I was 24 when a Mexican bird pooped on my face.
How did I know the bird was Mexican? Because we were in Mexico. In all fairness, he could have been an ambitious American bird who’d flown too far south for the winter. But for the purpose of this story, I’ll assume that he was Mexican. And that he was a he because aim was a factor.
It happened during my first trip to Mexico with the man I now call my husband. We’d been on a family vacation with his parents, and had made the last-minute decision to extend our stay. Both of us were in the midst of job transitions and were lucky enough that our calendars overlapped.
Initially, our spur of the moment hotel/apartment search was a flop; nothing was available. His parents weren’t happy that poolside Margaritas had been replaced by a frantic search for a strip mall hotel or kindhearted landlord who would take us in.
Towards the end of our planned vacation, we found ourselves apartment-hunting in downtown Acapulco when a bird, possibly a Condor or a Falcon, pooped on my face.
We didn’t actually see the bird, but Rodney, combining his high school biology and college-level math skills, made some rough estimates based on the poop surface area. Thankfully it had missed my eye, but covered a broad swath of my right cheek. Although I never actually saw the wreckage, I distinctly remember the sensation. Like a mug of hot chocolate had been splashed in my face.
These discussions happened after the fact of course. Rodney’s immediate reaction was to slip into a mild shock, recover, and then attempt to clean it off. A little too quickly I might add, because instead of wiping it off my cheek sideways, he barehanded it down over the corner of my mouth. Our Cat 4 problem had now escalated to a Cat 5.
We needed water. And not your standard issue garden hose as that would have increased the likelihood of a second gastrointestinal flesh-eating disease.
The hunt began for a bodega and bottled water. It wasn’t long before we found one and in that same back alley where the Condor had made me his personal latrine, we washed our tainted bodies.
But as some of you may know, it’s common lore that bird poop on the head is very good luck. I wasn’t aware of the superstition until years later when I was retelling the story. As you can imagine, we tell it often.
Luckily for us, the superstition rang true. Within the hour, we’d found our room – a clean and comfortable high floor one-bedroom condo that faced the Pacific. For two weeks we hung out on the beach, ate questionable street food, and drank Coronas while we watched the sunset. It was unforgettable, and marked the first of many trips to Mexico. We got married there several years later.
Fortunately we’re able to continue our love affair with Mexico at home. Enchiladas, chilaquiles, tostadas, and cocktails; they all bring us to a happy sunshiny place. We may not have the Pacific at our fingertips, but sometimes it tastes like we do.
So for those of you celebrating with us today: Happy Cinco de Mayo. We’re celebrating with a platter of black bean and chorizo quesadillas, and a big pitcher of roasted grapefruit margaritas.
- 1 grapefruit, sliced crosswise
- ¼ cup Turbinado or brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt, plus more for rimming the glasses
- 1 lime, cut in wedges
- 1 cup freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4-5 limes)
- 1 cup Cointreau
- 1 cup white Tequila
- 2 cups ice
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Place the sliced grapefruit on a baking sheet and sprinkle the sugar and salt on the slices.
- Roast for approx. 30 minutes until the slices look soft and the sugar has caramelized. If you want a little more browning, broil them for a minute or two, keeping a close eye as they’ll burn quily.
- While the grapefruit is roasting, rub lime around the rim of each glass and dredge in a plate of kosher salt.
- Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, Cointreau, and ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and stir in the tequila.
- Pour the margaritas into the prepared glasses and add a wedge of roasted grapefruit to each one and serve.