After the fruit market you’ll find yourself increasingly surrounded by shoes of all types (Nike knock-offs, that sort of thing – not much leather in evidence) but what we were looking for were traditional Huaraches, hand-braided leather sandals (stitched to soles made from old car-tyres). After asking around we were finally taken to the Huaraches motherlode, with piles of them crammed into the shelves of dark make-shift stalls. This ain’t no ordinary shoe buying experience, for once you’ve selected the style and colour, the shoe-seller will go a-hunting high and low for the right size. They cost MX$280 a pair or around A$18 – so of course I bought two pairs. They’re a pretty simple sandal and perhaps a little hard going on the feet for any lengthy walk, but for mooching around they’re perfect – and they look good too!
Mercado Lucas de Galvéz is packed with everything you need and everything you don’t, but there always seems to be a buyer and an eager seller. Just around the corner from the shoe section is (but of course)… the fried fish section.
I found some great characters here – the sharp-eyed shyster. The dozy newspaper reader catching up on the latest scandal. And finally, the serenely calm lady selling ‘Pez Volador’, crispy-fried flying fish.
It’s a fantastic down to earth mercado packed with locals. And, unlike other mercados we’ve been to in Latin America, no one hassles you here – they seem supremely uninterested, unless of course you’re buying. With every visit I try to go deeper in, discovering ever stranger stalls and even more fascinating faces. Stay tuned for more Tiendas de Mérida.
Talking of shoes. Ladies, if you’re looking for a bespoke shoe experience, then head to B&G Atelier. It’s a wonderful taller run by a very vivacious local woman who’ll make you a pair of unique shoes in a matter of a few days. Your choice of material including crocodile, fabric, snake skin, suede and leather. Unfortunately she makes very few shoes for men. I though immediately fell upon a gorgeous pair of Huaraches, which alas turned out to be vintage and not for sale. Shame, my size and all.