The big market in town is named mercado grande, which translates to, well, big market. There is definitely truth in advertising. The big market is large and sprawling and confusing and busy and hectic and awesome and inexpensive. You can purchase just about everything at the market, if you can find it.
The big market is on both sides of a main street, but that’s just a fraction of it. Down every alleyway, in every corner and every nook, there is a vendor. Most vendors occupy a simple 8′ x 8′ section with a plywood table, four posts and a piece of cloth overhead for shade. The vendors are right up against each other.
The vendors go back and back and back and left and right in a near unintelligible maze of colors and smells and sights. There must be thousands of vendors in the confusing maze of the market. It has taken a couple of trips to somewhat find our way around. In a claustrophobics nightmare, during busy times, there are thousands of people jostling for space along the narrow paths between vendors.
Mercado grande is the cheapest place to buy just about anything, but you have to know what your looking for. There is little organization as the used shoe vendor is next to the material seller who is next to the vegetable merchant who is next to the hair dresser….
This is a locals market. You don’t find many foreigners wandering the aisles of mercado grande. When we wonder through we get all kinds of stares and calls, “whitey, buy this,” or “whitey, what do you want to buy?” There aren’t any big ticket items here, but then again, most people who shop here couldn’t afford big ticket items.
Mercaco grande is fun, and inexpensive and very cultural. It may take a few more trips to learn to navigate the winding isles and the abundant shops, but we’ll get it.