Much has been said within the expat community about shopping in the local markets and stores as a way not only to support these neighborhood merchants, but often as a way to obtain items at a lower cost. I've always been attracted to the idea of living in a city where one can walk to the local grocery store, butcher or baker on a daily basis for needed food items. Unfortunately, few cities in the US offer this type of living, so unless you happen to live in NYC, Chicago or San Francisco, a car, bus, or taxi is needed to get to your destination. If you are looking for a hardware store, you are probably looking at a distance of at least a few miles to find a strip mall or big box store. Not so in Mérida. On an early visit to our house, we needed a step ladder, well....because every home must have one and because a light bulb needed changing. I stepped out the front door, turned to my left and walked to the end of the block, made another left and there was our very own neighborhood tlapaleria (in Mexican Spanish ironmonger's shop or hardware store), Los 2 Camellos (2 camels). There were about 4 or 5 to choose from, so I chose the 5-step escalera at a cost of 725 pesos (about $62.00 US). I'm not sure that I really saved much money, if any, but the convenience and the fact that I'm helping a small business owner as opposed to Walmart, Costco or Home Depot, makes all the difference. The time from leaving the house to return with ladder in hand was approximately 10 minutes. An added bonus was meeting the owner, Don Juan del Socorro Palma.
On another trip we discovered that we had yet to purchase other common household tools. So off to Los 2 Camellos for a martillo (hammer), a couple of desarmadors (screw driver), a pinza de presión (plumbing wrench), pliers, and a couple of light bulbs. Total cost: 193.80 pesos (about $16.00 US). We had a little difficulty asking for cement nails. Doña was working in the store this day and I kept asking for 'clavo cemento' and as she began to scoop cement into a plastic bag I stopped her and simulated hammering a nail. I pointed to a box of nails and Don Juan finally understood. We wanted clavos para concreto. Before we left he asked me to write the name 'Phillips screwdriver' on a piece of paper. I wondered if other gringos had walked in asking for such a tool.
Images from internet and Hassle-free ClipArt