El Rincón del Mate

el rincon del mate guadalajara

The temperature is a brisk 85 degrees in Guadalajara, and I’m sitting inside El Rincon del Mate drinking a mate mocha, which is essentially a mocha but made with mate instead of espresso. I thought the chocolate was going to be ultra-sweet, processed Hershey’s garbage, but it tastes like real Mexican chocolate. My taste buds are rejoicing. Well, maybe not rejoicing. But at the very least my tastebuds are awake.

Even though this is the cafe in Guadalajara I come to most, it remains the only cafe I haven’t written about. I don’t know whether or not this will change today. When I sat down I was resolved to “not have an agenda” when I wrote. To let my mind wander. And so maybe I’ll talk about my immediate surroundings, since the temptation for every amateur writer is to write about his immediate surroundings. Or maybe I’ll talk about how this day has gone, how I woke up and went to Pan Regio, thinking I’d write about another pastry and thus complete the pastries in Guadalajara mini-series that’s arisen spontaneously over the past couple days. But the biscuit was unremarkable. This isn’t to say it was bad. It was definitely the healthiest item I’ve gotten from Pan Regio so far. It was made with whole grains, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. It wasn’t nearly as sweet as most of the things they make. My roommate said the other day he thought Pan Regio was expensive. The biscuit cost 7 pesos. I don’t really know how it could be cheaper.

Tomorrow is Friday, which means today’s my Friday. Friday is one of the few days where I have very little scheduled. This is because my online students are mostly in Spain and don’t want to have English class on Friday evenings. And also because I’ve stopped taking more work at Vancouver Language Centre, since the classes I have in the consulate are enough. I’ve never particularly enjoyed teaching English, but I think I’m coming around. I’m starting to understand the English language better. There are some subtleties that are nearly impossible for ESL learners to understand, let alone native speakers. For example, how would you explain the difference between the following two sentences:

1) “What are you going to do after work?”

2) “What are you doing after work?”

The answer (apparently) is that first question is more speculative, while the second question elicits concrete plans. When you say, “I’m meeting up with some friends after work,” it’s more concrete than, “I’m going to meet up with some friends after work.” The latter would sound better preceded by, “I think,” i.e., “I think I’m gonna meet up with some friends,” reinforcing the fact that this is, indeed, speculation.

Or something.

Honestly, I have no idea.

And I really wish I had another drink, but don’t want to spend another 30 pesos to get one.

But maybe I should?

I mean, I’ve worked hard today.

Come on, Mark, live a little.

But that’s exactly the mentality that got me into the financial trouble from a few days ago.

But, like, you only live once, right?

The music playing in El Rincon del Mate right now is from the Into the Wild soundtrack. This movie was popular in the summer of 2009, when I was working at a lodge in Alaska as a housekeeper. I’m not one to single out “favorite summers,” but that was definitely one of my favorite summers. When I’m wrinkled and grey I’ll talk fondly about the summer of ’09, about the time when we tried to live off the land but ended up living off whiskey, about the time Phil and I saw a bear and almost shit our pants.

And maybe when I’m old and grey I’ll talk about the winter of ’18, when I lived in Guadalajara and had few friends and spent most of my days in a small cafe known for serving mate. I’ll talk about how I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was a happy time for me. Though I guess if I’m writing about it now maybe I do realize it. Maybe I am happy.

A special thanks to Barry Sevig for supporting this blog both in spirit and for donating the laptop on which I write everyday. Without him my first website, Where’s Wetzler, would’ve never existed. And probably not this one, either.

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