Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bats, clothespins, and the 150 mile grocery trip

We found a house to lease. It is a large adobe owned by the former director of Fonatur in Loreto. It is beautiful though neglected as its owner now lives in La Paz and rents it out. It is probably over 5000 square feet and totally hand-crafted. The floors are stone with wood inlay and there are many painted frescoes throughout. Upstairs is a library where I intend to claim as my personal space. The family is a patron of the arts so there is a lot of framed artwork and also some relics from the original mission to give it that sacred feeling. I fell in love with it right away, naturally. It makes me think of the book, "Under the Tuscan Sun," where the author chucks her life in America to renovate a faded villa in Tuscany. My little villa has an orchard and a swimming pool. Na na na na na.

The past week has been about settling into our house. We don't have a television but I did schedule for internet connection. It could be a week before that happens. There's not a clock nor a radio in the house either. I like that. Like I said, the house is somewhat neglected so amidst the luxury is a downright lack of conveniences: The dryer does not work so I hang clothes on a line automatically gripping clothespins between my lips in the way of millions of women before me, except that I wear sunglasses. The dishwasher also does not work. I tried the first night and it ran continuously for hours. For a few days we had no hot water until Don Alfredo came to repair the heater so I warmed water on the gas stove for the dishes, which by the way are patterned with Christmas trees. There is a set of china in a hutch but I wouldn't dare use it.

Our first visitor was a bat that entered an open door the first night before we knew better; a "murcielago," I learned later. I was calling it a "raton que volar" to our maid, Zoila, who looked perplexed until my attempts with hand motions and expressions of horror clued her in.

Our first trip to the local grocery market was a little adventure. It is so lacking that we began asking other Americans where they shop and discovered many make a trek to a bigger town to the "Super Ley" only this town is a 150 mile round-trip over the mountains! We loaded a large cooler and headed out yesterday in our borrowed pea-green International Scout which has no a/c or radio. It started making funny noises halfway there so we had to keep it under 50 mph. Absolutely no one spoke English at the grocery market so we were quite at a loss to understand if we were purchasing pureed tomatoes or tomato soup. It's a toss-up if we got home with anything I can cook. I recognized my stress level rising along with a new fear that we may starve if left to our own devices. One the way back we joked that this was the farthest we had ever gone to shop for food in our entire lives!!! It was such an adventure in culture shock. Oh, and did I mention the absurdity of discovering a circus there? On the highway out of town we spied what looked like an elephant. We stopped to see not only the elephant but a camel, a monkey, a lion in a portable cage all restrained by ropes around their legs. The elephant was so despondent he was rocking back and forth in the heat and dirt. It was outrageously cruel to me. We left and drove in silence for awhile until our concern about the animals was replaced by other distractions like the wreckage of a truck spilled over an embankment. The glass spread out over the rocks and reflected so much glare it looked like a pool of water. The road over the mountain is slightly treacherous as demonstrated by the numerous roadside shrines made to accident victims. Unlike at home where people sometimes construct little crosses and leave plastic flowers at the site, the Mexicans build tiny houses about the size of tiny doghouse. I saw one that had a red tile roof and looked like a model of a real house with an attached garage.

But tonight we are beachside basking in the light of a full moon and we say to each other, "It doesn't get any better than this!" A change from the normal is what we wanted and it is certainly what we will get.

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