Thursday, January 29, 2015

Shopping & Strolling Around La Paz

Like any Saturday in the U.S., the biggest shopping day of the week in La Paz, Baja Sur is Saturday.  Ursula and Hans have lots of mercados (markets) and tiendas (stores) to show me.  We start with the organic veggie market next door to the RV park. 

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Its gorgeous painted gate opens to a large vegetable garden that is on a large vacant lot that will someday likely become a hotel or condo development.

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Here, you can pick your own produce—can’t get any fresher than that, but I’m even more enthralled by the morning sun lighting up this large sunflower.  Has Kansas Summertime come to the Baja?

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We next head down to the market area of town where there are a few large mercados and numerous tiendas along the surrounding streets.   The Madero Market has a large variety of foods – from fruits and veggies, to fish and meat.  They’ll even sell you a pig’s head if you’re so inclined (none for me, thanks!).

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Madero also has plenty of non-edibles for sale too.  From party dresses and sequined high-heel shoes, to cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and guitars.

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We next head over to the Bravo Market.  They, too, have plenty of fruits and veggies.

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But here their fresh fish vendor is the most-popular of all.

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We stroll down the shop-lined streets and marvel at their colorful wares.  One of the merchants has a dog that looks like Millie—the only other yellow Lab I’ve seen in Baja!

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Ursula leads me to a wonderful (but decidedly odd) store so I can buy some of their homemade agave nectar that is as thick and smooth as honey.  This store also sells a wide variety of dried cooking spices and chilies, which one could somewhat expect.

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In the middle of the store, though, is something completely unexpected—dozens of bags of opened dried dog and cat food!  Scoop and buy as much or as little as you need!

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The stores along the road continue to sell a wide variety of items, from everyday necessities to completely oddball.  You can buy anything from custom-made leather saddles…to Day of the Dead masks…

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Or dress yourself up in some loud leggings…or wild fake nail tips.

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Even the pharmacy here is a bit more lively and festive.  When was the last time you saw a giant dancing pharmacist outside the corner Walgreens store?!!!

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All this shopping gives us quite an appetite, so we head back over to the Madero Market “food court” where a half-dozen restaurants line the perimeter.  Unlike US shopping mall food courts, these restaurants all just serve the same cuisine (Mexican food), but the portions are big and prices are small!

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After lunch, we head back to the RV park to get Millie and then take a walk down the Malecon (walkway along the bay) to see the sculptures and check out what’s hoppin’.

La Paz was a major pearl capital for many years, and served as the setting of John Steinbeck’s 1947 novel,  The Pearl.  So, the large pearl sculpture is the most popular along the malecon.  Being from Chicago, it reminds me a bit of  The Bean!

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Most of the other sculptures are bronze-- like this mermaid holding a dolphin.

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This evening, another mermaid is posing for her photo shoot along the beach.  Perhaps one of the candidates for Queen of next month’s Carnaval celebration?

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While the city has a sailboat marina further west and mega-sized docks to the east in Pichilingue for the big ferry boats, there curiously sits one moderately-sized pier in the center of the downtown malecon.  We discover later that this pier was built when Queen Elizabeth visited La Paz a few decades ago.  City officials wanted a proper dock to welcome her Britannia yacht.

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Today, another interesting ship is docked at this pier—the National Geographic Sea Bird.  If anyone has a spare $6K to $11K laying around for a week’s vacation, this little ship looks like a grand time!

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Its guests have just been bussed in from the airport (Mexican passenger busses sure put the dumpy old Greyhounds of the US to shame, don’t they?).

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Walking along the pier being so close to all this gorgeous blue water, a certain yellow swimming dog begs Hans to give her a little boost up over the wall so she can take a quick dip!

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No Hoy, Millie (not today)!

Lots of kids and dogs along the malecon.  The “multi-tasker award” goes to this enterprising young dad who somehow manages to babysit his kid while walking the dogs and getting in his own bike ride exercise to boot!

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As we walk past some souvenir stands, a little girl runs up to Millie and is enamored with her blonde hair and big tail.  Millie, kindly, lets her hug, pat, and pull her for a few minutes before moving on.

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There’s quite a crowd gathered up at the ice cream shop.  What could it be?  A guy just getting an ice cream cone for his gigantic great dane!  Ah, Mexico!

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The setting sun illuminates the pangas and silhouettes the palm trees….

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Another end to another wonderful day in the city of peace, La Paz!

11 comments:

  1. Looks like a wonderful spot to visit.

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    1. It's great. Enough modern conveniences for gringos to be comfortable without the "sell out" feel of some of the big resort towns that have lost much of their Mexican flavor. La Paz still feels "authentic".

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  2. I don't understand why people leave this beautiful place so full of everything one needs to come to the USA? I see only prosperous shop owners and beautiful clean streets and happy people.

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    1. Indeed. I think far fewer Mexicans are moving to the US these days, and more Americans (& Canadians) are moving to Mexico! But, truthfully, while La Paz had plenty of happy, prosperous residents, the Malecon's cleanliness is the exception rather than the rule....as is the case with most Mexican towns I've visited. Still, would rather take happy people and dirtier streets, than rude unhappy people with pristine boulevards!

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  3. Your photos are great and really love the one of the Sunflower - frame worthy

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    1. Thanks Sandy--- just at the right place at the right time!

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  4. Looks fabulous. Would it be fair to say this is your favorite town so far?

    Nina

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    1. Favorite town in Baja for sure (with the best fish tacos too!). But on the mainland, Mazatlan, Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende will tug my heartstrings (still have much more to explore there)

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  5. OMG, I need to go to Baja! Your pics are FAB! Who could decide between the wild leggings, nail tips, or the dancing pharmacist? One of each, please! :) But those veggies are to die for! Love the pics- I can really live it through the computer. Thanks for sharing- have fun!

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    1. Too funny-- yes I have no doubt, had you been here, I'd have seen you dressed in the pink leggings with matching nail tips dancing away with the overstuffed pharmacist! But, seriously, La Paz is a great little city and gateway to some really exceptional marine eco-tours.

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  6. I'm finally catching up on your blog. LOVE the sunflower photo, and the pearl is great. We definitely have to go next year.

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