market madness: La Merced

Pig legs, plump sausage nuggets, cow stomachs, tripe.  I had accidentally wandered into the meat section first.  Get me out!

“Güerita, 10 pesos al kilo.”
“Güerita, ¿que llevas?”

They all call out as I walk by, a güerita (blondie) that doesn’t go unnoticed.  I make it to the fruit and veggie section.  The smell of guava encircles me, intoxicating.  Pyramids of chile: red, orange, green.  Nopales are stacked high as skyscrapers.  The tomatillos here dwarf our equivalents in California.  Avocados run abundant.

I am at La Merced in Mexico City, once the largest wholesale market for the entire city.  The site has been used for commercial activity since the colonial period, and was built on the grounds of the La Merced monastery. Today it is a cacophony of sounds, bustling bodies, stopping ground for delivery trucks.  Were it not for the high ceilings, the density and narrow walkways would swallow me up whole.  Light peeks in from a beautiful latice-like concrete wall on the far end.

My bag is clutched tightly under a sweaty armpit.  Locals suck down hot bowls of pozole, sopes, and quesadillas in the makeshift snack stations along the margin of the market.  Tents spill out onto the street, the market extends like determined arteries into every direction- ‘tianguis’, the unofficial stands, display pirated DVDs, and stereos pump the same pop songs I hear on the local L.A. Spanglish station each morning when I drive to work.

I’ve been to a lot of markets in my global wanderings and before coming to this one thought, I’ve pretty much seen it all.  But La Merced is really in a league of its own.  It mirrors the city that it resides in: monstrously large and consuming, chaotically beautiful, never-ending.  I’ve taken my pictures, and now it’s time to continue on.

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~ by maureenmoore on April 5, 2012.

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