Friday, July 26, 2019

Cultural Differences

I wrote this blog on 25 June, almost a mont ago, and forgot to post it.

After a trip to the States, I arrived home a few weeks ago around 1:00 a.m. I’d forgotten to tell the friend who was watering my plants and paying my bills that the cable company does not send them. You are expected to pay your bill no later than the tenth of each month. Mine wasn't paid and my cable and Internet were off—no way to communicate.
The next morning, as soon as I had coffee, I headed out for the cable company. Enroute, I ran into my landlady’s sister and their mother. Her sister said an architect from Queretaro was coming at 4pm to look at the skylight that was leaking. I tried to explain that this was not convenient but was not communicating--she didn't speak English and my Spanish, after numerous classes, is still rudimentary. They had a set of keys. I asked her to use them but she said I had to be there at four.  The skylight needed to be fixed before the rainy season began. So, finally in frustration I said, “fuck it, I’ll be there,” and rushed off to MegaCable. 
The next morning my landlady, who lives in Texas, called.  She started with, “My mother is the most important thing in the world to me.” And ended with, “Why did you say fuck you to my mother?” 
I was dumbfounded. “I wasn’t talking to your mother.” I told her. “Plus I said fuck it, an expression of frustration, not fuck you.”
My rental is one of four houses in a compound owned by the same family. I’d cultivated a good relationship with her relatives. Had invited them to dinner the first time my landlady visited them in San Miguel. Given them leftover desserts for the kids and grandkids after my dinner parties.
“You know me,” I continued.  “Why would you think I’d insult your mother?”
This was a misunderstanding, something I felt sure could be straighten out with conversation. I found someone to translate, a bi-lingual Mexican friend to avoid further cultural misunderstanding, and went to talk with her mother. She wouldn’t open the door. Less than a minute later another daughter, who lives in the house to my right, came to my house. “My mother does not want to talk with you, not now, not ever,” she said shaking her finger in my face like I was a wayward child.
Her mother was close to my age, a grown-ass woman who was behaving like a child. I was pissed. She took me to my dark side. The me who sought revenge, that part of me I worked so hard to get control of in my thirties.
When my landlady came to San Miguel tempers had subsided. She said that she that since she lived in Texas she relied on her family to maintain her house in Mexico. “They refuse to work with you,” she said. "I'm between a rock and a hard place. But no rush, take as much time as I needed to find a new place."
I was determined to find something quickly. Living is a toxic environment is not good. Every time I saw her mother she ignited my anger when she looked away from me with a humph. Once when she did this, I asked in anger, "How old are you, twelve?"  
I found something less than three weeks after the conversation with my landlady. Three weeks that had felt like twelve. There are pluses with the new place, no more stairs, a washer and dryer, and a small patio--and minuses, more money and less square footage.
A new chapter begins. Moving date is July 15.