Happy Cinco de Mayo to all our South of the Border friends. We once went to Tijuana on May 5th and found ourselves in the middle of a parade. It is a special holiday in Mexico, and their parades rival most of our small town parades here in the U.S. They had high-school bands with color guards and majorettes, firefighters and their trucks, horses and riders in colorful costumes, local dignitaries and beauty queens riding in convertibles. It reminded me of every parade I had ever seen in my home town, except that most of those faces had traces of the Mayan Empire in them.
There is a market in Tijuana, mostly catering to tourists, in which you may buy all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs, clothing, leather goods and foods. You would do well to keep your wallet locked up during these forays, since the goods are often inferior and high priced. Save the shopping for the department stores and better restaurants; you will save money as well as intestinal strife! Most of the restaurants and hotels in Cancun have health regulations; they have their own water supply and it is clean, but if you eat or drink anything from a street vendor, you may expect to spend the better part of the day in a rest room.
On another trip to Mexico, this time in Cancun, I failed to obey my own advice. We took a bus tour to Chichen Itza (which is well worth the time) and on the way back, the bus stopped for a late luncheon in a road-side place that was (according to the tour guide) approved for tourists and supposedly clean. Tromping through the jungles plays havoc with my appetite, so by the time we stopped, starving as I was, I ignored the small voice in my ear urging moderation. I ordered, among other things, soup. It was very good, but that night, I was made aware of the folly of my ways and the folly lasted for the better part of 2 days. I will not bore you with the gory details; suffice it to say I know whereof I speak.
One day we went into Cancun City and our goal was to buy souvenirs and gifts. We found a wonderful leather-goods shop, which was managed by a young woman from the US. The "in" leather of the day was eel-skin, and they had plenty of it. I settled on a purse that doubled as a briefcase, and paid what I thought was a very good price for it. Three weeks later, back home, I spied the exact same piece in a store here for $25-30 less than I had paid in Mexico. Caveat emptor!