One of my secondary superpowers as someone who has never been anywhere close to rich but still loves cool stuff is a keen eye for finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Years of Saturday afternoon practice at flea markets and thrift stores with Mama Freeman has empowered me to thrust a practiced hand into the sundry detritus of capitalist consumerism and come out with something worth far more for my purposes than the amount I would have to pay for it, and it is this set of skills I put on a bus to the far-flung reaches of the city on a Sunday morning for a treasure hunt at Tianguis de Mojoneras.
The Vibes: As usual at this time of year, it was a bright and sunny morning in Puerto Vallarta; a harbinger of the day’s good tidings that was reinforced as the bus that would take my trusted assistant and me to the site of the street market that day arrived almost as soon as we had reached the stop.
I’ll complain more about the recent changes to the bus system later, but all we have time for in this space is to say there were several significant downgrades in the last year or so which kindly did not manifest themselves on this day.
Anyway, after the rare air-conditioned ride to an area of the city not frequented by tourists, we arrived at the market, which unfolded before us over at least a dozen blocks. Each stand, stall, and station was home to an assortment of goods that would boggle the mind of all but the savviest secondhand shoppers, each item in most cases being one of a kind.
The sun stared intently at the bustle of bazaar merchants and bargain-hunters, seemingly taking a special interest in Puerto Vallarta as it often does. The landscape was rich with colorful sites of all descriptions–housewares and handbags, clothing and children’s toys, ointments and ornamentation, small carts selling snacks…it’s interesting to note that the human tradition of outdoor marketplaces hasn’t changed appreciably since Biblical times.
The Vices: Pocket beer in hand, I scanned the wares of each vendor using the techniques I had learned in my youth. Drawing each interesting looking swatch of fabric hopefully toward my heart from the tangle below, I shuffled through vast and inscrutable piles of clothing, hoping to find that perfect addition to my aesthetic.
Of course, stockpiles of this description are naturally more friendly to fabulously fashionable females like assistant Nicky, who had little trouble identifying new additions to her wardrobe, among them a striking golden top finished with shimmering sequins and in perfect condition to enjoy a second life in her many, many selfies.
Now, it is important to understand that as a guy, my task is much harder than hers…most men’s clothing was boring as hell when it rolled out of the factory, plus the typical male seems to hold on to articles of clothing until they are physically unwearable before letting them out of his possession. This means for the most part, all that typically remains for dapper gentlemen of the outdoor marketplace is pit-stained tees, sad-looking jeans, and factory-sealed packages of slightly irregular undergarments.
Or, at least, so it might appear to someone without my decades of experience. Through patient picking and more than a little friendly negotiation of the kind that is almost considered a national sport, I was able to come away with an authentic 2018 Paris Saint-Germain uniform shirt (with tags!), a pair of earrings, several decorative arm sleeves, and three brand new pairs of Andy Warhol-inspired socks, all for about 10 bucks American.
It was an outstanding reminder that retail goods are often prized far out of proportion.
A delicious lunch of huaraches con machaca was the perfect ending to our time at the market, and we boarded the bus back to town heavy with new additions and not much lighter in the wallet. A Sunday afternoon well spent…Mama Freeman would be proud.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for something different to do on the weekend, you can’t really go wrong with a ride to the Sunday market. Whether you’re looking for clothing, tools, housewares, kitchen supplies, or just random objects that spark joy, you’re bound to find them—both used and new—in stock somewhere at Tianguis de Mojoneras.
The sheer variety of offerings ensures there’s something for everyone, and coming to a consensus with a seller on the price of a product likely involves good practice with the national language. Now you know my sartorial secret: you’ll almost never find me in the mall buying clothes, places like these are where I come whenever my closet needs a bit of a shakeup…maybe I’ll catch you there.
Info: Las Mojoneras in facebook