On Tuesday, I woke up and decided it was definitely going to be the day I go to Rosa’s Cantina. It may sound silly to some, but I have always loved the tune “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and I wanted to see the place. It is a little place a few miles away from the downtown area. Apparently, that used to be the main road, before they put in the interstate. Back in the day, there wasn’t much on that road- as I understood it. I walked in and it was like stepping back in time, to a degree. I was like a kid in the candy store! I went in just to ask questions and take pictures, but I was seduced by the charm of the place. I sat at the bar and Carol was the bartender.She gave mne a menu and before I even ordered, I had chips and salsa verde and a bowl of hot soup I can’t pronounce. I ordered the beef taco plate with re-fried beans and rice and it was freakin’ awesome! As I was having my soup, I saw the owner, Oscar, and I asked him some questions. Though he is not the original owner, he knows the history of the place. There is a wonderful framed tribute to the original owner and Mart Robbins on the wall, as well as some sign and framed albums. Oscar told me the bar used to be up front and the men and women had to be on opposite sides of the room. Weird, but true, back in the day they had to be separated. They had live music then, just as they do now. After I finished my soup, I took a bunch of pictures- I am such a tourist sometimes.
I asked Carol what the turnover was for the kitchen. She said “There isn’t any, Martha has been here for 35 years” She went on to tell me she makes everything fresh everyday. There are no microwaves back there and if she runs out- she runs out. Apparently, that doesn’t happen very often though. She has an assistant working with her named, Claudia. The kitchen is very small but they goet the job done. Martha definitely has her act down to a science. I peeked in for a couple of minutes to watch what they do. I am amazed at what they do back there in that small space- it is poetry in motion. Carol has been there since Oscar took ownership back in 2007. I get the impression, the turnover for any position is nil. I kept asking her questions as I had my lunch and she answered all of them. She even took my picture under the sign at the bar! My lunch, including a Tecate came to $8. There was another server there, I did not get her name but she was also friendly and asked me how I was doing and if I got enough pictures. I can’t help but wonder if her name was Galina that would have been too much! Seeing all of that in person and then listening to the tune, it is almost like being there as a witness to everything that happened. I left there happy and satisfied for many reasons.
After lunch, I went downtown to San Antonio and Stanton and I really just love the acoustics there! I also like the JCPenny across the street that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 60s. I was feeling a little under the weather, I noticed that while I was doing laundry earlier. I was hoping it was just the sniffles from the cold weather. I still played a full shift though. It wasn’t as busy as it was the previous two days but, as usual, the people here are very nice. As I was ready to wrap it up anyway, a man told me to go down to El Paso and Paisano, there are a lot of people there he said. It was also getting a little late. I had been looking for that area because there are a lot of people walking in that area. There are a lot of sidewalk sales and such going on there. I had seen it before, but couldn’t find my way back there. I did find a problem though, a lot of music, being played on loud speakers outside. I thought to myself, I will get here earlier tomorrow. There was a pawn shop selling on of Pancho Villa’s fingers (at least that is what it looked like with what it said) for the low price of $9,995.
Today (Wednesday), I found my way to that same area. There was still music being played on loud speakers, but I found a spot in front of a closed business. Only to get asked to move before I finished my first tune. Apparently, the business next door, promotes the music of a local musician and he didn’t like me being there. He asked me nicely to move it down a block, so I did. I played about two songs my nose was running like a faucet. It was just the cold weather sniffles, ugh! I knew that when I woke up, but thought I would give it a shot anyway. I lasted about 30 minutes out there. Not only that, I didn’t have those awesome acoustics. I think I may have got spoiled at the other location. Tonight is my last night in El Paso, I am head to Las Cruces and should be there Thursday afternoon. I have enjoyed my time in El Paso. The people here, as I have mentioned, are friendly- from the homeless man who wanted to give me a swig of his vodka, to keep me warm when he had nothing else to offer when he heard me playing. To the people at the Artist’s Market (Rebecca, Ruben, Bonnie and Christine) and all the others who were just amazing in a lot of ways. To a long conversation over the phone making a new friend here, to Mike at the Christmas parade, to a man playing his saxophone with me, and so many other people who made it very nice to be here- Thank you! Also, it is actually pretty easy to find your way around pretty easily. The scenery of the desert and mountains are also something. I am so looking forward to seeing more of that as I head further west!