Weekly Lessons From the Road: Fresh Chicken Enchiladas

Boy with Chickens
Fresh Chicken Enchiladas!

As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop in the world, Hotshots in Lake Arrowhead, CA. And believe me, I’ve been to my share around the world and all pale to this gem in the mountains of Southern California.

When my dish came I was reminded of another time I ordered chicken. I had been riding a 2nd Class bus for days after crossing the Guatemalan border into Mexico. I knew this was going to be an adventure when I saw the sign on the bus driver’s visor that read, “Jesuscristo Mi Copiloto—Jesus Christ is my Copilot.” Above the inscription hung a collection of crucifixes and crosses and a picture of Christ ascending into the heavens.

As we wound through the first mountains that evening, I noticed the bus driver was turning his headlights off when passing on blind curves. He explained to me that this allowed him to see the lights of oncoming vehicles. He laughed when I suggested that another vehicle could be doing the same thing and pointed to the sign. I retired to the back of the bus with some campesinos and shared my flask.

As the trip progressed, I contracted dysentery requiring the bus driver to make frequent stops. Ultimately, the patience of the driver and the passengers was at an end and I found myself in Vera Cruz recuperating. A kind lady hotelier and a local pharmacist eventually put me right, which is another story.

I knew I was on the mend when I had the overwhelming craving for fresh chicken enchiladas, Vera Cruz style. My hostess told me of a local restaurant in her neighborhood that made the best in the city. She laughed and assured me they would be really fresh.

I decided I was strong enough to walk and could use the evening air. As I made my way through the narrow streets it began to rain, slowing my progress. Finally, I saw the little place down an alley and quickened my pace to get out of the weather.

I was about halfway, when a young man sprinted past me chased by a rotund policeman; huffing and puffing, pistol drawn. I had just enough time to dodge into an alcove as he began firing. After a several shots he bent over trying to catch his breath. The young man disappeared into the mist. The policeman and I went to dinner.

Inside was so steamy that you couldn’t see out the windows. My newfound friend and I were the only customers, so took seats near the kitchen. The policeman validated that the enchiladas were the best in town. The waitress was a short, little firebrand that stood tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for our orders.

I asked her if the chicken was fresh before I ordered. She laughed, as though to a private joke and assured me I wouldn’t find fresher. Right after she entered the kitchen with our orders, a small boy darted through it’s swinging doors, past us, disappearing outside. I quizzically looked at the policeman but he just shrugged assuring me all was normal. Of course, I took that with a grain-of-salt as this was the same man who minutes before had been shooting at someone out front.

Now, in Mexico you wait for your meal. It takes time and nothing happens very quickly. But usually it’s worth it. Dinner is a social event that should be savored. But this dinner was really taking a long time. Just as I was about to call the waitress over, the boy returned with a chicken under each arm and disappeared into the kitchen. Seconds later we heard squawking and the chopping of what sounded like a cleaver followed by silence; except for subdued laughter and the rattling of pots.

After about half-and-hour, we had the freshest and most savory chicken enchiladas I’ve ever tasted to this day. And I made a few lifelong friends that have enriched my world ever since, but, as I said before, that’s another story.

The road to the freshest chicken enchiladas you’ve ever tasted, can be a long and unpredictable one, but, as in life, the rewards can be great.

Baja Bound!

Bahia de los angeles, campo gecko

In a few days, I’m headed to baja for a couple weeks because someone has to keep an eye on things 🙂 …. I entered the 101st. Airborne, jump school on April 23,1967, Fort Benning, Georgia..After that, was–well, after that. .So I like to be somewhere that I feel I earned….. You know what I’m talking about Johnnie Griffitts and  John H. Bogacki … We made it and are still going on… The only easy day was yesterday and yesterday was a …….

On the Road Headed for Fresno, CA. — The long way around!

cropped-bmw-clinic-5.jpg

Where’s Charlie Boorman when we need him!

I’ll be unplugged and out of touch for the next few days as I’m headed up to Fresno the long way around for my talk. It’s my bad luck the the high desert and Death Valley National Park are in reach of my around about route to Fresno. My online presence will be sporadic at best but hopefully I’ll have a few stories to share. 🙂

I will be giving the presentation on Thursday, April 9 for the Central Valley BMW Riders in Fresno, CA. Here’s a link to their newsletter with all the details, http://cvbmwriders.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45&Itemid=263.

Weekly Recipe From The One-Arm Cookbook: Chili Mac

Okay, here is a staple for all of us who have been adventuring in Baja over the years. This is a dish you truly can prepare while sipping a beer in one hand. We always carry a couple of pounds of macaroni and a several cans of chili just in case. And we’ve gotten so use to preparing this while setting up camp that everyone complains if we don’t! In fact, our children have been known to ask for it when we’re settled and could cook anything.

You cook this after a long day of traveling overland trying to get unlost. You finally have found the beach you’ve heard about and its getting dark. So, chili mac comes to the rescue. You can cook it in minutes while your sipping a beer and setting up camp.

I apologize in advance to my foodie friends and bloggers I follow. But when in Baja, necessity is the mother of all invention. 

Here’s all you need: a little salt, 4 cans of chili (8oz.) and a 1 pound of macaroni to serve about 5 or 6 hungry adventurers.

Chili Mac ingredients
Chili Mac Ingredients

Steps:

Boil 4 quarts of water (salt to taste) or use sea water.

Heat cans of chili – or if you want to get really gourmet, use homemade you already prepared.

Dump the 1 pound bag of macaroni into to the boiling water. Bring back to boil and stir occasionally. Mac should be ready in about 6 to 8 minutes depending of altitude.

When the mac is soft to your taste, pour the water off. If you’re on a moto you probably didn’t bring a colander so use a lid; or we’ve even been known to use a flip flop when desperate.

When the chili is warm, mix both together and enjoy.

It will replinish you and give you enough energy to finish setting up.

Tomorrow, you can go out and catch a real meal!

Chili Mac
Chili Mac – All you need is a cerveza.

New book review of The Baja Catch in the Book section

The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira
The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

Visit the book section of this blog. I have a new review of The Baja Catch by Neil Kelly and Gene Kira. Books.

Who is Packing Your Parahute? – Weekly Lessons from the Road

Ready to head out anywhere!
Ready to head out anywhere!

I remember like it was yesterday stepping up to the open door of a C 130 and looking down several thousand feet as a light flashed green and my Senior Jump Master gave the command to jump. I hesitated for just a brief moment and came to the realization that I feared my Sargent much more than the drop. It was my first jump as a paratrooper.

I took the most difficult step of my life out that door. The decision to jump defined my career in the 101st Airborne. But as I felt the shock of the static line another realization came to me. Who had packed my chute? Fortunately, that person had done a good job because my chute opened and I floated safely to the ground, successful. Four more and I would have my wings.

With each jump afterwards, I continued to think about the people who had prepared my gear; people I had not met but who my life depended on. In a moment of clarity, I realized that all the training I had gone through at Fort Benning would not have mattered much if it had not been for the skill and dedication of someone who had packed my parachute. Someone, who worked namelessly behind the scenes far from that plane and that Jump Zone.

That realization made me a better soldier and a better leader and that lesson has stayed with me throughout my life. In all that we do, as adventurers, we must never forget that there is a whole cadre of people who support us on our adventure and they, like that nameless rigger, determine if we are successful or not.

Before your next adventure, I invite you to reflect on those who are packing YOUR parachute and take a moment to thank them. For without those wonderful professionals, and those understanding family and friends, we would not be able to chase the sun down dusty trails to beaches with no names.

Wonderful and Spendid


The blogs i’ve read are wonderful. From Guinness Floats to the Rat Pack I have to say it is incredible and splendid to read all these sharp minds. So many writers, travelers, adventurers, motorcyclists, poets and artist. My God, it is so good that we can cut the middle people out and communicate with each other. You’re amazing and you know who your are. 🙂 Hope to meet some of you on the road. Warm regards!

Ken Ice biking.
Ken Ice biking.