Watering Holes

March 20, 2014

Fun Times in Progreso, Mexico

Juan Lopez and Carlos Hernandez

There are a good number of reasons why people visit Nuevo Progreso, Mexico – commonly referred to as simply Progreso among valley folks. One is to visit the dentist or doctor, and another one is to have a good time especially when the weather is good.
Yesterday (March 19) was a great weather day – high’s in the low 80s with low humidity – and hundreds of our visiting retirees headed out there among many non-retirees like my husband and I. Our reason was a dental appointment, but who can resist the live music and people watching combination?
Bar hoping is a sport practiced by many in Progreso,and yes I enjoy that sport , the thing is that alcohol is not always the main attraction, but the people you meet and see.
Our hop ended yesterday at “La Cabanita Bar” where we met owner Juan Lopez and  bartender Carlos Hernandez also known as “El Sapo” (the toad) whose bar is located right on the curb outside of a popular bakery and restaurant called Rene’s. Both are located on the third block from the bridge on the west side.









Juan has capitalized on the open space by expanding the bar to the street where, under a plastic tent, patrons enjoy live music, the coldest beer, and the bar’s delicious Margaritas. I guess we can say that another reason people visit Progreso is their competitive prices. Juan’s bar is stocked with a wide selection of beers priced at $1.50, and the margaritas go for about $3.00. There are no snacks sold here, but do not let that deter you for you will have plenty of them to choose from.

Because you are seated right on a busy sidewalk, there is no shortage of vendors that will stop and try to sell you something. Chewing gum, snacks, whimsical trinkets, peanuts, jewelry, chopped cactus, avocados, and pirated video vendors among the relentless shoe shiners will entertain you, but will not pester you, while you enjoy your drink; a simple no or shake of the head will drive them away. That to me is part of the unparalleled Mexico experience. It does not get truer than that. How did Juan manage to open a bar right on a public street? He said the municipal government granted him a permit and that he pays a tax he called “floor tax” in order to operate his business.

Juan and Carlos’ friendliness opens the possibilities for great conversation, and the fun-loving DJ just adds to the fun. If you are not ready for this kind of experience there are many indoor bars to choose from, for even several pharmacies have made space to open up their own little bar, so people can have a good time even when visiting with the pharmacist. progreso 2progreso 3
La Cabanita Bar is open every day from 10:00 AM to 5 PM, and the live music plays for most of the day starting at about noon time. It is important for me to write that Juan did not pay for this story, nor did he solicit free advertising – he even charged us for the beer! I write because I like to share the good things about living in a staycation state of mind in the Rio Grande Valley.

Pictured on featured photograph are owner Juan Lopez (left) and bartender Carlos Hernandez aka “El Sapo” (right)

lupe in progreso


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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .

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