Saturday, July 4, 2015


It was a thrilling day going back to school in Mexico.  I was delightfully greeted by the owner of a new Thai restaurant in Ajijic.  Senor Roberto Lopez told me that he had just had the opportunity to speak at the Rotary club this morning and share the short story of his boyhood.  He offered me a copy to read and I was glad for the cultural lesson on respect in Mexico, something that Mr. Lopez learned from his father.  He was raised in Arizona and he attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He continued his education and acquired his Master in Psychology and taught for forty five years in Sacramento, California.  When Mr. Lopez retired he took a two week vacation to Guadalajara.  His friend encouraged him to visit the ancient lakeside town of Ajijic.  Within a year he moved just outside of Jocopotec, Jalisco and opened a restaurant in Ajijic named “Taste of Thai”.  Since living in Lakeside, Senor Lopez has encouraged nine local students to remain in school.  Mr. Lopez supplies each child with their required uniform, shoes, backpack and books. Enjoy the true tale of Roberto growing up.Taken from his own words: The long shadows of the setting sun
glistening through the huge grey cottonwood trees, made me realize how late it was and that I should hurry home as I was certain to be needed by mi Madre to run an errand before dinner at 6:00 p.m.  Tying my tennis shoes, I called to Chito “Oye vato, I can’t play anymore. I must get home.”   Chito was angry because our flag football game was tied.   I yelled back “me esperan en la casa”.   As I ran home I felt the sting of the December cold.  My nose and eyes were red and dripping as I raced towards the purple Papago Mountains that surrounded my small Arizona barrio.  Mi Madre was always in command and we enjoyed a clean and orderly home.  We were a family of eight.  My six siblings each had assigned chores, and mine was to run errands because I was as quick as the wind.  I was ten years old and at least once a day, before a meal could be properly prepared, Mi Madre dispatched me to purchase necessario items from Mr. Jackson’s store.  The store was only three blocks from home and it offered canned and boxed goods, fresh vegetables, candy and the very best ice cream in the neighborhood.  Mr. Jackson consistently greeted all customers with a grunt and sour face while his wife always appeared tired and forlorn.  The story about town regarding Mr. Jackson was that after the couple had lost their only child, he got drunk and in a rage chopped off two fingers with a sharp butcher knife.  He treated all kids the same, he was mean and grouchy. Mr. Jackson did not like me because I always questioned him about his high prices.  Once in my arithmetic class I calculated that this neighborhood store charged 20-30 % more for all items.  At home I questioned mi Madre
“Why do we pay that old man Henry so much for our food?”  Suddenly I heard my dad’s deep voice “Roberto, don’t you ever let me hear you question your mother like that again, and don’t you ever call someone older than you by their first name!”  One very cold evening my father was bringing home a guest for dinner. Mi Madre called “Roberto, here is twenty dollars and a list of things we need for tonight.  Run and get them, Y mijito, please be careful with the money as it is all we have.”   When I arrived at the store Mr. Jackson was locking up and he growled “hurry up boy!”  Frightened by his tone, I ordered a round steak, picked out some potatoes, a head of lettuce, and a loaf of bread.  I handed Mr. Jackson the twenty dollar bill.  As he counted back my change for a purchase of only $2.85, he had only given me change from a five dollar bill and yelled “Now get out of here and don’t come banging on my door anymore at closing time!”  I stared at the change and said “I am sorry sir, but I gave you a twenty”.  He raised his thick eyebrows and with an angry voice shouted
“Are you saying I made a mistake?”   Tears ran down my cheeks, my hands were shaking and I mumbled “I’m not saying you are a cheat, but I gave you a twenty.”  This tall bald, big fat man screamed “Get the hell out of here, and never return!”  My mind raced with worry about what to tell my parents. I decided to lie and tell them that in my haste, the money must have fell out of my pockets as I ran.  As I approached the back door I saw mi Madre expertly making paper-thin tortillas.  She asked me “porque durasted tanto?”  What kept you? Never mind hurry up and wash.  Before dinner, Dad proudly introduced me as his responsible young son to our dinner guest who was a doctor.  Suddenly I felt dizzy, I could not breathe and I felt like I was going to pass out.  “What’s the matter mijito, que pasa muchado?”  Nada, I lied, “the thought of doctors makes me sick.”  The next morning mi Madre asked about the short change from the twenty. “Mama, I lost the money on the way home from the store.”  She told me that my father was waiting in the kitchen to talk to me.  With my head down I walked towards the aroma of coffee expecting a scolding from my dad.  “Sientate, your Madre tells me that you lost fifteen dollars, Es verdad?”  I answered “Si and I am sorry.”  Papa stirred his coffee and asked “Is it true you that you lost the money?”  Not wanting to lie anymore, I
confessed the truth.   “No Papa, I lied” After I told my dad what really happened; he gently brushed the hair out of my eyes and told me to go to my room. The next day my Papa excused me from going to school and he took me around the entire neighborhood. As I played with the young children, my dad was mumbling a conversation to the parents of each family we visited. That night my dad called us all into the living room. “Today I spoke to all the parents in our barrio and after careful consideration of the facts, we all have decided to take action against our grocery man. Mr. Jackson has taken advantage of us all for years.  In addition to taking more than is fair of our hard earned money, Mr. Jackson is teaching our children to be deceitful and dishonest by his example.  Then with a dramatic flair, Papa stuck a match and lit his pant leg on fire.  As he looked at the growing flame he whispered “There are better things we could do!” Dad snuffed out the smoldering flame and with one hand and held up his opposite fist and said while motioning to his singed pant leg “This would be too easy, therefore, Los Padres today we made a wise decision.  The barrio residents have decided to take away something from Mr. and Mrs. Jackson that means much more to them. We will take away their respect by referring to them as Henry and Alice.  We will never call them Mr. and Mrs. Jackson again!”  My eyes lit up with great surprise as I smiled at my father with great admiration.  Many errands were eagerly ran for mi Madre after that.  I never feared Henry again! ---- THE END ---- You are welcome to chat with Senor Robert Lopez at his Thai Café located in The Plaza Interlago near the car wash on the Libramiento.  Give this Thai Restaurant a try. They are open Mon – Sat  10:00 AM – 8:00 PM.  

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