No more kissing: an update

DUE TO COLOSSAL stupidity on the parts of a couple of young relatives last March, I swore off the Latino custom of rampant kissing and hugging.

I had never liked it in the first place.

Some will remember my post on the matter in April. In brief, this is what happened: The two young relatives nudged their toddler in my direction one evening to give me a goodbye kiss, which she did. Seconds later, they revealed they were on their way to a doctor’s office because they suspected the child might have chickenpox.

And she surely did.

I have never had chickenpox, a very contagious affliction that is serious business to adults and even graver (pun intended) for elderly adults, which I am. I then sweated bullets the next three weeks, the time it normally requires for chickenpox to appear after one is exposed. Luckily, I did not get sick. I have since been vaccinated.

I was mad as hell and immediately decided to opt out of the kissing custom. Obviously, the locals cannot be trusted. Gotta bad cold? No matter. Kiss. Got the flu even? No matter. Kiss. Got the bubonic plague, leprosy? No matter. Kiss. One who does not live in a Latino nation cannot grasp the power of this idiotic custom.

You do it. No matter what. Or you are rude and cold.

Well, I ain’t doing it no more. And I have not since March, and I won’t in the future.

emoji-emoticon-kiss-lips-Favim.com-4738930When I announced this decision to relatives here on the mountaintop, I was met with both surprise and amusement. The crazy Gringo. The one relative I thought would have the most trouble with my decision is my child bride’s sister who owns the coffee shop downtown where I hang out a lot.

I had to kiss her a hundred times a day, or so it seemed.

She is extremely traditional and provincial to boot. But after a day or two, surprisingly, she was okay with it, and now we throw air kisses on seeing one another the first time each day, or we just wave and smile. I do the same with the rest of the kin.

We also have relatives in the nearby capital city and in Querétaro farther north. Those folks do not know of my smooching decision, and I’ve yet to encounter any of them since the chickenpox scare. Since I rarely see them, I likely will just kiss them and be done with it, which will be easier than explaining it all.

But I am enjoying my new, kiss-liberated life. I’m not a kissy person anyway. The only person hereabouts whom I want to kiss is my wife. Nobody else.

So this is working out fine.

If you see me, do not expect a kiss. But I will shake your hand.

If you don’t have chickenpox.

Change of allegiance

I DID AN INTERNET search for myself. At the top of the list was an interview I did in 2007 with a website named Expat Interviews. I was the interviewee, not the interviewer.

The website appears defunct now, but the interview is still online.

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I would provide a link, but since the interview has my real name, that would blow my cover. You’ll just have to take my word.

I was surprised to read that, almost eight years after I moved over the Rio Bravo, I said, given the opportunity, I would return to the United States, not stay here. I recall that I felt that way for a good spell after moving to Mexico — culture shock — but I did not think that attitude still prevailed after eight years.

My child bride would gladly move to the United States, then and now.

What kept me from moving back over the border was finances. It was true then, and it’s true now. Our income is a paltry $540 a month from the Hearst Corp., my former employer, and Social Security. That’s it. We also have investments that I accumulated during the roaring 1990s, but if you start spending savings, you’ll eventually have none.

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We do dip into savings on occasion. The cars, my wife’s pastry kitchen and the renovated upstairs terraza. Of course, the construction of the Hacienda itself.

The Downtown Casita was purchased in 2010 with an inheritance.

Interestingly, this is not the first time I have returned to Expat Interviews to read what I said. I see that I returned in November of 2013 and left a comment which said I had changed my tune and wouldn’t return to the United States given the chance. No way, José.

I would not be happy in the United States today, and not just due to finances.

It’s a sad, troubled, downward spiraling nation.

Plus, I have become accustomed to Mexico’s wacky ways.

Soaked morning in mourning

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Our barrio church.

IT RAINED LIKE a motheroo last night. I awoke at 2:30 to the pounding of horizontal water, thunder and my child bride closing the bedroom window.

The rainy season got off to a spotty start about 10 days ago. It blew in big-time one evening, then rained two or three times more. Then nothing for six or so days. Till last night.

I went back to sleep, but awoke about an hour later to the near silence of a calm sprinkle. I got up to open the bedroom window again. Then back to dreamland. It was easy. The air was cool.

Just before 7, I opened my eyes to a gray dawn through the window and the gonging church bell on the plaza 1.5 blocks away.

Someone had died. Death is marked here in the barrio by a slow, dismal gong that continues for hours, often all night long, and it’s done manually. A guy is up there in the bell tower pulling the rope about once every 10 seconds.

Not an enviable task.

Sitting down at the dining room table for bagels and cream cheese at 8, I saw the downstairs veranda under a lake, water that had blown in from the storm. The upstairs terraza had a lake too, but a far more modest one, so I decided right then to install at least one more canvas curtain up there, closing four of the five sides.

The sort of storm we got last night, blowing so much water into the two terrazas, is rare. Last summer it only happened two or three times during the daily, five-month monsoon.

Less rare is a neighbor’s death and the slow gonging of the announcement.

Not being a Catholic, nor even much of a barrio participant, I will not get a gong when I die. That’s too bad. I would like that sort of sendoff, especially if accompanied by lightning, thunder and flooding tears from heaven.

Drama and death suit one another.

I wonder if it will rain again today.

Terraza renovation, cont’d

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Before: Oddly shaped space abutting sex motel was open.
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After: Oddly shaped space has been closed.

THE RENOVATION of our upstairs terraza took another step forward today.

The irregular opening that abuts the sex motel was closed by a metal frame over which is stretched the same awning material used for the curtains (see below).

Due to this additional enclosure, the terraza is even less susceptible to rain invasion in summer and dust invasion in spring.

Next up is a shade net below the glass roof that will reduce UV sunlight. That will be installed next week. Soon to come, a nice set of terraza furniture. Stay tuned.

For those unfamiliar with this ongoing project, see here. This has been an extremely over-the-top solution to a minuscule problem, which was a small leak from this terraza to the bedroom below. A tiny leak that was falling on nothing significant, just the floor.

Now and then.

The words overkill and snowballing are appropriate, but it’s been fun. And costly.

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Other side: roll-up curtains.