Jenny McGill is back with us today with Pt. II of her guest post, Baby Boomers in Mexico!
Come spend one Saturday morning with me in this mountain village, Talpa de Allende. My neighbors are decorating their houses for the coming Christmas holiday. They are planning their posadas and piñata parties.
Today is Dia de Tianguis. Tianguis is like a street market. Local vendors and people from big cities like Guadalajara bring their goods to town every fifteen days and set up stands on a pre-designated street. My shopping list is made; I’m dressed in a warm sweater that I can take off when the sun burns off the fog. In a shopping bag I have packed my watch that stopped running last week, the blender that I dropped yesterday morning and a piece of fabric that I want to take to the dressmaker.
Memo, the watch fixer is close to the front of the line of vendors. He has a shop in town, but always sets up his stand in the street on Tianguis Day. We greet each other and I ask after his children. He tells me to leave my watch while I do the shopping.
We pass the fisherman’s truck, several fruit and vegetable stands that we will visit on our way back up the street. The cassette stand is blaring out mariachi music; the lingerie stand has some mighty sexy underwear on display and the potted plant man has huge poinsettias for the equivalent of $3.00. He has brought in scarlet, pink and white ones this year. I like red in my house at Christmastime. Perhaps you’ll pick the pink.
Further down the street Chela and Raul are dicing mango, papaya and watermelon. You can buy a 15 ounce cup of a mixture of your choice for 1.00. Chela offers to squeeze fresh lime juice over it and sprinkle with hot chili powder and salt if you like.
We stroll on down past the shoes, socks and handbags. The next table is loaded with herbs and spices and next to that is my blender man. He has run an electric cable from a friend’s house behind his stand so he can check out the appliances. He works on blenders, hair dryers, irons and sewing machines. The next table is loaded with brightly colored yarns, threads, stamped cloths ready to be embroidered, needles, zippers and scissors. I pick out a spool of thread to match the fabric in my bag and you spot some funny iron-on patches to cover the hole in your kid’s britches.
Manuel has brought his espresso coffee machine to market today and the smell is enticing, but we’re still munching on fruit.
Time for the heavy stuff. My favorite produce man is Roberto. His helpers are still unloading his truck parked behind his stand. Cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, bean sprouts, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lettuce pile up before him. You pick out snow peas, strawberries, bananas and pineapple. Robert weighs our purchases on an old scale, and he calls out the total as he goes, “Quince, treinta, treinta dos, cuarenta.” We have bought enough fruit and vegetables to last us almost all week for about $9.00.
I pick up the blender. Cost for new jar: $5.00. My watch needed a new battery. Memo tells me, “My price to you is the equivalent of $3.00 and a smile for the work.”
We check out the fisherman’s truck. It all looks and smells fresh. I choose a big red snapper for $3.50 and you offer to fix your favorite shrimp recipe for lunch. One kilo in the shell, a bit on the large size for what he calls medium costs ten dollars. That’s enough to serve four easily.
We continue on our route, stopping at the chicken man’s store buying chicken and fresh country eggs. We stop by the meat market with the red banner flying out front that indicates there was a fresh kill this morning. Pork ribs, chops, ground round and beef for a stew rounds out our shopping.
In total, we have spent under $50.00 for enough food for four people for a week. Throw in a bit of rice, beans and tortillas or bread and you might go to $55.00.
Yes, I believe Baby Boomers can still live well in Mexico.
Jenny McGill is the author of the memoir, DRAMA & DIPLOMACY: IN SULTRY PUERTO VALLARTA. You can visit her website at www.mjmcgill.com.