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Culture

Swap a lot

North Las Vegas hosts a flavorful flea market

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Photo: Richard Brian

Just a dollar and a short drive away is the perfect day trip to Little Tijuana. Going strong since 1977 and expanding every weekend, the Broadacres Swap Meet is composed of endless booths setting up shop across 40 acres of desert.

On a sunny afternoon, stroll down the dusty aisles filled with puppies and parrots and boots and bikes and soccer balls and strawberries, feel the reggaeton music pounding out of huge speakers and, when the sun gets strong, buy a freshly cut coconut. Down the water, then stick the white slices in a bag and pour hot sauce, salt and fresh-squeezed lime on top, shake it all up and disfrutelos.

When you go, watch the dolled-up monkey dance under his little canopy, and visit Cowboy George’s blanket of antiques. He’s the thick, sunburnt, aged cowboy from Pioche, naked under his half-hitched overalls and barefoot, who camps out next to his pickup with a cage of sleeping puppies.

Seemingly the only white-skinned vendor out of legions of Mexicans, Cowboy George looks like a tasty, saturated antique, like he’s been soaking up the colors and pungency of the swap meet over many years. “I used to do the ponies here years ago,” he tells me, and recalls the good ol’ days of the swap meet as better than the current ones.

Still, the current days are pretty good: George’s blue eyes and callous face; the little Chicano boy looking up at me, asking me if I want the baby Chihuahua in his arms; the hot tingle of pico de gallo, followed by the cool cream of rice pudding.

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Jennifer Grafiada

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