Amidst the cab and bus rides around Puerto Vallarta, we did what we always do when we're tourists. We talked to locals. Between their English and our Spanish, we generally figured it out. Smiles and looking someone in the eyes—simple, common courtesies—make those experiences all the more joyful. Folks are always happy to share their thoughts.
We'd ask how long they've lived there, about their work, and always about their families. We also sought the local opinion with one specific question.
"When you go out to eat seafood, where do you go?"
Some would say in Spanish, "La Langosta Feliz." Others in English, "The Happy Lobster."
I'm thinking, "I wanna go there just because of the name." Yet it was the rapidity of their answers that convinced me. Without hesitation they'd name this restaurant. We saved the experience to our final night in Puerto Vallarta. Did you notice I used the word, "experience"? Read on for the tale of La Langosta Feliz y el Puerco Triste—the Happy Lobster and the Unhappy Pig.
Being a restaurant recommended by locals, we'd hoped it wasn't as touristy. More authentic. We'd heard that it was a short distance off the main road that encircles the bay. As we turned inland away from the bay we were leaving the tourist part of Puerto Vallarta behind. The surroundings looked more like a third world country than a tourist mecca. This is good. We'd like our kids to have a broader view of the world and a greater appreciation for our blessings.
From the main road leading off the bay a few kilometers, we turned into a neighborhood. The streets are narrow. No sidewalks. Walls and gates abound. Behind each set, a plastered home in some sort of disrepair loomed. Then we slowed atop a hill to look left and see a giant lobster. "La Langosta Feliz," I said pointing as our driver nodded and smiled.
Arriving at the restaurant we were greeted and seated on the shaded rooftop dining area. Service was quick and courteous. As we were waiting to order under the shade of the open air canopy, I began to hear something over the din of the crowd, "Meeeeeeeeeeee. Meeeeeeeeeeee. Meeeeeeeeeeee. Meeeee." My first thought was, "Who is flying a remote control plan around here? Is their a noisy drone about?!" Then, the pitch changed up and down and somewhere in between. I recognized the noise.
"Mary Elizabeth," I said catching her glance, "Come here and look over this wall with me." The twinkle in my eye had told her this must be something fun. She joined me with a question in her own eyes. Looking over the partial wall there he was in the "yard" below: A black pig. An unhappy pig. Of course, we called the boys over and marveled at the squealing pig below. "Meeeeeeeee. Meeee." Silly tourists, right? But what fun! Who eats at a rooftop restaurant with an unhappy pig right over the wall?! We do. Well, we did.
Throughout our meal the pig continued to squeal. (Say that five times real fast.) Then, silence. The kids would rush to look over the wall. First, he was being fed. No time to squeal when eating. A few minutes later silence again as he was being bathed—well, hosed off. Otherwise it was, "Meeeeeeeeee. Meeee. Meeeeeeee," throughout our entire meal.
We went to eat at The Happy Lobster and we enjoyed to entertainment of the unhappy pig. What's the point of the porcine tale? (See what I did there?)
Other than being funny, I wondered that too until yesterday when an animal loving friend shared a perspective I'd missed. The pig was only happy and quiet not when he had his food or a shower, but when he had his owner with him outside. He was lonely. The unhappy pig she conjectured was really a lonely pig.
And, just like humans in need of companionship, he acted out—incessant, unhappy "Meeeeeeeee" squealing in his case—until his need was satisfied.
Pigs and people—God created us for relationships. We were made to be social. I'm ever thankful for my family and friends. What amazing, grace gifts they are to me. Yet, the Bible says, "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24b). Jesus. His name is Jesus.
Next time you find yourself squealing like the unhappy pig, remember the tale of La Langosta Feliz y el Puerco Triste. Remember, and call on Jesus.
And, thanks to Mary Elizabeth, let me share the real deal. Friends, may I introduce you to the unhappy pig...