The Butcher Shop
By Herbert W. Piekow
My Guadalajara neighborhood is typical, twenty blocks either way are sixty-year-old two-story houses one built against the other, each neighbor sharing a common wall. Some have businesses on the ground floor with a residence above. Once my house had a street level warehouse while the owners resided upstairs. Today Gustavo and I live on the remodeled ground floor and rent out the three-bedroom, two bath second story. The renters and we both have small private rooftop patios where we do our laundry, enjoy a meal and I have my office. Our colonia is typical, a variety of small businesses, printers, corner grocery stores, evening taco stands mixed with family restaurants. A few blocks away is a large Catholic church and the ubiquitous Farmacia Guadalajara and OXXO. Within this twenty-block radius are parks, schools, bus routes, and a couple of small glorietas. My western boarder is the Jalisco Stadium and Plaza de Toros.
Thirteen years ago Jesùs Cervantes opened his carniceria, El Huracán III which is named after his father and brother´s El Huracán and El Huracán II, the name which is in honor of a bull the family had years ago. Jesús known as Chuy is my neighborhood butcher. He serves his clientele with a smile. Like all Guadalajara colonias our neighborhood is more than good citizens and small merchants. El Huracán III is a local business providing a needed commodity, but it is the personal attention of Chuy and his family that make this butcher shop the place, over others, to purchase our fresh meats and groceries.
Chuy says, “I like my work a lot, although, it is having my family helping me that makes this such a joy.” His wife Patricia Aguilera is the official greeter and cashier, Chuy, visits with his customers while he sharpens his butchers’ knives between each order. His broad smile and jokes make each customer feel they are the most important client of the day, no matter how small their order. Eighteen-year-old Maria Fernanda, who hopes to one day go into aviation, takes phone orders while doing her homework. Javier, who is fourteen, is either doing homework or making home deliveries on his sturdy bicycle. Shy Adrian, the youngest, when not doing homework greets customers with a smile or sweeps up around the shop. Each of these children seems to have a responsibility and when not helping out in the shop they are usually doing homework, even this past year when education has been remote they would sit over a notebook, pencil in hand. Recently home deliveries nearly ended when a young man came into the butcher´s shop, visited a few moments asking random questions and on his way out grabbed the mountain bike and began to pedal off with his stolen delivery vehicle. Chuy, whose shop has two rolling metal doors to allow in fresh air and natural light, spied the action and ran to the small street side patio shouting, “Ladron, ladron, detenganlo.” Within moments several neighbors corralled the would-be thief and returned the bicycle to the shop. After a stern, short lecture Chuy asked his neighbors to release the trembling young man who promised to look for work and refrain from stealing.
Like so many small businesses his has changed over the years. In the beginning El Huracán III was solely a butcher shop. However, Chuy realized that his customers needed chicken, sausages, cheese, fresh vegetables, dried beans and canned goods; slowly he began to incorporate these items into his establishment until today it is a family corner business supplying most household grocery items, where a smile and sometimes a joke is a plus. Chuy and I talked about the importance of family and the joy of having good friends. “Although my business provides my family economic security, it is more important for me to have a happy family and to live amongst so many friends.” One day I mentioned how I used to bake a whole stuffed boneless chicken until my arthritic fingers can no longer debone a chicken. Chuy, who had never boned a chicken asked me to return on Saturday when he presented me with a whole chicken sans bones. His smile told me how much he enjoyed the challenge and when I roasted this stuffed bird it was better than any I could ever recall. I think the pride and love that Chuy put into serving me, or any customer, made the chicken even tastier.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com