Ahhh . . . Walking into Mini Mercado Oaxaca recently transported us back to the beautiful southern Mexican state of Oaxaca (before Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared himself the real president of Mexico and forced his pretender to the presidency, Felipe Calderón, to send in armed federal troops to save the city from chaos). To your left, just as you stroll into the small market/restaurant, you can't miss a florid home altar, an authentic staple of most homes and small stores in Mexico.
Amid burning candles, bouquets of real flowers, and charming everlasting flower arrangements that are the specialty of the tiny Oaxacan town of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, stands a large, spray-painted, plaster-of-Paris Jesus, happily dangling an equally large golden fish. Surrounding him are statues of almost every Catholic saint in the book, including San Martín de Porres, Santo Niño de Atocha and, of course, several effigies of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Oaxaca's patron saint, not to mention an entire grotto con water fountain dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Gilding the already very shiny lily, for extra spiritual protection, the altar maker has also thrown in a statue and several pictures of His Holiness John Paul II, who beatifically blesses you as you cruise the merchandise.