One of my favorite things to do is to dine on the zocalo (especially on breezy evenings when there are no heaps of teachers). I decided, despite the teachers, to have a michelada and a meal at the Importador. I love micheladas (salsa and beer), and I decided to try the fajitas. I was thrilled with this hearty platter that featured beans without epazote and creamy guacamole in addition to tender beef and bell peppers and onions.
There are always salespeople disrupting a meal on the zocalo; that’s part of the ambience and exchange. I talked with a lady selling shawls. She insisted that I need one. I assured her I do not. I talked with a person selling wooden spoons. She was easily deterred as the waiter approached. The woman who has already, in travels past, sold me two table runners I don’t need sat down. Among other things, she told me about her hunger. I offered her some peanuts. She then told me of her poor stomach that cannot tolerate peanuts, but would be fine with a coffee or a quesadilla. We traded sad stories. I told her of California’s drought, of how I pay $6 for a dozen brown eggs. She told me of her grandchildren and how school costs so much. I told her how I don’t get a paycheck in the summer, but I come here to volunteer to teach anyway. She arranged her things and said she’d see me again sometimes soon. I didn’t doubt it. Score one for me.
Some spicy peanuts arrived with my beer. So did a bold pigeon. He started by standing on the chair opposite me. Then, he just strode onto my table as if this is what is done in Mexico. I showed him my meager butter knife. I think he scoffed at me. I took a swing with the mostly empty Sol bottle. He was more impressed and called for backup. Two birds landed on the cloth and walked at me, so I pushed the peanuts to the corner of the table. Score one for the birds.
And, then came the bees.
I asked the waiter, a man named Rolando who’d work as a chef in an Italian restaurant in Monterey, California. He asked, “so quickly.” Game over, the bees won.