It’s a few past one, Saturday afternoon, and I’m two drinks in on slow start to the weekend. I think I originally vowed, at least to myself, not to move down here and start becoming a promotion whore for places, but Y Tu Piña, Tambein’s recent renovation and menu reboot has left me feeling charged for the second weekend in a row. I’m writing this not as a service to them but more as a service to the world: We need more breakfast joints/cafes geared specifically towards thwarting (or starting) the hangover, coffee shops with more cocktails on the drink chart than different ways of saying coffee with milk. Y Tu Pina and Illegal Mescal have won my heart all over again. Here's how in two steps:
Step One: Finding My Weakness
A friend of mine once said, “If you can’t drink a beer for breakfast, you’re not on vacation.” Antigua’s indie-vibe coffee shop, Y Tu Piña has picked up on this need and run with it. My drink of choice: the Illegal Maria, a combination of Illegal Mescal and amped-up Bloody Mary mix with chunks of garlic and coarsely cracked peppercorns. It comes in a beer tankard. There are other worthy choices, twists on morning drinking classics like the tequila sunrise (also done tankard-style with mescal), Bloody Marys, and screwdrivers. Coffee, con or sin leche, is available, but the hair of the dog is the feature, i.e. your choice of cocktail with your brunch.
I’m not vacation, but by god, after a morning at Y Tu Piña, I feel I should be. I even had to talk myself down this week: I went Thursday morning to do a little writing—a coffee and loiter type affair—when my mouth started watering for one of those Illegal Marias. A slight perspiration on my brow, a little shake in my typing hands, I kept my head down, kept working, and prayed it would pass. I had teaching to do that afternoon, and it’s probably a good thing I did, else my wife would have come home from work to find a slightly slurring spouse. I’m just saying they are good.
Step Two: Funking Up Breakfast
I love going for breakfast. I love it so much that, when a college student, I’d come home from bars at three and eagerly wake up at six when my father would call me to meet him. While I neither go to bed that late or get up that early anymore, my affinity for hash browns, grits, and biscuits—all that Southern heart attack medicine I grew up with—has not diminished. Not to say, Y Tu Piña offers any of it. However, they are offering something a little different than the same old, same old running around town.
So far, my favorite has been the "desayuno erecto", or shall we say erect breakfast, which more bluntly put inspires a bit of a breakfast erection, aka morning wood all over again. Two fried chicken drumsticks, four donut holes, and a handful of sweet potato fries are skewered and hovering above a spiked breakfast beverage. It’s artful, it’s magical, and it’s picturesque enough to make me question eight years of vegetarianism. Other options include the Cheesus is the Way fancy cheese grilled cheese sandwiches with a likeness Christ branded into your bread or the "egg mcfuckin' muffin".
So, if you happen to be in Antigua, I’d definitely say it’s worth a shot, and that that morning shot at Y Tu Piña, Tambien is more than worth it. If you are not here, then do what you can and ride that vacation vibe. It’ summer people! Get some alcohol in your system before the day turns into grocery shopping and laundry baskets. Eat something fried and fattening. There is always tomorrow to get back to the straight and narrow.
Hey, I said it a couple of months ago: I will not be defeated by the rains. I’ve already had some sketchy moments this year: Several times our Tuesday/Thursday pick-up basketball games were canceled fifteen minutes in because a fresh storm rolled through. Last night, Emma and I went to meet a friend for dinner and had to wear flip-flops and short pants because crossing the street involved wading through ankle-deep water. More often than not, the deluge happens just as I’m about to leave work. Sure, it can feel a bit like being taunted.
But, I’m not giving in so easy. In effort to lift my own spirits and perhaps of folks feeling waves of the same twitchy “it has begun” anguish, I’ve devoted this week’s blogging effort to celebrating the season, an ode to rain if you will. Without further ado, and before that next thunderstorm starts, join me in the rain dance of verbiage, this teasing of Mother Nature, the refrain being that she just can’t beat us down.
1. With the rains comes the excuse to be lazy, to spend many an afternoon camped under a blanket with a good read or drool-gazing at another episode of CSI/Criminal Minds on cable channel 12. Why not snuggle with your sweetheart, put a few “skyrockets in flight”, and then, there are two excuses for taking a nap.
Oh, rain, you maiden of mischief, thank you for your valid reasoning to lock myself in for the day.
2. With the rains comes nature a-blooming, a solid recovery from the dusty duskiness of late dry season when the leaves have just about given up the fight, the ground has cracked like a dried-out foot heel, and let’s face it, some of us have grown to miss a little rat-a-tat-tat on our tin roofs from time to time.
Oh, rain, you savior of sumptuous greenery, glory be to the gardens growing from thou moisture so abundant.
3. With the rains comes a daily fresh shower for the city, and may each dog turd squeezed upon the sidewalks be washed into the culvert and clear from my feet, the cigarette butts and candy wrappers cleaned free from the fissures of cobblestone roads, the roving knick-knack sellers given a break while Antigua beautifies.
Oh, rain, you scrubber of our filthy ways, how you start us anew each day, forgiving those travesties foisted upon the world.
4. With the rains comes out our full wardrobes, all those sweet-ass hoodies closeted for heat of yester-months, the trendy rubber boots—so much more than just staying dry, another justification to wear ponchos, validation for lugging around all that long-sleeved, full-length, fleece-lined gear that had matriculate to the bottom of our backpacks/shelves.
Oh, rain, you fashionista of necessity, how you know the ways of worry, stuffing bags with precautionary measures for no good reason until you show, forces full blast.
5. With the rains comes true appreciation, the recognition of those sunny afternoons when grey clouds have been swept briskly beyond by Pacific winds, the mass migration of all to get outside and make the most of the moment we’ve been given, and take another fresh look at what a beautiful place we live in.
Oh, rain, you rubber of eyes, cleanser of corrupted contentedness, blessed is he (or she) who has been started anew by your graces.
Ah, it feel goes to shake a fist at the old, weepy bitch, to give myself a little something to fall back on when the rains go awry again, another tropical storm breaks wind upon us. I invite you all to do so yourselves, to add to our list of the positives of precipitation: Leave a comment, your own paragraph of praise and rant to rain. Something tells me by late August I’m going to need all the help I can get.
In 2013, I took a year to work part-time and pursue a travel writing career on the side. Part of my mission was to explore the depths of one Central America's great tourist attractions and take from it what I could. These are thoughts on Antigua Guatemala.