A Few Hours in Joco for the Newbie

On Thursday, 29 March, my friends Dale and Brent came over to Joco from their home west of Ajijic to check out our weekly outdoor market (tianguis). They’ve been through Joco on their way elsewhere, but had never actually spent any time here before.

Recently, however, having heard me and mutual friends talk about the Joco tianguis, Dale wanted to check it out.  So I told her I would give her a guided tour of not only the tianguis, but of the mercado [central market] and some of the shops thereabouts, as well as our local supermarket.  So that’s what we did.

Dale and Brent, accustomed as they are to the Ajijic tianguis, were left pretty much speechless by the Joco tianguis for several reasons.

First of all, the lack of gringos.  Gringos pretty much predominate the Ajijic tianguis, particularly in the winter when the snowbirds are here.  And because that’s their primary customer base, the vendors at the Ajijic tianguis wisely cater to them.   The vendors there sell lots of souvenir [artisanal] items, lots of fresh cut flowers for the gringo vases, and lots of prepared foods geared toward gringo appetites.  The picture below shows pretty much the extent of the “prepared food” in Joco, although there are a couple of pizza stands.  And the stuff in the middle of this picture?  Ay yi yi, HOT, HOT, HOT!  But delicious!

The Joco tianguis, on the other hand, is slanted toward the utilitarian and there are very few gringos in sight.  Besides the three of us, I saw three other gringos today.  Two shopping and one, my friend Larry, who helps out at a vendor stand there.  Instead of the souvenir, flower, and prepared food stands you find at the Ajijic tianguis, at the Joco tianguis you’ll find lots of clothing, shoes, fruits and vegetables, and household goods.

The second thing that my friends were impressed by were the streets here in Joco.   Not only at the tianguis, but throughout Joco.   The cobblestones that predominate in Ajijic certainly have an allure, but when you have to walk on them, they’re not so much fun when you’re older.  The street on which the Ajijic tianguis is held is thoroughly cobblestoned, as are most of the streets in Ajijic.  They’re lovely to look at, but tough to navigate.  Not just for old gringos, but for young Mexican moms pushing a stoller or elderly Mexican women using a walker.

However, the street upon which the Joco tianguis takes place is flat…with the exception of a few topes [speed bumps] which exist because the street is a main thoroughfare for vehicles except on tianguis day.  Easier for everyone to get around, from the gringo and Mexican older folks to the mothers pushing a baby stroller.

This p;hoto isn’t of the tianguis itself, but is of the street that leads up to the tianguis and the street there is the same.

The third thing that Dale, in particular, liked about the Joco tianguis was the prices.  Frankly, I’m so used to shopping in Joco, that I’m not sure how prices compare to Ajijic and other gringo enclaves.  But Dale thinks that she was getting some really good deals here in Joco.  Not just at the tianguis, but at the other places that I took her to.

And, honestly, I’m pretty sure she’s right.  There are some things that I know for a fact that we pay less for here.   Berries being a big one.  Personally, I’m not a big berry eater.  And by berry I mean strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.  But the folks here in Jocotepec municipality grow all those things in abundance.  So naturally the prices would be less.  A plastic container of berries in the Ajijic area that would cost you 15 to 20 pesos costs you about half that in Joco.

Fruits and vegetables are really inexpensive around here when they are in season.  For example, at the Joco tianguis on 29 March, there were some great deals on poblano peppers (the big green ones that you use for chili rellenos).  Ten pesos [78 cents at today’s exchange rate] for a kilo [2.2 pounds].  And a kilo is a lot of chilies!  White onions were five pesos per kilo (that’s 39 cents for 2.2 pounds).  Same price for carrots.

So what did I buy at the tianguis?  Limes, russet-type potatoes, carrots, beets, and a nice packet of chopped veggies to use as a base for soups or stews.

I use the limes in or on all sorts of things.   I use them in my iced tea.  I squeeze them over fruit salads; makes the fruit taste better and keeps it from turning dark.  I love vinegar on french fries, and I also love lime juice on them.

The potatoes will go into a hamburger, onion, mushroom soup, and cheese casserole that will feed me for days.

I pickle the beets or just eat them cooked if they are sweet enough.

The packet of chopped veggies came in handy when I came down with a bad cold and/or the flu last Friday night.  I cooked them in a chicken broth and added some chicken to them, along with seasonings and a 25 cent bag of pasta, and made the Mexican equivalent of chicken noodle soup.  Good for my illness and good for the soul!

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About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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One Response to A Few Hours in Joco for the Newbie

  1. Mike Osborn says:

    That was an outstanding trip down the tienquis and Mercado streets! I too get a kick out of the difference between the Ajijic and Joco tienguis. They are so different due to their audience. Don’t much care for Chapala’s tienguis as it is primarily a Joco one on steroids. Even the size of the Joco tienguis can be intimidating. Thank you as always for your insights.

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