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P1040903

Everyone who knows Louise knows that she’s a varsity-level shopper. Leaving the theater last night, she lingered at numerous shop windows even though the shops were closed. Closed! When the shops are closed, she plans strategy. When they’re open, she manipulates prices, selections, and even vendors with the precision of an NBA star on a charge to the basket. The woman is shopping’s Kobe Bryant.

Thus you can imagine her enthusiasm for the annual opening of the Old Town Farmers’ market in Puerto Vallarta’s Emiliano Zapata district, a district where gringos gather to worship the gods of Mexican cuisine, art, and apparel.

Now before you form a romantic image of a quaint Mexican outdoor market in a charming colonial village, note that the first vendor we encountered was a Portlander. His wife attended Le Cordon Bleu College there. Louise bought buckets of his pesto, which immediately leaked into my backpack. Another Americano, in the business of growing peanuts and making peanut butter for PV’s peanut-butter-starved gringo market (“I quit my day job last year,”) caught my eye. In fact, most of the market’s booths were staffed by gringos.

There were handmade clothes, sexy firefighter calendars (which I had autographed as a present for my daughter), silver jewelry, hand-rolled cigars, and preservative-free dog food. The (human) food and the music were typical Puerto Vallarta, which is to say exquisite. It was all very festive and sunny; this is the best time of the year in PV.

We’ve visited markets in five countries now. Interestingly, they all included zapatos (shoes — Louise’s favorite) except one, and that one was in the Emiliano Zapata District of PV. You’d think, with a name like Zapata, the district’s market would feature zapatos, but no: no zapatos. But really now, do NBA fans riot when Kobe misses a layup? No. Do Zapatistas (the shoppers, not the revolutionaries) riot when there are no shoes at the PV market? Of course not, not when there are so many other options. Besides, Sybil got a hunky firefighter and I got chunky peanut better. Who needs shoes?

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