Sunday, November 23, 2014
soothing the savage breast
I came to Mexico to experience the rush of getting up each morning with very little idea how I was going to get through the day.
Mexico has kept its side of that bargain. But, in providing adventure, Mexico has also served up some stunning moments of beauty and comfort.
This is day two of our Barra-Filipino fiesta. For me, it started early in the evening.
I met my former landlady, Christine, at a restaurant that has recently re-opened under new ownership. She told me that the food was very good. The selling point was her announcement that they serve home-made tortillas.
I abandoned ordering beef dishes in Mexican restaurants about five years ago. Even though pork and chicken here are far superior to their counterparts north of the Rio Bravo, beef in Mexico simply does not make the cut.
Because it is incredibly lean, it lacks flavor and is almost never tender. There is an old cooking joke that even an old shoe would taste good if cooked piccata style. Even the best piccata could not save most Mexican beef.
But the Hacienda Agave advertises itself as a steak house. So, steak it was. A rib eye. Complete with a baked potato and grilled onions. (Lest I forget, the starter was an incredibly delicate, yet robust, bean soup with a good selection of spicy salsas.)
Everything about the meal was great. The beef was tender and tasty. The baked potato looked like a variety of Yukon Gold. And the onions complemented everything on the plate.
As good (and surprising) as the meal was, it paled in comparison to the ongoing fiesta.
The same orchestra that played last night was playing at the south end of the malecon. I didn't mention the setting in yesterday's essay.
The laguna, on whose shores the Spanish built their ships that re-made the commercial world, is separated from the ocean by a narrow sand bar. (The "barra" in Barra de Navidad's name.)
As I sat listening to the orchestra play its synchopated Mexican favorites, I could look across the laguna to the Grand Isla Navidad Resort looking as if Samuel Coleridge's words had materialized: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree."
Rather than sit and listen, I decided to stroll. Where else could I listen to orchestra music blending with the beat of the ocean waves and let my eyes wander across the marvels of dark and light on the laguna -- all while greeting and chatting with neighbors and friends?
Mexico is currently undergoing an existential crisis -- one that has arrived just as the country is celebrating its revolutionary past. But there is far more than that to this place.
Walking home through the dark, I started counting the ways in this single day that I have been blessed to be able to live long enough and to earn enough wherewithal to enjoy these very special moments.
It is great to be alive in a word where God's daily blessings surround us.