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Bad Expat: Changing My Marketing Strategy

I knew there was a mercado in Chelem but I never went inside until today. Waiting for the combi in the heat of early afternoon in centro you can smell sun-drenched entrails, past-peak produce and the overwhelming scent of ripening flowers. I would watch repelled, the lazy dogs that lay in wait for discarded scraps of food. I took pains to step over the river of liquid waste that streamed into the street. You don’t want your chanklas wet with that. Nothing tempted me to venture into the dark arcade.

I did my shopping at the grocery store. Which is not, oddly, the choice I make in the States. There I, of course seek out farmers markets, side of the road fruit stands, and whole foods stalls. I buy the neighbor’s zucchini and tomatoes. I appreciate the local, the seasonal, the unrefrigerated bounty bursting with juicy goodness. But not here. Here, the gigantic brightly lit and briskly air-conditioned supermarkets are a comfort, an easy to identify with aspect of transitioning to life here. The buzzing blue W pulled me into its gravitational orbit; finally, I am fighting to be free.

In the States you feel fresh, pure and organic when you buy direct from the grower. There is a lightness like you get from going to confession. You feel connected but clean. You feel earthy but never dampen your canvas flats. Everything you see is chlorophyll colorful and glistening, untainted like the lotus that grows from the muck. It is a beautiful, sun-filled, pleasing experience. Nothing like the markets here.

Here it is so vivid and exposed, visceral, but balanced really. You see the ugly insides of animals but also the beauty of violet red radishes. You get the dirt and sweat and filth and all, the whole picture, the reality. Sometimes it reeks. Sometimes it seems difficult to look at directly. And then you realize that it isn’t terrible or tragic. It’s kind of divine. It is women who are smiling selling onions and apples, peppers and bananas and garlic and melons and chickens and roses. It’s just life like it happens every single day here and I can choose to participate more because it makes me happy.

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. The local markets including the new one in Progreso are not very inviting. They’re filthy in fact but I still use them and choose to shop there over San Fransico or Aurrera.

    Its a different story however back in the bush in the small pueblos like Uman, Mani or larger towns like Motul or Oxkutzcab. Those markets are wonderful. I swear you could eat off the gleaming floors in Motul. The pride and presentation of the vendors and comedores is in sharp contrast to the rather slovenly approach taken along the coast.

  2. Seriously? Motul?

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