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Where do you go when you’re having your class get-together?

Lorena, our Spanish teacher (Yes, been trying to learn el idioma these past few weeks) said “How about Candelas?”

She was talking about the swank Mexican place on the bay in Coronado (1201 1st Street, #115, at the ferry landing, 619-435-4900), maybe a bit too swank for my money.

Lorena also talked to the waiters and told them “No English!”

We all met just as downtown across the waters was starting to silhouette and get awesome. There were eight of us, each paying for ourselves. Must say, this place felt way sleek. The lights of the ferry pier started up, and all the candelas that sat on the walls around us gave the place a nice warm glow.

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So I’m scanning the menu pretty anxiously. Whole bunch of items are up there, like fish of the day (bass), 28 buckeroos. Robert has that. Todd goes for the pollo mole ($14.99). Julia and Lisa go for the “sandals,” the huaraches,” thick tortillas with beef on top, plus black bean spread, sour cream, $11. Now we’re getting into range. I think Lorena’s Swiss enchiladas with a sweet sauce are about the same.

I’m down to “ensalada Veracruz ($10.50), which looks kinda okay, with bleu cheese and a sliced-up mango, and tacos de pato, “five small duck tacos served with onion, pineapple, cilantro and red or green salsa, $11.” I go for the tacos, and appreciate the pineapple, but don’t find the duck gosh almighty real interesting.

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My duck tacos

And dang, Suzana next to me orders the Veracruz salad and it looks terrific.

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Susan's Veracruz salad

But the most delicious-looking thing is Lorenzo’s $15 chile relleno.

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Lorenzo's chile relleno

It's only after we've all ordered that I find out they do have a happy hour from four till six, and all appetizers are half-price. Daggone it. So $14 is $7, bunch of $10 items'd be $5. It's for moments like this that we need Lorena to teach us a bunch of Mexican curse woids.

Whatever, bottom line is that the Mexican food and surroundings and conversation, and Fernando the no-English waiter (under Lorena’s orders) all get us going further into Spanish conversation than we ever had in class. We learn how to ask for a charola de dulces.” The dessert tray. Someone else says it might also be called bandeja de postres.

Suddenly, we find we're talking...Spanish! Our Spanglish has practically gawn.

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Class of Dos Mil Doce (from left): Julia, Robert, Lisa, Todd, Lorena (teacher), Susan, Lorenzo

Lorena clinks her glass to make a toast. “Salud, dinero, amor, y tiempo para disfrutar les!" "Health, wealth, love, and the time to enjoy them.”

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Inside looking out

Wow. I don’t know why we even bother going back to the classroom. We’re learning twice as much here.

Whatever, kudos to Fernando and his fellow waiters for holding our feet to the fire, witholding our just desserts till we knew how to ask for them. Heck, school don't hold a candela to this classy classroom.

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