Saturday, July 2, 2011

Memories of Merida - Part 4

It was Saturday morning. On our city map was what appeared to be a quaint marketplace just outside the historical center. After fortifying ourselves with breakfast, we started off on foot. On the way we saw, across the street, a group of men and women in traditional Mayan dress walking towards a large crowd marching down another street a block away. We decided to investigate. A woman in the crowd told us they were marching in support of a political candidate for Governor named Ann Rosa. A woman running for this high a political office is unusual in Mexico. The crowd was a cross section of people. Young, old, gay, straight, traditionally dressed Mayans, business people, all chanting her name as they marched. Even though she was in Mexico City working at the time this did not seem to diminish the fervor of the crowd. The air seemed electrified with the crowd's enthusiasm and support for her. Experiencing the march was one of the magic happenstances of traveling in the manner that I do.

As we neared the market we found ourselves in an area of narrow streets and even narrower sidewalks. We passed stores with roll down garage door shutters in lieu of walls teeming with fabric on bolts, athletic wear and plastic household goods sharing space with inflatable toys a miscellaneous selection of shoes, imitation oriental rugs and cheap tapestries. It being Saturday, the streets were full of humanity. We weaved our way through the sea of people, found an entrance into the market and went in.

It was chaos within. However, in contrast to what we had just witnessed outside, it seemed exceedingly well organized. There were aisle after aisle of stalls. The first would sell plumbing supplies, u joints, faucets, faucet handles, various lengths and sizes of pipes all thrown helter skelter into bins. The next stall sold baby clothes, the next large cooking pots. Behind a low half wall, in full view of the multitudes that walked by, a woman sat in a beauticians chair getting a perm. As we turned a corner we encountered massive burlap bags of animal feed, standing open, with scoops inside waiting to fill your order. Across the aisle were an assortment of chickens, ducks and rabbits in wire cages. I noted that I didn't think they were meant to be pets, I think they were meant to be lunch. We considered, briefly, becoming ecoterrorists and releasing them into the crowded marketplace, just to see what would happen but our better judgement took over and that plan was put to rest. We moved on. Eventually, we found and exit and went from the surreal; enviorment we had just witnessed into the  bright, hot Mexican midday sunlight. As we meandered back to the normality of the city square I remarked on what an interesting and illuminating glimpse of a different culture the mornings adventure had provided us with, how, glad I was that we had had the chance to experience it and how I never wanted to have that experience again., A pitcher of Sangria an lunch soothed our nerves and we returned to the hotel to relax in the pool and prepare for dinner and a visit that evening to one of the few gay bars in the city located some distance away. This was due to, we were told, harassment by the Catholic church which holds great power in Mexico.

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