Market day in Tunja was a surprised I hadn’t expected. On my last day in Boyaca, we went to the “market” to have breakfast.
Sounds easy, right?
First of all, traffic was backed up for miles with huge covered trucks, collectivas, cars, carts, bicyclists, huge busses leaving for Bogota, and masses of people on foot, wandering between stopped vehicles as they converged on the market.
For stray dogs, moms trailing kids, old men in dusty ruanas with black fedora hats, old women in the same costume, younger men in baseball caps ond ruanas, people in jeans and denim jackets, nuns, and families, market was the place to go, very early on a Friday morning.
We finally parked and headed for the main attraction. Huge pallets laden with onions, papayas, pineapples, vegetables that I’ve never seen before, medicinal plants, potatos, livestock (little piggies for sale! — chickens and roosters, baskets, espadrills, hats to ward off the high altitude sun, clothes, sneakers, and hand made ruanas, covered an entire city block and the entire interior of a public stadium!
If you can name it, you can probably buy it here.
If only CostCo was as colorful and as well stocked!
Pummeling through the crowd, we came to the “dining area”. Wood fires and huge grills smoked merrily in the early-morning light, exuding the delicious aromas of sizzling, fresh (like hours fresh!) chicken, pork and beef.
We entered a crowded restaurant — a semi-temporary structure with a tarp overhead, and quickly-constructed rough wooden walls. I ordered chicken “plancha” — a whole chicken cut into flat strips resembling something that looked like it had been ironed on an ironing board — that was accompanied by tasty little round potatoes, rice, salad and a healthy glass of the juice of local fresh fruit.
My friends ordered a thick, hot, delicious soup — a regional favorite — made with aromatic stock, tiny round potatoes, maize, cilantro, and chunks of pork — steaming hot and very filling.
Considering the fact the shoppers — and especially the farmers, who brought their goods to the market at around 3 AM — a hearty breakfast was in order. We sat in the crowded dining room with many locals, ate, chatted with other diners, then paid the bill — more than satisfied with the hearty meal of which we had partaken. After leaving the market we fought even more traffic on the way out, and left for Bogota.
I can’t wait to go back!