The Heart of Mexico; Love in a Cantina

The Heart of Mexico; Love in a Cantina

By Akaisha Kaderli, Guest Contributor

Billy and I spend a lot of time together. 

After being retired for almost three decades, we have worked out a nice rhythm of time apart and time working on joint projects and having fun.

Here in Chapala, Mexico, Billy will sometimes go to a favorite cantina in the afternoons just a couple of blocks from our apartment. This cantina has a long history, and we used to visit it years ago in 1993 when we first started coming to this lakeside town. 

We know the family who owns El Gavilan. We have watched their children grow up and start families of their own.

Back in the olden days, women were not allowed in this cantina. It was a man’s bar. The only women who dared walk in were ladies of the night. With its swinging wooden doors, it looks straight out of a Clint Eastwood western. Children would peek through the slats to see if their fathers were inside and then go home and tell Mama so she would know.

Times have changed. Patti and her barmaids now run the business. There is a ladies room, women are welcome and it’s a respectable place to have a brew or tequila. You can visit with friends who know your name. Think a Mexican style of Cheers bar. 

It’s a date!

So this particular afternoon, Billy invites me to go with him to El Gavilan. Since I know this is one of “his” places, I’m thrilled to be invited. It’s like a date and I can’t wait to go.

As we arrive, Billy opens one side of the swinging slatted doors. I walk in, find a table and sit down. We say hello to friends at the bar and one of them joins our table.

Not long afterwards, another friend we know who owns a restaurant-bar in town, comes in with one of his patrons. He tells Billy that this man has been sitting at his bar all afternoon and Pablo has taken his keys so he can’t drive home. “Everything is ok, I’ll call a cab later to be sure he gets home.” 

My beauty is startling

It’s not long before this customer tells Pablo that he thinks I’m beautiful and begins to blow me kisses from across the room. He waves and shrugs his shoulders as if he can’t help himself in the midst of startling beauty and continues to blow me a kiss or two every few minutes. Pablo is there so I’m not worried.

Not only that, but the friend who joined our table is ex-military and he boxes at the gym down the street on a regular basis. And Billy is there armed with… well…his camera. Whatever happens, he’ll photograph it, video it and then show the man’s wife, sisters, daughters and female neighbors and all the appropriate finger-wagging will put him in his place. He definitely won’t chance that, so I feel pretty safe.

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