Fast Food (51)

When I lived in Todos Santos, I would ride the bus to Cabo San Lucas to pick up the mail sent to me from my box in northern California. I would go to the Burger King there, indulge in a Whopper that tasted remarkably like the ones here in the States. (When I was an adolescent, I remember my disappointment when my girlfriend and I found a McDonald’s in Germany but the hamburger there still tasted like a foreign country.) In Cabo San Lucas, hamburger in hand, I’d walk along the harbor, or sit perched on the steps overlooking it, and savor the familiar taste as I chewed. After, I’d go to the Häagen-Dazs store and eat ice cream. Before Cabo San Lucas, I never even knew they had Häagen-Dazs stores. I haven’t seen once since. But the best fast food I had in Mexico was the morning after the cats and I had crossed over to the mainland on the ferry from La Paz. We were stopped in line before a toll booth, and a man came up to my window. He had a small blue and white cooler with him. I don’t remember what he called his wares, but I bought one. The plastic bag was warm, and that surprised me. He was using the cooler to hold in the heat. I paid him, then caught up with the toll booth line, and headed south along the toll road. I remember there were big black birds in the trees lining the highway, their calls an exotic din. I unwrapped the plastic bag, warm skinny rolled tortillas, like taquitos only not fried. They were filled with potatoes and a glimmer of meat, and I remember how tasty they were, how good the freshness and the warmth felt in my mouth. I remember marveling to think that kind of homemade breakfast would find me on the highway like that. I can still see the diffident way the man walked toward my car, the blue and white cooler in his hand. And I can still feel the soft warmth of the tortillas against my fingers while I ate and drove, the air alive in grackles.

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