One of my readers asked me to describe a typical day here in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. Others have asked, “What do you do all day?” So, I am inviting you to spend this day with me in the charming colonial village of Ajijic.
Only my screen doors are closed so I can awaken to the birds’ musical symphony as it welcomes the sun about 7:20 a.m. There are no curtains or blinds on my glass bedroom doors, nor on any other window in my house. It is completely private and secure, surrounded by ten-foot brick walls which are luxuriously draped in multi-colored bougainvilleas.
My two white miniature poodles race me to my office where I turn on the computer, to the kitchen where I start a pot of coffee and then back to the bathroom for a shower and shampoo (me, not the dogs). My previous 45-minute hair and make-up routine has gradually been reduced to under fifteen minutes. Other things are more important.
I backtrack through the kitchen to pick up my coffee and then to the office to collect my morning e-mail (usually about fifty). Now that we have local access, I can afford to spend more time on the Internet. I answer only the important e-mails for now, because there is a test at my Spanish class this morning and I must study for it.
I walk fifteen minutes to class which begins at ten a.m. and ends at noon, three days a week. The Vancouver Language School has just opened in Ajijic and I’m the only one at an advanced beginner level, so I have my own private tutor. It is important for me to speak the language of my host country.
After class (I don’t ace the test), I walk by the post office to check for mail and pay my telephone bill. I have both a local Ajijic post office box as well as an account at Mail Boxes Etc. which forwards my mail fairly regularly from San Diego.
During my walk I meet seven people I know. One says, “How about lunch?”
I say, “No thanks, not today. I’m joining the Writer’s Group for it’s bi-monthly luncheon.” There are generally about thirty people attending the writers’ group meetings and about fifteen at lunch which is held in the beautiful outside gardens of the Nueva Posada hotel, overlooking the lake. Two huge macaws cavort outside their cage, endlessly entertaining the guests and picking up after them.
After lunch I come home to a busy household. My maid Rosa is cleaning inside, and Arturo, the gardener, is making my yard beautiful. Both of them come three afternoons a week, three hours a day. I have never had a garden before, because anything green dies as soon as I touch it. Even silk plants lose their leaves around me. Now I have roses, banana, peach and avocado trees, and hundreds of other beautiful plants whose names I don’t know in either Spanish or English.
Rosa doesn’t cook, but she sweeps and mops the tile floors and patio each day, dusts, cleans the bathrooms and kitchen and does my laundry. Maybe, I’m spoiled. She is sixteen and has a smile that reaches from ear to ear. She fills in my blanks and does a good job at understanding my limited Spanish. Both Rosa and Arturo earn about $1 per hour. When I’m gone on short trips, Rosa and her mother and sister stay at my house and take care of my dogs.
While they work, I sit at my computer, working on my novel and doing my on-line writing lab assignments. I belong to an on-line novels group and we critique each other’s work. Once a month, I write this column for you.
After four hours at the computer, I drive into Chapala to get some more money deposited into my bank account from my credit card. This was an extraordinarily expensive month since my annual medical insurance came due and I had a flat tire. Normally that wouldn’t be so expensive, but they don’t make tires in my size in Mexico so I had to buy four new tires of a different size. I don’t get upset at things like this anymore. Que será, será.
I stop at the dressmaker’s to see if she’s finished my dress. I got such a deal in the States during my last visit. I found a dress at a flea market for $24 which sells at Nordstrom’s for $92. I want to have a couple more made so I bought some material in Guadalajara last week and took it to Alicia. She’ll make the dress for $40 pesos (about $6.50 US dollars). Okay, I am spoiled.
She’s not open. It happens often. I’ll go again next week. While I’m driving home, I stop to pay my cable bill. I get the major US channels: NBC, CBS and ABC. It’s good for my Spanish to watch the Mexican channels. My TV has been snowy lately, so they agree (for the third time) to send someone out to look at my cable box. Maybe he’ll come today, maybe tomorrow.
Tonight I’m having dinner with some new friends who have just moved here from Canada. I met them at a restaurant last month. She’s started a yoga class which I attend twice a week. We’re going out for Chinese food (sometimes I get tired of Mexican food!) and then to see a musical, “Singing in the Rain” at the local auditorium.
When I get home, I’ll download about fifty more messages and give my dogs some love. It will probably rain again tonight. I’ll go out on my patio, swing in my sky chair and read. If we have another thunder and lightening spectacle like we did last night, I won’t get much reading done — I’d rather watch the performance.
Tomorrow is Saturday. I’m going to Tequila with some friends. Next month I’ll tell you about my tour and my recent trip to Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Leon, the leather capital of Mexico.
- That’s a typical day. Other weekly activities for me include pingpong, bridge, scrabble, swimming, going to the spa, traveling, doing tin work repoussé (aluminio repujado) and teaching English at the orphanage. There are also clubs for gardening, cooking, books, golf, photography, line dancing, tennis, various charitable and fund raising events, little theater groups, musicals and even cribbage.
If you can’t find what you’re interested in, simply post a notice on the board. People will find you.