My son has a birthday coming up and we thought to rework his room to reflect his almost-a-man age. So he and I went through his things and took out the younger stuff–like the Bob the Builder suitcase, the Spidey posters, the itty bitty reclining chair and the like, to make room for other more manly decor. But, as funds are tight, we needed to sell the rejected items to buy other items. This meant a trip to Cerano for the Sunday tianguis (flea market).
So we loaded up the truck and headed out early Sunday morning. My husband secured us a puesto (spot). It was a pretty good spot, right next to the ice cream store at the corner of the callejon (alley) that goes to the church. We were up on the bridge that crosses the arroyo (open sewer drain), so by 2 pm the smell was a bit strong, but by then we had done all the business we had hoped to and more, so we left.
The first to greet us after we had our puesto assigned was Cowboy. He hangs about the tianguis asking for handouts and helping merchants unload for a few pesos. Although I hadn’t been to Cerano in over a year, he remembered my name and rushed over to help us unload. My husband gave him 10 pesos for his efforts.
Business was slow but steady in the morning. I let my husband do all the negotiating and just kept an eye on the merchandise. It isn’t like a yard sale, where the prices are ticketed and you pay the price on the ticket. An interested person asks the cost of the item. My husband responds with a price. The potential buyer thinks it over. My husband asks what price would be acceptable. The potential buyer names a price substantially lower than the proposed price. My husband responds with a negative and then points out the special features of the object of interest. Then he names a price 10 pesos lower than the original price. The potential buyer may name another price. My husband may say ‘ni para mi ni para ti’ and offer a different price. This continues until they agree on a price or my husband says the price they want to pay is too low and the deal ends. Occasionally someone walking by will hear the price my husband names and snatch the object at that price, stealing it away from the negotiating buyer. It’s all the same to us.
After misa, (mass) things started to get busy. While my husband did his salesman thing, my son and I went to the carniceria (butcher shop) that sells carnitas de res (fried cow pieces). Carnitas are typically made from pig and are not on my list of favorite things to eat, but these carnitas de res make going to Cerano something to look forward to. My husband bought tortillas from the 13-year old son of his cousin who died last year from inhaling light bulb filaments (I’m still not sure I understand that) and we chowed down.
Oh, did I mention that my husband is from Cerano? Cerano is a small town about 30 minutes from Moroleón and as different as being on Venus. The population is said to be about 4,000 and most of them I swear are relatives of his. Well, look that the logistics. My mother-in-law came from a family of 9 children, children of Mama Vira and Papa Rique. Her father Papa Rique also had a lady on the side who had 9 children. My mother-in-law had 11 children, although none live in Cerano at the moment. Her sister Lucia had 9 children, all of which live in Cerano. Her daughters all have 3 children each, some of which live in Cerano. My mother-in-law’s other sister, Tía Lena, the dwarf who owns the bar, has 4 daughters who have a variety of children. Another sister, Tía Jesus (yes, Jesus) has 3 girls. Basically, a good portion of the town reflects my husband’s features, some so closely that at a distance I have mistaken identity. One day, one of his cousins was at the house of the relatives that we were visiting, but without a shirt. I went to scold my husband for taking his shirt off, when I realized, just in time that this person was quite a bit younger than my husband, and wait, wasn’t him at all.
My husband, having lived there until he was 13, can identify and tell the stories of nearly all the residents. One man came along and wanted to buy a palo (shovel) because it would be useful if he were attacked. I thought this was a bit strange until my husband explained that this man was the uncle of Cowboy. OK. All in the family right?
Mama Vira, Papa Rique and Tia Jesus stopped at our puesto to visit with us. We shook hands all around–our customary greeting. They looked over our things. My husband gave Mama Vira $20 for tortillas and I gave Tia Jesus a flowered comforter that we had out to sell. They shook hands all around again and left, happy with the day’s acquisitions.
Mama Sofia, the mother of my husband’s father, also passed by. She greeted me amiably enough on her way to buy meat for lunch, but wouldn’t look our way on the way back. Seems she hasn’t forgiven my husband for nearly choking the lights out of her husband, Tio Felipe (not the father of my father-in-law Porfirio who died after being kicked by a burro some 50 years ago) after Felipe had given her a beating. Felipe has tried various times over the years to murder Mama Sofia. I think she recovers out of spite.
Well, sales went well overall. We had $600 take home after paying for the puesto, cleaning fees, ice cream, carnitas, the family handouts and gas for the truck, which is more than I earn in 2 days teaching. It doesn’t pay to go every week, but once every few months is a nice afternoon’s work. Now on to remodeling.