Dónde está Santiago?
When Santiago left town, everyone went crazy. The señoritas swooned. They pulled at their hair and tore at their dresses and ran around in a hopeless state of despair. Fights broke out among the young men who vied against each other to become the next Santiago. Comandante Bistro took his foodies and cooks to the hills to escape the Federales who overran the town like Huns from the East with their disgusting table manners and gustatory deficiencies. Just imagine, they ate raw meat with their hands and guzzled stale beer.
Santiago was a momma’s boy, the apple of her eye. They say he grew restless and went to live on the road but no one knows for sure.
Comandante Bistro found a fertile valley tucked away in the hills where he set his crew to work growing organic vegetables and raising free-range chickens. Periodically a wayward traveler would pass by always with the same question: “Dónde está Santiago?” The gentle inhabitants of the pastoral community had no answer. They had nothing more to offer than a nourishing bowl of chicken soup. Some of the travelers stayed to join Comandante Bistro’s group. Others moved on in search of the illusive wanderer.
The Federales stayed in the village, gluttons and whoremongers. They showed little interest in pursuing Santiago. They would say “we can have Santiago anytime we want.” They stayed in town to court the señoritas and cause havoc among the abuelos and abuelas.
Santiago’s friend, Zurdo, no longer played his guitar or sang his songs. Without the company of his friend, he did not have the heart to continue with his artistic endeavors. One day when the Federales went to question Zurdo, they found he had split. His friends said he’d gone north to cross the border and start a new life. The Federales gave up and went back to their wayward ways.
Comandante Bistro welcomed the travelers into his mountain community. “Many are called but few are chosen,” he would say with a wistful look in his eye. Those who moved on in their fruitless search just shook their heads. The vegetable gardens proliferated and thrived under the care of the conscientious band of food rebels.
Eventually the Federales grew tired of loafing in the little village. They decided to explore the hills in hopes of finding Santiago. “Dónde está Santiago?” they cried as they left on their horses. The villagers waved goodbye with smiles on their faces. Secretly, they hoped the Federales would never return. Everyone had grown tired of raw meat and stale beer.
By now most of the villagers had forgotten about Santiago, all except his momma. She hoped for his safe return on a white horse with saddle bags filled with gold from the seven cities. There were rumors that Santiago lived free and clean on the road with skin of iron and breath as hard as kerosene. She knew her son would return someday a hero to bring prosperity to the tiny village.
Behind his momma’s back the villagers said Santiago was a bandit and was up to no good. They feared he would disgrace the community and bring down the wrath of God. In the local theatre they staged Job plays. They walked around with boils and scratches all over their bodies. This became so popular that Opus Dei founded a sect in the village that became world famous for self mortification.
Rumors abounded that Surdo made it across the line only to find that his dream of a better life was a tawdry fairytale. The villagers heard he lived in squalor in a cheap hotel and worked long hours picking vegetables for fat gringos.
Meanwhile Comandante Bistro’s idyllic community was rampaged by a pack of pigs brought in by American missionaries. In a fit of rage, Comandante Bistro killed one of the missionary’s pigs. The missionaries took up arms and threatened a long and bloody war unless Comandante Bistro agreed to pay remunerations. Of course he refused.
The so-called Pig War escalated. The missionaries requested and received protection from American soldiers who were quickly dispatched by the Trump administration. Trump, to prove his manhood, threatened fire and fury as he vacationed at Mar-a-Lago. The Mexican army was sent north by Mexican president Peña Nieto. A dangerous standoff ensued. The locals hid in their houses in fear. Everyone knew a powder keg about to blow.
Comandante Bistro met with the American representative appointed to speak for the missionaries, Senator Ted Cruz. Progress proved illusive. War was the inevitable next event in the horrible sequence of escalations. Then, the miracle happened.
A peasant from the village accosted Senator Cruz.
“Dónde está Santiago?”
Senator Cruz, known in the hills of Mexico as Lucifer in the Flesh or more affectionately as The Lovechild of Joe McCarthy and Dracula, looked incredulously at the peasant.
“Huh?” stammered Senator Cruz. “Who?”
Who is this miserable son of a bitch said the peasant under his breath.
“Dónde está Santiago?” asked the peasant again.
A bright light appeared that stunned all in attendance.
“Aqui está,” said Santiago who rode in out of nowhere on his white horse accompanied by his friend Zurdo. The war was averted. The missionaries saw the light and abandoned their God. They became farmers and joined with the minions gathered by Comandante Bistro. The valley became famous for its agrarian delicacies. Senator Cruz left Mexico to negotiate the battle between the Miami Cubans and the Cuban Cubans.
Santiago’s mother smiled as she strolled triumphantly through town dressed all in white. The locals threw down palm leaves at her feet. The Federales left to join the Zapististas in the south. Together they deposed Peña Nieto and formed treaties with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin and Raul Castro. They marginalized the United States with sanctions and boycotts.
And then one day everything changed. Santiago left again and did not return. His dying words were never heard but that’s the way it goes down in Ole Mexico where only the poets remain to tell the tale. Poor Surdo went back to picking vegetables and late at night they say you can hear his words as he sips his mezcal: “Dónde está Santiago?”