My Vegetarian Dining Experience in Marazul


     Enough dreaming for today.  Enough writing, enough pictures taken, enough strolling in the sun.  Instead I'll go grab a bite.  Here the choice is simple: the only vegetarian food near planet Marazul swirls behind the constellation of shacks called Banda Punta.  It's off the road and into the dust around a simple bistro (or tienda, about ten times bigger and a hundred times cosier than the one depicted here, which lies on a main urban avenue, part of the transcontinental highway) and there I can enjoy tamales de queso, a corn leaf wrapped around flour-and-cheese mix cooked on a roadside wood fire.  The romantic picture is only slightly marred by my nose's realization that it is not fragrant and nicely chopped firewood, such as the friendly Ensenada police sell to tourists at checkpoints, but instead old light-blue painted furniture crackling under the huge pots on the open oven.  Hot home-made salsa sets everything right as long as I'm fast enough to chase all the flies away from its open jar.  And the family dog gets a bite or three as well.  Tomorrow I’ll check at the neighboring tienda if they will make some meat-free dish for me.  I am likely to get the answer most vegetarians had known from their own experience long before the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” made it famous: “You don’t eat meat?!  So, I’ll make you lamb.”  But a meatless lunch is what I want, if I had to kill for it.

            Tired of the not very good canned refried beans, I then stock up on some sweets from a tray wrapped in a large plastic bag.  No wonder there are so many so very fat Mexicans: they drink large quantities of the oversweet Gringo soft drinks (even though their own fast-disappearing Cola Chivas [Goat Cola] tastes better, is much less sweet, and has almost no unhealthy additives) and the traditional fondness for sweet pastry is apparent at every street-corner stand.  Mexicans claim they are the most obese nation in the world, which took some believing at first as I had just come here from the US.

            And then a bit of quick shopping and video renting in a larger tienda, this one belonging to a richer family, where I first join the merchants in watching the end of a Sponge Bob episode in Spanish on the store's TV.  And I return home to continue writing and finish my last cigarette rolled in a new type of freakishly transparent wrap.