Saturday, March 17, 2018

All The Right Changes: The New And Improved La Bamba

by john robertson (writer), Minneapolis, MN, February 28, 2009


Two words that keep getting thrown around a lot lately: "Sacrifice" and "Change". Eating at the new and improved La Bamba makes me think about both.

Two words that keep getting thrown around a lot lately: "Sacrifice" and "Change".

Eating at the new and improved La Bamba makes me think about both.

For those of you in the know, the previous incarnation of this delicious family run destination was very easy on the taste buds but it wreaked havoc on your eyes. Especially the bathroom!

I actually understand how someone from central America might come here and not have the same standard as we do. Just as I slowly grew accustomed to their bathrooms when I was a foreigner, I suppose it takes them a while to get accustumed to ours.

Having lived and traveled through Mexico for a year in my twenties, I became desensitized to very "well used" looking eateries and their bathrooms. All of them with their sea foam green and cotton candy pink interiors mingled with the occassional cockroach or stray piglet running around beneath your feet.

I don't know about El Salvador, but Mexico for the most part lacks infrastructure; the most important being a lack of a sewer. The few cities that do have sewers haven't improved them in over 100 years. (Resort areas being the exception.) I guess not having a sewer to flush things into, they figure, "What the hell? We may as well forget about keeping the rest of the bathroom up too. What's the point?"

When you arrive at a rest stop, for example, you will generally find a line of dancing Mexicans all waiting their turns to get into the single occupancy, unventilated, concrete sweat box. There is usually a toothless old man or woman who sits on a chair right outside the door and sells you a square or two of real toilet paper for a few centavos. If you want enough to actually do anything with, that will cost ya at least a whole peso. To us Americanos, it's worth it!

Being a frugal and resourceful people, most of the patrons bring their own magazines, newspapers, and novels when they take road trips. Of course, we do that in America too. However, we bring them to read.

Once you are in the bathroom, the first thing you will want to do is cover your mouth and nose with your shirt. Otherwise, you may pass out from the stench floating in the stale air in the concrete cell of a bathroom. Try to distract yourself by staring at the peeling paint, noticing what color the wall used to be before. Try not to actually let your cheeks touch the sweaty and yellowish stained toilet seat. Most importantly, whatever you do... please, please, please DO NOT ignore the sign that says not to flush any paper down the toilet. Even if the sign is in Spanish and you do not read Spanish... DO NOT flush ANYTHING but human waste! I saw a Canadian woman ignore this sign once, and the disaster that ensued sent everyone running for the hills!

As you will quickly notice, there is a very small waste basket provided for you in the corner... like six inches from your foot! The wastepaper basket hasn't been emptied in... I dunno... weeks. There is a pile of bible scriptures, Hispanic Male Magazine pages and wadded up toilet paper squares- all of them caked together with the excrement of hundreds of anuses, forming a large and precarious mountain peak. The only thing that prevents them from collapsing to the ground when the one millionth fly crawls in and out and around it, is the fifty or so poop papers that have dried and glued themselves to the wall. Try not to think of Amytiville Horror as flies swarm your eyes and ears and hair.

So, having survived this cultural phenomenon during the tail end of my impressionable years, I kinda shrugged the first time I entered the restroom at La Bamba. Now, it was nowhere near as bad as what I just described, but it was bad enough that I flushed the toilet with a tissue in my hand, and touched the door knob the same way too. (At least they had a sewer.)

The new and improved La Bamba has left the Central American culture in their food but taken it out of their dining room and bathroom.

The new bathroom looks and feels like an IKEA showroom!

The new kitchen no longer looks like a collection of garage sale appliances under a grass roof, but instead is shiny with stainless steel and it's sparkling clean.

Gone are the days of Easter Egg colored walls. Hello new earth tones and granite counter tops.!

The food? Still muy delicioso! The service? Still muy, muy lento! That's okay. I prefer them to keep making those pupusas, by hand, and fresh to order. It may take longer, but it is so worth it.

I guess all good changes are gained with sacrifice.

I sacrificed a little of my diginity for a year to gain the benefit of gratitude for where I come from and what I have.

I am sure the good people of La Bamba's Taqueria sacrificed alot to get where they are now too.

So, what is twenty minutes of my life to have delicious, hand made pupusas; simply the best you will find anywhere?

Bienvenido to America, La Bamba! You have finally arrived. What a difference a change makes!

About the Writer

john robertson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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