I recently had an opportunity to embrace the fellowship of long-time friends and life-long ‘partners-in-crime’. Traveling to foreign lands has landed us at the best kept secret since Denny’s in the United States. Without the knowledge of the language (well, maybe a little), the surroundings or having a personal tour guide, our intuition was to stay close to home . . . to hold our cards close . . . to not trust others . . . and to stay within our realm of comprehension.
What I’m talking about here is traveling abroad to Cancun, needing life-sustaining supplies for the hotel room (actually a two-bedroom time share), and knowing what we know that is familiar to us in the U.S. So what do you do? Go to Wal-Mart and Costco!!! That’s where I know to buy cheap booze and chips . . . or otherwise known as our bulk supplies for an entire week.
To start our adventure, we head up to Los Angeles to catch our flight. We do all the check-in crap and decide to get our morning started right by getting a couple of bloody mary’s made up at the conveniently located sky lounge . . . or whatever it was, right next to our departure gate. Terminal 6 . . . the Redondo Beach Brewing Company. We figured the name was good enough to try it out. This was the most depressing bar I have ever encountered in my life. This old bar tender (maybe 70) had a line of patrons waiting, and this guy had no desire to keep up with demand. The bartender was the only one around and he knew it. We even saw him yawning while he was looking at the label of a bottle of Smirnoff. What are you looking at? . . . just pour the shit!!! I thought this guy was going to just fall over, It literally took him about 10 minutes to make 4 bloody mary’s. I guess the amount of money he could be making did not matter because he was still going home at the end of his shift, Absolutely no sense of urgency. Absolutely no bar-friendly personality. All of the people in line waiting for drinks was watching this guy die . . . right before our eyes. The guy behind us in line even changed his order from mixed drinks to just a couple cans of beer, for fear this may take another 10 minutes and he would miss his flight.
Finally in Cancun and hungry before we spend psycho money in Wal-Mart, we try an unfamiliar establishment in the Wal-Mart shopping center, yet across the street is a very familiar Applebees restaurant; and just down the street . . . a Burger King. We read the billboard menu outside the door and recognize only simple menu items like taco, sopa (soup) and cilantro. I look around the corner and peer through a window to find what appears to be Denny’s . . . only a Mexican version.
El Porton http://www.porton.com.mx/ was to be our first, as Nacho Libre would say, “fan-TAS-tic” meal in Cancun. The previous night we spent avoiding time-share sales persons long enough to put our bags away and head down to the resort’s buffet. The buffet featured some BBQ’d meats and fish. Not bad!
Anyways back to the El Porton story. Well we ate some stuff . . . tacos, enchiladas and some sort of chicken that looked interesting from the picture on the menu . . . you know, like ordering the Lumber Jack Slam breakfast. I just wanted some fries, and that was the only picture that showed fries. Upon the conclusion of the day, I read up about El Porton to find out it is a chain of restaurants owned by Wal-Mart. El Porton was very corporately clean and polished, all the way down to the female servers wearing nylon stockings (i.e. pantyhose). The stockings were pretty obvious because none of them matched skin tone. Well, for Mexican . . . or Latin/South American food, it was fair . . . not a bad start for my culinary prowess, however nowhere close to my destined palate’s desire.
Well, into Wal-Mart to find the usual, except hyper-Americanized-Mexican market’ish. Their product shelves resembled a Wal-Mart in the U.S., but with a Mexican flair. As to be expected, the products are to be catered to the demographic. Now what is different is the SuperMercado. A fantastic array of produce, meats and baked goods. This seemed more like a farmers style market display with everything just sitting on ice and shelves of baked goods everywhere.
To my U.S. standard of sanitation and safety, it would represent less than satisfactory conditions. Nothing looked bad, the fresh whole fish had bright clear eyes . . . and it didn’t have that characteristic foul smell of the dying meat carniceria/tortillaria that can often be found in the States. I did notice that all of the service workers in the fresh food section were all wearing face dust/medical masks. Perhaps something that would help the industry prevent illness in the U.S. It wasn’t until the next day that we witnessed the same thing at Costco.
A big day of shopping for us so we were bushed. We decided to head back to the resort and enjoy one of their acclaimed famous wood-fired pizzas on the beach. Not the best pizza . . . and certainly not the worse. These fresh made pizzas go on until like 10 or 11pm. Perfect for the last-minute stop before heading to our room, that has a great view of, and is surrounded by extreme coconut bushes. Yeah, we got jacked with a second story view of nothing . . . nothing!
Well the pizza at the resort are pretty darn good. No complaints. These kids cooking the pizza were great. They really seemed to be enjoying our company and showing us how it’s done “Cancun style”. Thanks to Francisco and Alfredo (“hey Fettuccine”) for keeping us amused while the tequilla kept us focused.
By the way, . . . have you ever tried to pour booze from one of these jacked-up Mexican liquor bottles . . . ? We tried to find out on the internet, but were unsuccessful . . . so we made our own. Watch for it to show up here at www.CritDicks.com.