Tag Archives: Abastos Market

Day of the Dead Abastos Market Crush and Shuffle

You might think this is a dance, but it’s really how to push your way through the huge Abastos Market crowds that come the morning of October 31 to buy all the things needed to decorate family graves and home altars.  This is not a market for the faint of heart.  It is serious stuff.  Huge.  It’s a market you can get lost in.  And, if you aren’t careful you could lose more than you came in with.  People press up against you to get by.  Children are underfoot.  There are some moments when you have to step out of the aisle to catch your breath.  To get there is no small feat either.  The traffic outside the market is bumper to bumper and there are no lanes.  Drivers push through the street to get their nose out in front of another vehicle just like the people who push through the crowds inside.

Shopping for fruit, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

You need a person with you who knows this market well to get you back to where you started.  You need a money pouch that is tucked tight close to your body.  If you are carrying a passport, keep it inside your shirt.  Don’t bring a lot of cash.  Keep your camera strap hung around your neck and your hand on your camera.  Leave all unnecessary equipment back at your hotel!   If this is all too daunting, then you might try going to the tamer Benito Juarez Market in Oaxaca instead.  It is within walking distance of the Zocalo!

Our Group with the Chavez Santiago Family at the Abastos Market, Oaxaca

Pan Muerto -- Day of the Dead Bread, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

The market is filled with edible treasures:  sugar skulls; bread baked with painted images of Jesus, Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe; chocolate skeletons; and every household staple that one can imagine plus some.

Fruit Vendor, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

Fruit is used to decorate graves and altars.  In addition to oranges, limes, bananas, grapefruit and apples, there are papayas, mangoes, and many more exotic varieties than I am familiar with.  Children learn to sell by their mother’s side at a young age, packaging the purchases of shoppers and making change.

Spun and Molded Sugar Treats, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

Fish Vendor from the Isthmus, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

If you enter the market near the bus parking lot, you might find this woman from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who prepares and sells the most delicious battered and deep fried fish.

Chicken Feet, Abastos Market, Oaxaca

Mercado Abastos Crush: Muertos 2009

No words are necessary!

Bus and Other Transport to Teotitlan del Valle

There are three ways to get to Teotitlan: by bus, by collectivo and by private taxi. Each village has it’s own bus system which it contracts with the village leaders. The Teotitlan bus is colored bright yellow with orange contrasts. The best place to catch the bus is from CHEDRAUI. This is a shopping center not too far from the Zocalo. You can catch a taxi to get to Chedraui for a few pesos. It would be a long-ish walk. The bus runs every hour at the 1/4 hour … best to get there 20-30 minutes early because these times are approximate. The fare to Teotitlan is 10 pesos (about $1.00). The collectivos will also swing by this stop and the fares are a little bit more. They will circle the bus stops to pick up passengers until they are packed full — 4 in the backseat, sometimes 2 in the front seat. A private taxi will cost about $20-25 USD. The Teotitlan bus will take you right into the center of the village, but you can ask them to drop you off anywhere along Benito Juarez, the road into town. If you wanted to stop at Federico Chavez’s casita before entering the center of town, you would ask to be dropped off at Francisco I. Madero which crosses Benito Juarez. (There’s a yellow sign at the corner advertising Federico Chavez Santiago Family Weavers.  Continue down F.I. Madero to #55 in the last block and turn right down the alley into the courtyard. Phone: 52 44078) You can also hop a bus from Oaxaca to Tlacalula or Mitla. It will drop you off at the Crucero (the crossroads where Avenida Benito Juarez joins Pan American Highway 190). There are usually taxis or tuk-tuks waiting for these buses, and they will take you into town for 10 pesos. If there isn’t one there, it won’t be too long before one comes along!

The other option is to catch the same bus or collectivo at the Abastos Market where they originate, but it’s so confusing down there, a huge hubbub of people and cars and taxis and buses, that I prefer Chedraui. It’s just easier. Chedraui also has ATM machines, some fast food services, boutiques, and a supermarket. The other bus stop is near the ball stadium at the corner of Calle de Los Derechos Humanos and Boulevard Eduardo Vasconcelos on the main road leading into and out of town. It picks people up between 15-25 minutes after every hour from Monday through Saturday. This is the last main stop and by the time the bus gets there, there is usually standing room only.We love riding the bus. It will take about 45 minutes in either direction. The bus directly into Teotitlan does not operate on Sunday, but you can get the bus to Mitla and ask them to stop at the Crucero. Same routine: pick up a taxi or tuk-tuk into town.

The Teotitlan bus will go through Tule and stop to pick people up along the 190 Highway. Villagers go back and forth for doctors appointments, to their stalls in the markets, to school, and to visit with friends. They haul bags of food and flowers, rugs and baskets, books in backpacks. This is where I love people watching: the elderly women with their fancy braided pigtails and huge dangling 10K gold filagree earrings embellished with pearls or colored zircons or amethysts, and the school children in uniforms.