I love this country.

And here is another example of culture, kindness, and hospitality in spades.

I had just finished my run out in the valley. I was walking up to the crossroads where I catch the combi for my ride back into town when I see a bunch of men standing under a copse of trees on the other side of the road having a bite to eat.

Two or three of them shouted at me to come over and share their food. I’m pulling on my t-shirt as I shout back a thank you and change my walk to their direction.

They had set a 6 foot long board on 2 concrete blocks and I could see that they had a virtual Mexican smorgasbord thing going on. There was a big stack of tortillas, two kinds of salsas, a plastic jug of cooked pinto beans, a waxed paper bag half filled with mixed cooked pig parts, and a plastic platter of botanas. Botanas are snacks that in their simpliest form consists of sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and sliced spring onions all lightly salted and drenched in fresh squeezed lime juice.

I built myself a taco using my dirty dog petting hands. Luis’s dogs had been chasing field rats into the canal and were viscously slimy as only a country dog can get. But no matter and for all I knew, even with dog drool and canal slime, I might have had the most hygienic pair of hands there. But as I have come to learn – at some point you have to give up worrying about such niceties like fresh washed hands – yours or anyone else.

I have grown to positively admire how Mexican’s don’t have a wet wipe or alcohol hand sanitizer protocol. And as a general rule there aren’t any serving utensils like spoons; they just grab food using their fingers. There is no germaphobia in Mexico. For example, salt isn’t served tableside in shakers. No. Salt – the coarse kind –  is set out in cups from which everyone pinches from. And people preparing food don’t use plastic gloves either. They put food straight on your plate using their fingers. And I’ve seen Lilia go straight from cutting up raw chicken to slicing up my salad; all on the same cutting board.

Clean hands or not, these men have culture. They aren’t scarfing down their Big Macs while behind the wheel rushing to get back to work. Oh no. They have pulled off the road before setting up for a proper lunch. In the back of my mind I was wondering where those guys worked. They certainly weren’t farm workers.

Anyway, I got home later and as I am unlocking my gate I see a guy just up the street smile and wave at me. He and another man were working on the water main. I recognized him as being one of guys who just an hour or so earlier invited me over for tacos out in the valley. I walked up the hill, shook his hand and we had another quick chat. I positively love these people for all their friendliness.