Yesterday was Swami Sunday here in Rosarito, as is every Sunday. “What is Swami Sunday?” you ask. Swami is the locals’ pronunciation of Swap Meet. It took me a while to figure that out.
The swap meet is held on a street that run east and west and is a middling steep hill. It offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean as one walks down the street. On either side of the street are a variety of small outdoor vendors offering everything from furniture to hardware, hot prepared foods, like pizza or carnitas (a wonderful pork dish), freshly butchered meats, fresh fish, local cheeses and vegetables.
It is a gathering place for families and friends. Families stroll the street with children, the occasional pet, and friends. Each vendor offers a different product. You can find the hot pizza stand right next to the hardware vendor. The cheese vendor is next to the fresh fishmonger. One of the most intriguing things I have found is a lady offering freshly butchered hens that are split open to reveal the egg yolks still inside of the body cavity: Breakfast and dinner? She is there every week.
I grow a lot of our vegetables in my small garden plot, but I do like to go to the swami for those things that I don’t grow. I am quite a localvore and I want to support my local community. For instance, I do not have room in my yard for a mango tree. Have you ever seen one? They are huge! I can buy locally grown mangoes by the kilo at the swami, and quite inexpensively, I might add.
In addition to being able to purchase the freshest fish, meat and vegetables, just walking through the swami is fun. It is a people watcher’s paradise and a great way to absorb the flavor of the real local life. There are a few expatriates like me there, but for the most part it is really for the local families.
When I first moved here I wondered how the locals could afford the relatively high priced food and supplies offered by the large merchants here, like Wal-Mart and the Mexican version, Commercial Mexicana. The answer is they don’t. They buy almost everything at the swami. Need a tool? Look in the hardware booth. Need toilet paper? Look in the booth that offers everything hygienic: toothpaste, laundry detergent, all kinds of household cleaners and paper products. You can’t afford a four pack of toilet paper? No problem! They are sold individually wrapped, as are bars of soap.
What more can you ask for? Take a walk through the Swami and you can stop for a hot lunch, buy fresh, locally grown or caught food, people watch, and enjoy a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean all in the same day!
Here is a photo of what I bought this week. It includes a kilo of corvina, a local fish and half of a kilo each of the three cheeses. The entire cost was less than ten American dollars, with no haggling.