The island of Cozumel always has much to offer both tourists and locals alike and today I found yet another example of how much fun it can be here. You see, it’s the last Friday of the month, which now means it’s “Malecon Market Day,” and I’d been looking forward to the experience of shopping along the oceanfront. Now, for those of you who’d never heard of it before that’s because this idea is fairly new. In fact, this is only the third month local artists and vendors have been able to set up shop directly on the main drag. But, I’d not been able to make it before, so, come late afternoon I packed a bag, got on my bike and headed down to el centro. While riding on the wet streets I became curious to see just how determined everyone was to participate because, right on schedule, the rainy season had officially arrived and we’d had showers off and on all day.
Once I got down to the market I made a point of looking for Tammy Cervantes, a local yoga instructor who had invited me to her “Malecon Market Yoga” event. Now, this wasn’t just a yoga class being held in an interesting location. Tammy was also raising money for a halfway house (la Esperanza) that is new here on the island for addicts who are turning their lives around. Those who participated in the yoga class, and others, were able to contribute funds for this worthy cause and I was happy to participate in any way I could. Kudos to her and the group, who, by the way, are all in ridiculously good shape!
While the class was going on others were still setting up tables filled with just about everything you could imagine. First I came across a couple who had a stand just covered with painted bottles, plants in creative pottery, and delightful statuary, most of lounging animals. I knew I’d be stopping back to see them. Next to them was a friendly woman who had costume (and silver) jewelry of all kinds and, while I talked with her, she started to show me some great dresses she hadn’t yet set out. Most seemed to be lightweight, I’m thinking cotton, and had very pretty patterns that were quite unique. I can only hope she’ll be back next month when I’ll be more in the market for clothing. Still, the experience was fun since her enthusiasm was contagious.
Now, I’d been told that the idea for the market was partially based on giving local artists the ability to display their works. Since, unfortunately, many of the cruise ship passengers have such limited time on the island they often don’t make it past the shops in el centro. That’s a shame because there is so much more to be seen. But, with this new endeavor, the locals can now bring their art to the attention of more folks. With this in mind I made sure to stop where original art was available. One young man, originally from Mexico City, had some truly creative wall art for sale. I liked the simplicity and stark designs that were both modern and yet clearly inspired by ancient beliefs. Then, after talking a bit with him, I went over to where a woman sat with her homemade Ju-Ju dolls. They were quite colorful and detailed, but I had the feeling that they’d be blessed only with good after talking a bit with their creator. She’s a wonderfully warm woman with one of the kindest faces I’ve seen in a while. I can only hope my camera did her justice.
Now, as I’d mentioned, the rainy season had arrived. Although there had been a respite, which was good for all those who had so much on display, the rain decided to come again. Everywhere one looked tarps were being pulled out, plastic was put over top of the wares, and people were hurrying to get under umbrellas or tents. But, one of the things that should be mentioned is that everyone remained in a good mood. Suddenly the groups huddled together became mini parties with enthusiastic talk and laughter. It was a great example of yet another reason I like living here, people seem to take everything not only in stride, but in good humor. But, within a few minutes the rain stopped and the impromptu party was over.
While I’d been hiding under a Coca Cola tent I’d noticed that the next table over just plain smelled good. It seemed like an idea to head over and that was where I found a collection of, among other things, some lovely specialty soaps. I stood there for a while just breathing it all in. Then, while walking around just a bit, I spotted a group of colorful piggy banks with wild expressions that were just plain fun. Besides being painted brightly, a few even had real eyelashes!
That was when I noticed that a couple of women were set up to offer massages. I stopped to talk with them and one, Rosie, told me she’d also been to the last two market days and that she’d had such a good time she planned to be at every one. She was quite a happy person and fun to talk to. Then, a little further past her, I saw a woman who had homemade salsas and dips for sale. I pointed to my camera and she proudly struck a pose. I decided to try a taste of the sample she had out with a nacho chip. It was quite good, and very spicy.
Once it was cleared up it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to grab a few last pics and start to head home. Even though I’d been welcomed under both tents and umbrellas I was still quite wet. A cup of coffee and my laptop was sounding like a good option. As I started to head that direction I noticed a woman who was setting her things back out after the latest rain shower. I noticed she had what looked to be painted eggs. I went over just to make sure, but, yes, painted eggs. And quite prettily decorated too. I kept walking and came to the last table at the end. It had conch shells and seashells that had been converted to candle holders and mini lamps and then I noticed the vendor smile as I hovered over top with my camera. Finally, I looked out over the water and saw that a cruise ship just starting to head out was going through another rain shower, which gave it a ghostly appearance. I decided that was to be my last shot for the night. I found my bike, loaded her up, and pedaled alongside the ocean. It was yet another great experience and I’m glad you came along. Salud!
p.s. Look for the Malecon Market on the last Friday of each month from 5-11 p.m. here on Cozumel. And, there were many, many other great items on display, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly include a photo of them all. If you are on the island in June, let me suggest you stop on down!