That’s Dentertainment! One Love And The Mosquito. Fond Reflections On The Watering Holes of Life – by Dennis Tkach
They have been with us from the days of Noah to the present and they will be with us as long as mankind draws breath. Their faces are ever changing. They come and they go, replaced by others that, in time, will also come and go. However, all share common purpose and all are as relevant as the breath of life. These timeless locations created by and for the human race are the birth place of social interaction.
Pictured at right: wood carving at El Mosquito
The first ones arrived in caves… in desert oases… in many a worn spot of ground beneath a grove of shade trees or at a common river crossing. Their names are as diverse as the people whose functions they serve. Pubs, clubs, tearooms, coffee shops, gyms, halls for dance, pool, bingo, community, Masons, ethnic gatherings. Speak easies, spas, casinos, entertainment palaces, houses of ill repute, resorts, etcetera. They all fall under the simple sobriquet ‘the watering hole.’
The inter-net may have galvanized today’s generation into a hybrid state of accelerated social awareness and interaction but nothing will ever replace the live full sensory pleasure of face-to-face sharing in amiable surroundings. For this, ‘the watering hole’ holds royal court over all others.
‘Watering holes’ can evoke good times or at the very least provide places of respite where one can drown sorrows or escape the drudgeries of work and the woes of life for a few hours as we share idle banter with other idle banterers.
Think back over all of the occasions in your life when you have frequented a ‘watering hole’. Men and women are herd animals, gregarious by nature. We crave attention, entertainment and/or company under pleasing surroundings. There are also places such as retreats, libraries and their ilk, for times that can wrap us in the quiet pleasures of self-imposed solitude. Truly, ‘the watering hole’ has something to offer everyone.
For me it began in the gravel playgrounds of elementary school… the hockey shack with its welcome potbelly stove, warming frozen feet at the neighborhood skating rink. As a teen-ager it was the Perth community center and the Friday night canteen, jiving and twisting the night away. As a young adult, I fondly remember my first pub, The Green Briar, a Main Street blue-collar parlor where draft beer, tomato juice and the clink of shuffleboard fueled the babble of its denizens.
Vancouver: The Cave, Oil Can Harry’s, The Body Shop, Black Bart’s, Bump City, the Fraser Arms. These were but a few of the exciting live music playgrounds where I worked for many a year.
Abbotsford: Does anyone remember Steve Szabo’s Black Knight rock and roll emporium? Big city or The Fraser Valley, so many watering holes… so many wonderful memories! If you reflect on your memories I am certain it will put a smile on your face.
This particularly nasty winter my wife and I escaped for our second visit to the Dominican Republic and the colorful seaside town of Las Terrenas. Two years ago I wrote a travelogue on this wild, delightful former fishing town (of 30,000) with it’s palm tree-lined beaches, warm Cerulean blue waters, and friendly locals. With their pearly smiles and happy salsa music playing everywhere you would never get the sense that Dominicanos are among the poorest people on the planet.
It was on this particular holiday that the true relevance of ‘watering holes’ burst upon me like a holy epiphany. After a few days of sun, surf and ice cold Cokes under shading palms, we decided to visit a couple of the town’s ‘watering holes’. On a narrow busy beach road skirting the Caribbean (technically the Atlantic) there exists a string of bars almost exclusively for the purpose of tourists. During the day many are open, offering munchies, cool libations and shady respite from beach wandering. But it is at night when, like Cinderella, they unfurl their true charm. Europeans, Canadians and Americans gather to mingle and imbibe great quantities of cervesa, wine and spirits (or in our case, Coca Cola). Above the music, groups of visiting strangers try out generally poor linguistic skills. Surprisingly, communication is good. An aura of good will spills out into the warm night air and the wee hours of morning. Like the alcohol, everyone seems infected with fine spirits. Inebriate or sober, there is something refreshing about meeting world travellers of all ages on common ground. Strangers greet each other with smiles and the ubiquitous phrase “Where ya from?” In short order we become passing friend ships in the night, trading names and stories and perhaps meeting again in the days and nights to come.
Remember Rick’s cabaret in Casablanca and Dooley’s silky voice at the piano, telling us ‘you must remember this’? Or Le Chez Moustache, the Parisian bar in Irma La Douce? As a raging hormonal teenager, (who saw the movie four times) I wanted to run away to Paris, seek out that fun infested ‘watering hole’ on the Rue Casanova, drink peppermint tea and hang out with Shirley MacLaine and the other ladies of the night. Now, over a half-century later, like Br’er Rabbit in Disney’s classic ‘Song Of The South’, I found my latest ‘happy place.’ Actually… two happy places.
‘One Love’ is a beach front bar where one can sit on a high stool and banter with the bartender or its attractive hostess, play a game of billiards or laze on a shaded beach chair watching warm breeze gently flap a Canadian flag. There to greet you like family are the friendly owners, Barry and Kari Naipaul. I felt instant kinship with Barry, a retired Vancouver policeman who chose to make this amazing location his retirement work haven. ‘One Love’ is an exceptionally popular place to mingle with other travellers, all full of interesting conversation.
Besides a full wet bar, One Love offers a delicious, very affordable menu that includes one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten. A generous hand formed patty of lean sirloin, fully dressed and standing eye-popping tall, twixt halves of a fresh toasted bun. Big screen television runs music videos all day and at night and (gratefully during my stay) I was able to watch all of the NFL playoff games.
The El Mosquito Art Bar lies directly across the road from One Love. The face of El Mosquito with its bamboo decor, large open windows, and grass thatched roofing presents a romantic image one normally associates with the south Pacific. Where One Love is inviting, El Mosquito is seductively irresistible, especially when the sun goes down.
El Mosquito is run by ex-pat Americans Greg Rich and his son Phillip. The sincere friendliness that greeted us when we first met Greg was heartwarming. With an interior accentuated by a border of soft sofa seats, the setting and atmosphere crackled with energy, festive music and happy banter. For me, every visit felt like old home week as I met new and familiar faces floating between the two friendly ‘watering holes’. Like One Love, I was shocked at how small on-site kitchens could produce such amazing food fare. Mosquito’s varied menu includes a house specialty: deep-fried wings with a secret house recipe dipping sauce. During our month long stay and frequent visits to El Mosquito I consumed many a double order of these crispy delights.
For excellent service, good food and good company presented in a fantastic setting, as an international connoisseur of nightlife, libation and food fare on a working man’s budget, I give One Love and El Mosquito four stars. If you plan on visiting the Dominican Republic there is no better place to enjoy la pura vida than Las Terrenas and two of my favorite ‘watering holes.’