Once a week, in just about every pueblo or town around Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico … and likely the same in all other pueblos and towns in Mexico …. there is a tianguis. A tianguis is an open air market where local and roving vendors throw up a temporary stand and sell their goods.
Around Lake Chapala, the three “big” tianguis are those in Chapala [Mondays], Ajijic [Wednesdays], and Jocotepec [Thursdays, with a smaller one on Sundays]. And, if plunked down in the middle of one of those three, I feel pretty certain that within a minute I could figure out where I was.
Chapala’s tianguis is huge. It goes on for blocks and blocks and is filled with vendors purveying lots of food, lots of clothing, lots of everyday needs. Ajijic’s tianguis, not surprisingly, has a lot of souvenir items, prepared food stands, and flower sellers. You know, the things that gringos want and will buy.
Joco‘s tianguis is more similar to Chapala’s, but on a much smaller scale. The tianguis runs about the equivalent of two blocks. And the majority of stands sell what the locals need or want to buy … fruits and vegetables, underwear, clothes, shoes, tshirts, and music CDs.
Last Thursday, my friend Sher and I went to Joco’s tianguis primarily because we were both craving soup and this is the best place to buy the makings thereof. But you never know just what you’re going to come across at the tianguis….and I wound up buying some things that I didn’t even know I needed until I saw them!
You know, kinda like going to the five and dime store when you were a kid, or like going to Target or KMart or Walmart as an adult. Here in my area of Mexico, we don’t have Target or KMart and we have one Walmart but it’s at least 30 minute drive to get there through Ajijic, so those of us who live in Joco pretty much don’t run over there on any regular basis.
So Sher and I hit the Joco tianguis. Here’s what it looks like….and that’s Sher walking ahead of me with her reusable shopping bag. Because, you know, we’re really good about that down here!
One of the things that always amazes me at the Joco tianguis is the selection of underwear for women….i.e. bras and panties. In the US, these items are always wrapped up in plastic containers and only shown in the “ladies section” as if there is something naughty about them. Here in Joco….not so much!
They pretty much just scream “Here we are! Look at us because we’re so pretty!” And they really are!
Women of the US and Canada, when was the last time you saw bras laid out like this. And when was the last time you felt you could walk into your local WalMart and pick up a turquoise bra???
And, no, folks, there is no snickering amongst the male population about the overt display of these women’s undergarments. Just another part of the tianguis that boys and men are accustomed to here in my part of Mexico.
Yet another thing that differs from the US: I’m not sure how many of you saw and/or remember Michael Moore’s first documentary, Roger and Me, but in it he spoke with a woman who was selling rabbits “for food or pets.” Well, pretty much the same thing down here, except more frequently at the tianguis with chickens.
Scenes like this constantly appall my pet loving friends here, particularly when the animals involved are cute and fluffy, like chicks or rabbits. I, however, am made of tougher stuff. Unless, of course, it involves my friend the pig who lived next door to me in San Cristobal Zapotitlan and then disappeared one day shortly before Christmas. And, when asked about his disappearance, the owner, Senora Elvira, said, in answer to my question, “Pig? What pig?”
But back to the Joco tianguis. What else can one purchase? I’ve mentioned before that between the tianguis, the mercado, and the small and large grocery stores here, one can get anything they want, like at Alice’s Restaurant. And it’s really true. Here are some of the other things that were for sale at the tianguis:
And my favorite picture from the tianguis is this. Shoes and caps for sale, and a smiling gent to serve you!
And I’ll say it again, my friends! Please come on down to visit! And I’ll definitely take you to the tianguis!