After another shabby tropical sunset characterized by good Green Flash (a refraction phenomenon where the green/blue wavelengths linger a bit longer than red/yellow and a flash is seen as the sun sets), a sky full of golden rays and a mysterious dark shaft of anti-light, we went off to satisfy one of our annual traditions – dinner at Blackie’s.
Blackie’s is one of the nicer places in town, a round building with a palapa roof and a decent menu. They used to have a guard in the parking lot that did little more than wave you in and out and then collect a tip for his careful space management. I used to fix him up pretty well monetarily, but he’s not been around for the last couple of years. The inside of the restaurant is really what makes it worthwhile – a giant mural of the local landmark – Tetakawi – and a wall of interesting paintings and photographs included that particular Frida Kahlo of her with the monkeys sitting on her shoulders. There is also some sort of stylized representation of the landing of the conquistadores in what was once the Aztec Empire that includes not only period players – Indians and Spaniards – but modern Mexican politicians. The waiters are slow and uncommunicative but the fish is great and the margaritas are large and they finish every meal with an iced glass of Bailey’s that really gilds the Lily. We get dressed up for one special night, enjoy a meal over candlelight and remind each other how glad we are to be together.
Last night I had my standard Pescado Arriero, a dish of pressed fish in a sort of poblano chile sauce. My Lovely Wife had her regular Pescado al mojo de Ajo – pressed fish in garlic and butter. The salad was crispy, the fish was delish and none of it really mattered because the margaritas are big, cold and strong. We sat and listened to some middle-aged American real estate agent loudly regale an American touristette with stories about second homes, Mexico City and low mortgage rates and chuckled at his Spanish which consisted of adding a vowel to the end of every English word. We polished off our dinners and followed up with Flan and coffee and when we finished our refill one of the waiters came over and cleared the table, evidently two cups being the limit.
The real highlight of the place though is the tiny Mexican who belts out standards in the bar on a slightly out of tune piano. When I say “tiny”, I mean he’s a wisp, and he must be 175 years old. But he has a good rhythm and he knows all the favorites from my childhood, last night interspersed with a few Christmas tunes. He wears a big sweater and a driving cap and plays hunched over, his face down by the keys. I look forward to listening to him every time I come down here and last night I dropped a good-sized bill in his tip jar to which he responded gratefully.
Today was dedicated to one last drive around the scrub looking for that last bird. That plus one last meal of Machaca and one last Magnum ice cream bar. I tore down the boats after that and now we’re shifting to going home mode. A nice thing since the place is suddenly becoming overrun with Americans. Always the norm this time of year, I’ve found this vacation to be far more enjoyable before their arrival. Perhaps a note for future trips.