Today we finally tried the camarones.
Our friends invited M. and me to try one of their favorite spots in Matamoros. They had told us about it a while ago, and today is the day we made it over there. It’s a little white wooden hut at the corner of Calle Cuarto and Zaragoza in downtown Matamoros, owned and operated by an elderly man with kind eyes and a great smile who makes a mean camarones (shrimp) cocktail.
He fills a jumbo-sized margarita glass with fresh shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico, which he keeps in a cooler under the roof of the hut. He adds freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped cilantro, minced jalapeños, avocados, and diced onions as requested by his customers, asking each one individually what he or she would like. Then comes the finale: his special homemade cocktail sauce, a recipe which he keeps a secret.
We sat under the hut’s white wooden awning, which provided some protection once the sky opened up and rain began to pour around us. Seemingly instantly, the streets were flooded. We saw a woman traversing the water, which had risen nearly up to her knees in the span of twenty minutes. Cars continued to roll by as I wondered how their engines weren’t flooding. Up the road, we noticed a van that had gotten stuck. Cockroaches climbed the fence from their hiding spots in the ground behind us, trying to escape the rising water just like everyone else. We ate our shrimp cocktails as we talked, exchanging stories about work and the past week. Meanwhile, more people approached the hut to enjoy the camarones, knowing that the man, who has operated his business here at Cuarto and Zaragoza for twenty-nine years, closes his little restaurant at 4:00 pm or when he runs out of shrimp. The sky became darker, almost black, with the threat of an afternoon thunderstorm, now a daily occurrence in Matamoros, only a few minutes away.
All the while, we continued to eat our camarones. We got wet- it was inevitable- and once we finished we made a dash for our friends’ car, which had taken in about two inches of water, we realized, upon stepping in. Our friends drove us home through flooded streets, slowly and carefully, as we watched the rain continue to fall. We tried to return the favor by vacuuming the water out of their car with our shop vac, a purchase we had made shortly after we arrived in Matamoros, and one which M. decided was a symbol that he was officially married.
We had a little adventure today, we decided, and for M. and me, perhaps our first truly local experience since we began living in Matamoros. We will definitely go back to the little white hut, hopefully with friends in tow and sunny skies, to enjoy more of the fresh camarones.
Thank you for reading!