Melaque Adventures, Part 6, Lagoon and Market Day

I followed the path taken each morning by Heather to her yoga retreat location, down Hidalgo all the way to the water fountain, probably four kilometres from our hotel. Passing from Melaque through San Patricio and finally into Obregon, cobblestone streets give way to dirt roads, lined with simple Mexican dwellings where chickens and roosters run free and neighborhood dogs are everywhere. I get the sense that dogs play a significant role in the lives of the Mexican people because they are not just in these residential areas, but in stores, on sidewalks and on the beach. And apart from a pair of barking vicious guard dogs behind one fence, they have all been remarkably docile.

Interspersed between the farm-like encampments and empty lots splattered with refuse are modest winter escapes and elaborate villas, built with new world money. It's a strange juxtaposition, wealth co-existing with third-world poverty, but it works.

The studio is very close to Laguna del Tule, a lush habitat filled with exotic birds, lily pads and water creatures, including alligators that can grow to 12 or 15 feet. I looked hard for a pair of beady eyes poking up from the water to no avail.

 What's fascinating to me is that children, dogs and neighborhood cats cavort along a street that runs parallel to the lagoon with not a care in the world for what lurks under the water. It seems that they've found a way to co-exist over the years.

Yesterday was Market Day, when vendors set-up shop along a number of different streets and on a dusty dirt soccer pitch. They were setting up early in the morning when I cruised through on my way to the lagoon, getting ready to sell myriad household items: pants, shirts, bras, belts, underwear, cd's, dvd's, hardware items and the like. We went back in the afternoon with Heather as she had a little bit of time-off from her teaching commitments.

My eyes were drawn to an elegantly carved sea turtle, hewn from an impressively dense, dark, wood.

"Quanta?" I asked.

"For you my friend, only 400 pesos," said the vendor.

"What kind of wood is this?" I asked. He told me. I paused.

"OK, because it is the end of the day, special price for you, 350 pesos."

"Who is it that makes these?" I asked.

"These are made by my family," he replied, citing a familiar response that I've heard many times while shopping in Mexico, only to turn the corner and see the exact same piece being sold two vendors down the way.

"How about 325 pesos," he shouted as I smiled to myself and walked on.

In the end I bought a cutting board (which we need) for 100 pesos and a trio of ceramic numbers to replace the crappy brass ones denoting our house number back home.

Replicate items were splashed through the market mirroring many of the things on display in the myriad shops and street vendors throughout this small community on the Pacific coast. I guess if shopping was your forte, you would be able to scope out the prices marked in the store and haggle a better price from the floating sellers or the vendors on market day. I'm not so inclined.

We ended our Wednesday in Mexico by eating at a rooftop establishment and once again were treated to some awesome food. Our evening dining experiences have been consistently surprising and satisfying, not to mention affordable. We've enjoyed meals for four, complete with drinks and desserts at an average price of CAN $75. In Playa the price was north of that amount by at least $50.

It is Thursday afternoon now. I've been on a long walk already followed by a two-hour swim in the ocean with the boys. I was a little worried because I had swum out to retrieve a dead pufferfish to show the boys, as I had run into a number of these on my long walk down the beach this morning. Covered with porcupine-like quills, I was careful not to inadvertently poke myself or the boys. Unfortunately, when we were done admiring the grisly thing, I tossed it out into the waves. But eventually, it made its way back, and was smashed into my ankles after a particularly large swell. Four or five little spots were slightly bleeding as I decided this was a perfect time to get out of the sun and into regular clothes in case I started to puff up and needed to get transported to the nearest hospital. Two hours have passed and I'm still alive. Just another day in Melaque.


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