not sure how i heard about pollo campero - this new central american fried chicken franchise restaurant that opened up in chelsea - but i was dying to try it out. it'd been open for about a month and i read stories about latinos traveling far and wide to go and eat there and the incredible lines of customers. the weather today was slightly overcast and cool but the forecast said no rain until the evening, so i took my chances. the last time i visited chelsea was 2 years ago to buy some aquarium equipment. although just 5 miles away due east to where i live, the trip required traveling through some scary industrial sites along the two banks of the mystic river, a dusty landscape of power generators, chemical storage equipment, rolling semi-trucks, scrap yards, and wholesale warehouses. the only thing to guide me was a printed map of downtown chelsea in my pocket, of which i tried to memorize as much as possible before i left the house.

i got there a little bit after 1:00, hoping i'd beat the noontime lunch crowd. i walked several blocks before i pulled out my map to got my bearing. by coincidence i was right across the street from pollo campero without realizing it. the place was packed with latinos, and there was a line 6 customers deep. i decided to get the 8-piece family meal with the corn tortillas and a side of spicy rice and campero beans, along with an additional side of sweet plantains and yuca fries. it cost about $25, which is more than a similar meal at KFC, but i think for the people who grew up with pollo campero, the nostalgia factor is well worth the price. while i was waiting for my food, i scooped some sauces into small plastic containers (roasted salsa chipotle, green tomatillo sauce, pico de gallo) at the condiment table.

i ended up taking the wrong direction in getting back to my motorcycle and took the long way (when in fact i was parked just a block away from the restaurant). along the way i saw this huge flag-colored hill which i can imagine to be a large salt reserve for treating winter roads. when i got to my bike, i squeezed my food into my backpack and proceeded to make my way home after consulting with the map again.

i went to the cafe to share my fried chicken meal, but the only person who was there was my father, who was busy with customers. i prepared a sampler plate for him before leaving. by then it was 2:00 and since i hadn't eaten all day, i gnawed on a fried drumstick, my first taste of pollo campero. the flavor was pretty good, a little bit darker and dryer than the KFC i'm normally used to, but tasty nonetheless. my mother had walked home and i was hoping i'd catch her along the way but i didn't see her when i returned to belmont. by then it'd started to drizzle. after i let hailey outside to go use the bathroom, i got back on my bike with a spare helmet in search of my mother. i made it almost all the way to the cafe again without seeing her, getting pelted with raindrops in the process. when i finally returned to belmont a second time, i saw her about to enter the house. apparently she'd taken some secret route inside fresh pond, that's why i didn't spot her.

i got a chance to try some of the side dishes. the spicy rice was kind of bland, i wouldn't recommend it. the beans was more of a gumbo soup, which was pretty good and could be a meal in itself. i've had plantains before so that was nothing new, and the yuca fries tasted like a really dense french fry.

the rain had stopped after i finished eating, so i returned to cambridge. more rain would be in store for tonight, but unless it's a torrential downpour, i didn't think it was necessary for me to cover up the bike.

at 7:00 it was game 6 between the celtics and the magic. i watched the whole thing armed with a plate of pizza rolls, too riveted to turn away and catch the season finale of bones nor 30 rock. boston did very well for the first 3 quarters, and i felt like they'd win. magic weren't getting their signature 3 pointers and dwight howard got more touches but didn't always score, especially when he was fouled. but in the 4th quarter orlando capitalized on some scoring opportunities while the celtics made a few costly turnovers (how many times did they travel?) and with just minutes to go, the magic began to pull away to victory. it's amazing how bad a free throwing team the magic are; the game wouldn't even have been close had orlando made more of their free throws. now celtics nation will have to wait until sunday night for the final game 7 showdown back home in boston.

later in the evening sophia invited an MIT friend over. we watched the second basketball game between the lakers and the rockets before he left.