Tianguis in Tlacolula


The state of Oaxaca is home to several indigenous groups that account for approximately a third of its population.  Nearly 500,000 Zapotecs live in and around the Valles Centrales, or central valleys, including in the towns of Tlacolula and Mitla.  Colorful and engaging, this area of Mexico is known for its rich indigenous heritage and traditions.  Many people still dress in traditional clothing and speak languages other than Spanish.  At times it’s even difficult to resist the offers of chapulenas, or spicy dried grasshoppers, that are sold by the local women from baskets which they balance on the tops of their heads…difficult, but not impossible.

Located 31km south of Oaxaca City, Tlacolula is home to one of the Valle Centrales’ largest markets.  Sunday is Tlacolula’s tianguis, or market day.  Streets are closed to traffic and stalls packed with goods for sale are all that can be seen for blocks in every direction.   Nearly anything and everything imaginable is available somewhere in the market.  There is even an area with live poultry.  It was a lot of fun to watch customers dangling live turkeys upside down, estimating their weight and negotiating prices with the vendors while their children chased the other live birds around in the streets.  We inquired as to the going rate for a live turkey – around 400 Pesos, or a little less than $40.  Fortunately, many of the birds will soon have a new home on the buyer’s farm and not a place on their dinner table, at least not immediately.  Even so, I have a feeling we’ll be feasting on something other than turkey this Thanksgiving.


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