31 December 2012

'Hello, happy gringos!'


The other day a Turista Libre veteran from San Diego wrote for a hand in setting up her husband's 60th birthday dinner at Tijuana's Mision 19 in Via Corporativo. Classy was what she wanted, and given that Travel+Leisure magazine just crowned the place best restaurant in Mexico, to no surprise classy is exactly what she got. But of course -- in the spirit of the journey being the destination, especially in Tijuana -- the plan quickly spun into a semi-epic adventure, a tale of two cabbies, one with a gimp leg and a cane and the other named Cowboy. Her aftermath email made for a pretty entertaining read so we thought we'd share:

The tasting menu was such an excellent recommendation! We would have never seen it on the menu if you hadn't told us. I wouldn't have recognized the word, it's down in the corner, and it just says "4 - 6- 8." But thanks to you, we asked the maitre d'. It was excellent.

In fact, the whole evening was terrific. We were all dressed up -- me in a black cocktail dress, earrings the size of your palm, and silver flats; my friend Sylvia in a low-cut sparkly top; the two guys in nice shirts and sportscoats. Boy, did we attract attention. Given the rainy weather and the holiday, we were almost the only tourists on Revolucion. Seriously, I saw maybe two small groups of hipsters but that was it. We've got umbrellas and raincoats, we're totally prepared, we're all smiles. Everybody's smiling back. Walking across the bridge over the river, some guy says to me, "Hello, happy gringos!"

Then stuff got a little wild. We went out to hail a cab and I'm all, "We have to get a certain kind of cab, the white one with 'Libre' on it." Wouldn't you know, we get SeƱor Crazy Cabdriver. He's telling us about how he had this injury to his right leg and he can't use it (he shows us his cane while he's driving) and we're thinking, "Can you reach the brake?" He doesn't know where Via Corporativo is but we'll stop at his friend's house & ask for directions. No, he's not sure how much it's going to cost "but it'll be OK, I'm a nice guy, not a bandito." Then he starts telling us about how he wasn't such a nice guy but he got this injury and found Jesus, and the cab costs him $400 pesos a month to rent. Meanwhile it's raining hard and the windshield keeps fogging up and no one can see where we're going.

I've got my Google map printed out but I direct him to the wrong street (Paseo de Los Heroes) and I realize we may not be able to see Corporativo in the rain. I don't know the name of the cross street. There are trees lying across the road. He turns the wrong way onto a one-way street and we have headlights coming right at us. (Did I mention there are no seatbelts?) Finally we convince him to stop at an Oxxo and we all fall out of the cab like we're fleeing for our lives. Doug gives him $20 and says firmly, "Thank you for your trouble, sir, thank you but we are leaving." And now there are four well-dressed, middle-aged Americans standing in the parking lot of an Oxxo on some road somewhere, with some bemused Tijuanenses staring at them. The ink begins to bleed on my Google map.

Doug has the good sense to realize that we're near a hotel or office building, and it has cabs out in front. We march over, I pick a driver and show him the Google map. "Do you know how to get there? Tell me." He describes the route, it sounds familiar, he says it'll be $6. We climb in. It felt like a limousine. It's dry and the seats are soft. A few minutes later he delivers us to Via Corporativo. I make sure to get his name ("They call me Cowboy") and his phone number.

We went for drinks at Bar 20, just like you said. The atrium was open so I could show them the air tunnel, and they were fascinated by the elevators. Our reservations were very early (6:30) so we had Mision 19 all to ourselves. Fabulous service, everyone paying attention to the rain-soaked Americans who were laughing at their adventure. Six courses of amazing food and a really expensive bottle of wine. After dinner, we called Cowboy and he shows up immediately. We all shout, "WE LOVE THIS GUY!" He whisks us back to the border where there is absolutely no line at all, of course, because my karma is good that way. When we were walking into TJ, the line of people waiting went so far down the road that you couldn't see the end. By 10 pm it was just us.

So we had a blast. Doug had a wonderful, memorable 60th -- we got to enjoy some fantastic food and wine -- and we had a TJ adventure. Perfecto! Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful adventure... and so well told I am right there with you enjoying it all. Thank you.