Rafael, my driver, dropped me off at La Casa de Elvia tonight after 7pm. A transformer blew, leaving the entire block in the dark. I dropped my bags in the room and made my way to the Jardin, a garden and pink church landmark in the center of town.
Streets glittered with bouquets of heart-shaped Mylar balloons carried by vendors. Young men weaved in and out of shops searching for that last-minute gift for a sweetheart or a mother. Romance infused this eve of Saint Valentine. I don’t think there is a Spanish translation for the word, “corny,” and I’m glad for that.
I stopped by El Pegaso for supper and to see Cesar, Refugio, and Hugo. These men have fed since my first trip in 2009. I always wonder if they’ll recognize me, and they always do.
Cesar threw his arms open. “Ah, Christina. You came home.” There was an exhibition of hugging and kissing, as I passed from one amorous waiter to the next. I’ve got to say, I didn’t hate it. The affection was refreshing and welcome. We don’t kiss enough in the United States. These guys kiss a lot, and right on the lips.
Cesar and I caught up on the latest familial news, while I drank Negro Modella and ate scallop ceviche and Aztec soup. I scanned the menu before I left, fumbling through the Spanish words, and wishing I’d taken my Rosetta Stone software a little more seriously. Shark tacos, octopus cocktail, and at least fifteen vegetarian or wild seafood entrees caught my attention. I had just eaten, but reading the menu made me hungry again. I stumbled over cobblestone streets on my way back to la casa. I dreamed of food and planned a Valentine’s dinner with my waiters of El Pegaso.