Bayside, New York
April 20, 2002
It’s really hard to determine whether the crafts or the people selling them are more colorful. Though we visited several shops, and saw some incredibly unique things, my most vivid memory is of a man in one of the shops in Ciro’s Arcade who totally insisted on selling something to me "now" because he didn’t believe in the instability of "later". He was most imaginative, in describing the painful process in which his father, an old man (and he called him such) used to produce these very "uneek" stained glass pieces, and with which he, the son, helped him greatly, by bringing them to the big city, and selling them for close to nothing.
The Arcade was practically deserted when we walked in, and it was really heart breaking to see all of these folks, mostly men, come to life for a few minutes, long enough to call on us to visit and find something cheap. If it were not for the language, and the separateness of each shop, you would swear that you were in a souk with hawkers shouting to get your attention to their wares.
The quality of the items appears to have improved tremendously over the years of having people report back from having gone to Tijuana. This being my first time, I could only compare it to material I had seen imported, or in Mexican markets in Texas. Jewelry literally dangles everywhere and I learned that Mexico is the leading exporter of silver. But let’s get back to Ciro’s; as you enter the arcade, the colors assault you on arrival, and the variety of folk art seems endless; it’s a long stretch with shops on both sides, and at the very end, is the most interesting as there were some very atypical pieces on the floor which caught my attention, including an outstanding mirror framed in sculpted metal. The Huichol masks came to my attention here, and I decided to start Chuck on his collection by purchasing 2 of them. You can find them in almost every shop, and prices vary from $7 each at the very lowest, up to $12 for the same pieces. It was the joyous splashes of colors that attracted me to them, and of course, the clay that lay underneath.
The interesting thing about the arcade is that you don’t need to go out the same way you came in, and that was a blessing! We found a most interesting shop on our exit route selling decorated tiles of various sizes which make great kitchen hot plates, or if you’re ambitious, flooring or part of a backsplash. We bought a few different designs.
I encourage you to venture in one of these arcades since you are allowed up to $400 in merchandise as you return to the US, and your dollar will go pretty far here.
From journal Day Tripper - Tijuana