If I am honest, and I try to be in these columns although a few people think I make this stuff up, I am not sure how we would get by here without the miracle of Costco.
What did ex-pats do without it? I am being slightly facetious, as I know I would simply become used to the Mexican equivalent: Mega, Soriano and Leys. I am a fan for the fresh produce side of things already, but Costco is in a realm all by itself.
With a friendly wave of my Costco card I am suddenly in the kingdom of conspicuous consumption. The mind boggles at the variety, from furniture that could fill every room in any house to the latest kitchen appliances and color TVs large enough for a stadium.
Think of almost anything you might need and they have it. But you have to be quick, as the sales come and then there are no more, the products replaced by something else but not the same as what you saw last week.
But I love it, I love it.
Others, perhaps, will not understand our joy at finding things we could get on any day at home but nowhere else but Costco here in Mexico. Cheddar cheese, for instance.
Here in Puerto Vallarta there is nothing orange in the cheese sections of local stores, only every shade of white cheese imaginable. That is fun for a while.
“Darling, how cute. They only have the white stuff,” you shout over the disco music in the meat and cheese section. I always think of my Jewish friends staring at sausages beside the curd. You don’t have to be orthodox to think that this is unorthodox.
After several weeks, white cheese is no longer cute.
“I don’t care if it is only Kraft cheddar, I want it now,” you say, but you can’t find even that. That is why God made Costco.
There is a small section of cheddar in the grand store; we come to look at it and tremble with desire. You never miss something until you can’t get it. I never thought of cheese and especially cheddar as something I might miss someday but I do. Thank you, Costco.
Before I leave the subject, I must mention one other type, feta. Because so many of us live on salads, feta cheese has become a staple of our cold lunches. However, in spite of being of the “white” variety, there seems to be very little around even at Costco, where it is available intermittently at best.
So much so that there have been fights over the king of salad toppings. The other week I was told, after three weeks without, that a shipment of feta had arrived with no fanfare and was simply stacked on the floor of the cheese section still in its carton.
It was quickly snapped up until only two containers remained. One senior took both as another senior reached forward. Outrage was expressed and chaos ensued.
I am told by more than a few oldies that the cheese section is a good place to meet future partners, as it is a place where the like-minded gather. I suppose that and the wine section would both qualify. I do seem to meet almost everyone I know near the wine shelves, pondering over the labels as if they were the Dead Sea scrolls.
And why not, eh? Without wine, life loses some of its lovely hue, at least in my view.
We all know that the name Kirkwood is the house brand for Costco products and it is generally pretty good, especially for bulk products. Now I see it on wine and vodka. Can this be true?
A few weeks ago I saw K vodka being served at an upscale party and I must say my bloody Mary was superb. I have not yet ventured towards the Kirkwood wine, but if the Canadian dollar keeps falling I could be splashing around in that barrel before long.
Let there be no mistake, we love Mexico, which is why Michelle and I have made it our home. However, I think if there were no Costco, we would miss it enormously, even if I generally walk out with five jars of peanut butter when we only need one.
By the way, in spite of Costco being a Seattle company, it is also a very Mexican experience. Last week my wife was buying kitchen detergent when an elderly lady approached her, saying:
“Where are the paper towels? No one speaks English here,” which is partially true.
Then the lady said, “This is an American store and it is not right that there is only Spanish!” She began to shout, “PAPER TOWELS, PAPER TOWELS, PAPER TOWELS!”
Finally Michelle said to her quietly, “‘Paper towels’ in Spanish is toallas de papel.”
“PAPER TOWELS, PAPER TOWELS,” continued the frenzied woman in spite of my wife’s translation.
Perhaps it is a good idea to look up a few words of Spanish before going to Costco in Mexico.
The writer lives under a palapa in Puerto Vallarta.
© Christopher Dalton 2016