Tuesday, June 10, 2008
He’s singing. Over there with the mariachi band. He knows all the words. He’s clapping along cigarette hanging from his mouth, balanced in his lips, filling the void of missing teeth.
His family sits next to me. A daughter, perhaps, and son-in-law. They’re speaking Spanish excluding their young son; the strange third generation child who knows only English. The child wants his mother’s attention. He poking her, butting in, “Is it a mar-eee-ah-chee?” he demands, “Is it? Is that what it’s called?” The parents continue talking ignoring the child’s interjections.
Me? I’ve forgotten a book and am passing the time between order and food delivery watching this family. I’m also watching hoards of people meander along the river walk.
The river is murky. It is concrete. Man made waterfalls cascade down and tropical plants line the walk. I’m sure the landscaping intent is genuine but it doesn’t feel natural. I feel like I’m in a zoo; a passable facsimile of the real deal.
It is hot. Not as hot as the streets above but hot nonetheless. Most tourists sweat and wipe their brow. Humidity, heat and a herd of people do not make for comfortable skin.
I, too, am being watched. Intent pigeons eye me greedily waiting for my attention to wane. My chips are in jeopardy. I assume my margarita is safe, at least from the avian population.
My food arrives, chicken mole enchiladas. There’s too much cheese and the chicken is dry. But the sauce is good.
Suddenly two ginormous boobs bounce my way. Too bad my husband isn’t here, I think, he’d appreciate those. I feel slightly homesick. Then slightly sick. I’m alone and I’m a boob watcher. But who could help it? They were huge.
I am full. I did not eat my rice and beans. The singer has returned. He engages me in conversation, typical questions; Where are you from? What brings you to town? He is clearly bilingual. I wish I spoke Spanish.
Then he surprises me. Caught off guard I don’t immediately answer. He repeats his question, “You done with that? Mind if I have it?” He wants my rice and beans. I hand them over to the embarrassment of the younger set and disgust of the waitress. I was done after all. The food was going to go to waste.
I stand to leave and merge into the herd of people along the path. I’m seeking refuge in the air-conditioned hotel. “Goodbye,” he hollers after me as I walk away, “Welcome to San Antonio!”