Shopping With Moises

Friends, you have not experienced the absurd until you have been squired around a Mexican Wal-Mart by your enormous Mexican bodyguard, both of you searching in vain for vanilla extract. This is how I spent my last few hours in Mexico City at the tail-end of a fabulous work trip, and I hope to goodness that this---along with my wedding day, the births of my future children, and the weekend I watched Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead 14 times in an attempt to set some sort of record ("I'm right on top of that, Rose!")---will be one of those memories I relive again when I'm on my deathbed many years from now.

My bodyguard's name was Moises. Actually, he was only partly my bodyguard: he was mostly my driver, but Mexico City being Mexico City,  Moises often got out of the car and accompanied the ladies in our group when we were embarking on solo missions. He was large, you see, Moises, and he had a shaved head, which together with the largeness served to make him quite intimidating. The hilarious thing, though, is that Moises was a teddy bear. He was, as they say, a gentle giant.

My favorite thing about Moises---apart from the time he told me that the drivers in Mexico City were "very, very crazy"  and the traffic in Mexico City was "very, very problem"---was that wherever he drove me on my last day would take, in his estimation, eleven minutes. Hotel to market? "It will take eleven minutes," said Moises. Got it, I said. And market to other market? "Eleven minutes." Okay, market to airport, then, what about that? "Mmm," said Moises, cocking his head, thoughtfully. "Maybe....about....eleven minutes?"

But back to the Mexican Wal-Mart, and how I ended up there. When I checked out of my hotel on Sunday, I still had five hours until my flight. Could Moises maybe take me to a market? As it turned out, he could. So Moises took me to the market in Buena Vista, which wasn't so much a market as an enormous warehouse---an aircraft hangar, really---dimly-lit, devoid of people, and filled with rows and rows of various Mexican handicrafts just sitting out on tables gathering dust. And it was silent. I swear to god, I was the only person in there, and so I wandered around in the dimness and the silence for a surreal forty-five minutes, picking out a couple of trinkets to kill some time---hope you missed me, darling! Here's a keyring to show you how much I love you!---and wondering if a shopping experience could possibly get more bizarre. As it turned out, it could.

"Moises," I said as we left the weird market, Moises insisting on carrying my packages like a gentleman. "Is there someplace around here I can buy vanilla?"

Moises was silent a while. Then his eyes lit up, like a bloodhound following a scent. "Wal-Mart!" he declared triumphantly.

"Wal-Mart?" I asked. "I don't really like....I mean, I'm sort of not a fan...I mean, I don't there somewhere more authentic maybe?"

"Wal-Mart," said Moises, and drove us there. (It took eleven minutes.)

I don't know how crazy American Wal-Mart is on a Sunday afternoon (I imagine pretty crazy), but Mexican Wal-Mart sees that craziness, laughs in its face, then out-crazinesses it by 500 percent. There was barely any room to walk. I clung to Moises, who shepherded me through the crowds at a brisk trot, as we scanned the aisles frantically for what we needed. I'm pretty sure it was the only time in my life that I'll ever feel like an Olsen twin. Moises helped me select pure vanilla extract, Mexican hot chocolate, and a packet of Pringles for the plane ("Salted?" he asked helpfully "Jalapeno? Cheese?") and then we waded our way to the registers where the line, I kid you not, was about fifty people long and wrapped around the store right into the shoe department. I've never seen such a ridiculous line in my life.

Instead, we joined a different line---this one filled with people pushing carts LITERALLY FILLED TO THE BRIM, as if each and every one of them was shopping for the Duggar family---and through his unique blend of charm and cajolery (and also maybe because he's six foot five) Moises managed to get most people to let us through to the front, citing the fact that I only had three purchases and everyone else had, like, the entire produce aisle. After I'd paid, it was rush, rush, rush out to the car---Moises gallantly holding my purchases again---and then zoom, straight on to the airport so I could catch my flight. As you might imagine, it took eleven minutes. 

Dec 07, 2009

I love your life. (And clearly, you do, too.) So glad you had a nice trip. Long flight? Or was it...eleven minutes?

Dec 07, 2009

They make jalapeno Pringles? I may be in love.

Also, kudos for the Duggar reference. I like that.

Diana B.
Dec 07, 2009

Moises sounds awesome. My husband (who speaks fluent Spanish) is dying to visit Mexico, but not the touristy areas. I will have to insist that we get our own Moises.

Dec 07, 2009

Nicki! Ha! Yes, the flight was exactly eleven minutes. Give or take four hours or so.

Dec 07, 2009

that might be the best Wal-Mart story ever!!
Sounds like a fun trip!

Dec 07, 2009

But WHY did you need vanilla?

Camels & Chocolate
Dec 07, 2009

I saw the title and thought maybe you headed back to Charleston to visit Sarah and shop for baby goods without telling us all.

Dec 07, 2009

so jealous! drove by a walmart in mexico city once but hubby wouldnt stop, and it was Christmas time! it would have been total insanity

Dec 07, 2009

C, I wanted some authentic Mexican vanilla for cooking and baking. It's supposed to be delicious.

Dec 07, 2009

If there was a Mexican Costco, then I could be tempted to go there.

A Little Coffee
Dec 07, 2009

Holly - it IS delicious! My mum brought some back from Mexico a couple of years ago and it's so much better than the stuff we can get at the grocery store. Plus it came in a much prettier bottle.

Dec 07, 2009

Nin, I saw a Mexican Sam's Club...

Dec 07, 2009

Oh, memories!

When I moved back to the States from Mexico City in 1994, they were just breaking ground on the city's first Wal-Mart. The American expat community was all a-flutter about having another Americanized shopping option besides Sam's Club. Now I hear Mexico City has half a dozen or so Wal-Marts, each one, apparently, just eleven minutes away.

Locusts and Wild Honey
Dec 07, 2009

Just like the real Moses, he led you to the Promised Land! The land of real vanilla extract and tequila!

Dec 08, 2009

Sounds like Marjane (Moroccan version of wal-mart or equiv) on any given Sunday. We have reached the conclusion that Arabs like to shop together! Otherwise, why?

And real Mexican vanilla? Mexican hot chocolate? Mmmmm. Lucky!

Dec 08, 2009

Oh, I love this story!

Jenna Jean
Dec 08, 2009

I wonder if jalapeno pringles and chocolate go well together. That may be my next movie going snack to see Sherlock Holmes. Thanks for the inspiration.

Dec 08, 2009

"I'm right on top of it Rose!" is, quite possibly, my favorite line from movies of my youth.

Dec 08, 2009

Oh, how I love Moises! What a lovely guy.

Dec 08, 2009

My grandma brought me an enormous bottle of vanilla from mexico years ago. I'm pretty sure i will never use it all-but I"ll die trying. Then I'll will the bottle to my daughter . . . .

Dec 08, 2009

i never knew mexico was famous for vanilla. is the vanilla you bought at wal-mart really made in mexico?
i feel like we all need a moises in our lives...

Dec 08, 2009

See, the thing about a blog entry like this one is that someday *I* will begin to believe I actually had the experience myself! I can hear it now...when I'm old and doddering I'll turn to the blue haired gal in the rocker next to mine and say "Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Mexico on business, and...?"

Great story, Holly!

Dec 08, 2009

I'm jealous of your vanilla! When we stopped in Cancun on the way back from Cuba last month, I looked at it in the airport, but then I remembered I'd have to put it in my carry-on. And then promptly loose it to the lovely US customs officials. Darn terrorists. Messing up my plans for amazing cakes.

And here I thought I was the only one capable of going anywhere in exactly 11 minutes...

Dec 08, 2009

Oh how I'd love to have a Moises of my own to part the Red Seas that are holiday shoppers.

Dec 10, 2009

I love this! Mexico City IS crazy! I could use a big Moises to haul me around.

Renee from GA
Dec 10, 2009

Everytime I get to the end of a particularly troublesome assignment and have decided, no matter how complete/incomplete it is, that I am finished, I say "The dishes are done, man." And then I am invariably sad that no one ever knows where that quote is from!

Dec 11, 2009

AHHH!! I´m sitting at an internet kiosk in LaPaz, Bolivia waiting for my flight, this post made my day!!! After 24 hours of travel I´m so glad to read it. It´s comforting that I can still enjoy your posts thousands miles away from home. You´re only the 3rd person that I know who has seen that movie more than 10 times, I watch it everytime it comes on!!!!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

Just to make sure you have a pulse
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.