A Vital Part of Mexico’s Cultural Fabric
Bursting with activity, vibrant colors and unforgettable flavors, tianguis (street markets) have long been a vital part of Mexico’s cultural fabric. Pre-Hispanic in nature, this highly anticipated weekly event was commonly found in community plazas both great and small. Vendors would travel in on certain days to set up and peddle fresh produce and specialty goods. Townspeople would flock to this cultural soiree, not only to stock up on weekly groceries, but to connect with others. The tianguis provided the ideal venue for gossiping locals, weary travelers, political activists and those who wished to worship at various shrines within the market.
It is believed that the Olmec civilization was the first to establish trading networks within the region. Tianguis were set up in various communities along the routes, but it was the Aztecs who turned them into a community staple. Tradespeople traveled the Aztec Empire collecting a variety of everyday and exotic goods to bring to the tianguis. Thousands of shoppers eagerly anticipated market day in order to buy and trade produce, game meats, seafood, turtles and a variety of honey and octli (fermented cactus juice). Exotic items such as cotton, jade, cacao and precious metals were among the most valuable items for sale.
When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they brought with them innovative agricultural techniques and tools as well as new produce. This, of course, greatly impacted the tianguis scene. The workload was lightened allowing indigenous farmers to cultivate apples, figs, peaches and pomegranates. The wheel extended trade routes, and coins replaced the cacao beans as currency. Innovative craft techniques helped to develop a class of tradesmen specializing in pottery, carpentry, iron working and canoe making.
Tianguis thrived for generations until supermarkets and discount warehouse stores offered convenience and bulk pricing. Thousands of tianguis across the country ceased to exist. Even Puerto Vallarta’s once flourishing tianguis scene was a thing of the past. But thanks to a resurgence of “back to the land” values, a door has been opened for tianguis to reemerge in Vallarta. Shoppers are eagerly turning to markets such as the Old Town Farmers’ Market–Tianguis Cultural for “make it, bake it, grow it” options.
You can jump into the tianguis community by joining us for the Old Town Farmers’ Market–Tianguis Cultural reopening on Saturday, November 2. Embrace one of Mexico’s finest cultural traditions as you shop for farm-to-table produce, artisan breads, freshly cut flowers, organic skincare products, handcrafted décor and custom made clothing and accessories.
Located along Basilio Badillo between Olas Altas and Ignacio Vallarta, the Old Town Farmers’ Market-Tianguis Cultural is open every Saturday from 9:30 am to 2 pm from the first Saturday in November to the last Saturday in May. For more information, visit www.oldtownfm.com or “like” us on Facebook.