Mexico sounds, scenes and suppositions
My survey says half the households in Mexico have a dog or cat.
Our neighbors have two small, yappy dogs and one cat the color of a pale pumpkin. Another cat, mostly white, comes and goes but is not regarded as a permanent resident with full privileges. If it arrives when the food dish is full, it eats and stays a while. If its timing is bad, it apparently moves on.
Small children sometimes throw the pets around as if they were stuffed toys. I shudder. Somehow, all survive.
Pampered Mexican Cats and Dogs
It appears more affluent Mexicans treat pets almost like children. Maybe you've seen them in dinner jackets peeking out Mercedes windows.
Mexico City has a new luxury hotel for pets. In times past, when owners went places pets couldn't go, dogs, cats and maybe guinea pigs were farmed out to friends and relatives or forced into wire cages at the veterinarian. No more. They can go to their own hospitality inn.
There they receive royal care, private rooms with interesting toys, mood music and upscale nibbles and bits. A social director makes the rounds to treat any signs of loneliness. This is really happening. I am not making this up.
There are play rooms and sleep rooms. The emphasis is on overnights, a mere 180 pesos plus tips. Daycare is available for 80 pesos. Do the math. For a two-week holiday during Christmas and New Year's, a loving pet owner with deep pockets will make a significant transfer of cash. I think this is Mexico's version of stimulating the economy.
Investigation continues. It is rumored that older dogs and cats that don't bounce around too much may qualify for senior discounts.
A friend in Oaxaca tells this tale as the truth. Maybe. Could be.
On a hot afternoon, he developed an overwhelming need for something cool and refreshing. Ah, yes, a six-pack of lemonade would solve the problem.
On his way to the neighborhood market, his Ford Explorer with Texas tags was blue-lighted by federal police, the black and white car people with the serious reputation. There were two officers. One, in good-enough English, asked for identification, an assortment of documents, one at a time, passport, visa, drivers license, car title, any little something.
My friend said he smiled weakly and kept shaking his head. He was unable to respond to a single request.
"I wasn't going far. I didn't have anything, just my money clip and the keys."
The officers looked at each other, shook their heads, rolled their eyes and waved him on.
"They gave me a free pass. I don't know what they were looking for but whatever it was, they probably decided I didn't have that, either."
A Mexico City Police Story
This police story comes special delivery from Mexico City. I immediately mistook it for a new scam in town, slicker than mustard bandits who distract victims and pick pockets.
An acquaintance and two sophisticated guests were tooling along in a taxi when the driver slowed just enough to do a skidding right turn on red. He was suddenly going the wrong way on a one-way street. Almost immediately a policeman appeared. What a coincidence.
A debate followed. The driver said everybody does it. The officer waved his arms, lost part of his composure and declared he would take one dumb driver, used taxi and all three gringos to jail.
Oh no, said the driver, not the dreaded lockup, one phone call, no bread or water.
In the name of self defense, the passengers paid the fine.
The story, when shared, turned out to be an old scam. Others had survived similar experiences. Eventually, somebody figured out that the taxi driver and policemen had an arrangement. The really bad part is nobody seemed surprised.
Expats at Lake Chapala
Transplanted Eastern liberals sometimes gang up and take over a sidewalk table at Jose's Place on the right side of the square in downtown Chapala, in the beautiful state of Jalisco. They blame the United States of America for all world ailments, including arthritis and loss of hair. I've given up trying to help them with logic. Now, I just listen.
One conversation went like this: Mexico drug dealers use powerful guns. The guns almost certainly come from the United States. That makes drug violence in Mexico mostly America's fault. The U.S. should do something to prevent arms trafficking. If it would stop stalling and build that fence along the entire border, it would make Mexico a safer place. Think about it.
Our Spanish lessons are limited to word exchanges with the lovely children of Salvador and Magdelina Ramos, dear friends in suburban Jocotepec. We are slow learners. Language barriers remain mid-sized mountains. Could be contagious. Others are afflicted.
A young man, new in the neighborhood, rang the bell at our front gate. I looked down from the third-floor window. It appeared he was selling strawberries, big and red. He had five plastic bags.
From up above, I asked "Strawberries?"
The lad flashed an enthusiastic smile, nodded vigorously and said "Si."
I scrambled down three flights of steps without falling, found my little bowl of coins and went forth to patronize the local merchant. The closer I got, the bigger those strawberries appeared.
Alas and alas, he was selling Roma tomatoes. I bought one bag instead of two. I will go soon to have my glasses changed.