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This Little Bloggy Went To Market

By Tom Wiseman

One of my favourite places here in San Luis is El Mercado Republica. I have always loved markets and this place is a full on assault of the senses: sights, smells, sounds, taste and touch. I usually visit once a week to buy my fruit and eat lunch but I never took the time to linger and browse. To be honest I always feel a little uneasy because I am highly visible and I feel every pair of eyes on me as I walk through the place, but I was excited when I was told that we were going to visit the market for our Spanish class. We went to buy things for Dia de Los Muertos but I have always been fascinated by the weird and wonderful items I glimpsed on display and this was a perfect chance to investigate further. Here are the 7 strangest things I encountered:

Baby Jesus Dolls - Available in both black and white versions these dolls cater to the worship preference of the individual. Do you realise that Jesus was from the Middle-East? Or do you prefer your history to be whitewashed? The choice is yours!

Dead Rats - The last time I ate rat it was with cold rice as I crouched in a sodden trench somewhere deep in the Vietnamese jungle, it was my idea of R 'n' R.* Here in the market you can choose from a huge variety of delicious foods, or you can buy some rats and cook them yourself at home. I usually roll with Gorditas, can't go far wrong with Papas and Pollo. Whilst rats that feed on garbage are not considered particularly nutritious it is believed that the rats in tequila factories may have magical and medicinal properties.

Honeycomb, complete with bees - Have I led an incredibly sheltered life? Of course, honeycomb has bees in it, originally, right? Well, here they are still there, and they're still alive - it's their honey and they want it back.

Pig Skins (Chicharone) - There is a street in the market I imaginatively title 'Meat Row,' it's not that unusual I suppose but there is something about lots of plates piled high with every kind of offal that is enough to put me off my rat sandwich.

Esencia de Macho - Multitudes of potions, powders and posies line the shelves of the more interesting tiendas. These concoctions cater to every need. We have 'Luck Powder,' 'Love Potions,' Spells, Essences ranging from Money to Macho and candles depicting a variety of Saints. I bought a candle with a picture of King Solomon on it, this is supposed to bring me Dominador (dominance). I have my reasons, like King Solomon I have been given the title "The Wise" and I too am the Son of David. I figure that my "Kingdom" is my life so hopefully burning this candle will enable me to have Wise Dominance over my life. If that doesn't work I'll go back and get the one for "Muertes su Enemigos."

Stuffed Coyote - By far the hands down winner of 'Strangest Stall' contains a stuffed Coyote and a life-sized model of a Shaman. I like that they also sell eggs.

Rattlesnake - Right next door to the Shaman and his pooch is a shop selling dried cat corpses and Rattlesnakes. Does the snake have a use? Yes, you eat it to cure cancer. Of course!

*This is a lie.

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