For those of you who’ve ever idealized life in the (latin american) tropics, might I offer a few highlights of my week as a reminder that paradise is a matter of perspective? Oh, and a heads up to those of you with weak stomachs:
1. Walking through our hood on our way to buy bananas, Estella and I heard the rumble of a diesel truck accompanied by the distinct sound of liquid being sprayed from a high-pressure hose. Just then (to my disgust, though not to my surprise), a “mosquito truck” rounded the corner and headed straight for us. We crossed to the opposite side of the road, covered our mouths and noses and watched in silent (spring) horror as the driver drenched dozens of laughing loungers, grateful for a moment’s relief from the heat as if it were 1960. We headed home, closed all doors and windows and prayed to the gods of neurotransmission while the (DDT?) truck emptied its tank on our neighborhood like a backyard mister.
2. The mosquitos following that spray were totally non-existent for about 24 hours and then the craziest thing happened. Desperately thirsty, neurologically-disturbed mutant mosquitos emerged from who-knows-where to suck whatever moisture they could from the compost and toilet bowls while the toxins took their toll. That night, even more came out of the concrete, moving with uncharacteristically spastic and clumsy flight and attacked us through our bedsheets ruthlessly, unlike any mosquitos I’ve ever experienced (and I grew up in Wisconsin where mosquitos compete with robins for the state bird). If my whole family turns up with a rare dengue/cancer combo, you’ll know why.
3. You don’t even want to know the size of the ticks we just found inside our dog’s ear.
4. It’s campaign season, which means that politicians plaster enormous posters of themselves all over town, then drive around in trucks with blown out speakers bungeed to the top while screaming promises of a better tomorrow barely audible over Gangnum Style (an attempt to increase young voter turn-out?).
5. The rainy season has begun, meaning that the air is now heavy with all the heady smells of a Mexican summer: savory grilled meats, giant tropical flowers, rotting mango, dog shit and week-old garbage.
6. Speaking of garbage, our trash bin (top of page) has apparently been pegged as public, as only one black bag in that stinky mess came from us.
7. The ants have moved in again following their winter retreat. At any given time, there are at least four different two-lane highways through the house, the empty-mandible lanes moving markedly mas rapido than the ones with wide loads. Some work the compost bowl, others are clearly addicted to sugar, a third group prefers almonds but will settle for pecans in a pinch and another still would probably claim pescatarianism if the trash pail pickins weren’t so darn delicious.
8. Our electric bill was 9000 pesos this month (I don’t even want to know what the exchange rate is right now), cementing our suspicion (following the fair in the fall and now the one in April) that the street vendors have been “borrowing” our electricity.
9. Because we had not received a bill (they slip the loose piece of paper under our gate at random) and you can’t actually pay for your services without said paper in hand, our electricity was cut off this week (which means, of course, we were also without water).
10. After hours-long negotiations at the bank to actually access that kind of money, and upon paying royally for that carnie auctioneer to scream into his mic every night for a week (again, through blown out speakers), Hunter was assured our power would be reconnected by 2:00 pm yesterday. What they really meant, however, was “We’re going to give you a time because you, as a gringo, are accustomed to being given definitives, and I, as a Mexican public service worker who deals with bureaucratic bullshit every day am accustomed to making promises that mean absolutely nothing. Oh, and make that 2:00 Friday. If you’re lucky.”
11. Not a local in town would actually be surprised by the fact that — because I am married to a brilliantly resourceful, uninhibited man who also deals with Mexican bureaucracy on a daily basis — Hunter found some random electrician on a moped and paid him 100 pesos to come over and reconnect the power, because that’s just what you do here.
12. And last, but not least (Heidi, don’t watch this) this is what tropical summer looks like inside a two-day-old bag of trash. If you think “baby flies” it’s a little less gross?
Happy summer everyone! Here’s to cultivating paradise within!