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The Good Woman of Chelem

Well, “good” is a bit of a stretch and “woman” while technically true still feels like an exaggeration (even though I turn 30 in less than 50 days). I do live in Chelem, more or less, for now, and with much publicized reluctance. So wait, which part of this title is true or relevant or clever? Ah, yes, hospitality. That was the theme I was attempting to address today. I absolutely believe in the virtues of being a good hostess. I love giving parties and opening my home. I also feel pretty positive that if a weary traveler appeared at my door I would at least be spooked enough that it might be a god in disguise that I would offer him shelter and food for the night and at some point in the process my innate goodness would be awakened. But I do not, at this time, particularly care for the drop in.

Surprised? You would think that we of all people would be happy to receive visitors who stop by for an unannounced, spontaneous neighborly how-do-you-do. And while that sounds charming in theory I have a confession to make: in midday my kitchen counters are often smeared with various viscous condiments and after about 8 pm I am usually not wearing pants. This makes such incidents awkward and spazzy. I like to be prepared. I like my house to be tidy if not completely clean as my mother’s house always was and I like to look presentable which yes, requires my having wiped last night’s mascara from my cheeks and maybe not having telltale Cheeto Poff dust on my shirt. Ideally I would have a refreshing beverage to offer in clean glasses and not be watching Ellen eating bean dip in my bathing suit. How sexy am I now?

Part of the problem is us of course. We don’t have a wall, a gate, or even a closed front door most of the time to indicate that we are in our home, our private sanctuary and would appreciate at least a phone call or email letting us know that you are arriving. Mostly intentions are good. People want to say hello, offer advice, pet the dogs, etc. Though I must say no one has ever brought by jam or other such country touches. I think actually many North Americans who move here are wary of the neighbors. At least partly, to speak for everyone – which I know Everyone always appreciates – we moved here to be more alone and independent, to get away from the throngs. Most have had their families and are content to spend a little quiet/solitary time without community watch and jam handed toddlers mucking up the landscaping.

But, you also get the sense that people get lonely and also curious. We are all always improving the house and property and making interesting changes to places that all once looked similar, some more crumbling than others. You want to get inspired, prove yourselves, compete in that most American pass-time of keeping up with the Joneses. In the most innocuous way of course. At the beach it is very unpretentious and the spirit of camaraderie is alive and supportive. We share problems like “why is there green gunk coming from my faucet?” and “I wonder where my neighbors septic runs out.” We share in joys as well. Whether based in fact, rumor, rumor, experience or sheer hope, being an expat in Chelem/Chuburna means that a lot of communicating happens along the coconut wireless. That was before YoListo of course.

I have to wrap this up because I am getting tired of my own inner voice, so let’s just say they moral of the story is…hare today gone tomorrow? No, that’s not right. The moral is: the structure has to be changed in order to resolve the problem, according to old Brecht anyway. Which I guess for us means installing an intercom at the entrance to the driveway. Or keeping a tidier kitchen. So there you go. Thanks for stopping by.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. OMG…my thoughts exactly!!! How did you get in my head?? My next door neighbor and I have come up with a system…we have a flag outside on the beach side…if it is flying high then we are receiving guests. If not, then we are asking for our privacy to be respected. Not sure if it would “fly” on the lado de calle…guess it depends on the disposition of your other neighbors. Might not be the easiest subject to broach, as I sure wouldn’t want to offend anyone or have them think I am antisocial or unfriendly. Guess I will leave it as is until the first time I get caught in my underwear!! I have come close to getting caught “with my pants down” a few times but if it ever happens, I feel certain my neighbors would be in favor of implementing it after the experience. That is probably a picture they would NOT want in their minds! LOL!!

  2. Kaye!! Numero Uno, nobody wants to be inside your head! Numero Dos, I have been caught in my undies when a friend dropped by unexpectedly. And she was much more traumatized by me, I’m sure. lol.

  3. Oh pooh, I meant “much more traumatized THAN me”…!

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