Coincidences 7: Romo’s Green Chile Salsa

Romo’s Green Chile
This is the big one. Even I find most of this story unbelievable, but there are witnesses.

Many years ago, when I was living in Flagstaff, we all knew that the best green chile salsa in the SW was made at this little cafe in Holbrook called “Romo’s”. And one summer, I was working back in Maine for Upward Bound and found myself craving a bowl of Romo’s salsa. Really craving it.

DSC_0543So I put a plan together.

I called Romo’s and asked them to package up two quarts of their salsa for delivery. I paid for it with my credit card, and asked them if they would take it across the street to the Greyhound bus when it came through town that morning.

So the nice lady gave the two tubs of salsa to the bus driver who took them with him to Flagstaff.

When he arrived in Flag, my old roommate and good friend Peter S met the driver at the bus station, and collected the salsa. He then took it to the offices of Canyon Exploration, the river company I worked with. His son Garret collected the salsa and put it in the deep freezer for the night.

The next morning, Garret wrapped the frozen salsa in packing peanuts and bubble wrap, boxed it up, and sent it 24 hour express mail to me in Maine.

It arrived, safe and sound, and just as luck would have it, that weekend was the birthday of my great old friend Mark, and he was throwing a big bash at his Farm. The theme was “the Southwest”, with costumes, hats, a country western guitar player, and everything, so I figured a great surprise would be to bring this green chile salsa to the party and share it with Mark.

Keep in mind that this is authentic Green Chile salsa from a little hole in the wall in Holbrook, Arizona…and we’re at this party on a house on the coast in Maine, about 3000 miles away. I figured it would be a real surprise treat.

So I brought it down to the Farm that Saturday, opened it up, microwaved a bowlful and pulled it out. Just then, the guitarist came into the house on break, and Mark called him over. He said “Here’s something I bet you miss from home” and gave him a spoonful.

The guitarist tasted it, savored it, and said “Mmmmm mm! This is just as good as my favorite…the Green Chile Salsa from a little cafe I know…Romo’s in Holbrook, Arizona!”

But the story continues.

This past summer, maybe 20 years after Mark’s big party, I was taking my friend Greg from Australia on a little SW road trip around Arizona, and I wanted him to taste this famous green chile salsa. We drove out to Holbrook, and I found Romo’s cafe where it always was, and we sat down. As we waited, I told him this story about getting salsa shipped out to Maine and the musician and all, and he was rightfully amazed.

Then after we had our salsa (a little disappointing, as the cafe had changed hands about 12 years earlier and the recipe had changed), and we went up to pay. And there, on the back of the cash register, was a little sign. It said “Do you know this man?” and it had MY NAME. It turned out that when I gave them my credit card number 20 years earlier, they had transposed two numbers and the bill had never been paid! And this little sign had been on the back of the cash register when they sold the store and had stayed there ever since. So I told the (mostly uninterested) cashier the whole story, paid the bill and the outstanding 20-year old bill, and we went on our way.


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