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The market in Puerto Escondido is fairly typical of markets in Mexico. It is open everyday but there are two special days when people bring their stuff to sell from the countryside. These two days the food is fresher and the junk is more plentiful. Two days when the streets of Puerto Escondido are a little more crowded because there are more trucks form far away bringing people to shop and things to sell. Of the two main market days in Puerto, Saturday is the largest. In fact there is one street that closes to traffic and is set up with a tent roof and hardware type stuff is displayed. The people who set up under the tent come from far and wide and travel to other markets around the state of Oaxaca to carry on their business. When the market was first moved to where it is now it was not well planned. Everything seemed to be thrown together without much thought.
There wasn’t a roof where they sold food and flowers and meat so the the vendors brought their old corrugated roofs with them when they moved from the old market. The meat was mixed in with the veggies and fruit. The flowers were with the clay pots. The shoes were with the tortillas and the cheese was in the same area as the fresh juice and the cooked food was everywhere. Over time the new market evolved and different sections were moved to different places. New permanent roofs were installed. The ground was dug up and plumbing and drainage and wiring were put in. They put in another area just for restaurants. Now there are two areas you can buy cooked food. Some of the best cooked food in Puerto Escondido can be found in the market and it seems like everybody has their own favorite place to eat in the mercado. The prices for meals are the cheapest in town. There is cooked fish, eggs, enchiladas, mole, chicken, sopes, tacos, soup, liquados, chile rellenos, steak, pork, juice and much much more.
In the new market there is an area just for meat and chicken. And there is another area for fish. Flowers have their own area and the fruit and veggies take up the biggest area. Also there is an area for clothes and shoes and paper and tablecloths and hats and music.
The market used to be located where the “Parque”/Zocolo is now. (1st street and 1st street as it is described by some people.) In the early 70s the market was in it’s old location. It was a really funky affair. Wiring was thrown up as it was needed. Plumbing was only a faucet that was put in long after the market opened. The roofs were corrugated metal and were very low. Most of the Mexicans had no problem with the low roofs but many gringos would hit their head often enough to have permanent scar because gringos tend to be a little taller than the little old ladies that run the market. Puerto Escondido was small enough then so that the little bit of space the market occupied was big enough to supply the whole town. The market moved to it’s current location somewhere around 1987 and when it did move, the people, vendors and clients alike, didn’t want to go.
The market had been there for years and years and years. Everybody thought the new location was too far away. “Nobody would go all the way up there” was what most people were saying. “What a stupid idea” was another refrain. Many of the stall owners in the old location refused to move. After a little bit of time they were told to move or somebody would do the moving for them. And that is what happened. One day the authorities came and moved out the few people who didn’t want to change and the area was cleaned out. There were a lot of people who really felt bad for the stall owners. It was pretty amazing to see foreigners get all worked up in Puerto Escondido about progress. The old market was really an eyesore and was not clean or well planned but people had always gone there and were used to it. They didn’t want to see it changed or moved. But it was moved and it ended up being bigger and better.
The people who thought the new market was too far away from the town center were wrong. They were wrong about nobody going there. They were wrong about the
vendors not making any money because there would not be enough people. As time has shown, Puerto Escondido has grown to the point where the new market is a very busy place and the old vendors who are left from the old market are making more money than they thought possible. The new market was given the name of one of Oaxaca’s most famous and beloved people. The new market is named Mercado Benito Juarez. As mentioned previously, the Benito Juarez Market is busiest on two days of the week and of those two days, Saturday, is the busiest. The other busy day is Wednesday. The Benito Juarez Market may be smaller than the Oaxaca or Guadalajara markets but it seems no less busy.
On Saturdays people come from all over to buy and sell their supplies for the week. There is fish caught the night before, and freshly butchered chicken, beef, pork and goat. In the beef section you can find cow heads and tails hanging among the ribs and shoulders and hooves and flanks. In other parts of the market you can find flowers that were cut the day before. There are Gladiolas, Roses, Chrysanthemums, Cal Lilies, Gardenias, and those blue flowers that we buy all the time. And it seems like thousands of other kinds of flowers are there as well. If you are going to buy produce you will be dazzled by the availability of so many different kinds of fruit and veggies. At times it is possible find a few different types of wild mushrooms. There have been Oyster Mushrooms and Chanterelles and Morels and Matsutaki mushrooms. If you need fresh garbanzo beans you will find them in the produce isles. Sometimes apples from Chile sound good and if you look you will find them in the Benito Juarez Market.
Grapes, mangos, papayas, oranges, limes, pears, plums, peaches, tomatos, and bananas, are just some of the fruit that are available and stacked in beautiful mosaics in the market. The Saturday market brings sellers from all over Mexico. These people travel from market to market every day. That is why markets in different towns are on different days. The traveling vendors bring with them everything you can imagine. Of coarse there is the fruit, veggies and meat and fish and flowers. There are also many other things that people need for everyday life. Did you misplace your blender? On Saturdays you can find many types and makes of blenders. If your blender is only broken you can find the parts to fix it. If that gasket leaks around the bottom where you screw on the blades that do all the chopping and blending and whipping and pureeing and frappéing, you can find it at the Saturday market. If you need a belt, machete, screwdriver, or hammer, you can get it at the Saturday market.
CDs, DVDs and bootlegged cassettes are easy to find as well. Hats and blankets can be found if you know where to look. Pots and pans and lime squeezers. Knives, shoes, flip-flops and high heels. If you need a needle and thread of any color it will be in the market on Saturday. There are pants and shorts and dresses and blouses. Water pumps and hoses are there. Dishes and glasses and forks and spoons can be found. Sure, there are other places in Puerto Escondido that sell all this stuff but on Saturday you can get it all at one place. There is no need to drive all over town and try three different stores to find the correct color thread. All you have to do is go to the Mercado Benito Juarez and you can find it all there. One stop shopping like there has never been one stop shopping before.