Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock

Live Chickens, Auto Parts, and Sexy Lingerie

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Peeling oranges

Last Sunday, following somewhat vague directions from two gringo friends, we caught the early car ferry and headed off to Cancun to explore the Sunday market.  

Holy cow, it’s huge.  The market takes place only on Sundays, starting early in the morning, and ending around two in the afternoon.  It is located at the western end of Lopez Portillo Avenue in Cancun near one of the many Chedraui Grocery Stores, and across the street from the bright orange building of a company called Arcelor Mittal.  We wandered up and down a mere handful of the dozens of streets encompassing the marketplace. 

We were quickly engulfed in dense crowds of shoppers shuffling past countless tiny impromptu stores, with merchants shouting out inducements to buy their wares.  It reminded me of market day in a French village!
Dog kibble and eggs for sale

We meandered past stalls displaying eggs in flats of 30, piled on a table, unrefrigerated as is the custom here in Mexico, Europe, and South American countries.  The reasoning is that the people typically operate on a fundamental just-in-time principal for food purchases and eggs are better at room temperature for baking and cooking.  You can purchase one/two/three eggs and since home refrigerators are so small, or nonexistent most people do not buy more eggs than what they need for the next meal.  In some stores, you can buy eggs that were laid that day.

The eggs occasionally come decorated with little feathers and aromatic chicken poop.  Eggs apparently last longer if you don’t wash them until just before you use them.  I was told that it was because there is a light film on the outside of the egg that helps keep bacteria out. 

One of many stalls selling fresh fish

These eggs are not date stamped with a “Fresh Before” date that we see in our manufacturing plant-style eggs that roll off the assembly lines and are trucked to the major North American cities for distribution. The difference in taste between a just-laid egg, and a long-distance-market-egg is amazing, with bright yellow, firm yolks that hold their shape in the frying pan.  Maybe marketplaces like this are the origin of “Buy Fresh Eat Fresh” slogan that marketing gurus like to take credit for inventing.

Other market stalls offered a variety of fresh fish, likely caught the previous night by the large boats that we see in the evenings, fishing just east of our island.  A number of stalls sold small plastic sacks of dry dog food, scooped from the fifty-pound bags, enough to feed the family dog for a day or two.  Keeping open pet food around longer than that is like putting out the welcome mat for cockroaches and their extended families to set up housekeeping.

In between the numerous stalls are tiny restaurants of three or four tables, cooking wonderfully aromatic meals.  The big challenge is there are no public washrooms anywhere in this vast area of private homes and impromptu stores – but for about 30 cents, a number of the home owners will let you use their bathrooms.  Just keep an eye out for the signage.

Flowers and furniture!

Everything imaginable is available for purchase from new and used auto parts, hand-made furniture, fresh flowers, fresh produce, very provocative lingerie in a variety of colours and sizes, shampoo, toys and live chickens. (Er, no thanks! I like fresh, but not that fresh.  I’m the person who can’t look lobsters in the eye when I see them contained in restaurant display tanks, awaiting their fate.)

Unfortunately our Sunday market excursion was cut short by rain. 
We’ll return on another Sunday. 
There is lots more to see.

Hasta Luego
Lynda, Lawrie and Sparky

Murder and Mayhem in paradise.

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