If you hang around Mercado Libertad o San Juan de Dios long enough, you’re bound to get thirsty, and there are plenty of options for quenching your thirst: coffee, tea, bottled water, soft drinks, frescas (fresh fruit drinks) or jugo de cana.
In a moment of daring, I chose the latter.
I haven’t used refined white sugar for years, but what, I thought, could be wrong with a cold drink consisting only of liquid expelled from the stalks of crushed sugar cane?
So, I plunked down 15 pesos (roughly 75 cents) for a vaso chico, a little cup.
I grabbed a straw, shoved it in the cup, and went to find a place to sit on some nearby steps.
The first sip jolted me with sweetness, tempered somewhat, I think, by lime juice (there was a greenish tinge to the liquid, and I had seen squeezed limes on the counter). I couldn’t really tell, because a terrible cold has made it impossible for me to discern any flavor for the past three days.
But as I sipped the cold, sweet liquid, and indulged in people watching on a warm December day, I experienced a glow of contentment. How sad that I don’t have enough time before I leave this bustling, yet welcoming, city to return to the Mercado for one more cup of jugo de cana.
first days of winter—
looking in vain for some snow
in the marketplace
Text and photo © 2016 by Mark M. Redfearn, all rights reserved