The Bard of the Border: Author Daniel Reveles and his love affair with Tecate
By Peter Jensen
Most guests at Rancho La Puerta see little of Tecate, the pueblo magico (magical town) that you enter immediately after crossing the border. Tecate is a “sleepy” border crossing—a tired cliché but true compared to other Mexico-USA stations further to the west in another once-sleepy little town called Tijuana, which is now larger than San Diego!
Tecate still feels small, and as you head out of it toward the Ranch you’re left with only the briefest memory of bustling shops, taquerias on every corner (almost), smoke billowing from the pollo rotisserie joint, and sidewalks busy with families out shopping on a Saturday. If only you could spend more time, because Tecate is a fine home to not only most of Rancho La Puerta’s staff members, but many residents whose families have lived here for generations.
One Tecate resident is U.S. expatriate Daniel Reveles, author of “Enchiladas, Rice and Beans” (1994)—a collection of novellas that teeter between magical realism a la Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Reveles’s first-person memoir of his own life and the everyday. This book, one of several about Tecate life, brings the author to town as he searches for a place to retire; to get away from it all after hitting the burn-out point in the Los Angeles television scene.
Mr. Reveles has visited Rancho La Puerta, of course, as a guest author, and longtime employees remember a few of his presentations at The Ranch as part of our evening lecture series. It’s been awhile…perhaps too long. But if you order one of his books before your visit, we guarantee you’ll also feel like you visited Tecate and got to know some of its most interesting characters. Other books in the Reveles series include “Salsa and Chips,” “Tequila, Lemon, and Salt” and “Guacamole Dip: From Baja…tales of love, faith—and magic.” Just like life itself, they have a few incidences that are for “mature audiences,” but nothing that will curl your toes—especially if you’re enjoying a margarita while reading.
Here’s a sample. Tecate life centers around its main plaza. You’ll pass it on your way to The Ranch. Reveles spends time there. A lot of time there. He is an observer of life, par excellence.
“Popsicles…fruity, sweet, and frosty!”
“Hot churros!…The churros are here!”
“Brooms…brooms…I sell brooms! Clean house, pure heart!”
“Tweety tweety, kee—chip-chip-chip!”
Tecate has just signed the lease for three months of summer (with an option on an additional four), and the vendors were among the first things to emerge in the main plaza. The fragrance of a thousand roses sweetened the balmy air; towering álamos opened their parasols for the gentle citizens who were now streaming through the plaza on their way to their endless assignments or returning from their interminable errands. Here and there you could hear the hiss of lawn sprinklers. Fugitive whiffs of corn roasting over hot coals whispered irresistible bribes. The melodic voices of the hawkers encircled the plaza in an endless recitative, first rising then falling, coming in, going out, lilting, laughing, sighing, crying, like of Scarlatti’s madrigals.