Where Can I Buy Chicken Feet?

El MercadoWe lived in the land that invented the supermarket and the one-stop shopping concept and we’re slowly beginning to realize what we’ve missed: the one-to-one human interaction of asking if a certain item is available and for how much, occasional bargaining and the adventure of the quest. Here, in Latin America, the options for shopping vary. The larger cities usually have some version of the western style supermarket.  TiendaEvery neighborhood, town and city has its tiendas: little shops similar to small and crowded convenience stores. There are also the family businesses; bakeries and tortilla shops, stationery stores, pharmacies , fruit and vegetable stands, etc. Many of these shops are actually “storefronts” with the business in the front and the family home in the rear behind a privacy barrier.El Mercado

And then there are the mercados, huge farmers type markets that are usually in a permanent location, sometimes covered and several square blocks in size. We enter into the narrow lanes of the mercado and are instantly assaulted by the calls from the vendors seeking our attention, entreating us to buy their goods, declaring absolutely the best quality and price.

??????????This competes with the blaring music and noisy discussions all around from the crowds of people in a riotous cacophony. Stalls are jammed side by side into every available space and goods hang from the tent type walls, corrugated tin ceilings and shelves packed with colorful goods.

MannequinsMannequins decked out in skinny jeans and t-shirts strut their stuff next to pirated cd’s and dvd’s and hardware tools. Piles of underwear and padded bras are sold next to stacks of eggs and handcrafted items such as traditional weavings, leather goods, jewelry, and pottery.El Mercado

Plastic ware and household goods share space with fruits, vegetables and flowers all in a tower of abundance. There are of course the usual mangos, bananas, tomatoes, avocados and more strange and exotic things that we’ve never seen and have to ask in our Spanglish “what is this?” and “how do I eat it?”.

An artful display of chicken feet and other parts

An artful display of chicken feet and other parts

The meat, poultry and fish stalls are areas that we prefer to visit earlier in the morning (especially before the fish smell begins to permeate the area). Hanging from the ceiling are strange-looking cuts of meat, paper covered counters with stacks of fish and large bowls of chicken feet and other parts all arrayed with careful attention like a flower arrangement. We’ve seen live chickens near the stalls a few times but are unsure if they’re sold live or butchered later. One early morning, before the Mercado opened, we saw a merchant with several piglets leashed together on ropes. Better not to guess…Piglets

And this is before we get to the biggest used clothing thrift store we’ve ever seen.Aisles and aisles of clothing, sold by different venders, arrayed on hangers, piled onto tables, spilling to the floor. Huge wobbling stacks of shirts, trousers and skirts, dresses , underwear and shoes .

La Paca, an enormous bargain extravaganza!

La Paca, an enormous bargain extravaganza!

We’ve dug through the piles of clothing a couple of times out of curiosity but it requires patience, perseverance , stamina and maybe even some desperation. Easy, convenient and one stop shopping it ain’t!

By Richard and Anita, July, 2013

7 comments

  • Hi. Still watching you guys live the goodlife. Keep on keepin on. Love to yall! Ed earl

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  • Hello Anita & Dick,
    I too am a baby boomer and feel that I’ve finally found a travel blog that isn’t done by one of the many ‘younger’ travelers. I noticed your comment on Wandering Earl’s blog and followed you back to yours. For just starting out (with your blog) in May, you’re doing a hell of a job! I’ve signed up to receive your blog, along with a half dozen others I get regularly. I’m a travel junkie.
    A little about me and why I want to follow you guys: Without going into details, my story sounds much like yours, Dick. I’m now retired (economy) and plan to sell my house and hit the road in a year or less. I plan on traveling until either my mind or body (or both) give out. This won’t be new for me as I did a mid-life retirement RTW trip back in ’87.

    I (we) sold our house and car and traveled around the world for a total of almost 4 years. The first 1 1/2 years were with a backpack through 21 countries (Asia and Africa), then by VW camper van through 16 countries around Europe. We then came back to the US and were house parents at a Youth Hostel in Saratoga, California while holding down part time jobs, earning enough to buy a pick-up with camper and then driving to Costa Rica and back for the next year. Before that, I had, over the years, made over 15 different trips to Mexico. I’ve been to all the continents, except for the ones covered with Ice. Well, you get the idea, I’m not a novice at this.

    Which brings me to why I’m interested in your trip, one that doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. There aren’t too many out there traveling this way, at our age, doing a blog about it. I’ve just discovered your blog and have only read a few of your posts, but you are doing exactly what I’ve done and want to do again.

    I’m rambling on here as a reply, because I don’t see that you have a “contact us” (direct e-mail address) to communicate with you in any other way. It’s not like I can just call you up and ask you if you want to go have a beer and chew the fat.

    So, let me know if you are interested in pick’n each others brains. I’d really like to start off my journey with a dip into Mexico, just for old times sake. I can give you all kinds of tips on just about anywhere you want to go. It’s a big world out there. I’ve been to 60 countries so far and still have several that are very high on my list that I can’t believe I haven’t been to yet.

    Keep up the good work. If your traveling skills are half as good as your writing skills, you’ll have no problem! Happy Trails!

    Like

  • Hello Anita & Dick,
    I too am a baby boomer and feel that I’ve finally found a travel blog that isn’t done by one of the many ‘younger’ travelers. I noticed your comment on Wandering Earl’s blog and followed you back to yours. For just starting out (with your blog) in May, you’re doing a hell of a job! I’ve signed up to receive your blog, along with a half dozen others I get regularly. I’m a travel junkie.
    A little about me and why I want to follow you guys: Without going into details, my story sounds much like yours, Dick. I’m now retired (economy) and plan to sell my house and hit the road in a year or less. I plan on traveling until either my mind or body (or both) give out. This won’t be new for me as I did a mid-life retirement RTW trip back in ’87.

    I (we) sold our house and car and traveled around the world for a total of almost 4 years. The first 1 1/2 years were with a backpack through 21 countries (Asia and Africa), then by VW camper van through 16 countries around Europe. We then came back to the US and were house parents at a Youth Hostel in Saratoga, California while holding down part time jobs, earning enough to buy a pick-up with camper and then driving to Costa Rica and back for the next year. Before that, I had, over the years, made over 15 different trips to Mexico. I’ve been to all the continents, except for the ones covered with Ice. Well, you get the idea, I’m not a novice at this.

    Which brings me to why I’m interested in your trip, one that doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. There aren’t too many out there traveling this way, at our age, doing a blog about it. I’ve just discovered your blog and have only read a few of your posts, but you are doing exactly what I’ve done and want to do again.

    I’m rambling on here as a reply, because I don’t see that you have a “contact us” (direct e-mail address) to communicate with you in any other way. It’s not like I can just call you up and ask you if you want to go have a beer and chew the fat.

    So, let me know if you are interested in pick’n each others brains. I’d really like to start off my journey with a dip into Mexico, just for old times sake. I can give you all kinds of tips on just about anywhere you want to go. It’s a big world out there. I’ve been to 60 countries so far and still have several that are very high on my list that I can’t believe I haven’t been to yet.

    Keep up the good work. If your traveling skills are half as good as your writing skills, you’ll have no problem! Happy Trails!

    Like

    • Hola Steve- Thanks so much for your comment and for following our blog. I have to agree that there aren’t too many blogs featuring baby boomers as perpetual travelers so it’s great to meet like minded people. We’re heading out for Lake Atitlan this morning but will be back in (Wi-Fi) touch this weekend. I’m going to send you our email address because we’re definitely interested in continuing this correspondence. Hast Luego, Anita & Dick

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      • It’s hard to believe that there is no Wi-Fi at the Lake, especially in Panajachel. My suspicion is that you just want a little get-away from the computer (internet).

        I hope you have a good trip and are able to take the boat over to Santiago. If so, leave a few cigarettes and rum for “Maximon”. Asking for a few blessings now and then can’t hurt.

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        • Hola Steve,
          Back from a computer free jaunt to beautiful Lago de Atitlan. We traveled light and laptop free to reduce the temptation to spend our time in front of the computers. We did see Maximon, too, and you’re right, gotta gather the blessings where you can!
          Your travels sound really interesting. Wish we’d been more aware of all the world has to offer like you and jumped off the great American dream treadmill years ago. We’ll keep moving (slow-travelling) as long as we stay happy and fairly healthy (hopefully for years). I read about too many people who wait for the “approved” retirement age only to find out that the dream has passed them by because of their health.
          Like you, we’ve noticed that there are not a lot of people our age travelling long-term and writing about it. For us, the idea of becoming expats only to find a home in a different country and settle down again isn’t the answer. We’ve done the settling down, now’s the time to move on.
          We’ll be in touch via email soon so that we can exchange more info, tips and stories (guess we need to get a “contact us” email. Great suggestion!) Thanks again for following us. Anita & Richard

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