As an Eagle Scout backpacking his way through Latin America, the one thing that scares Dave more than getting robbed and kidnapped by narcotics traffickers, is getting food poisoning. My three bouts of salmonella in Peru have made him extremely amoeba conscious. On Wednesday Elyse, Dave and I decided to take the luxury bus to Guanajuato City – the birthplace of Diego Rivera, the hometown of political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada and the city made famous by its seemingly endless supply of mummies.

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Something about the combination of above-ground crypts and extremely dry desert air makes for impeccably preserved human bodies. After seeing our fair share of deflated – yet intact – Mexicans from the 1800s and early 1900s, we headed back to the Zona Centro of Guanajuato City for a bite to eat.

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We had passed this charming café a few times and decided the 75-peso menu del dia was worth it. I got the vegetable lasagna, and Dave, the chicken flautas. Neither were really that exciting – or maybe we’ve been spoiled by outstanding and prolific Mexican food – but something was definitely funky with my greenish lasagna. Dave and El confirmed my suspicions, saying it tasted rotten. When the waiter came back over, I told him it was no good, and Elyse quickly stepped in to expand on my elementary Spanish. Understanding the waiter had said we weren’t able to exchange it or send it back, and sensing that we were being too soft, Dave stepped in to say things as forcefully as possible. However, this is much more difficult to do in Spanish. Frustrated, he blurted, “es mucho malo” pointing to the mushy pile of vegetables, and shaking his head. Elyse, the waiter and I knew what he meant – the lasagna was bad – but what he had said was “it’s a lot bad.” El and the waiter chuckled, but Dave persisted. “Es putrido” he repeated, wearing his best disgusted face.

Despite his efforts, the lasagna sat there untouched, and Dave mostly stewed about the unaccommodating wait staff, and thought of new lines he could have said. When he asked us how to say “worst” in Spanish, we knew we should probably get the check before he had a chance to tell off our teenage waiter. We finally settled on not leaving a tip. At least we dodged salmonella this time.

April 10, 2014