The Sunday Market in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico
By John Lamkin
10 Aug 2013
Story and photos by John Lamkin
The colorfully dressed, middle aged, indigenous woman approached me carrying a woven basket full of small dark red objects. "Do you want?" she said in Spanish with an accent that indicated that it wasn't her first language—probably Zapotec. "No gracias." "But Señor, You will like—chapulines." (grasshoppers fried in lemon and garlic). "No gracias." "You are maybe afraid?" "Okay, I'll try." I popped one into my mouth, trying to look as if I'm enjoying it—not so bad, crunchy, tastes alright, maybe like barbeque chips. "Okay, I'll take some." She scoops a handful of the little critters into a baggie and I give her a few pesos. "Gracias." "De nada."
Many people come from the small surrounding villages and from the remote villages in the mountains to attend this Sunday Market in Tlacolula, Oaxaca. Some vendors, some buyers and many bartering their goods for another's. The Tlacolula Sunday market is one of the largest in the area and one of the first in Mesoamerica. Most of the downtown of Tlacolula is blocked off and stands and stalls are set up, some people selling from the curbs and sitting in and wandering the streets. Each village is represented by the dress of the women—the men wearing mostly cowboy hats or baseball caps and jeans. The most colorful of the woman are those that come down from the mountain villages, some looking very Gypsy like.
Most everything is sold (or traded) in the market—from food and drink to clothing, to flowers, electronics, produce, alcoholic beverages, even pirated CDs and DVDs. The place is alive with activity—a social event for many of the country people. Many of the people speaking in the indigenous Zapotec language.
While in Tlacolula, the old baroque church is a worthwhile visit. It's also another Sunday meeting place for the locals and the country people.
Our secret: Even though I've eaten many weird things in my life—rattlesnake, the bowl of menudo (tripe soup) in Juarez with something looking like a hoof sticking out of it—I don't fancy myself an insect goumand. I gave the bag of chapulines to a Oaxacan friend.
If you find yourself in Oaxaca on a Sunday, check out the Tlacolula market. It's south of Oaxaca City, beyond the archaeological sites of Mitla and Yagul.
There are direct flights from Houston TX to Oaxaca on United Airlines
Tourism Oaxaca City, Oaxaca
Where to stay in Oaxaca
Hacienda Los Laureles
Story first appeared in the Examiner.