By Popular Demand: The Human Flesh Story

The title says it all, really.

I used to go to Mexico once or twice a year, until I found out I could go to Europe and have people be rude to me for only three times the expense. On one visit, I was in Chiapas, near San Christobel de las Casas, and found a place that gave horseback tours to some of the smaller villages. They took us thru all this wild mountain scenery to a village that was in the middle of it’s annual pagan festival – I kid you not, the people of the town were still worshiping in the traditional fashion, and they had gutted the local colonial-era church, painted it all kinds of wild drug-trip colors, and held ceremonies there. Cameras totally forbidden in the church. It was amazing, even without being hot and saddle-sore from the ride.

I took a break on a hillside near the cemetery – you could take pictures there – and two little boys came up to me, mugging and goofing for the camera, with those incredible, angelic, trusting faces that you only see on country kids. They must have been five or six years old. I fell instantly, utterly in love with them. As soon as I took a picture, they stuck out their hands and demanded payment. Ambitious little guys.

We rode back to San Christobel – more great scenery – and by the time I got there I was in serious pain. A, I hadn’t done a lot of riding in a loooong time, and B, the saddles were basically wood with a stretched leather cover. So riding, for any length of time, was just – frankly, every jolt of the horse was like being rapped sharply on the ass with a frying pan. I feared I might never sit down again.

When I got back to town, I was sweaty, stiff, and tired. And ravenous. I found the nearest cafe and stumbled in, glancing at the menu on the chalkboard. I saw something that looked reasonable – “Milenesa de something something” – and thought, that’ll be good. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what the second word, the one that actually id’d the meat, was, but I knew that Milenesa always means “breaded and fried” and what’s not to like there? I’d figure out the previous owner’s mode of being when it came to the table.

But I NEVER DID.

It was a white meat, I can tell you that. Fairly mild. Didn’t taste like chicken. Probably the only thing in the world that doesn’t. Not quite pork…I tried to catch my waiter’s eye, to ask him what this thing I was wolfing down was (I was too hungry not to eat it), but he was behind the bar, studiously ignoring me. Apparently menu translation was not included in the price. Possibly, too, he was avoiding me because I reeked of horse, and kept shifting my weight from one buttock to the other.

I ate it. I paid. I went back to my room, got out my spanish dictionary and searched for that word while laying butt-up on the bed, poring thru the pages…

No luck.

So, if I ever develop a crazed desire for the taste of human flesh…. I’ll know where it came from.

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