Continuing his story from yesterday’s post, my dad Hal is sharing his story of traveling through Central America on the Pan American Highway, 1963. Enjoy the ninth episode in his journey:
Another day I came to Oaxaca, a beautiful town in the mountains of Southern Mexico. It was still early, but I decided I had better not try to make it to the next town. I saw a nice motel (though they called it a hotel), so I stopped and went to the office building, which was also a restaurant. It looked like the restaurants where I used to eat in New Mexico and Arizona when I was working on ranches, very beautiful but very rustic. I didn’t know how to the read the menu, so I looked at every item offered until I saw “steak.” That word in English was actually on the menu. The most expensive steak offered cost about two dollars, so I ordered it. I was given a delicious pan fried steak about ¼ inch thick. On the plate were also French fries, but then there was some black stuff like thick burnt gravy on the side and a lot had run over onto my potatoes and steak. I didn’t know what to do, so I ate a piece of steak and a few French fries. Finally, I decided to taste the black stuff. To my surprise, it was very good, so I ate every bite. That was the first time I ever heard of refried black beans.
The motel had about twenty rooms, kind of ranch style along a corridor. The bedroom was what I thought of as Western style and looked beautiful to me. I was very tired and couldn’t wait to sleep, but when I crawled into bed, I hit bottom—the bed had about three inches of straw on a wooden frame. For a few minutes I noticed I was lying on straw, but the next thing I noticed was the morning sun shining in my window, so I got up and continued my trip.
As drove out of town, I stopped at a gas station. In Mexico there were not many gas stations, so I usually filled up when I came to one. Though my tank was about half full, I didn’t know if that would be enough to get me to the next town. There was a long line of cars behind me waiting to get gas. The attendant put in about a gallon and the tank was full–no more would go in. I told him to put in more anyway. He tried and the gas ran out on the ground. He got mad at me and told me to get this car out of there because he had a lot of clients waiting. I got back in, started my vehicle, and the meter still said the tank was half full, but it was enough to get me to the next town. During all the years I drove that Suburban in Mexico and Central America, I never had that problem again. For some reason the tank would not accept any gasoline at that place. I thought that was kind of scary.
To be continued…