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Lucky sheep, cranberries, suicidal electrical systems — Feliz Navidad

28 December 2004

Santa Claus, or his elves, paid a visit to my bank north of the border, leaving enough goodies in there to buy a crock-pot … AND… an electric oil heater. I appreciate thick concrete walls about June, but in December, it gets just a tad chilly. And, I’ve lived here so long, my fingers and toes go numb when it’s only 5° at night (Celsius, of course… 40° to those of you in Gringolandia). WHOO… HOO… Eva Perra was enjoying herself roasing by a Portuguese radiator (don’t know why it was Portuguese… but it said “Product of Portugal” and the manual was in Portuguese, which I don’t read, but can figure out)… until…my nice, cheap, subsidized electricity went out.OK, maybe running the washing machine, the computer, the electric coffee pot and a couple of lamps at the same time had a little something to do with it, but I didn’t just blow a fuse. The fuse… maybe just completely stressed out… turned suicide bomber. It literally blew out… taking a chunk of the switch with it. In Mexico, this is why you have an extended family – you keep someone around to fix stuff.Not being exactly Señor Fix-it, and being a little leery of playing with live wires, I do the next best thing… go to the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Comida Economico for my household needs. Santa left more than enough for a new fuse box and fuses, and the electrician only charged me a few pesos over his lunch. And, the Señora threw in some bones for Eva Perra.

I’ve learned my lesson… I’ll take down the Christmas lights… manaña.

Christmas Dinner included New Zealanders, Canadians and cranberries. The latter are something of an obsession for foreigners this time of year. Until a couple of years ago, people had cans (costing, what… 50 cents?) mailed in (running, oh… 100 pesos or so in postage) or trekked out to the pretentious Polanco specialty food store (they wrap your packages and deliver them to the chauffeur. I think even the clerks arrive by chauffeur… they know such strange, exotic foods as Cambell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, but they don’t know how to get to the Metro). Nowadays, for a hefty price, and if you’re willing to make a special trip to the gringo ghetto, you can find them in the exotic foods aisle at the supermercado. Or… have them smuggled in by a Canadian with extra room in his suitcase (he also brought in the once-forbidden smoked salmon… a few years ago Congress, to get Socialist and Green support for some tax bill, lumped decadent capitalist and environmentally suspicious goods together and slapped an exorbitant luxury tax on them: Rolls-Royces and canned salmon are still rarities here).

I’m starting to see the (non-Christmassy) light at the end of the Guadelupe-Reyes tunnel. I’ve actually started having to do some real work… putting together test material, figuring out where we’re going to find teachers and start thinking about fruit (the other bidness… is fruit exporting) for next year. And about finishing the paint job in my bedroom: it still looks like a badly-done knock-off of a de Kooning abstract: abruptly going from slate to blood-red with a pink and yellow border around the top. I’m going to have to rethink that project.

We’re all set for the New Year… including divine assistance. San Judeo Tadeo — patron saint of collecting our 30,000 pesos from Abbot Laboratories and other lost causes, was joined by Santa Muerte in her blue dress (nothing to do with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels — but our consulting witch doctor recommends a blue Santa Muerte for business success) and our LUCKY SHEEP.

I’ve lived here going on four years, and never did understand why all the farmers come into town selling toy sheep. I thought they were Naciamento accessories for the shepherds. Noooooooo! DUH! Lana … wool… is slang for money. SO… naturally, if you want lana, you need a borrego. We’ve got the students, we’re getting the teachers (most are still around, though one quit in a dramatic huff… and tried to sue us. We said “thank you”… she doesn’t have anything to sue us for, and besides… we would have paid her to go away, and still will pay here. But there’s no hurry now. At some point… the manaña after manaña we’ll get a demanda, and pay it then. In the meantime, it’s an interest-free loan), and things are looking up. We’re a standard, normal Mexican company with our standard, normal consultants… the accountant, the lawyer, the computer geek, the witch doctor. And — standard and normal — not much got done in the way of planned Holiday time-fillers. I worked a little on my Mexican history book (it’ll be done when it’s done), wrote some letters, did a little translating, and otherwise wasted time. But, that’s what I’m here to do, ¿verdad?

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