Nov 18 2009

Hotel Veracruz

Published by at 8:18 am under Mexico,The Adventure

Lunch lasted about 4 hours. We kept ordering more beef and cheese tacos and ice cold beers–even though we were all obviously envious of Nathan’s lobster. The patio was filled with other sailors also on the Baja Ha-ha.

The length of lunch was a combination of things–the most obvious of which was that we kept ordering food and beers. The other part was that two food servers were serving a patio filled with roughly 100 sailors, and the food was being prepared by a kitchen who perhaps serves this many meals in a week (I think–it could be less), not in a few hours. In the restaurant business, we lovingly referred to this time in our serving lives as being “in-the-weeds.”

There are some tell tale signs of a food server being “in-the-weeds.” Here are a few of them:

  • Big, deer-in-the-headlights eyes mixed with momentary washes of visible guilt. It is the natural effect of not having enough capacity to remember every single detail of all of your TWELVE tables (each with 4 to 10 people who have their own needs to be met).
  • A frantic walking pace . . . even for short distances . . . of say four feet. This is a psychological reaction to KNOWING that everyone is getting poor service. It sends a signal to all of your customers that says, “Hey look, I am really busy right now. Would I walk this fast if I was taking it easy in the back station?”
  • Nodding frequently during actual conversations with a customer. This is a food server’s stalling trick. At this point, they are skimming what YOU are saying because they are processing the backlog of todo items and unprocessed data. If you were to heat up the conversation and really turn the screws down on them, they would immediately stop nodding and look at you directly. Note: I recommend NOT doing this. If you can go easy on them, and they can get caught up, you will be remembered as the gracious one and treated really well for the rest of the meal.
  • Avoidance of eye contact, tempered with big smiles. When fighting fires, you have to put the ones out that are going to do the most damage (I am no expert firefighter, but speaking metaphorically, this is the only way to work). If your server walks past you and is clearly avoiding eye contact with you, it means that some fire is burning pretty big right now–and, it has to be extinguished.
  • Sometimes, there is visible sweating. Well, being in-the-weeds sucks. Many servers take their job seriously–it is their business to give good service and when you can’t do it, it sucks. Mix that with guilt, hurried walking, mental processing overload . . . well, it is a giant anxiety sandwich and you just gotta take a few bites.

Well, our server was exhibiting all of the signs . . . and, we were gracious about it. No worries. Later, we would learn a phrase that describes it perfectly. We were already on “Mexico time.”

After our meal, we walked the dirt roads of town a bit, looked through some of the neighborhoods, found a market or two, and made our way up to the Hotel Veracruz where there was supposedly a “get together” planned for the Baja Ha-haers that evening.

When we got there, we found the place was packed with bunches of sailors who had arrived (there were still plenty of boats still at sea), and again, we found ourselves consuming more beer (no food this time) and telling sea-stories with some of the other sailors. Fortunately, we had NOT consumed enough beer to start singing sea shanties . . . (it takes a LOT of beer to hit that level).

But, as the evening progressed, we noticed this little dark room off to the side that oddly enough had a bar in it, and chairs and tables surrounding this open area. I wondered why it was so dark in there . . . until the lights came on, and music started to play.

As it turns out . . . the owner of the Hotel Veracruz (before he passed a few years ago) loved the Baja Ha-ha sailors so much that he built a dance floor for them. I kid you not! A DJ stepped into the booth, the lights came on, the Baja Ha-ha veterans were already wearing their dancing shoes–and, we’re back to “Play that funky music, white boy!”

At this point, Hendrik turned to us, pointed to the dance floor and said, “THAT must be the Ha-ha of the Baja Ha-ha.”

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Hotel Veracruz”

  1. izyfrankon 21 Nov 2009 at 1:04 am

    I still don’t understand why you were too sober for sea shanties. Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever been that sober. Shanties can be some seriously funky music for white boys.

  2. Timon 22 Nov 2009 at 7:13 pm

    The term “keel-hauling” comes to mind . . . . They tie one end of a rope to one wrist, the other end to the other wrist, ask you to check the bottom of the boat for creepy-crawlies, and then throw the rope off the front of the boat (while sailing).

    Let’s just say that the wrong sea shanty at the wrong time can act as an invitation for closer inspection of the bottom of the boat (and it might take a little liquid courage before we are sufficiently lubricated to walk that fine line).

    I’m just saying . . . . 😉