I know what you must be thinking- how on earth can Walmart be considered cultural under any circumstances? I mean, I am a Target girl through and through, and only go to Walmart back home under the most extreme, dire conditions. But, after a couple of years mocking Mom for making the first night pilgrimage to get our groceries for the week, one time a few years ago I decided to go too. And, man, is it an experience. The Walmart here is nothing like the ones back home. It’s filled with authentic touches and all the locals go there for their groceries.
First of all, it’s located all the way downtown, in real Cancun. Real Cancun is great, just different. Tourists don’t have too much reason to go down there very often, but the locals are always welcoming. So, you take the bus or cab about 30 minutes into downtown, and when you pull up to Walmart, it’s pure chaos. People and cars are everywhere, vying for a place to park or walk through. The external Christmas display is up now, so people were buying Christmas trees, and the Salvation Army had a little Christmas concert going on outside with kids singing carols in Spanish.
Luckily, when you finally make your way through the traffic to find a cart and get inside, it is very organized with lots of room to move around. There’s a fantastic bakery, full of cases dedicated to flan and tres leches cakes. The fresh produce is amazing- they even have pieces of cactus you can buy- for cooking! (Cactus stew, anyone?) And, as you might expect, they have a whole tortilla section, with giant machines making fresh, steaming tortillas by the thousand. I don’t think anyone goes into Walmart without leaving with at least one packet of 50 or so tortillas.
The exchange rate is kind of crazy right now for us down here. $1 USD = $13 pesos. Which means that some of the things we bought are just ridiculously cheap.
- A whole flan the size of a cake = $5.50
- A stack of 50 tortillas = $.39 (that’s right, 39 cents!)
- A giant 2+ gallon water jug = $3.75
- The most amazing coconut yogurt ever = $.35
- A big bag of potato chips = $1.65
At the end of the day it’s still Walmart, but as long as you stick to the extensive grocery section and avoid the rest of the store, you can almost pretend you’re in an authentic Mexican supermercado.