Here’s my philosophy on travel: Wherever you are, you have to eat the goat. That means that if you are traveling on a train in India and your seatmate offers you fried grasshoppers from a plastic bag, you eat the grasshoppers. I’ve had raw wallaby in Tasmania, illegally made home-brewed beer in Nigeria, and brain tacos in Mexico. The one thing I’ve resisted down here are the raw oysters. For one thing, I can see the guy diving for oysters in the Bay of Banderas not a hundred yards from where I know a sewer line empties into the ocean. For another, they take the oysters, dump them on a wooden table set up in the road, and sell them (sans ice) all day long in 90 degree weather.
Yesterday I spent the day on the beach in Sayulita, about 15 minutes north of where I live in Bucerias. Sunday is family day and there were throngs of large, happy families playing in the surf, drinking tins of Tecate, and ordering piles of raw oysters from a well-dressed man in a straw cowboy hat who was running back and forth between where all the pangas are pulled up on the beach and the beach-goers spread out on their chairs in front of Don Pedro’s.
Not far from me was a red-headed woman from Vancouver whose boyfriend ran one of the “rent-a-surfboard” stands on the beach. We started chatting and when next the oyster man passed by I made some stupid remark about how I’d eat raw dog meat before I’d eat one of those oysters. “Oh, they’re delicious,” she protested. “You should try one.”
Deciding to call her bluff, I told her I’d order a dozen if she’d eat half of them. She countered: She would eat four, I would eat four, and the other four would go to her surfing boyfriend who was sitting in the shade of Don Pedro’s renting surfboards to little kids. I told her she had a deal. So the next time Jesus came by–that was the oyster man’s name, Jesus–the next time Jesus came by, I’d buy a dozen oysters. Which I did.
“Tell me truthfully, Jesus, are these good oysters?”
“Of course,” said Jesus. “The best.”
Why would Jesus lie?
Jesus offered us his plastic bottle of salsa picante and I squeezed a few drops on each oyster, squeezed a little lime over them, and then sucked one down the hatch. It was warm–but delicious.
I have to admit that when I went to bed last night, I wondered if I’d be getting up in the middle of the night screaming the name of Jesus in vain. But so far, so good. And now I can say I truly ate the goat in Sayulita.