|Down the rabbit hole|
One of the things I have noticed about being in markets anywhere else in the world besides the U.S. is that they actually smell like something. Like melons, for instance, which, similar to truly ripe strawberries, don't always smell altogether great. (Side note: Never shout "Bueno Melones!" in a Mexican market, despite the overwhelming temptation to do so).
Or like guava, which smells unbelievably good. Or papaya, which smells kinda barfy when it's at a certain point of ripeness. I learned in Mexico, France and Italy that the food almost everywhere else in the world has just a lot more aroma and flavor than where I live. In the States we shudder at the thought of a fishy smell when we're walking past the seafood at Kroger's but we're somehow okay with feeling our way through the fallout cloud of the perfume section at Macy's.
This market was really something to walk through, and unfortunately no photo can really capture the experience of it properly, as it winds through narrow tarp-covered callejons that go up, down, sideways and even over footbridges in ways that were frankly not obviously rational or even always pleasant, especially when we suddenly found ourselves in the meat section, with full sides of beef and pork hanging around us.
|Super fresh, super tasty produce.|
Tracy and I thought about this place for nearly three years until we decided we needed to go back, this time in the spring of '08. We stayed across the street from the place we had found in the Lonely Planet guide the first time, at a hotel called Los Arcos that looked like this inside:
It was awesome though just a bit over our budget and was right downtown where there's a fair amount of traffic noise, so after a couple of nights we moved to another spot called the Hotel Victoria. It had an amazing view of the city and the main Cathedral Santa Prisca, in front of which is the town square, which in this town and other towns in southern Mexico is called the Zocalo. The Zocalo is surrounded by silver and jewelry shops, which Taxco is famous for, and restaurants that are great for hanging and people watching in. The trees of the square are filled with tropical birds that made just a whole bunch of noise but which I never actually saw up there in the dense branches.
|Hangin at the Zocalo with Straussy and a well placed plant|
|The view from our room at the Hotel Victoria|
One sweet memory I have: It happened that Tom Waits' Glitter and Doom Tour tickets went on sale on our second or third morning at the Hotel Victoria. I remember frantically trying to get tickets the moment they went on sale from the one computer for guests in the hotel, which had a really slow internet connection. All the Los Angeles and Phoenix tickets disappeared in the first 30 seconds, but we snagged a couple of seats in El Paso: a sweet pilgrimage story for another day, kids (It was awesome, BTW).
Anyway, did I mention that there were an improbable amount of Volkswagens somehow negotiating the crazy tilt-a-whirl streets of this town all day and night? Some of you may have noticed I have an affinity for old cars, and particularly VW bugs and buses, which tend to turn up in my paintings with an improbable regularity, whether they are tooling up a 60 º angle cobblestone street in Mexico or rusting away in a junkyard in North Salt Lake.
There's something really anthropomorphic about them, which is of course why there was never a movie called Herbie the Love Buick.
The chosen vehicle for getting around in this town, as well as every taxi we saw there, was the good old Bochito, as the classic bug is known here in Mexico. Careful asking for one however, as the word is also apparently slang for a Mexican prostitute [Side note: my grip of Spanish is extremely limited, but shouldn't that be Bochita?].
All the buses in town are old VW buses with the sliding door removed and no seat belts. It costs like 3 pesos to go anywhere you want in town, providing a car can actually fit down or drive up the street, which is not always a given.
|Still own it.|
|San Francisco ain't got nothing|
After several days in Taxco we began looking around for other possibilities, and we considered going back south to Oaxaca, which is an amazing cultural and culinary hub I'll perhaps tell you more about another day. But then Tracy showed me some pics online (after we had scored our Tom Waits tickets) of a couple of towns about a 5 hour bus ride north called San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
See? I'm getting there.