It was just a small taco stand from its outward appearance when I first stumbled onto it a number of years back, located along the malecon in San Felipe near the northern end of the strip. In those days there was only a single table, but there were folks waiting to order and be served and the atmosphere was festive and friendly.
There were four or five of us and we were in Baja and in no hurry so we waited until the line went down while I made a list of how many fish and shrimp and carne asada tacos we wanted and ordered them from a woman named Maria. Soon we were chomping on beer batter tacos and had brought a six pack from the adjacent liquor store and appropriately covered our cervezas in brown paper to avoid problems with the local customs.
Over the years we developed a great relationship with Maria, her husband and her children. Our friendship was never the kind where you sit and share a meal and discuss the old days. It was more like visiting from time to time and sharing the events from different worlds of the times in between. We talked, first and foremost, about our children, who were usually there from both families. They watched each other grow from a certain distance and I was personally pleased at the insight my children were getting from a perspective not their own that helped them to open up and see that the world around them was not always as they expected.
Across the years we watched Maria's family grow and age. Their life centered around the tiny taco stand and their home just behind. The children were always there to help. Not as if they had to, there was never any complaining, but because they knew their support was meaningful. And Maria worked some pretty long hours to add to their growing needs.
One night Maria's family invited us to attend a performance in which one of her daughters was dancing. That led to an abbreviated discussion, shared in Spanish and English as best we could, about the longer term events in their family. Maria and her husband had children in schools local to San Felipe, in Mexicali, and the oldest was just about to enter University.
All this, in part, on the income from a tiny taco stand.
And, perhaps most importantly, Maria and her husband and children accomplished all this without the sacrifice of having to adapt to a life style marching to an unknown drum by changing herself to fit a workplace. While working in the midst of Maria's family dwelling, surrounded constantly by loved ones, she was helping to make their objectives come to fruition.
I sure wish I'd been paying more attention while I was growing up. Oh, well. Maybe it's not too late.