Friday, June 5, 2015

Holbox Island by Night

When I was a little girl, I had a number of great- aunts. None of the great- aunts could drive, so my mom, being a stay- at- home mom, and a genuinely helpful person, would pick one or two aunts up during the week and whisk them from store to store so they could complete errands.  I, being a stay- at -home kid in my pre-education days, and during the summers, would be dragged along through countless grocery stores, department stores, and every store that graced the dingy corridors of the Berlin Mart. If I was a good little girl and didn’t whine or complain during the trips, I was rewarded with a churro from the snack bar at Kmart. So began my doughy, crispy, cinnamon-sugar coated love affair.

We walked into town a few hours before sunset.  We had seen Holbox Island town by day, now we wanted to see it by night. 

There was a restaurant, El Chapulim, that I read good things about. It seemed to be the perfect place for a farewell meal.  We weren’t surprised when the restaurant was still closed at 5pm. Latin American dinner time occurs later than it does in the states. We could wait it out, but still, a snack would be nice. Close to the restaurant was another place I had read good things about, TacoQueto.

TacoQueto is part food truck, part restaurant. The sight of roasting meat, and the accompanying pleasant smell, convinced us to stop in for a pre-dinner snack.  

We sat down at a plastic covered table and read through the menu.  We lamented that we didn’t have more time to return another night for a proper dinner. Everything sounded delicious. We each ordered a chorizo-beef taco, and a Mexican coke. 

Of course in Mexico it’s just coke.  

Our server set a caddy of taco fixings on the table.  I love that in Mexico all tacos seemed to come with a top your own taco fixings caddy.  Of course, you won’t find lettuce, tomatoes, or sour cream. They are Americanized taco toppings.  Our fixings caddy had lime wedges, onions with cilantro, and salsa.  

The tacos were heavenly. We took minuscule bites so we could savor our one taco. Our plates were empty too soon.

 During the day the town is hopping with people rushing here and there completing their chores and errands for the day. At night it was just as lively, but instead of work, groups of people congregated at eateries, chomping down tacos, or lobster covered pizzas. 

They sipped beers while local bands warmed up for the night’s festivities. We walked and walked taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the night.  


We walked and walked taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the night.  We stopped in stores looking for a few more souvenirs,

checking back at El Chapulim from time to time to see if it was open.  By 8pm we assumed that for whatever reason the restaurant would not be opening this night. We took a lap around town to see if there were any other eating establishments that caught our fancy, but it was evident what we really wanted to do, return to TacoQueto. 

At 5pm TacoQueto had been deserted, but now it was crowded and bustling. Tables were filled with a mix of travelers, regulars, and friends and family of the cooks and servers. 

There was some drumming entertainment while we ate
A woman standing near me wondered aloud if eating here would be worth the wait for a table. I turned and answered yes, maybe a little too enthusiastically because she seemed a bit nervous as I sang my taco praises. 

Since I couldn’t get tacos off of my mind, I ordered four tacos. Two more chorizo-beef, a chicken, and a pork.  

Shannon got a burrito this time.  

He said it was yummy. He allowed me to try a bite of his beans to show me how yummy they were.  The portions were generous, the food filling, and the price, less than $20.00.

We had passed the churro cart in town during our excursion by day. I lamented that it was closed as what could be better than tasting one of my favorite Latin American treats in Mexico? I was delighted to find that the cart must only be opened in the evenings.  I would in fact be able to check eating churros in Mexico off of my food bucket list. 

I had to wait for a while because just as we approached the cart, so did a large group of French travelers. The cart also served crepes. The French travelers, maybe because they missed home, each ordered a crepe.

Finally my time had come. These were not the rotating in a case, once frozen, dried out by a heat lamp churros of my childhood. I watched as one of the cart workers squeezed freshly made batter into the fryer, creating delicate churro rings. 

The churros were scooped out, allowed to drain for a moment, then sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon- sugar. 

A man, whose mustache only slightly outshone his cheerful smile, handed me my small sack of churro rings.

The churro rings were crispy on the outside while light and fluffy on the inside. Although I would argue that there is no such thing as a bad churro, I will admit that there are good churros and then there are great churros. These were great churros made all the more special because they were being eaten in a little town on an island in Mexico. 

The next morning, with one last donut in hand,

 we boarded the golf cart that would take us to the ferry 

Saying goodbye to the island

that would take us to the van 

that would take us to the airplane that would take us home again.

We loved our time on Holbox, and as with all trips, we lamented that our stay felt too brief. We departed Mexico grateful for our new wonderful memories of excellent food, perfect weather, and incredible experiences.

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