Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mac Wen y El Torito

This has to be one of my favorite stories that I have collected since I have been in Venezuela. So surreal and absolutely hilarious, even when it was happening:

On Monday night, Jenee and I needed to fend for ourselves for dinner because nuestro madre was working late, or for some reason wouldn't be home for dinner. No bigs, we thought.

About a week ago, she told us that a place close to our house, called Mac Wen is very good, and their food is fairly decent and cheap. We thought: good, cheap, close. It's a winner. And, by that time it was nearly 7pm, and neither of us had eaten since lunch at noon. Needless to say, we were starving.

So we walked to Mac Wen, and first couldn't figure out how to get inside. Silly, yes, but there honestly wasn't a clarly marked entrance. So we took some random steps, and this by chance led us inside to the restaurant. The rest of our experience was a neverending string of odd and ridiculous events. Here we go.

First of all, the place was DEAD. Completely empty besides us, and a table of four people with only beer and cigarettes. Hrm... didn't think much of it. Nuestro madre told us it was good, we'll believe her. So we grabbed a table near the back, and waited for a waiter to come find us. That didn't take too long, since most of the waiters were bored, leaning on the wall watching television. So one found his way to our table, and came over to our table. And stood there, staring at us. When we asked for a menu from him, he looked confused for a moment, then walked away to grab us something.

About five minutes later, he came back with a menu. For drinks. We both looked at the menu, one sheet, front and back, searching frantically for the food, as the waiter still loomed over us. I whispered to Jenee, "There's food... right?" and she whispered back, "I really hope so..." After a thorough search of the menu, and after it became obvious that the waiter wasn't going to leave until we ordered something, we decided to share a drink, then cut our losses and run.

So we went for something neither of us had had before, a Sex on the Beach, this cute girly drink with fruity juice and pure yumminess. The next point of confusion, we only wanted one? the waiter asked, we said yes, that is correct, and he gave us another strange look and left.

Ten minutes later, he came back with our drink. Why it took so long, we didn't know. As far as we knew, they could be making the juice fresh from fruit they were picking as we were sitting there.


He came back with a creamy drink with Kahlua and god knows what else. We looked at the drink, and then asked the waiter again, "a Sex on the Beach?". He nodded, and so I gave him a 50 Bsf bill, and he left presumably to get change. We poked around in our drink for a while, and finally tried it. Muy fuerte. Muy muy fuerte. So we sipped it between the two of us, and started laughing about our ridiculous situation. First, we thought we were getting food, and then apparently there are only drinks. So we get a cute little fruity drink, whoops, I mean Kahlua.

After about another ten minutes, our waiter came sauntering back, walked up to the television that had been playing telanovelas, and turned on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Reggaeton was blasting over the sound of the tv, so it didn't really matter what was playing anyway. I waited for him to catch my eye, and when he didn't, I flagged him down.

I told him, probably a little too rudely, "Necesito mi dinero, treinta Bolivares, por favor," as I made the hand gesture for cash. Gimme a break, I was still starving. He muttered something in Spanish about having to go get change from another place, and then walked away again.

By this time, Jenee and I exchanged a look and BURST out laughing. We were hungry and feeling silly from the little bit of alcohol that had just hit our bloodstream. As we sat in our corner spot, we looked outside the window and saw a small stand that read "El Torito, comida rapida". We started salivating immediately.

I had to wait another five minutes for my change, but as soon as we got it, we ran out of Mac Wen and down ten meters to El Torito, that served only perros calientes (hot dogs). Good enough. We each ordered one, and sat down at a picnic table to wait, at least outwardly patient.

The hotdogs looked sooo good when they brought them to our table. There was a small perro caliente in the middle, with papas fritas (potato chips), ajo (garlic), salsa de crema (creamy sauce), and salsa de tomate (ketchup). They also brought us salsa diferentes, that included salsa de queso, mustard, y mas salsa crema.

Whoa, just... whoa. We devoured our first hot dog, and both ordered another. Round two was even better than round one. I have never enjoyed a hotdog more, I am positive of it. The best part about it, it was SOOO cheap. For four perros calientes, it was only 24 Bsf. That's 6 each, which in USD is only $1. So, I paid $2 for my dinner. Go. Me.

As both of us sat there, in delicious full belly, perros calientes heaven, we had to have another laugh about our night so far. Just the combination of hunger, adventure, and the everpresent communication barrier made for a great story.

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