Have you ever spent a long afternoon in the hammock and felt a craving for a snack, but were too overcome with laziness to fix something? Don’t worry, this is a common symptom of living in Yucatán. The street vendors also know all about this feeling, and they pass through the city’s neighborhoods throughout the day until about 9 pm. On board their “triciclos,” three-wheeled bikes with platforms for hauling products, these vendors bring their tempting delicacies straight to your door.
The bread maker plays the trumpet of his triciclo, letting the neighbors know that he’s on the block. These guys sell a variety of “pan dulce” (sweet bread), and small loaves of French bread for making sandwiches, at very affordable prices. For $20 pesos, you can share afternoon bread with someone special.
If you’re in the mood for something cool, wait for the ice cream man. These sellers use a triangle to create a distinctive sound. Commonly, they’ll have coconut ice cream, which is always an exquisite and refreshing option. They also carry seasonal flavors like mango or “mamey.” The cones cost between $8 and $10 pesos, and you can add chocolate sauce or chocolate chips.
If you’re thinking of something salty, it’s also likely that you’ll hear the sellers of “kibis,” who announce their products with a sing-song voice. These people always sell on high-traffic streets. Kibis are made of fried wheat flour, sometimes stuffed with cheese or meat. They cost around $10 to $16 pesos. The brave order their kibis with “chile habanero” and the rest of us mortals add only cabbage.
Other kinds of vendors also circulate the streets of Mérida, offering corn “esquites,” sweet “flanes,” homemande ices, and even “tepache,” a fermented fruit drink. Other traveling salesmen offer services, like the sharpening of knives, bags of dirt for your garden, or people looking to buy scrap metal.
Pay attention to the sellers throughout the city, taking note of the distinctive sound used by each one, and appreciate a generations-old cultural tradition. It’s just a question of training your ear.
Editorial and photos by Valentina Álvarez for Yucatán Today’s use.
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