In years long past, I had often gone deep into the poor, crumbling neighbourhood of El Chorillo to eat fish at a restaurant. I always took a taxi, there was no question I could walk, too dangerous. The restaurant was in reality, a private home. You ate at plastic tables on the footpath and if those were occupied, more were set up in the gutter. Old, groaning, school buses exhaling charcoal coloured effluvium, trucks, new four-wheel drives, old rattlers, almost anything would pass inches from your repast.
The street, known as Calle 8 after the famous party strip in Miami U.S.A, although in reality Calle 14, was a honeypot to a celebratory heart. Brightly lit and jovially cacophonous, it attracted the poorest to the most indulged. Every restaurant, every bar, was unlicensed. It was during the pistolero years, when drug gangs ruled much of the area and heavily armed police patrolled constantly. They never bothered the unlicensed businesses. This particular night they did-suddenly it had become illegal to sell beer.