Española is Felliniesque town. It dates back to the conquistadors. The streets twist around and across the Rio Grande. It feels like a big barrio that thins out into Indian reservations.
Emily had made a reservation at El Paragua, a Mexican restaurant we hadn't tried before. When I called to confirm, all I could get was a recording saying they were closed on that specific day. What? Did they burn down, get robbed, or something?
Luckily, there was a Chinese place right in front of the motel. The servers were teenage girls who spoke Chinese to each other. Conversation in Chinese, along with the sound of frying came from the kitchen. The decor was kung fu kitsch. And the food was good, too.
You never know what you'll find in Española.
Tattooed characters milled around in the lobby as we checked in. The halls reeked of stale cigarette smoke. One of the rooms we rented smelled moldy. A sign on the dilapidated parking lot fence warned: NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEFT OR DAMAGE TO VEHICLES.
Surrealistically, both of our rooms had two identical copies of the same bad art print. They were probably in all the rooms. The owner probably got a deal for buying them in bulk.
Later, we witnessed a drug deal in front a NO LOITERING VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED sign.
In Taos, a lot of our favorite places were closed, going the way of the Wired? Cafe. A guy hooked up to an oxygen tank, who was trying to fix a truck, told us the same thing happened to the Coffee Spot. The mural of Billy the Kid with an arrow through his hat and others near it had been whitewashed. A lot of businesses were closed, the spaces for rent.
It's like a hipster apocalypse, though tattoos and man-buns are still plentiful.
Back in Española, we finally got to eat at El Paragua. They said no need for reservations, just come on down. More great tacos, handmade tortillas, and wonderful Latinoid decor.
Pancho Villa smiled from a wanted poster.
Next door they had El Parasol, a takeout annex. Just thinking about their menu makes my mouth water. Award-winning tacos, tubs of beans, rice, and menudo to go. Some kind of paradise.
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