Farmers Market

Picture this. I’m standing on the main drag of Acapulco, way on the outskirts of town, across from the Princess Hotel waiting for a local bus (much to the dismay of the staff at the Princess Hotel) with my friend Dan Millman (yes, that Dan Millman, of Way of the Peaceful Warrior fame). Dan and I were attending the International Conference on Business and Consciousness, and he’d gotten wind that I’d been going into town, know Acapulco and speak fluent Spanish and expressed interest in joining me on one of my adventures. No problema. So we set a time to go into the large downtown mercado. Where else to experience the full color and flavor of Acapulco?

I would be remiss if I did not relay to you that as I am standing there with Dan waiting for the delapidated bus which will be strictly full of locals, and maybe a few chickens, I am looking over his shoulder at a man up in a tree, cutting off a large limb in which he is perched!

You never see him standing on the hay
He’s trying to lift, straining to lift himself.

Robert Frost, Death of the Hired Man

Sure enough, suddenly the man and the limb come crashing to the ground and Dan and I are swept into a moment’s drama in which we are trying desperately to figure out what the Acapulco version of 911 is! To no avail. Our plight is immediately remedied when we see the injured man drive past us in an old car, driven by a friend or bystander. Whew!

Back to the bus. It arrives; we are on our way. We are traversing the narrow streets of poorer neighborhoods up on the hills that run parallel to the ocean drive with big smiles on our faces. Thirty minutes later we disembark at the main entrance to the vast Mercado Municipal, which opens at an early 6:00AM and stays open until 9:00PM each evening. Imagine!

We enter into the noisy fray, excited to be exploring the many stalls and merchants we encounter. The Acapulco market is housed under a large ceiling, though open on all sides. It is a honeycomb of merchandise and not easily travailed. Within moments a local shopkeeper I’d met on a previous visit spots us and kindly offers his services to guide us through the rich tapestry that is at the base of all such markets. We heartily welcome his assistance.

Being a port city, Acapulco’s market overflows with counters of fresh fish; rows and piles of every conceiveable local vegetable and fruit one could wish for: coconuts, mangos, papayas, bananas; onions, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs galore. Shops with shoes and leathergoods, with shawls, with blankets, with miniature dresses for confirmation. Children selling Chiclets. It is alive, visceral, immediate and full of the collective energies of men, women and children bringing their wares from the Earth to its fortunate recipients. This was not a day Dan and I were likely to forget–the rich fragrances, splendid colors, and fascinating sights will be long with us.

Where do we find such venues in America? What is clearly rooted in indigenous cultures fortunately finds its cousin in our rich and varied cross-country local
Farmers Markets. Here in Northern California I am blessed to have one close to my home, where I can readily arrive each Saturday morning before noon from April until October. (Aw, yes, East Coasters. One of the great advantages of being a California girl gardener is our long growing season!) The mere entering of our Farmers Market puts me immediately in another world–a world in which I most definitely enjoy being!

The sweet melodies of the musicians of that day welcome and invite me into this transformed environment–what is normally a street I daily travel by car–now blocked off to traffic. It is flanked by a park and a very large open patio where tables and chairs await participants who opt for morning coffee and pastries from our local popular bakery. The treasures and wares of our local entre-preneurs await my view and purchase. Goat cheeses. Flavored olive oils. Bouquets of fresh flowers. Fresh-caught wild ocean salmon. A bevy of tomato choices; fresh cut basil (for making yummy pesto!); herbs, plants, wreathes; squashes, plums, apples, figs, and berries, all locally grown, primarily organically!

My very favorite special treat is the local honey, which I buy in large bottles and store. What a luxury!

Alas, this last weekend was marked by the first day of autumn, so soon I will have to forgo my weekly pleasure and be creative until spring.

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