This morning’s orientation exercise was the Mercado Lucas de Gálvez, one of the city’s many vibrant local markets. You know you’re approaching a market in Mexico when the streetscape becomes a touch rougher, a tad down at heel perhaps. Almost always there’s a sudden abundance of car part shops, chain-saw boutiques, plastic toy and sugary drinks vendors, and garish knick knack shops that explode onto the street. Then there are piñatas strung up in a riot of lurid colour with their comic-book faces and the endless shoe shops, cheap luggage and other odd speciality stores (door handles anyone?). At Mercado Lucas de Gálvez this mayhem is at street level but just look up and you’ll see a superb row of highly ornamented facades now consumed by tropical decay. My, how grand would this area once have been.
Entry into the market is quite hard to find as there’s no grand archway, just multiple dark narrow passages that lure you in with flashes of bright sunlight from the open-air tightly packed maze inside.
There’s been a market here since 1884 but over the years multiple buildings have been demolished until the present one opened in 1948. Nowadays it’s one of the only places in town to get all your fresh veggies, authentic exotic fruits, spices, meats and freshly made tortillas (which are turned out on an industrial scale using an old-fangled iron tortilla press). Plus jewellery, kitchenware, live poultry (ducklings, chicks, young turkeys for rearing, and budgerigars, mice and guinea pigs for pets – we think). There are endless food stalls offering all kinds of Yucatecan foods prepared by Mayan locals who come into the city from the surrounding country.