It was then that I saw it. A bare two story building, painted white but looking golden in the dust filtered Mexican sunset. Mariachi music was blaring out of the upper level, and for a moment I was witness to Mexico, pure Mexico. I walked past it and smiled at the "cervezas frias" sign - cold beer - and stopped to take a mental picture of it. I wanted to carry this image with me, my own personal Mexico, the country I hold responsible for some of the best things in my life.
I walked on down the road back to the airport and after about 30 yards I looked back. Had the music stopped? I decided to investigate, and soon found myself contemplating one of those cervezas frias. Lonely Planet talked about Cantinas - places full of men, where a gringo had to prove his worthiness by going "mano a mano" with a local and a bottle of Tequila. With the warm sun streaming in, I doubted it was one of those places, but I then began wondering if it could be the other den of iniquity that Mexico is famous for - the whorehouse? Well, I decided I would let the music decide - if it was still playing I would go in for a beer. If I discovered worse, I would just leave - I am sure I wouldn't be the first gringo to make a mistake and take an early exit.
I walked up the stairs, happy that the music was indeed still playing, and as I entered the upper room it was all I had hoped for. The fans moved the yellow air, the music blared, and there were just two tables with people at them.
I ordered a cerveza and sat near the juke box looking out the window onto the sunset. One table had two hombres playing cards and about 10 empty bottles of Corona around them. The other table was for the waitress and her two amigos, who looked about 14 despite the empty beer bottles around them. I smiled as I saw the naked paintings on the wall. I squeezed the salty lime into my beer and proceeded to write this...