"Donde. Uhhh...let's see, donde...oh! He wants to know where," said the BigGuy, turning to Nuco. "Señor? You know this town."
The man wrinkled his nose, then motioned toward the back of the truck with his thumb and the four travelers vaulted over the high sides and into a pile of sugar cane.
"Anyone for some banana bread?" the BigGuy asked, pulling out a large, crushed lump of tin foil. Hands lined up; it was the only food anyone in the group had eaten all day.
Fifteen minutes later, the quartet of sweat sat in Antojitos, a small, San Pedro Sula sidewalk restaurant that served freshly made corn tortillas filled with various cow parts and plenty of hot salsa. The owner of the restaurant, a tall, grizzled man, greeted them with a heartwarming smile. He stood near the entrance to his streetside castle, behind a giant griddle. In front of him sizzled a large pile of meat consisting of every piece of fiber, fat and muscle that could be stripped from an animal, then ground into a flaky, Spam-colored substance. The owner stirred the pile and heated tortillas beside it, filling the thin corn discs with meat each time a new order for food arrived.
A perspiring waitress came to the travelers' table. "Cuatro cervezas!" the BigGuy said loudly. "Gentlemen, anything else?"
"Ocho tacos," Nuco said.
"Si, ocho tacos," the BigGuy added, then gave the waitress his prize winning smile and nod.
"Y que tipo de cerveza?" the waitress asked.
The BigGuy's smile froze, metamorphosing into a straight line grimace. "Hmm...Nuco?"
"She wants to know what kind of beer," Nuco said, then threw the BigGuy a lingual lifeline. "Salva Vida."
The waitress retreated to a dingy-looking freezer that an employee was in the process of cleaning.
"What's Salva Vida?" the BigGuy asked.
"Life Saver," Nuco said.
"You asked for life savers?"
"That's the name of one of the beers," Nuco explained.
"Nice name," said Capn, his throat parched.
"Yeah, the label's got a little picture of one of those styrofoam belts they throw at you when you're in the ocean drowning," Nuco said.
Medio motioned toward the waitress. "What's she doing?"
"Looks like she's wiping off the bottles she pulled from that putrid refrigerator," Nuco said.
"Doesn't look too sanitary," Medio observed.
"We could have followed Helen's suggestion and brought Q-tips and alcohol to clean the bottle tops," Nuco said, facetiously referring to the advice Medio's landlady had given them about drinking beeror anything else from a bottlein the Third World.
"The alcohol in the beer will kill the germs," Capn said.
The waitress brought the Salva Vidas and Nuco grabbed his and drank straight from the bottle. "It's the water that's dangerous," he said. The others followed suit, finishing their beers before the tacos arrived.
"Quatro mas cervezas!" boomed the BigGuy and four more beers appeared.
The cold beer and setting sun combined to relieve the heat of the day and the travelers ate and drank comfortably, their grunts of approval interrupted only by the blasts of automobile horns outside the streetside cafe. The cafe owner continued to smile broadly, as if he had discovered the secrets of the universe and was enjoying watching everyone else search for them.
"So what could be better than sitting in this wonderful establishment eating tacos and drinking cerveza?" the BigGuy said expansively. He'd polished off his tacos and begun working on those sitting in front of Capn, who didn't eat red meat. "Pass that salsa, por favor."