Jose’s Cantina

Last evening I went to my favorite neighborhood cantina, which I do once or twice each week to drink beer and practice my Spanish with the owner, the employees, and the clientele. During the afternoon hours the place is also a cocina economica, and I do mean economica. Armando took me to lunch there recently and between us had five beers, lunch, and about 5 small plates of botanas, which are snacks that are provided at no charge when one orders beer, and the bill was around $70 pesos, less than $7. US.

Jose, the owner; his employees Karen and Sylvia; and the regulars greet me warmly, with handshakes all around. Karen or Sylvia place a Superior beer in front of me without asking what I’d like and ask if I want a plate of salted peanuts. Someone always strikes up a conversation and more often than not one of the other patrons will buy me a beer or a shot of Tequila and I reciprocate. Often there is live music provided by folks who stop by with their instruments, usual guitars and sometimes an accordian. Last night it was a fellow playing the guitar while the patrons took turns singing along with him.

Last evening I took along a plate of pan dulce (sweet bread) I had earlier made with some overripe bananas. Everyone present tried it, indicated their approval, and began guessing the ingredients.

Jose apparently has never heard the adage that when one owns a bar one should not drink. So unless I visit early in the day I can’t understand what he is telling me. Karen and Sylvia take care of the customers while Jose is slurring his way through conversation with the customers, often seeming to speak quite indignantly. On Sunday’s Karen’s 6 year old son Jordan and her 12 or 13 year old nephew Alfonso accompany her to work. Jordan amuses himself with the attentions of the customers while Alfonso helps behind the bar. When I comment to Karen that I can’t understand Jose she assures me with a gesture that it’s because Jose has been drinking.

Last evening the conversation turned to politics, both of the US and Mexico. Bush was unanimously derided. Though there was disagreement as to who should be elected Mexican president in July, all seemed to agree the outcome wouldn’t make much of a difference in their lives. Curious, I asked who among the assemblage voted and only one of the five folks present indicated they do.

I asked Jose if during my next visit I could take photographs to post on my diario internet. I’m pretty sure he told me there would be no problem, so after my next visit I’ll post some pictures.


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