However, the wheels of life grind on and a couple of trips were necessary to assist my friends at the Portal Store and Cafe'. Living on the side of a mountain sounds romantic and perhaps rustic, and it is, but when you are in need of most anything be prepared to travel a bit to get it. the closest gas station is 30 miles away, personal services such as dentists, dr's, etc. a good deal farther than that. Groceries and whatnot require at least a trip to Douglas, AZ and that's close to 70 miles in one direction. You try not to run out of anything if you can help it. Having said that, we ran short of several items and using that as a reason for going(I had run short of a few myself) I saddled up and went in search of needed items. Recently the preferred grocery store in Douglas closed it's doors, primarily due to it's proximity to Walmart. I really liked that store, it had a real butcher shop, a great produce section, friendly staff and was easy to get around in. Since they had no option but to close, I won't belabor that point. Going to Walmart is like having surgery with no anesthetic for me, I won't go so far as to say I hate them, just would rather crawl through broken glass to avoid going in to one.
Adjustment time. I began a search to find the items I needed and what the Store/Cafe' needed in other parts of town. In old Douglas there is a small butcher shop (A REAL butcher shop) I'd been in there a few times and had never given it much thought, that day I introduced myself and found that one of the butchers knew me from my forays into the store that had closed, soon introductions were made all around and I was surrounded by new friends! Learning that I was in search of items for the Portal gang the owner produced his license to insure me anything I bought was in compliance for resale in a restaurant, wasn't really necessary but went a long way in customer relations. They cut and wrapped the items I requested in front of me and then upon learning I needed ice for my cooler for the drive back to Portal, double bagged several large scoops of ice and helped me get everything out to the truck and get it packed. Try getting THAT kind of service at you know where! The next adjustment began at the next grocery store commonly referred to as the Mexican store, due to the fact it is across town and is patronized primarily by the Mexican population across the border and the families living in Douglas. It is in fact a large chain store and is very well run, the patrons do speak mostly Spanish , but then every body speaks Spanish out here! the store is very well stocked has a fabulous produce department and has all kinds of exotic and wonderful spices you can't find elsewhere, a Mexican radio station plays over their store speaker system and is unobtrusive and kind of fun to listen to. Need assistance? Ask one of their employees and they scurry off to find the answer or get someone to help you, no blaring announcement over the speakers, just go find the answer! I found myself talking to the assistant manager, about food, business. bbq, produce and the state of affairs in general and during our conversation at intervals he called over a couple employees and introduced me as "El Chef de barbacoa asado de Portal. A title of respect to a near stranger and brought the understanding of just what I was looking for a lot closer.
Shopping in this store is a bit different , the pace is slower and folks stop to chat and visit all the while casually moving up and down the aisles , the deli counter is a homing place for quite a few of the patrons, fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers sitting quietly talking, entertaining the ninos. That's right , very few children running amok through the store! What a novel concept! A family unit that takes care of each other.
A parting observation, what you need is out there, you just have to go look for it.