Within a block of the Hacienda sit three mom-and-pop stores that provide essentials. These stores are called abarrotes, and most are connected to homes, and most abarrotes are tiny, dark and grim. They have eggs and cheese and plenty of other stuff one needs occasionally. Many are crammed with merchandise.
We used to frequent an abarrotes just around the closest corner, but the owner was such a suspicious sourpuss that we abandoned her. This was made more convenient when another opened about 20 feet farther on.
The newer one is run by a woman who is the mother of the sourpuss neighbor just next door. The barrio suffers no shortage of sourpusses. The second store owner has a daughter with severe Down Syndrome, and she has a big dog that sits in the door, obstructing.
We walk down there — it’s very close — almost daily. It’s far more convenient than driving a few miles to the nearest chain supermarket to contend with long, slow lines, hand gel and face masks. The woman who owns the second store won’t win any personality contests either, but she’s nicer than the other one, and it’s got to be hard for a middle-aged single woman with an adult daughter with Down Syndrome.
Plus, the abarrotes owners — just like me — don’t care about face masks or hand gel.
I usually buy tomatoes and avocados. Sometimes cheese, sometimes eggs, and often a package of baked tostadas, which we eat with pozole and minestrone.
Abarrotes remind me of a mom-and-pop store on a red-dirt road in the rural area where I lived with my parents and grandparents in southwest Georgia a million years ago. The main difference is that the Georgia store was far larger than your average abarrotes, and the owners had smiles on their faces. They were glad to see you. I’ve never had the impression that an abarrotes owner was happy to see me at all.
But the convenience makes up for that.
The third abarrotes I mentioned in the first paragraph is behind the Hacienda, not too convenient. We rarely go out the back door.
As I write this Thursday evening, a hog is screaming bloody murder next door. They’re possibly killing it for bacon and ham steaks. That also reminds of my grandparents’ Georgia farm where hogs were murdered for the same reason.