Bayside, New York
February 16, 2002
It is impossible to cite, let alone remember, every single arts & crafts shop we entered during our day in Ensenada.
We went into this man's shop accidentally, as we were naturally curious about the Lingerie Shop on the same street, also referred to as a sex shop. More on that later, perhaps.
The window to this very large, what you see is what you get, pottery and ceramic store has probably not been washed since World War I. The owner, Jesus Orozco, is a veteran of the Korean war, and damn proud of it. He is Indian, not Mexican, and don't you dare confuse the two. He's proud of his English, and has pictures of himself in the US Army. He tirelessly repeats the durability of the items on his shelves, 25 years or more. He then takes hold of a long, sharp nail, grabs a bowl, and turns it over and proceeds to scratch the material. No scratches! Bravo!.I am looking at the shelves, with endless rows of glasses, serving bowls, eared jugs, vases, lidded boxes, on and on. His is not the Talavera , nor is it the elegant black clay, nor red clay. It's a milkish grey background with green and dark brown motifs of cacti or other relevant Mexican designs.
As Chuck and I always bring something from each place we visit, it takes about fifteen seconds for me to decide: the undying salesman, Chuck is bargaining for a better price. This is when Jesus Orozco gives both of us a reading lesson; he takes us over to one of the walls, where a sign has been written in English, most likely after the Korean War. The paper is yellow with age, and acid, but nevertheless, has not been replaced. It states in simple English, and I'm paraphrasing, "please don't bargain with me, you're already getting the best price". "Nuff said. As he begins to unravel some newspapers in which to wrap the jug, he wants to share with us something very "special" which he makes. He reaches under his cash register, and produces a bottle that looks like it contains flat Coca-Cola. He pours some of this liquid gold in a cup, and offers it to Chuck and myself. I wet my lips, and detect alcohol and stop dead in my tracks: Chuck empties the glass. It's a mix of Tequila and Coke, and God only knows what the ratio in there is. I'm sure it's kept the old man alive all these years, though I wish he'd see a good dentist.
He is all smiles, as he sees us to the door, manages to remind Chuck that he must kiss me at least 2,000 times a day, and reminds him to produce at least another 20 children. Is this why world hunger is a problem?
Don't miss this man if you're in Ensenada; he's the most entertaining character we met all day.
From journal Invitation To Baja