Would you buy shrimp from this guy?

The best salesmen in the world live in Mexico. In Sayulita, I have seen guys on the street selling sacks of dried camerones, homemade fireworks, the little mango- or apple-flavored sweets called huesitos (little bones), 3-day old newspapers, and 8-track tapes of the Carpenters (the only item I was seriously tempted to purchase; the theme for my high school prom was We’ve Only Just Begun).

I have a theory that if you are a patient man (and I am not), you could just sit in the plaza in Sayulita and sooner or later, someone would come by offering to sell you whatever it was you needed.

A couple of fishermen drive around the plaza almost every afternoon in a white pickup truck. The more grizzled-looking of the two stands in the back of the truck holding up their catch of the day and calling out, in the lovely sing-songy Mexican voice, “Cam-er-on-es,” or “Pul-po.”

photos by David Lansing

photos by David Lansing

Around Dia de los Muertos last year I saw him holding a 15- or 20-lb. snapper high over his head as if it were Super Bowl trophy. I thought about buying it and grilling it up zarandeado-style, which is a local way of marinating a whole fish in soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and chiles—or whatever you feel like throwing in there. It would have been fabulous. Except…I just kept wondering how long this guy had been hauling around this snapper in the back of his pickup truck. I mean, did he catch it this morning? Last night? Three days ago?

Same thing with the shrimp he sells. Mind you, it’s 84 degrees here today. So do I really feel like getting a pound of good-sized camerones that have probably spent more time sitting on a tailgate than the average Texas Longhorns fan?

Then there’s this little woman who pushes a cart around the plaza selling balloons, artificial flowers, mops, and 10-foot-long feather dusters dyed the colors of the Mexican flag. I have no idea what you’d do with those. But that didn’t stopped me from buying one. It’s a safer option than shrimp off the back of a truck, don’t you think?

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