Coffee Bean Oil And Sandwiches
A TRUE Short Story by Jim Nasium

I had no idea what I was looking at the first time I saw a bottle of the stuff, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd find a way to make somuch money, so easily...

Way back in the early 70's I was in a small town high in the Andes, the town of Otavalo, Ecuador. I was very tired and hungry from my morning run across endless open fields and my climb high into the mountains; I wanted to eat and rest. The air is very thin in this area high in The Andes. My gringo lungs just could not handle the thin air as well as the local Indians.

Next thing I knew I found myself wandering through one of the biggest open air markets in Ecuador looking at hand made items created by the local Indians. After awhile I felt very hungry and just had to have something to eat and a lot of coffee to get me going again. I stopped in the first cafe I saw, to refuel so I could make it back to my hotel on the other side of town. I walked into a small cafe just up the cobble stone street from the biggest market 0place in this small market town. I was tired of climbing, walking, bargaining, and bickering over some beads, embroidered shirts, ponchos, belts, pants and things for ones head so coffee and a meal was in order.

The coolest thing about Otavalo is all the stores and outdoor markets in town are alive, VERY alive all day and all night four days a week and then once the market shuts down, the town is dead the other three days of each week. The whole town is centered around a large Indian market and the folks who have stalls there will only work four days a week but they work 24 hours a day. The market is always busy and there is always something happening there for a (once) strong curious young wild eyed man like myself.

I walked into the cafe and sat down at a table in the back corner of the place. I was only sitting there for a short while when a very cute local girl, about twenty five or so, comes up to my table and asks me if she could help me, and clearly announced that she was at my service. I asked her for a menu and a cup of coffee, with sugar, and no milk. A few minutes later she comes back with a nice white coffee cup dish and a large white coffee cup sitting on it full of hot water. She hands me a bowl of sugar and said "will there be anything else"?

I asked her why she gave me a cup of hot water, in my very best Spanish. She must'a not have understood why I was asking her that question because she said to me "you asked for cafe sin leche [coffee with out milk] didn't you"? Yes, that's right I said, in my very best Spanish, I did ask for a cup of coffee with out milk but this is a cup of hot water. No sir she said to me, this is [cafe sin leche] coffee with no milk.

By now I had been in the Andes for about a year and a half and by this time and I had been through each and every magic mushroom field I found both in Colombia and Ecuado and let it be known that I was a very hard core kind'a red eyed hippie who enjoyed the snow and herb in Colombia as well but never the less, as fried as my brain was, I was still able to tell the difference between a white coffee cup full of hot water and a white coffee cup full of coffee. I still had a few brain cells left that still actually worked and I KNEW the difference between hot water and coffee.

Just then the waitress turned and started to walk away from me. As I watched her ass sway I thought to myself; you want some fries with that shake? I called out to her to come back but she just kept going and walked behind the counter where the bread, cookies, and stuff like that sat waiting to be sold, roasting in the mid day sun that came in from the large opening to a court yard on the one side of the cafe.

I got up and I called out to her again just as some guy came out from the room behind the counter which must have been the kitchen. The man asked me nicely what was wrong. I asked him to come back to my table with me and I calmly pointed out to him that I got a cup of hot water when in fact I had asked for a cup of coffee, no milk. You got coffee with no milk he said to me very matter of factly. I was flabbergasted... I didn't know what to do. Was I tripping? Is this The Twiling Zone?..

The man called to the back room where the kitchen was and another woman, his wife I guessed, brought out another cup of hot hot water and then the man sat down at my table and said " my friend, let me show you how to make the most wonderful cup of coffee you will ever have".

His wife placed the cup of hot water down in front of him and then the man, who I guessed was the cook or maybe even the owner grabbed a large bottle of dark thick goo that was sitting on the table near the napkins, and let a few drops of the goo fall slowly from the bottle he held in his hand, into his cup of hot water and instantly the cup of hot water turned into coffee. The cook then added some sugar to his own cup and advised me not to use too much'a the coffee bean oil stuff in my water, the first time.

I put a few drops of goo in my cup and I added some sugar and when I tasted it I was very impressed with it's richness and aroma. We sat and talked and then after a short while he got his daughter to bring out some freshly baked pan de casos [cheese bread] and pan de dias [fresh baked bread of the day] and fresh baked sweet cakes and we had a good old time just talking about Otavalo and other places I had been, drinking coffee, passing time. By the end of my third cup of coffee bean oil coffee I knew for sure that it was too late: I was off and running and damn near gone. The coffee oil goo hit me big time. I was actually biting my lip and shaking my leg. I guess I put way too many drops of the goo in my second and third cup of hot water because I was winging and off to the races. By the end of the third cup and fourth pan de caso I knew I wasn't going back to my hotel any time soon to sleep... not now.

Later that day, early evening sometime after a shower and during my "walk" I stopped back in to see the guy who owned the cafe and who turned me on to coffee bean oil, a Mr. Patty Castro. Patty and his wife had just sat down to dinner so they invited me to join them and offered fine hot food; chicken, rice, eggs, vegetables, soup, cheese and bread with fruit and sweet cakes for afters, and, it was all free! It was during that meal, shortly after I put some fried eggs and cheese that were part of my meal between two pieces of bread, that Patty Castro learned about the sandwich; something he had never seen before.

Patty and I talked about him and I selling sandwiches out of the cafe and down in the market and agreed to become partners. The very next day we started selling sandwiches out of the cafe waiting for the next open market cycle to come around. Patty was happy as could be about selling sandwiches. He planned to sell all kinds of sandwiches too; like ham, ham and cheese, cheese, eggs; scrambled or fried, eggs and cheese, chicken, chicken and cheese with and with out tomato and the big boy of the lot was the ham egg and cheese sandwich. It was sad to me that Patty didn't have any beef, or mutton, he said beef and muton cost too much.

I found it amazing Patty never saw a sandwich before in his whole life until that day I made one in front of him, and even more amazing was the fact that we were going to make a lot of money together selling sandwiches from now on.

The next few days during the markets off cycle we spent cleaning out a spare room Patty and his family had in his house, behind the cafe, for me to move into. Patty wanted me close so I could help them with sales, and besides it would save me the cost of a hotel room. Once I was settled in Patty's house his daughter, who turned out to be older than she looked and I became "good" friends. She and I spent time together doing all kinds of things and she even helped me make a sign for the sidewak, out near the street in front of the cafe and another for in the window of the cafe, that said: REAL USA SANDWICHES in red and white and under that there was a list of the kinds of sandwiches we offered in blue on a pale yellow background.

The very first time the four days and four nights open market cycle came around after we started selling sandwiches Patty and I were busier than he had ever been. We had fun selling sandwiches to hippies and tourist and locals. Patty and I became the very best of friends. The rumor going around was that his daughter LuzMiel and I were in love and getting very serious. You know what they say about rumors right. Why she thought I was in love, to this day, is something I'll never understand.

About three months or so later after our sandwich business took off and was doing well I got in a bit of trouble with the local police for cutting a rather large San Pedro cactus down that I found in a park and for eating it. It was a very yummy and juicy cactus that had magical powers, much the same as Peyote . After much ado and a trip to another world [the police station] I had to leave Otavalo or pay a large fine.

There were no cattle fields anywhere near Otavalo which meant there were no magic mushrooms to pick, so I had to use magic cactus to get a buzz. To this day I have never been back to Otavao but would love to return some day.

I was afraid to pay the fine because once the cops knew what I was into and where I lived and that I had money and got some money from me, I knew they'd only want more money, and then more money as time went on, and if I didn't pay them just once, no matter how many times I did pay them, they'd lock me up until I did, so I left; I had no choice.

I bused it to a small town high in the mountains that had a decent hotel, a cafe, whore house and some hot sulfur springs i could soak my tired bones in. I stayed there for awhile and relaxed; nothing like sitting naked in a hot sulfur bath on top of snow capped peaks way out in the middle of nowhere higher than the mountains surrounding me and the condors that circled above...

©2004 Jim Nasium

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