IF NOT FOR THE SNOW, I can envision this as some place warm and sunny. Some location other than here. Some place with real palm trees, not just those painted on the side of a building.
I can picture myself on the patio, relaxing and conversing at a table with friends, drinking margaritas while the hot sun bakes my skin. But wishful thinking doesn’t land me in Arizona or Texas or California or Florida or Mexico. I am in Minnesota, outside the shuttered Cancun Grill Mexican Restaurant, drawn here by an inviting tropical scene of ocean and palm trees.
Just days after a major multi-day winter storm dumped some 14 inches of snow on Faribault, I find myself photographing the “for sale” restaurant. The contrast of snow layering tables, chairs and patio against the backdrop tropical-themed mural catches my creative eye, allowing for a visual and mental escape from all this winter.
I’ve never dined at this restaurant, although I wish I had based on the positive online reviews: Authentic wonderful Mexican cuisine. Best tacos here. Excellent burritos and margaritas. Large portions. Delicious. Great service.
Now it’s too late to experience this taste of Cancun in my southern Minnesota community. But I can dream. I can dream of palm trees I’ve never seen, except at Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul. I can dream of places I’ve never visited. I can dream of staying at an all-inclusive fancy resort, of warm beach sand filtering through my toes and sunshine on my face. I can dream of lazy days lounging by the sea with a good book rather than time spent shoveling snow.
In this moment I am not in Minnesota, enveloped in a wintry landscape. Rather, my imagination melts away the snow, replacing it with beach sand so white I need sunglasses. Ah, this is lovely, this Cancun of fleeting travel.
This permanently closed restaurant along busy Fourth Street Northwest/Minnesota State Highway 60 in Faribault offers me a momentary escape. I feel the breeze as palm trees sway against the merging blue sky and water while I sip a strawberry margarita on the sun-drenched patio.
© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling