We crossed over into Mexico from the Guatemalan border after two solid days of travelling on chicken buses and crowded collectivos (mini vans). In the nondescript town of Tapachula we followed two friendly men to the bus station to buy a ticket to our first proper Mexican destination of Oaxaca city. With a few hours until our bus was due to leave, Andrew went in search of food and returned with the tray of tacos pictured above.
In order to appreciate the significance of this humble plate of food, we must travel back to 1996/1997. I believe it was around this time when I first developed an obsession with the tacky cliched yellow and red packages of Old El Paso Mexican recipe bases that seemed so exotic on the supermarket shelf. It was a Tuesday night and it was just Mum and I at home. I don’t remember what faux Mexican (slash Texmex) dish we made but I do remember it was the first time Mum showed me how to make guacamole. I distinctly remember mashing the avocado in our blue and white china bowls, marvelling at how something so delicious was so easy to make.
And so a lifelong (so far!) love of Mexican food was born.
When I tucked into that plate of beef tacos at the bus station, it felt like I’d been waiting 20 years to do so. Probably because I had! No amount of inauthentic homemade Mexican or overpriced ‘street corn’ from Mamasita in Melbourne could make up for the real thing. A random cart near the bus station would prove better than anything I’d ever had before.
If only I knew how much more was to come…