Being a Monday, we would have thought that Valle de Bravo would be fairly quiet. It's a really busy spot on the weekends because a lot of people come from Mexico City and Toluca to get away from the city. But for whatever reason, traffic was really heavy!
Lineup of traffic going into town.
We are staying at the north end of the lake.
It's only about 5 kms (3 miles) to get into town, but yesterday it took us about 45 minutes to do the drive. We thought there had been an accident or something, but we never did see the reason for the holdup. Finally made it to the big Chedraui store in Valle de Bravo.
There are several large grocery chains in Mexico. Chedraui, Soriana, Mega, Commercial Mexicana...and of course Walmart and it's Mexican cousin Bodega Aurrera. And in the larger areas, Costco and Sam's Club. But a lot of the products are quite a bit different than the way you might find them in the U.S. or Canada.
Juice, milk, and wine.
A very popular form of packaging is the Tetra Pak. You can buy just about any liquid in a Tetra Pak. To give you an idea of pricing, the 100% orange juice above cost 15.7 pesos ($1.25), the milk was 14 pesos ($1.12) and the wine was 36.5 pesos ($2.92). All 1 litre sizes.
Beer, wine, and liquor is sold in every large grocery store in Mexico. Exactly the way it is in every country we've ever visited. (Only Canada is different in this regard, but that's a story for another day!)
Eggs. In the large chain stores, you can buy eggs in typical containers, by the dozen, as it is in Canada and the U.S., however you can also buy them in containers that have 18 eggs, or a flat of 30 eggs. In the smaller areas, you can buy eggs in almost any small store...but then you will have your eggs weighed and placed in a plastic bag for the journey home. Be careful! There, you can buy any quantity of eggs that you may need, even one or two if you wish.
Of course eggs are never refrigerated in Mexico. In fact, Canada and the U.S. are the only countries we've ever visited where they refrigerate eggs. Strange, isn't it? We've had eggs sitting out for two weeks or more and they've never gone bad. From what we've read, if you refrigerate eggs, you have to keep them refrigerated. If they are never in the fridge...you don't have to put them in the fridge. The dozen eggs we bought yesterday cost 23 pesos ($1.84).
The market in San Cristobal de las Casas. Taken in January 2009.
Of course all of these chain stores also have a fruit and veggie section. But really, if you need fruits and veggies, you are far better off for both price and quality to buy your goods at the local market. We have occasionally found great deals at the chain stores...once I bought delicious, juicy red grapefruits for 2 pesos (16 cents) per kilo! But that's a rare find, and usually the grocery store prices for fruits and veggies are higher than at the market.
They also all have a huge bakery section where you pick up a large tray and then you put all of your fresh baked goods on a tray and take it to a special counter to be priced and weighed. And of course a tortilla machine pumping out fresh corn tortillas.
Typical meat and fish departments, similar to anywhere else. Usually a greater selection of fish though. We paid 18 pesos ($1.44) for two nice pieces of tilapia.
And most of these stores also have clothing, automotive, electronics etc., the same as any "super"store north of the border.
When you go to check out, the cashier normally has a helper who bags your groceries. This is usually a young person between the ages of 12-16, or an older retired person when school is in session. From what we understand, this person works for tips only and it's customary to leave a peso or two (8 to 16 cents) as payment for packing your bags.
Then when you bring your groceries out to your car, there's another person who wants to help you push your cart to your car, help you load your groceries, and then take your empty cart back to store. Again, another peso or two to this person should you accept their services.