Stop me if you’ve heard this one.
The day started out innocently enough. Tawn decided she wanted to take the bus to town and get some fresh veggies. We called our buddy Josh on the radio and made plans to head out around 10am…ish.
The joke around here is:
Q: How many people can you fit on a bus in El Salvador?
A: One more!
Me and Josh head to the Claro (Central American Phone/internet company) store and get him setup with an internet chip. I’d gotten one a few days before so I knew the process.
Tawn went next door to a grocery store to get some veggies. Apparently, “veggies” is Tawn slang for wine. Cause that is all she bought….wine.
Walking back to the bus station I suddenly(luckily) remembered that I needed to pick up a machete and scabbard. We ask the guy at the hardware store where we find such a thing. Being in El Salvador, this is really not that odd of a request.
We find the machete place and as I’m looking around for the perfect machete and scabbard, Josh and Tawn are asking the guy at the shop were the closest bar is.
He seemed to be slightly befuddled by this question. He kept telling us to go the the tienda (store) to get beer. Josh kept saying, “No we want to go to a bar and have a beer” (in spanish).
He says “There are no bars in town”.
We are like…..”whuuut??”
After a few more seconds of thought he kinda crinkles up his brow and says “Uh…there is the “billiards” place around the corner”.
He did not have the type of machete I wanted, so we headed for the bar.
Josh and Tawn walk up to a door that looks like it might be the right place. I went next door since I spotted another machete shop with an even better selection than the previous place. They really do love their machetes down here.
I find my machete and bad ass leather scabbard and head next door to the bar.
I would not have been the least bit surprised if I saw a sweaty Jean-Claude Von Damme or Sylvester Stallion circa 1987 sitting at a table in this place, sharpening a knife or some other cheesy ’80s action movie cliche. Dirt floor. Ramshackle, cobbled together everything. Sagging corrugated tin roof….perfect actually.
Click that pic to get the full panoramic effect.
I see Tawn and Josh sitting a shitty, dirty table, on some rickety chairs next to another table with four or five guys sitting around watching two guys play some sort of card game for cash.
Randomly walking about the place are six or seven chickens, two roosters and a few dirty pigeons. A couple of the chickens are noisily pecking the shit out of a couple crushed Styrofoam cups in the middle of the floor right next to our table.
There is a odd scrawny fellow whistling at a small green bird in a cage. It was almost as if they finished filming the movie “Blood Sport”, but didn’t take down the bar set and the extras just sorta hung around for the next decade or two.
The “bartender” brought us a plate of some sort of very sour fruit with salt on it. At first I was not sure what it was and asked him “Que es esta?”. He points to a rather large tree that is growing out of a pile of rubble near the back of the place through a huge hole in the roof and says….”Mango”.
Of course. Locally sourced, organic….how nice.
By the way, if you think salted pretzels make you wanna drink more beer. Try unripe mangoes and salt….sheesh.
We tuck in to the mangoes and order another round of beer, but our attention keeps being pulled to the other side of the bar. There is a “wall” slapped together with some old 2x4s, sticks and metal roofing. The wall hides that part of the room from the front door and the rest of the bar. There are eight or so guys all gathered around behind the wall. We cannot tell what they are up to, but we can hear coins clinking about and it has that feel that there is some sort of wagering going on.
We toss a few ideas back and forth of what we think is happening, but between the three of us we never felt like we really figured it out. We ruled out cock fighting…..way to mellow. No tell tell chicken sounds. I’ve never seen a cockfight, but I’m pretty sure I’d know one if I heard it.
Curiosity gets the better of me. I get up and wander over.
In my head I had a mental picture of some dude wearing a grimy tank top and a bandanna with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth doing that rapid fire knife between the fingers thing and the rest of the guys betting on the outcome. I was picturing maybe Steven Segal.
Walking around the wall I see they are all standing around a beatup, waist high table with a 6 inch boarder around it. There is of course the requisite old shitty flickering florescent light hanging precariously above. On the table top there is some money scattered about and one of the guys has a very small plastic cup in his hand. The cup was just like one of those little cups you get at a doctors office when you have to take pills.
Just as I get to the table, “little cup guy” gives the cup a shake and tosses the contents on the table. Bouncing across the table are two of the absolute smallest pair of dice I have ever seen in my life. I am not exaggerating when I say they were at most 1/8 of an inch in size. It was smaller than a pea, like maybe two lentels stuck together.
I was not prepared for this. Honestly, I was taken slightly aback. A guy with a knife trying to not stab his hand….Yep. Cockfighting…sure. Some sort of midget fight….or something….OK. But tiny, tiny dice….how do you prepare for something like that?
The guy with the cup ask if I want to play. I tell him I don’t know the rules and he gives me a quick run down. It was basically a simplified version of craps. I passed, but stayed and watched for a bit.
After a few minutes I wander back to our table, we pay our tab, and head out past the guys working at the door and out to the street.
Walking back to the bus stop, we start talking about the bar. The conversation went something along the lines of:
“What the fuck?”
“That was really weird”
“What the fuck?”
“Why were those dice so tiny”
“What was wrong with that one chicken’s head and was that a laminated poster of Patrick Swayze on the wall?”
“Did that just happen?”
“Seriously, what the fuck?”
We decided that the dice game was some sort of illegal gambling. The guys at the front door were there to keep a look out.
I kept thinking to myself. “I should go to the store and buy those guys a proper set of dice”. I pictured my self some sort of hero, swooping in and dropping some regulation size dice on them. They’d be like, “Damn, thank you strange Gringo”….then it hit us.
The dice were so god damn tiny (seriously 1/8 inch) so that if the police decided to bust them, they only had to drop them on the floor and the chickens and roosters would peck them up and the evidence would be gone. “Nothing illegal happening here officer”.
It was all very surreal. But the beer was super cold.
We just found out last night while have a few beer with a local guy that sometimes the dice are made out of teeth (the story just keeps getting better) and are in fact that small so they can be tossed and lost easily.