Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Uncle Sam, Thank You for Shopping

There’s only seating for eight at the Red Panty Bar. Most people walk-up to the sidewalk counter and order a beer or Margarita to go. These tourists wander in and out of shops with napkin wrapped drinks in Nuevo Progreso, a Mexican border town. Ed and I claimed two of the high bar stools preferring to sit and drink rather than shop and drink.

In his typical engaging way, Ed asked the bartender for his recommendation for a good Mexican beer. As an answer, he simply shrugged but a fellow seated at the end of the bar suggested Tecate. “It is very good,” he said in halting English. Louis was right and when we cracked the can of our third beer, Ed bought one for Louis in appreciation for his good advice.

Children from the street interrupted our beer drinking with pleas to buy bobbing head turtles, bracelets with images of the Virgin Mary, and Chicklet chewing gum. “One dollar, for school please,” pleaded one grade school girl with imploring brown eyes. She was scratching Ed’s back with one of the wooden back scratchers she carried in her hand. Across the bar, I gave Louis a look that asked: “What should we do?” He shook his head “No.” In Spanish, he told this persuasive child “go away.”

When we grew hungry, we asked our unofficial guide Louis for a recommended restaurant. He said he would walk with us. He escorted us to Castillo’s on Av. Benito Juarz. The two man-band in the restaurant played Mexican love songs that to me sounded like Pennsylvania polka music. Louis stayed with us to help us decide on our dinner choices then drank another beer before he left to return to the Red Panty Bar. We noticed he was seated at the end of the bar after our dinner. We gave a thankful wave when we passed the cantina to cross the International Bridge back to the USA.

Our entire evening of entertainment cost less than $20 and I noticed on my dinner receipt a message: Uncle Sam, Thank you for Shopping. You’re welcome!

Special thanks to Chris Anderson for snapping the photo of Ed & I.

March 20, 2008

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