Eating along the road was interesting and fun. We learned to decipher menus well enough to order in restaurants. The challenge came when we stopped at tiny roadside cafés where there was no menu and no English spoken.
Driving through desert one day along a dusty, sand swept road, we pulled over at a tiny, unpainted, cement block building. Restaurant was painted on the side and the door stood open. We entered a small room with a half dozen oil cloth covered tables. There were the usual plastic chairs with Corona written on the backs. ”Buenas dias,” I called. A surprised looking woman came out from the kitchen area. We made motions for eating and she nodded. She then rummaged around in a freezer at the back of the room. She returned carrying a tightly rolled taco in one hand and a sort of empanada in the other. We nodded and she disappeared. Two bowls of steaming noodle soup was soon on the table along with fresh limes. She indicated that we should squeeze them into the soup. Delicious!
Just as we finished the soup she brought two nicely presented plates with the tacos and empanadas along with beans sprinkled with the lovely soft cheese that is common there, and a shredded lettuce and sliced tomato salad. She reappeared with an avocado and a knife, eyebrows raised in question, did we want some on our salad? Yes we did.
Max had a beer but I hadn’t ordered a drink. She brought a tall glass with a clear rosy drink, along with a bag of hibiscus flowers to show me what it was. The flowers provide the delicate flavor and color the drink. It is barely sweetened and a good contrast to the spicy food.
The entire meal was ordered and eaten without words except for our murmured, “Gracias” each time she appeared with something. She wrote the total, 85 pesos, on a napkin. Our lovely lunch cost less than $7.
We started to leave with many expressions of thanks, I was out the door when she motioned me back. At first I though she was waving goodbye but then she wrapped her arms around herself. I returned for an enormous bear hug and, her first words, “God bless you.”