Pinocchio Marionette - From Mexico With Love
If ever there was a miserable month in Chicago, it's probably the month of February. Yes, there is the one bright spot of Valentine's Day, but beyond that, the festive holiday season is long over, the first day of spring is still almost 2 months away, only a few brave souls venture out to shop and outside the window there is nothing but grey skies and dirty snow.
In an attempt to remain sane, I've taken to using the slow, dreary month of February as a time to escape to the sunny climes of Mexico. It has really become a mental health break: a time to pause, to recharge my batteries and to begin to feel human again. Being the obsessive person I am, however, I can never fully let go. Thus, I find myself drawn to the thrill of the hunt at the flea market - even while "getting away from it all" in Mexico.
The one market in Mexico that I always enjoy is found in the sprawling city of Mexico City. It is held on Sundays and is called La Lagunilla, named after the neighborhood where it is located. There are permanent vendors that are open every day of the week selling everything from bridal dresses to car parts, but on Sundays the place really comes alive as street vendors spill out into the neighborhood selling antiques and collectibles. This antique market is referred to as a tianguis (the Aztec word for an open-air market) or as mercado de pulgas (Spanish for flea market).
I've found everything there: from real European antiques (lovely but expensive), to charming Mexican collectibles (cheap and cheerful). Not everything is necessarily an antique or even vintage, and at a Sunday tianguis a few years back, I came upon a vendor selling adorable, vintage-looking-but-newly-carved wooden Pinocchio marionettes. Knowing it was a "now or never" moment, I bought every marionette he had and happily hauled them back to Chicago.
Everyone who saw our little Pinocchio fell under his magical spell and before long, they were all gone. Each time I'm at the tianguis, I look for the marionette vendor, but have never found him again...or his charming wooden puppet who wanted to become a real boy by proving himself to be "brave, truthful and unselfish."
"Now, remember, Pinocchio, be a good boy. And always let your conscience be your guide."