Go to any one of our city markets and you’ll feel like you’re breathing in life. In addition, of course, to spices, fruits and vegetables, people, flowers, and certain scents you’ll find impossible to decipher. A morning at the Mercado Municipal Lucas de Gálvez (the biggest and one of the oldest in the city) marks the beginning of a new day. Children run around leaving all responsibility behind them (as well as their parents); carnations and birds of paradise are exchanged, fresh Aguas Frescas are poured, and the smell of Cochinita Pibil permeates the street. A new day begins.
In Yucatán, these magical spaces filled with flavor, music, and energy are vast. The orchestra chimes in at 5:30 in the morning and the music rumbles: cars, laughter, a salesperson shouting “Marchante!” (which is what they call would-be shoppers), and the footsteps of hundreds of people are only part of the sounds making up this melody.
In Mérida, each Barrio or neighborhood traditionally has its own market. The community orbits around them; besides using them as a place to shop, they also serve as a meeting place. But, before heading to a market, be sure to ask yourself: “How important is personal space to me?” Because it can be a bit overwhelming! The streets overflow with people walking with a purpose: ladies browsing for Hipiles (or jewerly, or cellphone cases), friends having breakfast while they reminisce over last night’s adventures, well-known chefs hunting for the freshest ingredients, and Meridanos passing by on their way to work.
More serene markets exist as well, where the music is not as loud but the rhythm is equally melodic. The markets in Colonia Miguel Alemán and Colonia Chuburná are great if you’re on the lookout for fresh vegetables, meat, and spices. The Mercado de Santa Ana and the Mercado de San Sebastián are ideal to try a regional breakfast (try Huevos Motuleños or Panuchos). Or savor Tamales Colados at the Mercado San Benito and Mondongo Kabic at the Mercado de Santiago. Each space has its own culinary fame.
People walk by and life goes on. Days pass and there are more flowers, more fruit and vegetables, more Cochinita, and more kids running wild. At the markets, each morning is a new opportunity to discover Yucatán in an authentic way: its food, its way of life, and the music its people make when a new day begins – definitely a great tune to wake up to.
Editorial por Greta Garrett
Writer, director, and excellent human sandbag. Self-proclaimed funny person, fully bilingual, and passionate storyteller.
Photography by Nora Garrett and Greta Garrett for its use in Yucatán Today
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