I always encourage guests to go to the Tuesday Market (La Placita). Why? Because this ambulatory extravaganza is, according to our own world-famous San Miguel de Allende map, “a raucous and wonderful weekly festival.” Not to mention a truly Mexican experience in a town some think of as touristified. (Ahem…just depends where you go, folks. This is definitely Mexico. And the Tuesday market will prove it.) So, if you’re craving the real Mexican deal, skip that latte at Starbucks, and go to market…
A haven from all things touristic, La Placita is our weekly flea market/swap meet—a sensory-overloading pageant of cultural clutter, industry, and whimsy. Shop with the locals in a wonderland of commerce that’s escaped the gentrification that often results from touristic notoriety. (It’s authentically dusty, but, oh, just SO much more fun than a mall.)
Whatever you might need, it’s at the Tuesday—from the ordinary to the bazaar (really bad pun intended)—clothing, shoes, produce, meat, and seafood; at least 12 kinds of beans and 16 types of chile; live poultry, songbirds, and bunnies; vintage junk and brand-new antiques; odd folk remedies for even odder ailments, technicolor drink stands and elaborate nomadic taco palaces; second-and third-hand everything; and (my favorite) Himalayas of cheap used and unused clothing and Sierra Madres of shoes. (How delightful is it to buy Ann Taylor and DKNY for $20 pesos?)
You can’t (or shouldn’t) go home/on living without at least one of the following: a $10-dollar purple polar parka, a shiny brass belt buckle depicting a cock fight, a plus-sized, fire-engine-red sequin and tafetta cocktail dress. Nor should you miss a finger-licking lunch of deep-fried fish of questionable origin and tasty hand-patted gorditas with the best red salsa, ever, with a big cup of jugo de pineapple—topped off with a quart of fresh papaya, mango and jicama swimming in chile and lime. Or maybe you really need a kilo of slimy chicken entrails, a new (to you) pair of Manolos, a couple of live pheasant, and a fine, made-in-China power drill (guaranteed to work at least once)?
Or, you might be lacking a ruffled neon-green push-up bra, a spangly baseball cap bearing a nonsensical English slogan, a genuine $100 peso Rolex, sparkly blue nail polish, and a pair of huge, dangly aluminum earrings? Perhaps you’re nothing without a 1950′s metal Corona beer tray, a really bad-quality pirate DVD of E.T., a Menudo T-shirt, and a miracle cure for toe fungus / halitosis / impotence? A 1970′s North Dakota license plate or two? Hello Kitty cell phone cover? Premium Korean watch battery? Colorful Clothesline? Pumice stone? Black beans? Nopales? Mameyes, guanabanas and/or chirimoyas? Surely one of these items will complete you as a person.
It’s all there at the Tuesday Market, amidst blaring music, squawking hawkers, questing shoppers, and steaming snacks. Even if you don’t “need” anything, come just for the rowdy, enveloping big-top energy of it all. It’s a truly Mexican adventure.
Getting there:If you’re obnoxiously fit and immune to sunstroke, hike the huge hill East of the Centro, (the prettiest route is up Correo street, and up and up and then right with the road, then left through the bush paths, past the old mall). For the more normal/sensible, we recommend a taxi. Should be about $5 pesos more than regular taxis around town. Ask for “La Placita,” and enjoy!
Getting home: Tons of taxis and buses head towards the Centro and Colonia Allende all day long. The walk downhill isn’t so bad, unless you’re carrying more than four of the must-haves above (this, we leave to your own judgement). To walk back to Casita de las Flores, head South for the avenue that runs by the market. Take a right on that road, and then a left at the big roundabout with the weird statues. Then choose your way (right) down the big hill, veering left at the bottom. You’ll get home, eventually. (Another adventure)
Timing: The Tuesday is generally fully functional by 10 am, winding down (and packing up) by 4 pm.