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"I have never seen steak served in so many new and interesting ways. No part of the cow is left to waste."
- Paul Talley

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Business travel, Mexican style
by Paul K. Talley, 39, Montreal, Canada
Aug 11, 2000

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Lonely Planet Mexico Travel Guidebook

Whenever someone tells that they think frequent business travel is a life of luxury, I tell them this story.

During the course of my employment with the firm it has been my pleasure to visit some rather interesting places. Chuquicamata and Antofagasta, Chile; Gary, Indiana; Blytheville, Arkansas; and Fukuoka, Japan to name a few. Some surely rate as monuments to the greatest ecological and social catastrophes of modern times. Torreon, Mexico falls into this category. Many may think it unkind to make this kind of remark about a place, but I can assure you that the people of Torreon are under no illusions about the city. Torreon is a city that built itself around a lead smelter. Like most other unsightly mining operations, it is in the middle of the desert. Everything is coated with a fine patina of dust. A situation made all the worse by the smelting operations belching out clouds of zinc and lead dusts. From time to time the air smells like someone just set off an entire pack of matches under your nose or worse. And it is, of course, hot.

I arrived in this charming location with my migraine headache in 5th gear. And in a foul mood because I had my credit card declined when I went to purchase the plane ticket to this charming locale in Monterrey (turned out to be fraud). Foul went to wretched when the clerk claimed he had no reservation for me. Nor did he have a room. The sub-text of his responses to my increasingly anxious inquiries clearly said, "why don't chu p*** off, gringo?" We finally sorted it out, and I became Senior Taylay for the day. Close enough, right? When it was determined that I was there rightfully, then Eduardo, the clerk, became the epitome of hospitality.

"Perhaps the senior would care to relax in our wonderful pool? With a margarita?" I cast a bloodshot and jaundiced eye at the pool that bore a close resemblance to Kipling's Limpopo River and declined the gracious offer. I shuffled off to my room to indulge in dangerous quantities of Advil and mineral water. To my relief, my colleagues from Mexico City arrived and I was marginally better.

Torreon is a vegetarian's nightmare. The cattle industry is second to base metal processing. I have never seen steak served in so many new and interesting ways. No part of the cow is left to waste. Tripe is not my thing, but bone marrow was not as bad as I thought it would be. I will say that the restaurants did know how to cook a steak that was both tender and tasty. Dinner was unfortunately cut short by the return of my migraine.

I woke up the next morning, fully clothed and mummified in the bedspread. The headache was gone, but my mouth felt like it was full of cotton. A quick shower and shave, and I was ready to go. Lorenzo came to call. More to check that I was still among the living than to invite me to breakfast. It was to be a full day. I had to leave before anyone else, because of my connections to Houston, so I would give my part of the presentation early.

Business as usual, or is it?

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