I started writing Letters from Kate as a weekly newsletter to family and friends in 2008 when we bought the boat. They went out as emails and when I got organized appeared on a page of the website. In 2014 I changed format and started using a more modern blog platform to share our “Letters”, thus removing the newsletter page from the website. I thought I would share some of our past adventures with you in a Throwback Thursday series. I hope you enjoy! H
It becomes a sort of ritual for us while we are in Mexico, spending the late afternoons at the zocalo, the old town square. We are drawn to these places, the everyday spots where life happens. Even in the busy-ness of Acapulco we sit in the zolaco almost every afternoon with our beers hidden in flimsy plastic bags, each absorbed in our own daydreams and thoughts.
We watch a woman making giant soap bubbles with her special plastic wand and a tub of water and dish soap. Her rainbowed orbs of imagination float effortlessly across the square, tempting children who doddle over with their parents following close behind. We watch men in suits and patent loafers getting shoe-shines. They sit perched in stone chairs built into the walls of fountains and flower beds, reading the paper with their shirt sleeves turned up and their collars unbuttoned. We watch a troop of street performers cajole and tease passers-by until there is enough of a crowd to start the act.
Between our evening sundowners and watching the word go by I dig out our guidebook. It is almost ten years out of date but still full of useful tips, and we don’t mind the adventure that it sometimes causes. I leaf through its worn pages to the section about the city and find the listing for restaurants around the zolcalo.
“Let’s go for dinner. I want to try pazole, and it says here there is only one place in Acapulco to go; Pozoleria Los Cazadores.” I announce with my best Spanish accent. “It is only open on Thursday and Saturday nights, and they only serve pozole but says here there’s a band. Could be fun, we’ll make it a date.” I give him soft elbow of encouragement.
“Sounds good to me!” he says with a lift of his beer bottle and we both take a chug in agreement.
As shadows reach further across the square and the hustle of the day fades with the bright afternoon light we hail a cab behind the old stone church, negotiating a price before getting in. The driver starts the winding drive up the hills that curve around Acapulco’s harbour. As the streets dip and twist and as we pass through a neighbour that is definitely not mentioned in our guidebook I begin to wonder if he understands where we want to go, or perhaps if he is just tacking on a few extra blocks so he can later up the price. We round a final corner and claw our way up a steep incline, stopping beside a large building on the corner. The sign out front reads “Los Cazadores” and has a large stag drawn above it. We get out into a swarm of cars and boys opening doors and people shuffling into the restaurant. Steve takes my hand and leads me towards the door. As we step inside and scan the room we find that we are, once again, the only gringos in the place.
The room is set out banquet style, long rows of cheap wooden tables flanked by plastic chairs, it reminds me of being in the basement of a church. The basement motif continues with fake wooden panelling on the walls at can only be seen in small spaces between photographs in cheap frames that hang on every surface. Sitting down we are immediately thrust into someone else’s night out; a family diner complete with screaming children, an after work get together of the neighbourhood men and a young couple out on a date.
The only thing on the menu is pozole, a kind of Mexican stew that has been around for centuries, made with pork and hominy. It comes in two variations; green pozole and white pozole. Not really knowing the difference Steve orders green and I decide on the white.
Next on offer are a side of botanas; slices of avocado, chili peppers, shredded cabbage, cilantro, sliced onion and crispy fried pork rinds and tortilla strips to add to your bowl. We order one between us and a couple of beers to wash it all down.
The pozole is tasty, not gourmet by any standards, but flavourful and so filling neither of us can finish our bowl. When the waiter comes to pick up our dishes we smile apologetically and try to make up for it with repeating how delicious everything was. I am not sure he is convinced but seems happy enough that we order another round of beer.
After dinner the music comes on and I tease Steve about dancing, knowing that he won’t get up. Only once has he sashayed me around the dance floor and that was late into the night at his sister’s wedding, his resolve weakened by booze.
A new song begins, the accordion player charging along, squeezing out licks that are once familiar and strange. The singer starts in and we tap out feet at the familiar tune.
“Quiero que me quieras
Quiero que me adores
Quiero que me sientas
Que urge que me ames”
I smile and sing to him
“I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me”
Then he rises out of his chair and holds out his hand. “Come on,” he motions with the tilt of his head. There will only be one offer tonight, I take it.
He leads me to the middle of the dance floor, gently takes me in his arms, and we dance, shuffling beside side a couple who look like they’ve been dancing together for 50 years or more.
I am sure we look like robots dancing along with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire but I am happy to be dancing to this song. And then I feel his hand slowly run down my back, lower and lower he goes, past the waistband of my skirt. I stiffen a little as his hand cups and squeezes my ass. My back is turned towards the graceful older couple. What will they think? I quickly grab his hand and drag it to the small of my back. My severe scowl is met with a devilish grin. Within a couple of steps he is at it again, this time quickly reaching down to grab a big handful of my right cheek as he turns towards the crowd, my back in full view.
I am mortified, positive that the whole restaurant watching the two awkward gringos. I am about to scold him but decide there is only one thing to do, I give to his come-on and throw back my head in laughter as the accordion belts out another polka run. Soon we are laughing and swaying and singing along. I think I get a little nod from the older couple, everyone caught up in the reverie of the music.
When we sit back down, pink cheeked and sparkly eyed, we decide to splash out and buy ourselves a good shot or tequila. Since Los Cazadores is not only the name of the restaurant but also a brand of tequila, we order a round and then another. We sit quietly in the boisterous room full of food and merriment and each other until it is time to go home.