Late Wednesday morning, my dad and I took a taxi into San Miguel. I was interested in looking for souvenirs off the main strip, Avenida Rafael E. Melgar. We found a small shop where Dad bought a purple Cozumel hat for Mom (she had forgotten to pack a sun hat) and I bought Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera fridge magnets and received a Frida-Diego bill in change!
See the Frida Kahlo side of the 500 peso bill above (500 pesos=$27USD). We walked a few blocks and I stopped in a variety store for directions to the market and bought two music CDs: Elvis Crespo and Aidas Cuevas, a female mariachi.
Dad and I wandered following the general directions and arrived at the municipal market where the locals buy fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. The nearly noon sun had melted us. We entered the market looking for refreshment.
I talked with the employee of one of the market restaurants to ask if we ordered first or could seat ourselves at a table. She showed us a table and took our order. I asked for, “Dos Coca-colas por favor, señorita. I was looking forward to tasting it. Mexican Coca-Cola still uses the original formula sweetened with cane sugar. We enjoyed the treat.
After our break, we went to a store across from the market on Calle 3 Sur that featured artisan work from Chiapas. I learned from the shop owner’s son that the embroidery work they sell is made by their relatives on the mainland. He spoke with me in Spanish, and spoke Maya with his father.
I am a big fan of Maya embroidery. It’s traditional art where each distinct pattern represents a pueblo. Women weavers have been making these geometric shapes for generations. Their textiles have enduring beauty. The small bags and clothing below were hand-loomed rather than patterned by a sewing machine. I saw several sewn on a machine as well. In time, the custom of weaving may become a lost art.
Both of these embroideries above show corn symbols, the right one is more abstract. According to Maya legend, humans were made from corn. This is a central Maya symbol.
I believe we bumped into a fair trade experience, buying directly from the relatives of the artisans at the Chiapas store. However, the magnets we bought earlier that day don’t say their country of origin, and the Cozumel hat sadly is made in China. We didn’t expect the Chinese-made goods; our aim was to support the Mexican economy. We’ll be more savvy consumers the next time we have the luck to be in tropical climes.
A parting story, my aunt liked the earrings that I purchased at the shop and asked me to take her there. When I gave the taxi driver directions, I told him it was across from the Benito Juarez Market. He was incredulous. “You want to go to *our* market!” We did. We shopped at the Chiapas store then bought Mexican Coca-Colas in the market dining area afterwards. Ah, two perfect outings: both with two Cokes and two smiles.
What souvenirs do you look for?
Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco. Olé! –Rebecca