Monday, 30 January 2012:
Today Ana comes to clean my house. Ana has been my landlords’ housekeeper since they bought this place. She lives right down the street from us. I’m not sure how often she cleaned for them, but she comes to “my” house once every two weeks on Monday.
I know that many of you are saying, “If you’re so poor, why do you have a housekeeper?”. And the answer is this, “because she came with the house.” My Canadian landlords, Nonie and David, had been employing Ana for quite some time before I moved in. And one of their stipulations before I moved in was that I continue to employ her.
That has been the same in every place I’ve lived here around Lake Chapala. This is a smart move that most landlords in the USA don’t take. When renting a place there, the landlords of inexpensive rentals “presume” that you will take care of the place. Here in Mexico, the landlords [be they locals or expats] presume that you won’t. And, honestly, I think the latter folks are right!
Lord knows I’ve been known to neglect the places I’ve rented NOB [north of the border]. Having been a working, single parent, one of the easiest things to give up in order to spend some time with my kid or just have some time to myself was housework. And my houses or apartments certainly showed the result of my neglect. But I arrive in Mexico and before I know it, I’ve got a housekeeper to keep it all straight!
My first place here was in a condo type community. And with the apartment, I “inherited” my great friend Amalia. [That’s her in the picture at the top of the post, on the right.] Once every two weeks, she would come over to my place and clean up all my messes and all the cat hair that had accumulated over 14 days. Amalia speaks only Spanish and I speak only English, but somehow we understood each other immediately.
She, too, loves cats and was immediately a fan of Lukita the cat, and vice versa. When she came to work every 14 days, the two of them spent several minutes “chatting” with one another before I got included in the conversation at all.
Amalia was a wonder. Not only did she clean my house, but she made lunch for me several times and agreed to play “Name That Tune” with me on my first Christmas here. I found an internet radio station with “Latin American Christmas Songs” and asked her to guess where the group was from.
She astounded me by getting every one correct except for the one which she said was either from Peru or Colombia. Amalia said she couldn’t quite differentiate between the accents of the two countries. I guess it is kinda like folks in the northern USA differentiating between a Mississippi and an Alabama accent….i.e. you gotta be a local to tell. Although I swear I would put Amalia up against anybody I know….north or south of the border…..in a “guess the accent” competition.
Amalia was the first of my housekeepers down here, and Ernestina was next. She also came with the house that I rented when I moved to San Cristobal Zapotitlan. Like Amalia, Ernestina was middle aged. Ana, however, who comes today is in her early 20s, and she’s about as big as a minute.
But being young, she’s exceedingly spry. She uses that footstool to vault herself onto the counters so that she can clean the top of the cabinets and the fridge. Everytime she’s here. Yeah. When’s the last time you cleaned your cabinet tops????
When Amalia first started working for me, I didn’t know what to do with myself while she was there. I felt odd just going about my normal activities [playing on the computer or watching TV] while she was hard at work. And I used to clean before she came so she wouldn’t know how messy I can be.
No more. Without guilt, I do whatever I would normally do while Ana is here, and I don’t feel the need to clean before she comes, although I normally do some of my own chores while she’s working, i.e. laundry, washing the dishes, or running errands. But, honestly, most of the time I’m on the computer. I’d like to think that maybe Ana believes I work at home via the internet, but I’m pretty sure she recognizes the sounds of Facebook slot machines when she hears them.
And in answer to the two burning questions I know you have: Yes, she does windows; and her pay averages out to about 40 pesos an hour, which is actually considered a good wage here in Joco.
So that’s what I did on my third day of the week in question….not alot since Ana was taking care of things! With that in mind, here’s today’s song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p47fEXGabaY