The end of January marks nearly three months in México and I already realize many ways that living here is different from being on holiday. Although I have visited several times, when it comes to shopping, daily living and vacationing are black and white (the tiny amount of grey includes buying snacks at OXXO). As a tourist, you get to enjoy things like nightly restaurant dinners and being in awe of the architecture. As a resident, you get to do things like cook food at home and look up from your bed, counting the bricks of your domed ceiling, wondering how long it took someone to lay them in curves.
Every few days, when I do my shopping, I head to Mercado Juarez en centro: much smaller than San Juan de Dios, but still offering something for nearly everyone, from household items to clothes to produce. I also visit the cremeria, where the patient chicas wait while I try to ask for items like soy milk. The store I like sells bulk leche de soya: a dry powder you mix with water. At first, I thought it would be like Carnation Instant Milk, the questionable white water mix I had a few times as a kid growing up. But this powder makes a wonderful alternative to cow’s milk: rich, creamy and with a much longer shelf life. It’s quite delicioso.
I’ve noticed lately that the locals don’t buy very many things en masse (ahem, Costco). Need some dog food? The corner store has a giant bag open, just buy a scoop or two and Bingo is good for the night and the next morning. Want to buy one roll of toilet paper, not twelve? No problema, open the pack and take a roll. While I admit I sometimes miss the one-stop shopping of Target, I don’t miss the enormous big box stores that require parking, huge shopping carts, pushy crowds and aisles longer than football fields. (Yes, there is a Wal-Mart just outside Tlaquepaque. I wandered around it once…mostly confused.)
So while it’s true San Pedro Tlaquepaque lacks the wonderful, independent merchants I left in California, like Spanglish Arte, PeraDice and Black Horse Coffee, it has a vibe all its own for groceries, art galleries and coffee shops – my favorites so far being La Mata Tinta and Café San Pedro near el Parián. The past month living in Tlaquepaque has brought me great joy; with each day I am here, I take nothing for granted. Oh, I still snap photos like a tourista in awe of the architecture, but I also know which aborrote sells Indio and which sells Victoria, so I can return my bottles for mas cerveza y menus dinero. ¡Vivir la vida local!