I don’t often make it out to the small town of Mezcala, about 20 minutes west of Chapala. But when I do, I’m always glad I went. Everything there is tranquil and still, the kind of stillness in which the hours never seem to pass. But everywhere (everywhere) there are kids running around, playing in the streets, close to their homes, far from their homes. In their homes, and hanging out of their homes (I swear).

One time, I was walking around Mezcala taking photos (with my tío) and a little kid ran after me, yelling, “Tío! Tío! And when I didn’t stop to turn around and pay him attention, he persisted. I turned to look at him. He was about four or five. His skin was brown, his hair was brown, his eyes were big wet almonds floating inside a worried expression. I’m blonde, my eyes are blue, and everybody in town calls me Shaggy.

There must be some alternative slang meaning. He’s probably trying to be funny. Tío? “Amigo,” I told him softly, “I’m not your uncle!”

He looked shocked. Or hurt.

This photo of people doing grocery shopping in Mezcala was taken about the only way you can take such a photo: getting out of the car and walking around the streets (which there are cobbled with tracks of paving stones for cars to drive on). This is a pretty typical neighborhood little store (I would describe it as cluttered) and there’s about one of them every other block in most towns in Mexico.

Having a tiendita like this is useful for bringing heavy things like ice or water back home, and they’re stuffed to the brims with a little of everything, from cheese and butter to dog food, fresh produce, and beer. About 20 minutes before closing time at night, everyone rushes to their nearby tienda, and it can be difficult to navigate in and out of their cramped spaces.

So, if you need ice and a few things for the cupboard, go to your neighborhood tiendita (don’t go to your neighborhood Wal-Mart). If you need a day out to puebleando in one of Mexico’s little towns, take a trip to Mezcala.