As a journalist whose job is to write about high school sports, it is hard to find time to take a break during the school year.
I never thought that I would be worrying about UEA weekend, Christmas break, spring break, graduation and summer vacation well into my 30s, but here I am. This time of year can get particularly hectic, with state tournaments sending me back and forth between Tooele, Weber and Utah counties over a span of two weeks.
But, with the help of my coworkers and through the benefits of modern technology, I was able to get away for a few days earlier this month to visit with my family in Mexico, enjoying the relative peace of a weekend by the Sea of Cortez along with some good seafood and the chance to reunite with some of my favorite people.
After my grandfather and I picked up our rental car in Mexico on May 3, we promptly headed to our favorite roadside taco stand before making the hour-and-a-half drive to the coast. While taco stands are a dime a dozen — or two pesos a dozen, depending on the exchange rate — in Mexico, this one is unique in that it’s half taco stand, half tire-repair shop. It would be like having a Taco Bell under the same roof as Les Schwab, only the food is much cheaper and more authentic. After filling up on carne asada and glass bottles of Coke, we hit the road for a memorable vacation.
Our family welcomed us with open arms, as they always do. The last time we were there in December, my grandfather’s adopted Mexican son, Antonio, was still awaiting word as to whether he would be eligible for a much-needed kidney transplant, the result of deep-sea diving associated with being a commercial fisherman since he was nine years old. In March, he and his wife, Yolanda, received the good news that he had been placed on a waiting list. Our visit was, in part, a chance to celebrate that with them.
We also celebrated my grandfather’s 86th birthday with Antonio and Yolanda; their kids, Viridiana, Ramon and Jose and their spouses; and their grandchildren. Yolanda whipped up quite a feast that included multiple bowls of posole and several tortillas, along with a sizable amount of carrot cake. After dinner, we sat around on their patio, sharing stories and laughter.
But the most memorable moment came one night at dinner at a small restaurant. We brought Tony and Yolanda with us to meet with our friend, Javier, who is very well-connected — his best friend is the head of social services for the Mexican state of Sonora, which could stand to benefit Tony in his pursuit of a new kidney. Javier also has a friend who worked at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City, which could help me come time to complete the internship portion of my Spanish degree. We expected to have a nice dinner with Javier and his wife, Ana (the cousin of Sonora’s governor), but what we got was way above and beyond that.
Earlier in the day, Javier and his friend, Juan — the owner of a massive produce farm that exports watermelons, jalapeños, bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to the United States — had gone fishing. We knew that was why they were late to dinner, but we didn’t realize it was because they had brought their catch to the restaurant. Rather than ordering off the menu, the waiters brought us sashimi made from a yellowtail tuna Javier and Juan caught earlier that day, and the main course was filleted grouper that had been swimming in the Gulf of California only hours before. Juan then brought in a farm-fresh watermelon that Javier sliced up at the table, and the waiters brought out several plates of flan to end the meal.
The cost of all of that? 1,538 pesos — terrifying to look at that receipt at first glance, considering Mexico uses the dollar sign in its prices. However, that is actually only a little more than $80 — or less than $11.50 a head for a group of seven. That hardly seems adequate for a dinner and an experience that was, in truth, priceless.
Darren Vaughan is the sports editor for the Transcript Bulletin. He recommends being 45 kilometers from the nearest supermarket and 110 kilometers from the nearest Walmart to anyone looking for peace and quiet. Email him at email@example.com.