Flor de Jamaica, hibiscus flowers, used in Mexican cooking.
Merced is a neighborhood in the southeast sector of Oaxaca’s Centro, a quiet mostly residential area, less upscale but no less interesting than farther north and it seemed to me friendlier in general than the more touristed parts of the city. My walks during my previous visit hadn’t brought me to Merced so this time I made a point to visit and no surprise, the local indoor market was the focus of my day’s outing.
The other big indoor markets in town, Benito Juarez and especially the biggest, Centro de Abasto, I’d been warned about. They’re both solidly on the tourist trail and I’d been told to be careful in both. I’d had an unpleasant encounter, a curious near-assault by an ancient lady half my size at Abasto while I was taking a photo of a pile of pottery a year before. I was very pleased to find an altogether welcoming atmosphere in the Merced Market, sellers amused as I took pictures of their produce with gracious permission. “Why,” I could hear them laughing silently to themselves.
Cheese, Eggs, Meat
Mercado de Merced isn’t huge like the better known indoor markets I’d visited last time. I walked up and down the aisles seeing what was different about this one, other than the size. I find it interesting how every market I visit in this city seems to have an individual personality, in the items offered for sale and in the interactions invited, or not invited, by the merchants. Maybe because this one sees far fewer tourists I felt more welcome than in others, treated more in the way I imagined the neighborhood people would be, because it’s just their usually way of interacting, not one way for visitors and another for locals. It felt good.
My final stop was at the back of the building where there’s an area filled with tables and benches and food vendors around the edges. It was late for lunch but Fonda Florecita was still showing signs of life. It had been recommended to me so I ordered and was served an enormous plate of food, some of which they packed for me to take home. In all ways, it had been a satisfying afternoon.
Next week, a visit just outside the city, to
expat favorite, San Felipe del Agua.
2017's Back to Oaxaca, all episodes.
PortMoresby's first trip to Oaxaca, Anatomy of a Trip.
To read others of PortMoresby’s contributions, click here.