Mexican life

The Prussian and the hippie

HAVING HAD three wives means that my life on occasion has been visited by the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

I’ve never decided if I should be envious of people who get married young, and stay hitched to the same person till they die. I appreciate that there’s a long-term solidarity, but they’ve missed the fun times of shrieking terror that multiple spouses occasion.

ox
Till death — or the farmer — do us part.

Hitching two people together long-term usually is a challenge because folks can be quite different. I’ve read that two-ox teams pull badly till they become accustomed to one another and learn the other’s personality. Sometimes the oxen never get in lockstep, and must be paired with other, more amenable oxen.

Are humans and oxen really all that different?

My first wife was quite messy, which was not surprising considering the chaotic home in which she was spawned. That one aspect was a challenge for me. We only lasted five years, but her messiness had nothing to do with my departure.

prussianLet me inject here that a Prussian drill sergeant and I share many traits. You can see how this could provide problems in a matrimony.

My second wife was fairly well-organized, so that was not an issue, which explains, in part, why we were together almost two decades. We likely would still be together if she hadn’t become smitten with an illegal-alien yard boy half her age.

I think my Prussian-ness was a major factor. How much further is it possible to stray from a Prussian drill sergeant than into the arms of Mexican yard boy?

Wife #3, my child bride, lacks my Prussian personality, but it’s not been a problem because I am older, wiser, softer. When we first met, I asked what her worst traits were, and she said disorganization and distraction.

She was not lying.

hippieShe’s something of a hippie in spite of being politically conservative. I watch her life swerve this way and that, and I marvel, usually with my mouth shut.

I think the path to a successful marriage often is no more complicated than keeping your mouth shut.

Mexican life

The arrival

vista
The view that changed my life.

I’M FOND OF noting milestones.

I just missed an anniversary, but only by three days. My arrival here on the mountaintop on September 10, 2000. I was not entirely new to Mexico, but I was quite green.

I’d lived seven months at a lower altitude, 40 minutes away in the state capital. Four of those seven months had been dedicated to attending a language school because when I got off the plane in Guadalajara I didn’t speak Spanish.

I was a language ignoramus.

My decision to move from the state capital up here was made while sitting at a coffee shop and looking in the direction shown in the photo. I looked at that view and told myself, I’m gonna move here. And I did. Lickety-split.

My first challenge was to find a furnished place to rent. While my town now is chockablock with real-estate agencies and lots of furnished rentals, there was not even one real-estate agency in 2000. I knew no one here, and I had no idea where to start. I was alone, and my Spanish was dicey.

Someone online pointed me to an old Gringo named Gray who’d moved here after the Second World War.  He had married an indigenous woman, and they had multiplied.

Gray had some furnished rentals that catered mostly to the sparse Gringo crowd. I moved into a two-story house on a main drag with furniture that aspired to the junk heap.

The first thing I did was buy a new mattress and sheets. The second thing was to buy an equipal love seat and matching chair. The store here neglected to inform me that the set would be made in and shipped from Guadalajara.

I got it about four months later.

I lived in that rental for two-and-a-half years. My child bride was there the final year while we constructed the Hacienda.

It wasn’t a bad place if one didn’t cringe at the hordes of mice during the rainy season or the two times I found dead rats in the toilet. They had come up from below, and I flushed them back to where they came from.

And there was the matter of the house abutting a open sewer/creek that provided a notable fragrance during the dry months. And the lights went out a lot.

It was an interesting home along the lines of the Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.

We were elated when we moved into the Hacienda in May of 2003. It’s been a great 17 years here at altitude. The changes are considerable. Plenty of rentals available now. With rats or without. Ten times the number of Gringos. Some people regard that positively. I’m not one of those people.

But I’m glad I sat at that coffee house that long-ago afternoon, gazing up the street. It was a decisive moment.

The photo’s from yesterday. It hasn’t changed much.