Tlacolula Shopping List: Oaxaca’s Sunday Market

The Sunday Tlacolula regional tianguis (indigenous market) is where locals go to buy everything imaginable: furniture, cookware, light bulbs, plants, vegetables, fruits, meats, rebozos, live animals, jewelry, aprons, CDs and DVDs, clothing and plumbing supplies, just to list a few!

Portable stalls, covered with blue plastic tarp, line the streets for blocks on end.  Interspersed are some interesting tourist collectibles: finely woven baskets, lacquered gourds, Mitla tablecloths, embroidered blouses, carved wood figures, fancy shawls, and more.

I love Tlacolula.  The colorful indigenous dress, women carrying babes to their breasts wrapped in shawls securely tied around their necks and midriffs, wheelbarrows filled with honey dripping from hives, pushcarts with piles of fresh strawberries and guayaba so ripe that the air is like breathing a smoothie.  Men pull goats by coarse ropes.  Old women cradle turkeys under their arms.  Hawkers call out the daily specials at improvised street cafes where rotisserie chicken spins as diners eat at makeshift tables.

Petate weaver

This Sunday I had a shopping list.  No tourist dawdling for me.

I started out late, hopped on a 3 p.m. bus from Teotitlan del Valle (TDV) to Tlacolula.  The 10-minute ride is 7 pesos (that’s about 50 cents).  On Sundays, that’s the only destination for the TDV bus that makes numerous round trips all day ending with the last one returning at 3:30 p.m..

Tlacolula Shopping List:

  1. Clothes hangers.  The basic necessities are not what tourists are looking for, but Tlacolula has everything. 10 for 25  pesos.
  2. Oil cloth. This is not for the dining room table! I lit upon this solution to cover a window to keep the light out. Hopefully making for better sleeping.  2 meters for 60 pesos.
  3. Masking tape and picture wire.  The tape to hang the oilcloth and the picture wire to hang a beautiful clay sirena (mermaid) wall plaque I bought in Santa Maria Atzompa last week.  The potter made the platter with only one hole (a mistake) so no way to thread a wire to hang.  So I found a button at the market, too. (My plan, fit the button into the hole, thread the wire through the button holes, hang–it worked.) Tape and wire at the hardware store for 35 pesos.  Button from a street vendor for one peso.
  4. Hand-woven petate floor mat. Not on my shopping list, but who could resist the woman sitting on the curb weaving these mats from palm fronds. Indigenous people slept on these. Now, they make a perfect natural floor covering.  A steal at 40 pesos.                                         

La Dueña de Comedor Mary

5.  Late lunch at Comedor Mary. The most delicious food in the cleanest restaurant you’ve ever seen – anywhere.  I could write a whole post about Comedor Mary. Located on the street between the church and the permanent market. Chicken soup, chile relleno, accompanying plate of avocado, radishes, guaje, with a Coke Light for 90 pesos.


By the time I left the market, the TDV buses were kaput (last return trip at 3:30 p.m.).  So I walked to the Tlacolula crucero (crossroads) and picked up a collectivo (10 pesos) that dropped me off at the TDV crucero.  I sat next to the cutest 2-year old with her mom in the back seat and we made goo-goo eyes.  From there, I took a local collectivo (5 pesos each and sharing the cab with 6 people, 3 adult men in the front seat) into town.  My bundles went into the trunk, fortunately.   From there I walked home.

Overall, a great day I’d say.  Shopping list accomplished.



11 responses to “Tlacolula Shopping List: Oaxaca’s Sunday Market

  1. Hello there!
    My girlfriend and I are visiting oaxaca in September. What is the best way to get to the city from downtown oaxaca? We are willing more than willing to take public transportation.

    • You can get a bus or colectivo (shared taxi) from either the Baseball Stadium at Niño Heroes, Chedraui on the Periferico, or from Abastos Market directly to Tlacolula. Of course, nothing is direct expect for a private taxi! There will be multiple stops along the way and the trip will take about an hour, but the cost will be about 10 pesos per person on the bus or 20 pesos on the colectivo (fewer stops if full). Enjoy!

  2. Hi ,I am looking for a few(10) Oaxaca woven plastic shopping bags with handles .I a bought 3 of them while I visited Oaxaca during the day of the dead 2010,and they are the best ,beautiful and sturdy.
    You have a similar item on the left hand side of your website photo.
    Please let me know of any artisan association or any other source who would have such a thing .
    Thank you

  3. I can’t wait to visit this market when in the village in April. Looking forward to the Portrait Photography workshop! And Norma, your descriptions are so vivid. I feel almost like I’m there at the market with you.

  4. Norma,
    Thanks for sharing an interesting market day.But getting home on various conveyances was pretty exhausting!
    The Oaxaca attention in the Sunday New York Times was a great boon. They must love you and what you are doing for the artisans.
    I am sending your link to my friend, Joy Young ( who was Laurel’s admininstrative assistant) and a leader in my great motor home drive to Oaxaco about a decade ago.
    Best wishes in all that you do.

    • Hi, Audrey, glad you enjoyed the piece and thanks for the NY Times compliments. I love this life of discovery and going deep into one place. Traveling the world has its benefits and staying put in a foreign country offers amazing insights. Thanks for your support and sending me on to others. Fondly, Norma

  5. Norma, A little smile played around my lips as I read the above Blog
    and said to myself, ‘great, I didn’t raise a dummy’. Love, Mom

  6. Thank you for the very informative post. I am new to Oaxaca and I would like to make the trip to market. Before setting out, would you answer a couple of questions for me: from the zocalo in Oaxaca where do I go to catch the initial bus/collectivo? And is it safe to eat all the vegetables at the restaurant that you mentioned? Lastly, is it alright to eat the salsas at the food stands at the markets in Oaxaca?



    • Hi, Gary. Thanks for following us! and welcome to Oaxaca. There are several ways to get to Tlacolula from Oaxaca City. You can get a collectivo from the Abastos Market, or on the Periferico at Chedraui or on Heroes Niños by the baseball stadium. You can also get a bus from the Periferico or at the baseball stadium. I don’t know the city bus schedule, but you could probably get a taxi to either of these two locations to pick up the regional bus or collectivo. As for food safety: Out and about I usually don’t eat any raw veggies — only those that have been cooked and I rarely eat at food stands unless the food is hot and well-cooked. At Comedor Mary I left the greens and the radishes on the plate uneaten. The guaje there was cooked and I opened the pod myself so I knew the beans inside were good to eat. Frankly, I’m not sure about the salsas at food stands. When in doubt, be cautious. I pick out food stands that are very clean, where a lot of people eat, and usually order soup. I know expats who have lived here a long time and get complacent, eat randomly, and then get sick. At the Tlacolula market I have no hesitation about buying a roll or tortilla, and onion, an avocado (I take my Swiss Army Knife), and order a piece of tasajo or chorizo that they grill for me. I put all this into the roll or tortilla and eat it in the church patio while I people watch. I never, ever eat lettuce unless its at La Olla or La Biznaga or washed at home. For tortas say: Sin Lechuga!

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