Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mexico City - On Saturday I Shopped

As Mexico City sprawled it swallowed up and annexed everything and anything in it's path. This is the case with the small, charming town of San Angel. An art fair and bazaar is held there on Saturdays. As I had only the single day to take advantage of this shopping opportunity, I hopped on the Metro.

Coming up from the Metro station I was not greeted with the charm I had anticipated. On one corner stood a large, featureless grocery store with an equally large and featureless parking lot. On another corner stood a Walmart. Along the sidewalk were carts vending odd and ends and prepackaged foods. I took a deep breath and set off in the direction my map told me to go.

The bland, frankly speaking, ugliness, lasted only a block or two before giving way to more visually appealing vistas. I first came upon a classic Art Deco style monument set in a lush park. A reflecting pool sported fountains spraying jets of water into the air. Going further, the advertised charm of the area continued to reveal itself. Colonial homes painted bright colors sat along cobblestone streets. A hacienda, the rooms around it's courtyard filled with the vibrant tones of flowers and small citrus trees had been converted into shops selling, soaps, scents, clothes and jewelry. Across the street a traffic triangle had been filled with tented stalls which sold everything from jewelry to vintage iron work. I found a vintage bottle opener, a jovial, slightly drunken looking, metal face with protruding teeth to snap off the bottle caps, irresistible, taking it with me. It graces the wall of our kitchen.

An adjacent park exhibited artwork. Bands performed in the parks bandshell. In an old church a Quinceanera was being held. Teenage Mexican boys were arriving looking somewhat uncomfortable in their tuxedos with their bright red cummerbunds and ties. On the far side of the park sat another, larger, hacienda. The shops in this one were more upscale then those in the first. An elegant restaurant, extremely busy, filled the courtyard. Vendors wandered through the streets and park carrying a variety of wares. Purchasing gifts, plus the bottle opener, I headed back to the Metro, stopping at a couple of the small shops on the street along the way.

After dropping my bags in my room I headed out again. I was staying just a short distance from the Zona Rosa, known as a tourist area, hence rife with shopping possibilities. I wandered through the silver market. Getting low on pesos I attempted to make a purchase with a credit card, figuring I would hit an ATM later. The proprietor, not wanting to the pay the price the credit card company would charge him for the transaction, accompanied me to a nearby ATM carrying the item I wanted to purchase with him. He was not about to lose the sale. I crossed the street and moseyed through a building lined with shops selling opulent antiques. More modest items were displayed on blankets laid out between the indoor shops.

My final stop was in a store to take a closer look at a black leather blazer I had been admiring in their window since my arrival. Figuring I would have to have the sleeves shortened, nothing ever fits me without having to be altered, I tried it on. It fit perfectly. I looked at the price and attempted to calculate pesos into dollars in my head. Giving up I mimed to the salesperson, who spoke no English, calculator movements. She understood, produced one and I did a rough calculation. Pleasantly surprised by the results I snapped up the blazer, this time using the credit card. At this point I, and my budget, were exhausted.

Returning once again to my room to drop off my packages I left the guesthouse to go to dinner. Walking across one of the broad pedestrian plazas a blanket filled with an array of stainless steel jewelry stopped me in my tracks. I had, as it turned out, not worn any jewelry when I left the room, which for me is almost unbelievable. By the time I got to dinner I was sporting a new necklace and ring.

After dinner that night I hit a couple of bars. All they sold was alcohol.

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