A good reunion with Brother Three who picked me up from the Houston airport and then we drove the 200 or so miles to Mom's place. It's a long and monotonous drive up Route 59. About thirty miles south of Lufkin we saw a sign that said "Huazateca Tacos, 1/2 mile" so we kept our eyes open, and soon saw a bright yellow painted shack. We pulled into a gravel drive in front of a tire shop.
We walked across the mud-crusted yard to the shack, scuffing the dirt off our shoes on the concrete pad in front of the little screened sliding window. It had a sign saying OPEN, but no menu displayed, though another sign said "Tamales" and "Menudo." I could see a counter, a cash register, a red curtain screening rooms beyond. I called in through the screen, "Hello? You open?" A voice came faintly from behind a red curtain, and finally a woman came out.
"What kind of tacos do you have?"
"Beef, or chicken." I'm not used to taco stand people speaking to me in English. Who says Beef? Chicken? instead of carne asada, or pollo?
"You have carnitas?" Testing, to see if maybe she was just telling the middle-aged Anglo woman what she thought she wanted to hear.
Ah, well. "Okay, chicken. Two." I guestured at Brother Three. "You too? Four chicken."
"To drink?" There were bottles of Jarritos soda displayed. "Naranja," I said. Orange.
She disappeared behind the red curtain. We looked around. There was an unfinished plate of food on the nearby table. Flies buzzed. There was an open Jarritos bottle, with yellow jackets exploring the open neck, while a cluster of dead wasps floated on top of the orange liquid.
In the tire shop beyond, a big guy in a coverall glanced at us. I nodded at him and smiled, and he smiled back and continued into the garage.
The woman came back, with a brown paper bag, and a bottle of orange Jarritos. There was a bottle opener there by the window - I used it to pop the cap. She took my $20, gave me $13 in change. "Gracias," I said. $7 for four tacos and a bottle of pop. Not bad.
"Wanna sit?" I asked, looking dubiously at the dirty table, the wasp trap.
We walked back to Brother Three's car. "I don't much care for the look of the place," he said.
"Me either, " I said. "It sure isn't East L.A."
"Let's go down the road a bit and find a gas station or something, and we can sit and eat."
There was a rest-stop not a quarter mile down. It was fancy, with clean smooth new concrete, brick picnic pavilions, and a brick building housing restrooms. Rows of 40' semi trucks were parked in the lot, and big sleek SUVs. The Texas state flag fluttered in the late afternoon sunshine filtering through the pines. We pulled in, parked, and ambled over to a concrete table. "Let's see how they look."
Wrapped in foil, two tacos, small but thick tortillas, looking handmade. Not abundant chicken, but enough, and a good-sized portion for eating by hand without getting messy. Chopped onion, cilantro, tomato. The salsa in the little plastic container was a green salsa - and nicely hot.
They were pretty good. Not great, but not bad. I didn't like the look of the place, either, but it's eight hours later, I'm not sick, so that must mean they were all right.