Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Es muy rica, no?"

I was walking back to my homestay on Friday night when I noticed the Cubs game on a television in a semi-outdoor bar. The Cubs game! So, naturally, I sat down at a table to watch it and to read a few more pages of my book during commercials. That’s right, I was won of those people drinking at a bar alone. But it was the Cubs game! In Mexico!

So anyway I decided to order a michelada. Have you seen and/or tried the new Miller Chill available in the States? That’s basically a bottled version of michelada. In Mexico you can order any beer michelada style and they'll bring you a glass about a quarter of the way full of fresh lime juice and salt all around the rim. At least, that’s what they usually bring you.

This time the barman brought me a glass with salt around the rim and goopy-looking black stuff in it. Seriously, it looks like someone has blended random garbage with molasses, put it in a blender, and poured into my glass. As the bartender proceeded to pour my Victoria (a Mexican brand of cerveza) into the goopy sludge, he says “Con limon y salsa, si?” (With lime and salsa, yes?)

Uhh…what? Limon y salsa? “Es muy rica, no?” (It’s very delicious, no?) Wanting to seem like I know what’s going on, I act like I get it: “Ahh, si” I say, nodding my head, as if bubbly black goop was exactly what I thought I was ordering. Well, it does sound interesting, doesn’t it? Salsa in beer? Ok, I’ll bite. I’ll just pretend it doesn’t look like black goop. I take a sip – HOLYCRAPTHATSDISGUSTING. I swallow hard to get it down and try not to throw up in my mouth.

But there’s no getting that black goop out of my beer now, and I am determined to watch this Cubs game! I take another drink – my taste buds are hurling obscenities at me and swearing they will get revenge. Ten minutes later, I take another drink. My taste buds have packed up and left town. Now I can begin to tell why they called it salsa – whatever chiles are in it have coated my throat in and have lit it on fire. To make matters worse, my Cubbies are losing. Maybe, I think, maybe if I finish this drink, they will win – like karma. I take another sip and swallow hard, hoping it will help Soriano hit one outta the park. He strikes out.

Half an hour later the man comes back and says, “Hoy, especial: dos por uno. Queires uno mas?” (Today, a special: 2 for 1. Would you like one more?) That’s not a special, I think, it’s a sick joke. “Ah,” I say, pretending to consider it before shaking my head. “No, no gracias. Estoy bien.

I nurse my single beer through the seventh inning. I want to stay and finish the game on the off chance they pull out the victory, but the sun has gone down and I can see lightning flashes in the distance. I have at least a half-hour walk home, so I decide I had better get going. “La cuenta, por favor?” (Check, please.)

As I escape the music of the bar, I can see the lightning was not alone: thunder has joined it and is rumbling ominously. I walk fast. Halfway home, it begins to drip. I walk faster. The sky grows louder, and now it is a full-fledged rain. I stuff my camera in a plastic bag and pull my jacket over my backpack and begin to run. By the time I reach my lodging I am in a torrential downpour. Cuernavaca is all steep hills and valleys, and as I run up the steep hill to my homestay the water is rushing down the hill as if it is a natural river. La tormenta, always la tormenta

Later I found out the Cubs actually came from behind to win in a late inning. Maybe the karma worked after all…. Which got me to thinking: How many bad micheladas does it take to win a World Series?

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