Mariachi Plaza, a stop on the Gold Line subway, is about a quarter of mile from where we live in Boyle Heights. Below ground, one finds a sparkling new cavernous subway station that must be buried at least 100 feet below street level.. Above ground, there is an extensive plaza adorned with a Spanish colonial band stand, the identifying symbol for the congregations of free-lance mariachis awaiting clients.
The Farmers Market is located to the rear of the plaza. We went to shop for produce. There were a half dozen stands with assorted fruit and vegetables, one of which had a large banner proclaiming that they did not use pesticides. Although my preference is for certified organic produce, I have learned that obtaining state certification is a long and complicated process and that few of the vendors who come to farmers markets are certified even though many of them might follow organic or organic related processes. The Santa Monica farmers market is the exception. I understand that the majority of the vendors are certified organic. Someday, I will get there. For the moment, the Mariachi Plaza Farmers Market meets my needs. As usual, I bought too much, but I figure that I am helping sustain people whose labors enhances my life.
The Mariachi Plaza Farmers Market was the creation of Jose Huizar, Councilmember of the Fourteenth District. By chance I met him at an event at Hollenbeck Palms the previous night. He orchestrated the ribbon cutting ceremony which was documented by the local ABC TV News outlet. Councilmember Huizar is a dynamic leader who was born and raised in this neighborhood. When he completed his official duties, he came to the bench where Mary was sitting and greeted her. By the time that he arrived, we had deposited the remains of at least a hundred peanut shells on the pavement. I apologized and he assured me that his crew of green uniformed high school age assistants would clear way our garbage. They did.
Then, the stage was animated with a troupe of a dozen white costumed female dancers who performed traditional Mexican dances flawlessly. Next came a young rock group; they said that they had graduated from high school only three years ago. They were loud, dynamic and rhythmic. Good to listen to. There was a break in which djs from a local radio station performed. Then, more live musicians.
How can I describe my reaction? I no longer felt like a stranger in my new neighborhood. A friend from Hollenbeck Palms who accompanied us, said that, he Mary and I were the only Caucasians. That might have been true. I was not aware of it, nor do I think was anyone else except my friend. Belonging to our new neighborhood, was a wonderful feeling that continues to resonate.
As the sun set around 7:30pm, I had a hard time getting Mary to leave. We'll be back next week.