You see them outside churches all over Mexico—sisters from local convents selling home-baked sweets, a sort of eggnog spiked with rum or brandy called rompope, and assorted spiritual tracts and talismans. A few years ago, one of these sisters basically rescued me. I was driving down the highway on my way to Mexico City and witnessed a horrific car crash. After tracking down an ambulance and spending considerable time at the scene, I could do no more to help. By the time I arrived in Mexico City, the trauma had fully registered; I was on the verge of collapse. And there she was, with a smile for everyone who passed. When that smile settled on me, my eyes filled with tears. I'm not a drinker, but some instinct compelled me to reach for one of her bottles of rompope. It was strong and sweet, a nectar and a consolation at a moment when I needed it profoundly. Sister, wherever you are, thank you.
From “Sweet Mercy” by James Oseland for Saveur, 2013; Photo by Todd Coleman (@toddwcoleman)