Spice Heat. Sweat beads on every surface of my head, and runs in rivers down my temples. My mouth opens to pant like one of the skinny street dogs that scamper up and down the flooded mud roads, with their round rocks jammed together in ankle-rolling jumbles. On my plate are three tacos and a blistered chili pepper. We’re in a building that looks like a jail cell somewhere in San Blas, a largely forgotten, beat down coastal town in Mexico. My friend Juan covered his tacos in a creamy looking light orange salsa, an innocent looking green one, and only bothered to warn me about the third dark red, oily salsa. Assuming I was safe with two out of three sauces, I copied him and slathered them atop the taco happily. Bit a corner of the blistered chili, and half of a taco, admiring the fresh-baked tortilla made in the bakery across the street, the tender all-day stewed cut of cheap meat, the white cabbage and cactus salsa, but soon I got hit with the flamethrower. Every pore of mine opens, and chili oil floods out. Eyes dilate as if by a drug. It’s the type of spiciness that ignites your tongue, makes your ears pop; brings about a momentary deafness. In that spice induced tinnitus, Juan, whose perma-sweat stains the knees of his jeans chalky white with dry sodium deposits, garbles the praises of the food. For him, it is done just right. My American mind searches for a safe haven, but apparently real tacos aren’t served with sour cream, yogurt sauces, or even cheese. This place doesn’t have drinks, so I can’t ask for so much as a cardboard box of milk. There’s no air conditioning in this concrete box with black bars and no glass for windows. Fans blast hot air in my face, rattling and whirling. Sound returns, and outside, the night is frenetic with barking dogs, chattering street hawkers, babbling gossips, and the blaring horns of Ranchera music, and the pulsing speakers of boom boxes. The wings of billions of blood sucking insects beat. Smells of burning trash and coconut husks, which are set ablaze to keep the mosquitos away, float through the shop, brought in by the fan. There’s no wind. The warm water we’ve been brought makes everything worse. Tongue turns to red ember. Eyes melt away from their sockets. Shoe leather smolders around my feet. It’s more than a meal, it’s a right of passage, a diabolical transformation. I somehow finish the small tacos, and stumble out into the night, leaving hundreds of Pesos on the table. Juan follows me, mildly concerned, mildly amused. My head explodes in flames and I gape at him as a flaming skull. We pass a kid with a cart full of sour candies for sale, and- are you serious? Three bottle of different hot sauces to be poured into an open bag of candy. I run from the sight, smoke trailing from behind me. A woman sells popsicles, and tells us it’s two for one on lime with jalapeño, and pineapple chili. Juan is tempted. Those are his favorite flavors, but I breathe fire on him to voice my objection to peppered popsicle. He finally gets the point, and orders a coconut milk popsicle for me, and takes jalapeño lime for himself. One bite of the coconut ice and I realize, I just might make it, I just might survive. Get my book Odd Jobs & After Hours in audio, hardcover, or paperback by clicking here. It’s about drifting down the east coast of the USA chasing one sketchy, so-called opportunity after another.