis for finding what a shopper is looking for along the narrow aisles. Prices reflect the local nature of much of what’s on offer, with some tourist-directed goods, as well. But even then, there are bargains here. The colorful woven plastic shopping basket I bought, for instance, the kind used by locals and tourists alike, was offered to me for $170 (pesos) at the mercado and $250 in a more upscale shop north of the ZÓcalo, a markup of nearly 50%.
Some sellers specialize, while others seem to have a bit of everything. There are no other places where “variation on a theme” is as apparent and, in my experience, no more photogenic places in earth than those where people come together to buy their food.
A Market Gallery, Mercado Benito Juarez
Chiles, endless choices...
Places to eat...
...and to buy a particular souvenir.
Next week, Books.
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