Friendly Mexican myth

Yesterday morning, after completing yard chores like watering the terraza’s potted plants, brushing the terraza’s wooden shelves, sweeping the floor, wiping ceramic planters, washing the yard patio’s table and chairs, cleaning the birdbath and replacing its water, removing three huge, cold-damaged philodendron leaves and so on, I sat on a rocker in the terraza for a rest because I deserved it. My child bride was knitting inside.

I looked at the columns of rebar the neighbor has soaring about five feet above and abutting my property wall. He’s building something — a barn? — and he works on it most days, alone. It’s at the back of his and my property. I am happy about this. It mostly follows where he has a large shed roofed with laminated sheets that are badly held down. It’s for his tractor and horse. During a wind storm years ago, one of the huge sheets sailed over into our yard. It could easily have broken our large dining room window. Came close.

They are not nice people, and I debated with myself about what to do with the sheet, but I just hauled it to the street out back and left it by his entrance. I never heard a peep about it, not a “sorry about that” or a “thanks for returning it,” nada, which is what I expected.

Not a cop in sight.

Most Gringos who live in Mexico gush about the friendly people and the “lovely culture.” That sort of silliness amuses me for two reasons. Let’s start with the culture. Do they love the macho-ism? The drinking? The corruption? The narcos?

Just this week, narcos paraded in broad daylight in homemade armored vehicles down a street in another part of my state. While Mexican culture has many lovely aspects, true, it has just as many unlovely and dangerous ones.

And then there is the “friendliness.” If you want friendly, visit the American states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia or Texas where genuine friendliness is abundant. Friendliness in Mexico is restricted to people you actually know and like. Mexicans are not friendly to strangers, though they can appear so. It is a false friendliness.

This is where I insert the famous and accurate quote from Octavio Paz:

“A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.”

These were some of the things I was thinking as I sat on my rocker admiring the lovely morning, anticipating the yummy roasted chicken I would be enjoying for lunch at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant just down the road a few hours later.

It’s a very friendly restaurant.

Oiling the shelves

Nice, oiled shelves, good for another couple of months of neglect.

Home ownership brings chores you don’t face as a renter, and I did one of those chores this morning because it was long overdue. I oiled the wooden shelves on the downstairs veranda. I use Three-in-One or, as it’s called here, Tres-en-Uno.

Before tackling that chore, I completed another, which was sweeping the roof of the kitchen/dining room. Years passed in which I almost never swept up there, and quite an evil garden grew. I ignored the chore because there was no easy way to get up there, but now there is a steel stairwell, installed about three years ago.

I sweep the roof of the kitchen/dining room every month now. I get reminded by an internet calendar. I am a big (Yuge!) fan of internet calendars, and don’t know how I lived without them for most of my life. I must have forgotten many things. My current calendars are, I am ashamed to say, Google’s, but also Outlook’s and Zoho’s.

A righteous person avoids all things Google. But I am flawed.

If you tend to overlook things, especially important things, internet calendars will save your butt. Unfortunately, Google makes a very good one.

I mentioned a week or so ago that I’m going to remove the last stand of banana trees and cement over the area where it now sits, so it won’t resurrect. Earlier this week, I called one of my guys, the best one, but he’s working on another project, so I’ll wait.

I also mentioned recently our transition from music CDs to a Bluetooth speaker. No matter how old you get, life changes, hopefully for the better. I subscribed to Deezer for my tunes, and discovered lots of new music. As I write this on the PC, I’m listening to Esperanza Spalding singing, I Know You Know. I had never even heard of Esperanza before.

She sports an impressive ‘fro.

We’ll be dining on roasted chicken at El Lonch nearby this afternoon. The best roasted chicken around, plus cole slaw, rice, salsa of two shades and tortillas made by Granny on a comal over an open fire just behind our table. And a laminated roof over our heads.

I anticipate the rest of the day will play out favorably.

The little girl

Returning to the Hacienda today from a downtown restaurant where I enjoyed chile en nogata while my child bride chowed down on arrachera, chorizo and guacamole with totopos, we passed a new but humble business near our home.

We stopped to purchase half a pollo a la penca for another day, more to test the new establishment than for needing chicken right then. She went inside, and I waited in the Honda. This kid sat on the stoop. I reached into the backseat for my trusty Fujifilm Finepix and took a shot. She never even noticed, even though I was sitting so near.

That’s the chicken-cooking pit behind her.

A yard corner

pilo

ABEL THE DEADPAN yardman came at 10 today, as he does every summer Saturday, to mow the grass and edge with his weedeater, leaving the Hacienda with a fresh feel.

What you’re seeing in the photo is a yard corner that faces the dining room window, so we look at this a lot. The rock wall is about eight inches high and 12 feet across, and it was built by a guy who rang the doorbell years back, hunting paid labor.

Normally, I would have just told him sorry, no, but he was quite persistent and pleasant, so I hired him for a few chores around the yard. This was one. He wasn’t very talented, but he got the job done. The plant was already there. It’s a philodendron, which I always thought was a smallish plant, and maybe it is above the Rio Bravo. But not here.

I have another philodendron in the small green zone of the Downtown Casita’s carport. That plant too has attained monstrous size, and makes quite an impression.

Not much on the Hacienda agenda today. I’ve been fooling around with an updated Windows 10* that took almost three hours to download last night while we watched Netflix, and my child bride has been housecleaning. Around 2-ish, I’ll drive to our roasted-chicken joint a ways past the neighborhood plaza and buy lunch to go.

In addition to chicken, we’ll get rice, cole slaw, chorizo, and a couple types of salsa. Before the Kung Flu, when my wife was selling her pastries on the downtown plaza every Saturday afternoon, this was always our lunch before heading off. Her business has been on hold since March, but we still eat the roasted chicken most Saturdays.

We do lunch in the Hacienda dining room, and admire that philodendron.


* I was strong-armed into doing this by my H-P All-in-One desktop machine that I bought over a year ago. This was its first Windows 10 update.