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It’s Not All Margaritas and Monkeyshines

Just as trying to explain to some of our loved ones that we are down here building new lives, not giving up on our old ones, it can sometimes be difficult to explain that life down here isn’t just one, big, slow sip from a margarita. Here’s a rundown of our morning.

8:00AM: I wake up far too hungover for a Wednesday, having had a very detailed conversation with a bottle of tequila the night before.

8:08AM: My dad can’t figure out how to turn on the TV, so I go out to the guest house and show him.

8:14AM: The representatives from the hot water heater company appear, to repair two of our hot water heaters. On one, the pilot light doesn’t work and won’t light, and on the other, the hot water is clearly pumped through rotten eggs before coming out of the showerhead, so strong is the smell of sulfur. I show them the two heaters, describe the problem, etc.

8:22AM: I take a Champix, the Mexican version of Chantix, the drug that might make you quit smoking but will definitely cause lucid, vivid dreams, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. I then immediately smoke a cigarette.

8:30AM: I start work, bringing a website that makes some questionable legal claims into compliance by changing some things around.

8:34AM: Jillian returns from morning walk with dogs. Tripod has rolled in Freshly Dead Something, and smells worse than a supermarket that has lost its electricity and been abandoned by its owners. In spite of this, she refuses to leave the house. Tripod, that is.

8:48AM: Olivia starts barking uncontrollably at invisible bandits, shattering my concentration and my fraying nerves.

9:01AM: Mari and Marcelo arrive for work. Dogs are again beside themselves with barking. Marcelo wants to let me know that he has purchased thirty 100 pound bags of salt for our water softening system, and that I am free to stop by his house, where it is currently being used to make furniture, bedding, tables, a baby’s crib, and an exterior wall, to pick up a bag. He also wants to know what has happened to the Jeep, and when I mention that it is at the mechanic’s getting an entirely new engine at a cost of 18,000 pesos, he explains that I really should sell it, as continued ownership no es conveniente. Mari has the sniffles, and is generally grumping around the kitchen resentfully going through the motions and gestures of cleaning, without making things visibly cleaner.

9:36AM: The hot water heater repairmen take me into the bathroom to illustrate something completely baffling, since my Spanish does not extend into the realm of hot water heater repair. Using a hose connected to a faucet, with one end held way up in the air, the repairman shows me that the pilot light cannot be fixed, since, when you turn the water on, water comes out of the hose, and when you turn it off, the water recedes back down the hose. He shows me this several times, and I nod my head furiously, in spite of having no Earthly idea what he is talking about. The phrase, “problema subterraneo” is used far more than I would like. I rush outside to call the architect.

9:37AM: For some inexplicable reason, the microphone on my telephone does not appear to be working.

9:40AM: I manage to contact the architect using MSN Messenger. The hot water heater repairmen are done, and would like 300 pesos, though I have no idea if they have repaired anything, or if my subterranean problems are too much for them to bear, and they just want to leave. I try to explain to the patiently waiting technician that, though I am not holding a phone up to my ear, my typing is equivalent to “talking” to the architect. It is unclear if this point is ever made, as Mari is trying to clean both under the stinky dog and under my feet at the same time.

9:46AM: The architect explains that the work has been done; the pilot should be new. However, as we are out of gas, it is impossible to test. The hot water heater repairmen are paid, and they leave.

9:49AM: Jillian is dispatched via rental car to The Other End of Town, where, though we have never been able to actually find the random, unmarked house that sells tanks of propane out of the living room, we HAVE sometimes seen a parked gas delivery truck hanging around. Marcelo wants my dad to take him to the dump at precisely this moment, which I explain is impossible, as there is clearly no fucking car in the driveway.

10:02AM: Jillian returns with the gas delivery truck, which causes the dogs to nearly explode with the ferocity of their barking. As I am the only person in our household who seems to know where the gas tanks are located, on both the main and guest house, I show them to the deliveryman. He explains that we have to buy a whole new bottle, as the bottom of one has rusted out.

10:24AM: Marcelo gravely informs us that we have overpaid for our gas bottles. We could have gotten them for ten pesos less per bottle in Progreso. He delivers this news as though he is passing along the news of the death of a loved one.

11:04AM: Mari and Marcelo are done, and ready to get paid and go home, but not before reminding us again of the incredible savings opportunity present in buying our propane in a different town. He also wants to confirm that I will be coming over later in the day to pick up a bag of salt, which I am sure means that he realizes he probably has to actually find a bag of salt.

11:15AM: Jillian suggests frozen pizza, my dad is in his house watching TV and cooking something mysterious in his crock pot, and the work day can finally begin. At least we don’t have to ride the subway.

There Are 13 Responses So Far. »

  1. You are hilarious, Malcolm.

    It is crazy how much time things can take up here…

    The crazy guy clicks his coin on the gate and gazes vacantly with his hand out when you finally arrive at the front after getting up from the computer and running downstairs. Of course with both dogs barking away.

    The water guys come by, you hear them shouting down the street and you grab your purse and try to dig out the right change before they are past you.

    Cuahtemoc rings and wants to know if he should wax your car. It has been a month yada yada and you really need it yada yada. Basically he needs some money. Ok. Ok.

    You need a prescription so you walk to the pharmacy on the next block and he sends his helper somewhere or other and you stand there and make small talk with him while you wait like 20 minutes.

    The phone rings and an expat friend wants to use your computer or vonage phone or something.

    The maid arrives and you shift what you were doing to where she isn’t going to do whatever she’s going to be doing.

    Yep. Some days we don’t know how we get anything done.

  2. Dude. Sounds like you need a slap of ham.

  3. $18,000 pesos for a new engine? You got ripped off. They’re cheaper in Ticul.

  4. Of course I did.

  5. I’ve been reading blogs about life in Mexico for several years now. I used to think Jillian was my favorite writer. Then it was Michael Dickson in Tzurumutaro. But I was wrong! Malcolm, you’re da man!!!

    Thanks.

  6. Wait a minute. You have a water softener? You guys in Chelem live in the rarified air. :)

  7. And a pressure system, to boot! I tell you, we’re all out here lighting cigars with 500 peso notes. :)

  8. We’ve been here about 3 1/2 months. I was starting to believe that we were the only ones who live like this. We get up between 6:30-7:00am but usually can’t sit down to work until about 10 or 11am. Thanks for sharing.

    By the way it’s killing me…did you ever find out what your dad was cooking in his crock pot? :)

  9. Oh, Malcolm! This is the best! I’ve read it about six times, tried reading it to Stateside people who simply don’t get why I’m laughing until I cry…so perfect!
    Be home soon, can’t stand to miss another morning!

  10. God, this sounds like my life, too, only I live in sub-zero weather in Canada, and there’s no one you can call to come out here and fix anything, thus the inherent value of baler twine and duct tape.

    BTW, what’s up with the Yolisto website? It’s been in stealth mode for 2 days now. I miss my Yolisto!

  11. u guys are very bitter and should leave mexico.. u are good for nothing gringos who have nothing good to say about the country, so why stay here? Get out and stay out

  12. Well, now I have hurt feelings.

  13. (snicker) Don’t you just love those helpful and constructive comments. Heaven forbid we don’t get down on our knees and thank God everyday that we live in Mexico. Guess what? Sometimes Mexico sucks just like every other corner of the world! geesh.

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