I crossed the Mexican frontier for the first time in my life fifteen years ago. I was visiting my cousins in San Diego California and we decided to have fun by crossing into the Mexican border one evening.
This was pre-9-11 and border crossing was relatively easy. I do not recall being stopped at all. We went inside this US Border Patrol outpost and the lazy border guard simply waved us through---he never even bothered to inspect our passports.
Upon crossing the border, I was transported back to the Third world. There were a row of taxi cab drivers who were jousting to get our attention. There were several beggars begging for food, alms and presenting themselves to be our porters.
We selected this taxi driver who reminded me of Cheech Martin. When we got him, he insisted on not using the meter (he will enjoy driving in Makati) but offered to show us around for a good price. He asked our names and when I introduced myself as an “Ibarra”, he said that he has cousins named “Ibarra” and we could probably be cousins. All sales talk I told myself as I could never imagine how my Asian genes could intermix with his Mexican genes. I wanted to explain to him the common history of Spanish conquest between Mexico and the Philippines so that he will understand why this Asian guy has a Spanish name.
“SO PRIMO, WHERE YOU WANT TO GO? SOME PUSSY PERHAPS? ”.
My cab driver cum –primo (cousin) asked us without even a hint of malice. I was just amazed as to how nonchalant they could get about prostitution. He went on to tell us the story of how this tourist he picked up the night before ended up having sex at the back seat of his taxi—before the police came.
Since I was with two married cousin, a little Mexican hanky-panky was out of the question.
“No Pussy today muchacho. Do you know of a good place to drink?”.
He was a little disappointed that we were going to get some clean fun.
He took us to this Mexican bar and dance hall. The waiters and waitresses were Mexican teenagers. After they serve your food and drinks, they would go dancing on the dance floor. Their uniforms reminded me of the uniform in FRIDAYS or at SHAKEYS. The girls were very pretty but I realized that Mexican girls have this tendency to be fat on their waist and legs.
Our waitress was this pretty girl who looks like an improved version of Donita Rose. I poked my cousin and asked him:
“IMAGINE you are in Malate and she is your date?”
He shook his head and blurted:
“MAPAPAAWAY TAYO KUNG GANYAN KAGANDA AND DATE NATIN”
We finished our beer and we went out of the bar. Outside a pimp was pleading to us to try his girls:
“COME ON MUCHACOS, NICE YOUNG PUSSIES…100 dollars only. Why go to Mexico without having some Pussies, no?”
We politely waved him off. (Mental note: never go to Mexico with married manly men) Our driver saw us and he said something in Spanish to the pimp who immediately left.
We then walked the dirty streets and found a vendor selling real tequilas. The bottle look like the bottle you use for lambanog. The label looks cheap and contains only one word which I recognize: PELIGRO. The bottle was inside a net. It kind of reminds you of some tuba that you buy in Quezon.
Inside the bottle was a real Mescaller caterpillar worm. I smiled, when I realized this was the real deal. No Jose Cuervo here. This is the real stuff, made by some Mexican home brewer. The vendor explained to us in Spanish and broken English that it was traditional in Mexico to offer the pickled worm to the guest of honor ---or the last person to take a shot from the bottle. He also told us that Jose Cuervo removes the worm in their finished products.
I bought two bottles. We hurriedly returned to the border, paid our taxi-driver-cousin-wannabee thirty dollars and happily re-entered the United States. There were no border guards manning the crossing.
A few weeks later, I brought home to the Philippine the wicked looking tequila I got from Tijuana. Several persons got drunk and our houseboy ended up eating the thumb-sized Mescaller worm.