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Walking Tour: Plaza Olvera

February 6, 2010

Muy temprano por la mañana

This morning the rain started again; a fitting end to what was a long, fraught week at work. To prepare myself for the day ahead I decided to visit one of my favorite places in downtown LA: La Plaza Olvera (otherwise known as Olvera Street). My goal was to take pictures showing the quiet time before throngs of turistas descend upon the place in search of souvenirs. While walking to the office I sometimes take a shortcut through the plaza; it was while doing this I was struck by the closed-tight vendor huts. Painted in bright hues and made of simple materials they looked like little houses, perched on cinder block feet. Today, because it was raining, I wasn’t sure the colorful nature of the plaza would show through in the photos. I needn’t have worried: the rainy day only made everything’s colors that much more bright and saturated. Here’s what I saw…

Colores en linea

Approaching the plaza from Cesár Chavez Street I can’t help but be struck by the crayon box colors in a row. Rain can’t dampen this lineup’s cheery welcome.

Colores por todos lados

Singly, each hut has its own presence, but several at once redefine the word complementary.  Opposites attracting suddenly makes perfect sense.

Colores tambien por la mitad

The in-between spaces are not ignored, they’re just another opportunity to make colors play well with each other. Lime, lilac and magenta make mischief in the corner and don’t look bad doing it.

Se visten Niños Dios (pero no ahorita)

Shops are not open at this time of the morning, either, and Memo’s Place is no exception. Memo offers dressing for El Niño Dios, but even he will have to wait until 10:00 a.m. to get it.

Y el burrito?

It’s too early for the burrito to be hitched up to his cart as well. Los muchachitos will have to wait until later to take their place on his back for their digital photo ops.

Palomitas y Slurpees mas al rato

No popcorn, no Slurpees — not for a couple hours more. The rustic cart betrays its behind-the-scenes mechanics while a stack of styro-cups takes a peek.

Señor Velarde todavia esta en casa

Velarde’s fresh fruit and juice truck is still shuttered, its painted brickwork and jaunty barrels the main attraction at this time of day. Later, the counter will sport both condiments and customers.

Ni agua ó centavitos

The good luck fountain sits empty of both water and luck-tempting coins. Maybe later it will be filled with both. Olvera Street merchants and restaurants could use an influx of luck, according to recent media reports, please support when in the area!

Ya es tiempo de almorzar

Two of the smaller restaurants are open, selling a quick breakfast for workers looking for something warm and spicy to begin the day with. The smells are intoxicating and I have to tear myself away before I hit the ATM, since I have no cash and it’s getting late. Reluctantly, I ask the chef at this stall if I can have a picture of his distinctive clock, rather than a plate of his huevos rancheros. I’ll have to stop back by when all the stalls are open and all the vendors have their chuchulucos on display. I’ll just have to look harder between the turistas and field-trippers to see the all now-hidden colors in the background.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 9:10 pm

    What a fun post to come across on a gray, rainy day! Fabulous colors. We should all be so brave.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      February 7, 2010 9:36 pm

      Hi, Sharon, thanks for the comment! Starting the day with these colors really helped that gray Friday…

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