"Cheaper than Walmart!" "One dollar, one dollar!" "I rip you off less!"
The typical phrases of the vendors in the touristy markets of Cancun like Mercado 28 and Coral Negro, hawking their t-shirts and shot glasses to sunburnt travellers and trying to make a few pesos to feed their families. Unfortunately most tourists think that these are traditional Mexican markets, but in a real market you won't hear those shouts, certainly not in English.
"El Granero", the place for party and piñata supplies
A "real" market is a place where locals gather to purchase fresh vegetables, cheeses, meats and fish, in addition to various gew gaws, decorations, art and of course piñatas and religious relics.
Everyone needs a religious dolly
¨Chicharon¨, deep fried pig skin
The aromas of fish and incense mingle with the smell of flowers and deep fried pig skin. Looking to beat up Justin Bieber with a stick, just head to "El Granero" where they will design and make a piñata in just about any form. Need an ¨amarre¨ (love spell), pay a visit to the "healers" to pick up everything you need to make that special someone fall head over heels, even against their will.
Candles for all manners of spells
The best time to visit is in the morning, of course, while everything is fresh. Weekends are busy times, families out together to do their weekly shopping. Anyone visiting Cancun in the days before "Day of the Dead" will be treated to incredible displays of "Zempoalxochitl" (marigolds), sugar skulls, "papel picado", calaveras and "Catrinas", candles and a plethora of statues of saints and religious icons. It's a great place to find a souvenir completely unique and authentic to take back home for Aunt Sally instead of a "Made in China" Cancun ashtray.
¨Day of the Dead¨ art
The market is safe to visit, though you may want to bring a Spanish speaking friend with you. It's located around the intersections of Tulum and Chichen Itza (the streets, not the archaelogical sites!) in downtown Cancun. Next time you visit Cancun, skip the Walmart and the tourist plazas and have yourself a real market experience in Mercado 23!
More photos of Mercado 23 here....