Images of Mercado Jamaica, Mexico City

A few months ago, I needed to fly through Mexico City.  I’d heard mixed reviews about Mexico City….but it was still on my list.  So, I thought, what better way to visit than a few day trial on layover.  A visit light on commitment.  I can survive anything for a few days, right?  I did some heavy research to find an affordable place to stay…with character…in a nice, safe neighborhood.  I found this great place in San Miguel Chalpultepec through AirBNB, which turned out to be an awesome experience, a private room in a beautiful house in a nice, quiet neighborhood close to Chalpultepec Park with really warm, welcoming hosts, Paco and his wife, Majo.  I’d recommend it to anyone interested in privacy, cleanliness, and getting to know a few wonderful Mexicans!  With only a few days to spend, little planning under my belt, and a strong desire to explore markets and eat lots of street food, Majo recommended that I contact a man named Gabriel and enlist his help.  What an awesome recommendation, one that very likely set me up to love my experience in Mexico City!

Gab Tala of Pata de Perro DF offers personalized tour experiences that take a traveler off the beaten path (or to places on the beaten path but experienced as a local might).  With less than 24 hours notice (lucky for me, he was available), we decided to embark upon his already prepared 7 hour Ciudad de Mercados itinerary!  It was a Sunday, so our destinations were Mercado Jamaica, La Merced, Mercado Sonora, and La Lagunilla, with the plan to use our own 2 feet, the metro, the bus and the bike-share, eating as much as possible along the way!

I will definitely post soon covering this whole day and the other experiences I had in Mexico City.  But, today, I want to share some of my favorite photos of Mercado Jamaica, a market famous for its beautiful flowers.  It is located on the corner of Congreso de la Union and Avenida Morelos, southeast of the historic center.  In addition to the usual fruits, vegetables, meats and spices (and piñatas!!), this market offers over 1000 stands dedicated to flowers…cut flowers, arrangements, ornamentals.  With relatively open walking spaces great for gawking, this market was a relatively calm way to introduce me to a Mexican market…especially for the morning.  I am not a morning person!  Gab walked me through the market, talking to me about market etiquette (especially in regards to photography), telling me about the different things I was seeing and the history of the market, reassuring me if I wanted to taste something a vendor was offering, and taking me to his favorite stalls.  He quickly noticed that I loved to take photos and made sure to tell me when he saw an interesting subject or when I should probably ask before snapping a shot.  Then, as a little mini finale, he took me for carnita tacos…yes, he won an instant friend out of me with this move!  Honestly, I found wandering around Mercado Jamaica so enjoyable that I think Gab had to coax me out so that we’d have time for the others.  Endless photo opportunities.

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First thing I saw … beautiful piles of colorful spices and seasonings.  I would love to spend a few hours just learning for what all of these are.  …  one day.

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then…dried hibiscus, an edible flower that can be made into a tea, candied, used as a garnish, among other things.

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I was continuously surprised by how much effort the vendors put into presenting their produce well. Not only was the produce clean, but the lights that illuminated the produce often had certain colored paper wrapped around them to help light the produce well. These tomatoes just popped of bright red! There is no photo shopping here!

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Another example of how beautifully they displaced their produce. This is a type of fruit called marney.

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Papaya…my beloved papaya… No papaya bought in the U.S. can ever match that of the papaya closer to the equator…ever.

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Mmmm…this jicama with lime and cayenne was delicious! I loved snacking on the tasty treats on offer as we wandered through the market.

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Mexicans eat cactus. Who knew? I learned so much about the produce Mexicans use in their cooking, and I encountered a lot of new delicious treats!

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The flowers…what we were really here to see. Mercado Jamaica specializes in flowers, and there were so many and so many varieties. I didn’t take any photos of the flower arrangements out of respect for the florists (several asked me not to), but the rest of the flower market made for some beautiful photos!  (Note:  google Mercado Jamaica, which has numerous photos of arrangements, for an idea of what this market offers)

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Gab’s favorite…gardenias! So hard not to buy a bouquet!

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The colors were so vibrant; it was almost overwhelming.

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The prices were insanely cheap. There were piles of long stem roses for a fraction of the price you can get them back at home. This beautiful bouquet essentially cost US$1.50. Seriously, if I lived here, I’d buy flowers all the time.

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I think that these were my favorite. Simple but beautiful.

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The healthiest sunflowers I’ve ever seen…and bucket after bucket of them. A paradise!

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It kept getting better and better. Beautiful produce. Gorgeous flowers. CHEESE!!! What else could a girl ask for?!

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Oh. A girl could ask for candy. Yeap, but they have that here too! Candied apples, cayenne or plain, the most interesting treat I think I saw here. Cayenne covered candied apples? I’m not so sure about that…

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And, the finale…tacos! Yes. Please. !!!

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We crowded up to the counter, ordered up a few a piece, and sat down with our basic carnitas, surrounded by bowls of toppings with which to build our masterpieces…fixed them all up with a little of this and a little of that. End result = mouth watering deliciousness.

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