Mexican life

Card from Mexico

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LAST WEEKEND, we leaped into the Honda and drove to the far side of our big lake to eat at a favorite restaurant in celebration of my child bride’s birthday. She’s 57.

That may not sound like child-bride territory, but considering my advanced vintage, she could be my daughter. My actual daughter is only five years younger.

She ordered beef. I ordered shrimp. It was very well-prepared. She said her beef was a bit overdone. She should have ordered shrimp, but separating a Mexican from beef is no simple matter. It’s like separating them from cheese and chiles.

Especially when there’s celebration in the air.

shrimp
This was my plate of fried shrimp. I really like fried shrimp.

One of the best things about this restaurant is the location. It sits alone near the shore of the lake. The views are spectacular. Below is a shot in another direction.

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Even if the shrimp weren’t great, the view would justify a visit.

The Odd Pot

Papacito Day

jetSUNDAY WAS Father’s Day, of course. Unlike Mother’s Day, which falls on different days in Mexico and the United States, Father’s Day is on the same day. One wonders why.

I am a father, but my daughter has gone entirely, it seems, to her mother’s side (my first of three wives), and her mother long ago remarried, providing my daughter with a substitute, and he is a very good guy.

That leaves me, apparently, not a father anymore. I have been deleted.

That means, for me at least, yesterday was not Papa Day. It was Papacito Day, which is another matter altogether. Being a Mexican woman’s Papacito is a romantic thing. And being a Mexican man’s Mamacita is too. I am married to my Mamacita, and she is married to her Papacito.

It is not always that way. You can have a Mamacita or Papacito on the side. Even though you can get into trouble doing that, it is fairly common.

We celebrated Papacito Day by dining in a nice restaurant just outside a village near here. The restaurant has an unpronounceable name that comes from our local indigenous people. I think it’s sort of silly to put an unpronounceable name to a business, but it seems to be doing well.

eat2And here is the restaurant. It’s a humble place. The ceiling and the roof are one and the same. Beams and artificial clay tiles. A major storm erupted while we were both digging into plates of breaded fish and guacamole, and a few raindrops fell on my gray-haired head.

* * * *

So you may be asking, What’s with the airliner?

I snapped that shot on Sunday too, as we were driving to the restaurant. Our hardscrabble neighborhood on the upside of town is where you’ll find our airport. It’s a dirt strip, and walking distance from the Hacienda.

A few years back, someone started an ultralight business there for tourists to see the area from on high. In the early days, we often had two-seater ultralights over the Hacienda. But that’s kind of petered out. And we’ve had hot-air balloon festivals at that airport too. But not recently.

A couple of years ago, someone decided to buy an old Aeromexico DC-9 airliner and install it at our dirt strip, you know, just for show. Getting the airliner here was fun. Here’s what happened:

It was trucked here. The wings were removed and the tail too, leaving just the cylindrical body, which was lowered onto some monster trailer and pulled by a semi. It came from the direction of the state capital, and everything was going fine until it arrived at the turn here in our neighborhood. A DC-9 corners poorly.

At the right turn from the main highway onto the secondary road, there is a gentle incline downward, and there is a carnitas stand right on that corner, directly by the highway, and it was the eating hour.

As the airliner entered the turn, it began to roll off its trailer. It landed on the highway with a considerable thump, one imagines, I was not there, wish I had been, and began to roll toward the carnitas stand.

You can imagine the eyeballs of the fellow slicing carnitas as the DC-9 rolled toward him. It stopped just a few feet away. I happened to drive by minutes later and saw the airliner resting on the highway, which is not something you see very often, especially without blood, body parts, mangled luggage and flame-retarding foam.

To make a long story shorter, they got it off the highway somehow, and later installed it on a concrete stand at the nearby airport, and put the wings back on, plus the jet housings.

Months later, I drove to the airport, and the owner was there, the same guy with the ultralight business, and he gave me a tour inside the jet. The seats were missing, but it’s fun to stand inside a bit of aviation history.

I took this shot Sunday, and we continued on to the restaurant with the unpronounceable name, breaded fish and terrific rainstorm.

All told, it was a good Papacito Day.

And I hope I have lots more.

The Odd Pot

A tip on race

AMERICA IS FIXATED on race, a “problem” that will never, ever be solved due to people being what they are. The race fixation has ballooned since Barry, Michelle, Eric and Valerie came to town.

Coincidence? Course not. tipping2

A story this week caught my attention because it touches on something I know about personally: black people and tipping. I know about this because I used to be a taxi driver in New Orleans, a city populated primarily by black people. At least it was before Katrina. It’s less so now, I have read.

It seems that lots were blown all the way to Baton Rouge and even Houston where they put down roots and never headed back to Basin Street. But let’s not digress.

The news story is that the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., added a 15% “surcharge” to customers at the lobby bar during a conference of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, an organization of almost entirely black educational institutions.

In plain English, the hotel added a 15 percent tip to the bar tabs during a convention of black people.

Oh, dear! Just one step short of burning crosses and pointy, white hoods.

But here, as Paul Harvey famously phrased it, is the rest of the story. And there are two elements.

No. 1 is that many restaurants and bars add an automatic tip for large groups, no matter their skin tone. This is done because waiters tend to get stiffed by large groups. It’s a fact.

No. 2 is that blacks are lousy tippers. Cabbies know this from experience, and it is why a black person hailing a taxi, no matter how elegantly attired, will almost always be passed by if a white person down the block is hailing one too. It is not because cabbies dislike blacks per se. It is because tips make up a huge part of their income, and they ain’t stupid. You head for the cash.

When I was a cabbie, I quickly learned to dodge black customers. I was in it for the money, not racial justice.

As for the Ritz-Carlton, I’m betting they routinely do this during conventions which are, by definition, large groups of people. White customers see no racial element, raise no stink, and there are no news stories. Black people almost always see a racial element, and they have grown quite fond of raising stinks.

And there you have it — the rest of the story.