This man walked in front of me as I snapped the photo. Note the flowers, fruit, streamers and piÃ±atas behind him.
Well, I found it. This is the mercado, the wonderful place that sells mounds of interesting stuff: fresh produce, meat, cool piñatas, flowers, clothing and just about anything else you might desire. The Mercado Ignacio Ramirez is located at the top of one of San Miguel's hills. From the jardín (centro) it's impossible to see this. We walked up because my neighbor, a Canadian woman who vacations here for long periods (she's been here for 8 weeks this summer) told us that there was artisan'ssan market at the top of the hill. I assumed it would be full of artesanias (arts and crafts), which it did have, but it also had all of the other interesting things a Mexican mercado will have.
Today the mercado was populated exclusively with Mexican patrons. On the street where it is located, there are also a number of great shops that we've been looking for: three great butcher shops and a place that sells roasted chicken (they are to die for). We also found a summer language school for the kids, so in all it was a successful morning.
This afternoon I had my first interview, and it went well. As I suspected from my encounters in the airport with other San Miguel residents, he was a fluid conversationalist and gave me a lot to think about. He suggested that I just "hang out' in the jardÃn in the mornings as a way to meet potential informants. The benches that face the parrochia (the town's parish church) are almost always taken by Gringos and other expatriates, and he said when he and his wife moved here they found it a good way to make friends. I'll give it a try tomorrow.