The Odd Pot

Looking around

The Hacienda is a rectangle, so it has four sides. It is two long lots that abut, and a brick wall encloses the whole shebang.

It runs lengthwise from the street out front to the street out back, making it a block deep. The house itself sits in the southwest corner.

Were we to start over, we would do everything differently.

Our task today is to gaze upon the neighbors. In the decade we’ve lived here, things have changed, people have come and gone, often in a hearse.

* * * *

Recycling cabbie

Out back, only visible from one small window in the upstairs bathroom, we look into a large lot across the street where some poor people live. Or perhaps not so poor because they recently installed a wall around their place too.

But we can see over it.

soleThey used to have a brick kiln, and that was their business, making bricks. But it polluted, and City Hall made them stop. Good.

The guy now drives a taxi part-time, and just this morning I noticed a mountain of plastic bottles over there.

Now they’re recyclers?

* * * *

Sex motel and Abel

The sex motel on the left sits on what was once a vacant lot of grass. A cow grazed there, and swarms of houseflies flew.

I like the sex motel. It’s quiet, and it provides us free security. Sometimes people leave the curtains open. That gives both me and them a thrill.

Before the motel, we could see across the lot to the house beyond. That’s where Abel lives. He’s the deadpan man who mows our grass in summertime. His wife, who seems nice, and a couple of kids live there too.

outhouseThere’s also an older guy who’s the dad of either Abel or his wife. Don’t know which. We don’t socialize. We don’t even chitchat. But the older guy is quite friendly, and we wave and smile on passing. We live in different worlds.

I remember before the sex motel went up. Behind Abel’s house, which I cannot see any longer, there was an outhouse. At night, I would stand on our upstairs terraza and peek. Often there was a fire blazing beneath a huge iron kettle. Maybe there were human body parts, but probably not.

* * * *

Neighbors, known and unknown

Across the street out front are two houses a little to the left because our lots don’t align. One is occupied. The other is not. Both are nice houses.

The one farther to the left is occupied by a man about my age and his wife. His hair is silver, like mine, and he’s very friendly, unlike me. He’s the only one of my neighbors I’ve actually conversed with. Alas, his wife is a grump.

fashionHe owns a small clothing store in the center of town.

The other house is unoccupied because it has been under construction for three or more years, which is typical here. Home construction can be an ongoing process that one does as money becomes available.

That two-story home is quite elegant. We have not met the owners, but once they were standing on the roof, looking in our direction as I pulled the Honda into our property. They waved, and I did the same from our yard.

A pricey car was parked outside, so the neighbors will resent them.

* * * *

Cranks and beasts

Continuing to the Hacienda’s right side, we have the menagerie. Pigs, goats, dogs, cats, chickens, a horse, you can hardly name a farm beast that doesn’t live there or hasn’t lived there. There’s a John Deere tractor too.

pigA decade back, a nice older couple lived there with a younger couple, one of whom was the offspring of the older couple. Plus, there were little kids, grandchildren to the older couple.

One day, the old woman died. A couple of years later, the old man followed her into the mists, the passing of generations. The mother, who is about 35 now, is a sourpuss. Her husband is better, but not by much.

I’ll give him a tip of the hat, so to speak, on passing. I just ignore her on the street, and she ignores me. A few years ago we’d hear a toddler screaming bloody murder on a regular basis, but they hasn’t happened lately.

The kid’s probably buried under the pig pen.

And that concludes the looking around.

My favorite neighbors are the mountains.

16 thoughts on “Looking around

  1. I enjoyed your neighborhood tour. It’s curious what one might see when looking over walls. I see you have a petting zoo next door.

    Mountains make for wonderful neighbors, never grumpy or loud, unless of course, they are volcanic, which from a distance only makes them more stimulating and mysterious.


    1. You’re a first-class hoot, Andean. A petting zoo indeed.

      To see the sex motel clearly, it is necessary to walk to the outer limits of our upstairs terraza and then go to the left corner. From there you have a verrrrry clear shot right into two of the eight rooms, which are directly across and down a bit, about 15 feet away if that much. From their perspective, it is not obvious at all that there is a terraza on my side or even a house. It just looks like a high brick wall, nothing more.

      In the five or six years it has been there, I have only surprised people, I think, twice, and they were only partially dressed, not doing specifically the hootchy-koochy. It surprised me as much as it did them, I imagine, and the curtains were pulled shut pretty darn quick.

      But, by Jove, it’s my terraza, and I’ll look anywhere I want from it, plus I was here first.

      The place is a good neighbor, a good conversation piece, and I’m glad it’s there.


  2. It has taken me three years to get to know my neighbors. And, at best, the relationship is mere nodding — when it is not request for loans. And the time may be ripe for a post on the topic. But not until the aroma of your feast has dissipated.


    1. Steve: It is a source of constant amusement to me that so many Gringos down here actually think they know the locals, especially the Gringos who do not speak Spanish well. (I’ll mention no names.) The Mexican culture is a smoke screen not just to foreigners but to other Mexicans as well. At least other Mexicans know it.

      The smoke screen, the act, is so effective that Gringos rarely have a clue they are being bamboozled in countless ways. When I married my child bride, everything changed overnight in her family. Lots of the lies, the pretending, diminished considerably. It is common for me to hear my wife tell others things I know to be false, and she knows it too. It’s the very well-known trait of telling people what they want to hear. It’s social grease. It’s so blatant that she’ll tell someone something and then turn around and tell me the exact opposite, the truth, when the first person is out of earshot. I’m not badmouthing her. Everybody does it. It’s part of this world. Dang, I’ve even started doing it myself on occasion.

      I attribute this to the difficult, often violent, history of Mexico. For much of
      Mexico’s history, telling people what they wanted to hear was a pretty smart thing to do if you knew what was good for you.

      On the right-side column of The Moon’s main page, you will find one of my favorite quotes on this matter from none other than Octavio Paz.

      I always amuses me too when I hear the Gringos go on about what happy, warm people Mexicans are. Some are. Most are not. Our primary trait is a powerful and centuries-old suspicion of others.


  3. Gringos, as a rule, tend to be a pollyannaish people, in other words, unreasonably optimistic in thinking everybody likes us. We are easy to deceive. There’s a sucker born every minute fits us to a tee. Politicians and Madison Avenue are well-aware of this and rely on this phenomenon everyday. We usually take things at face value. We are like a big, friendly puppy dog who has never been kicked or mal-treated. Perhaps this is why so many of us are depressed and consume so many drugs. Perhaps we are out of touch with reality.


    1. Andres: Except for the drugs and depression part, I agree 100 percent. Pollyannas, I like that. Mexicans look at Gringos and see a big dollar sign attached to a gullible body, which is why they are such a “friendly and warm people.” Stepin Fetchit comes to mind.


    1. Patzman: There are two elements to the answer. One is that were we to start over we would not even be living in this town, but in another part of Mexico in a larger city. We both are big-city folks, and should not have settled here in the first place. Why we did is a longer story. The second part, assuming that we live on the same lot, is that the house would be smaller and easier to maintain. It would be designed differently. It’s absurdly large for just two folks who are loathe to employ help. When I die, it will be an even larger handful for my wife. It was all a big mistake in many ways.

      So, another city, smaller house.


        1. Oh, we never really got that far in the thinking process.

          One day, about two years after building our house here, we were sitting outside talking, and only then did it come up that we both would prefer living elsewhere. Before building our home, I simply assumed she wanted to live here because her favorite sister lives here, and she visited from Mexico City almost every weekend, plus we met here. She assumed I wanted to live here because this is where I was. We were both mistaken.

          She loves Zacatecas. Once, a couple we know here agreed to housesit our Hacienda for six months while we rented a place in Zacatecas. Had we done that, I doubt we would have returned here. However, the couple backed out at the last minute, and the plan fizzled.


  4. Funny that you mention, “if you had it to do over again.” I often think that I should have projected my age a decade forward and considered the amount of land and upkeep of the house and property. It’s a lot of work, which was not the intent.


    1. Tancho: I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes for anything. Plus, I don’t think being out in the sticks in this country is a good idea. But … there you are!

      We live and we learn.


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