June 3, 2007

The 45 peso dinner - and why we love Mexico so much

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral and I just returned from dinner at a streetside restaurant adjacent to la iglesia (the Catholic Church) at which we had dinner for the equivalent of about $4 U.S.

Yup, $4 U.S.

Last night, our dinner was about $4.50, but that's because we had four tacos, instead of three. Our drink order was the same - one Pacifico and an agua mineral.

The restaurant is owned and run by a Mexican family, the members of which pitch in and cook and serve. The girls, in their late teens, aren't thrilled at being waitresses, but seem faintly amused at my attempts to flirt with them in Spanish. At least I hope what I hear them saying back and forth is amusement.

There is no menu - you simply tell them what kind of taco or quesadilla or whatever - and they bring it. No wine served, but beer and soft drinks and the ever popular, agua mineral (carbonated water).

There are plenty of upscale gringo restaurants in town, where the same meal would cost $20 U.S. or more for basically the same fare. Plus, you have to listen to loud gringos talk about how their real estate investments are going or how the Mexicans they hired aren't working fast enough on their new, gazillion-dollar homes.

Que lastima.

But most telling this evening was when a little boy (un niño) spilled a glass of Coca-Cola across the table. His father only glanced at him - no placating 'Oh, it's all right," and no quick angry disciplinary backhands. It was simple. He spilled the Coke, he cleaned it up, sort of. No big deal.

Another day of retirement, another 45 pesos spent on food.

Ah, Mexico... The adventure continues mañana.

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