Editor's note: Check out part one, part two, and part three of this series by clicking the links.
During my second trip in México, my bus was running very late and my buddy, who was supposed to pick me up, decided to leave the station; thinking I would just call him when I got there. The problem was: I didn't have his number saved in my phone and didn't have data coverage to message him on Facebook.
So, with my below-rudimentary knowledge of the Spanish language, I jumped in a waiting taxi and said, “Pollo Feliz, por favor.” Asking to, please, be taken to the “Happy Chicken” restaurant by my buddy's house, because I knew the way from there.
The taxi driver asked me something that I didn't understand. I said “No habla.” Conveying that I had used up most of my Spanish.
He shrugged his shoulders and drove to Pollo Feliz.
There was a new problem, though. It wasn't “The” Pollo Feliz. I had not realized that it was a chain restaurant. It was basically like jumping in a taxi in NYC and saying, “McDonald's, please.”
I tried explaining, in mostly-English Spanglish, that it wasn't the right one, the driver tried to convey to me, in mostly-Spanish Spanglish, that he didn't understand a damn word I was saying.
Eventually, he shrugged his shoulders, again, drove across the city to a tourist bar, told me in body language to stay, and went in, in search of someone who could understand a damn word I was saying.
He brought out a caucasian American who actually had a grasp of the national language of the country he was adventuring in.
I explained the general layout of the area in which the Pollo Feliz that I was looking for was at, as the kind tourista translated. I watched the driver's face express, “Got it!” And off we went, back across the city… To another wrong Pollo Feliz…
By this point, we were both exhausted and stressed out by this Easter egg hunt. Again, we talked to each other, with neither of us understanding either of us. Finally, I watched his face resolve to the thought, “F--- it, we're driving to every Pollo Feliz in the city and, when we find the right one, this gringo better be able to afford the fare." Then he drove me straight to the Pollo Feliz we had been looking for.
I gave him the thumbs up that we had found the one true Pollo Feliz, and he (I believed) thanked his God or gods, with the relief of a last-minute-death-row-pardoned prisoner, as I pointed him to my buddy's house.
As he dropped me off, he looked me deeply in the eyes, his own expressed half-angry pleading, and he repeatedly yelled, “Pollo-Feliz-San-Vincente!”
My buddy, and his family, really enjoyed a nice long laugh when I recounted this story.
***Now it's four years later and with “Pollo Feliz, San Vicente” typed into my GPS, I drove straight to my buddy's house.
I was finally ready to wrestle in the streets of México for forty two dollars and 26 cents.
View the discussion thread.