Good things can come from dirty laundry! Part 1

We had just poured a glass of wine one night last week when a red Jeep drove by our house, Casa Madera.  It went a few feet past, turned around and parked at the end of our driveway.  There are an awful lot of Jeeps in Mexico but we did not know anybody with one so we thought they were going to the Senora’s house next door.

It was then that the gate rattled so I looked over the balcony and there were Mary and Lore.  They had dropped by to say Hi.  It was nice to see them.  We had a great visit as it had been a couple of months since we had talked.

It was a good conversation.  As a matter of fact I would have to rate it as one of the best conversations the 4 of us had ever had.  It took place in Spanish and we understood most of it.  It was later that I got to thinking about how far all of us have come from the first day we walked into Mary’s laundry 2 and a half years ago…

December 2008 – We have discovered that regardless of where you live, you will always have laundry!  Our condo does not have a washer and dryer nor does it have the space or hookups for them.  This means we have to find a place to do our laundry.  There are 2 to choose from in the complex.  This was new.

Heather says she went to Mary’s because she liked the painting of the Smiling washing machine on the front but really it was because the other laundry just never seemed very friendly.  Something that Mary had no issues with.

The first visit was difficult as Mary spoke virtually no english and we spoke very poor spanish but we managed to get through it.  The first load of clothes were returned in fine shape so we continued to take our dirty laundry to her.  Well except for the day that Heather thought that maybe we should visit a laundromat that we had noticed about 5 blocks up the street.

The laundromat was like any other, lines of washers and dryers, folding tables and a bench out front for sitting on and reading.  The problem was there was no real place to park so we either had to walk down with our clothes or take the bus.  Now there is lots of fun, riding a bus with a big bag of your sweaty, smelly clothes.  We did this twice at 30 pesos per wash and 30 pesos per dry.

It was then that we realized that Mary would do it for basically the same price as the laundromat and we only had to drop it off and pick it up.  So no more visits to the laundromat.

One day Heather came back to the condo announcing that she had made us pedicure appointments with a woman around the corner who was looking for clients.  Ok, why not.  So off we went.

There were two women there, one to work on Heather and one to work on me.  The name of the woman who had the lovely pleasure of working on my spectacularly abused feet was Lore.

Again conversation for me was virtually non-existent but Heather seemed to be holding her own.  This became a twice monthly event for us as it was actually quite nice.  It was the second time we were there that the woman who worked on Heather’s feet asked her about learning english.  It was decided that we would return tomorrow afternoon and attempt to give them some insight into the english language.

The appointed time came and we went to their store to find 3 of them eager to learn.  Lore, Mary and the other woman whose name is escaping me.  This became a regular event for us.  We would get together a couple a times a week to at least try to show them the words and the sentences they needed to attract tourists into their shop.

The problem was that the complex had at least 6 shops that did massages, manicures and pedicures.  In the economy we were in at the time, there was just not enough tourists to go around.  It was getting very difficult for them to eek out a living.

The lessons were a major hit.  Whether or not we made a difference to their english learning is anybody’s guess but we had fun.  The lessons also became the catalyst to friendship. 

We had been going for pedicures and trying to teach them english for about 3 months when Mary asked us if we wanted to come with them to fiesta for a friends son’s first communion.  She was very persuasive and said that her friends would love it if we would come.  Okay, we will attend.

Heather and I were now in a quandary.  This is an important event in a young persons life and we were invited.   While we knew Mary and Lore we did not know the hosts nor the child in question.  How do we dress? Do we buy him a gift? 

We eventually settled on giving him a card and some money.  But then, how much?  He was 8 so we decided to go with 70 pesos. 

The day arrived and Mary told us to meet them at the laundry at 2:30 and we would take the bus.  Heather and I decided that being a religious but festive event we would not wear shorts.  This was in June when the temperatures hover around 33 degrees celsius and the humidity makes it feel like 40.  Needless to say, it was hot and sticky. 

We hopped on the bus and headed into a part of town we had never been in before, Cuoapinole.  The road was not in what one would call primo condition but we made it.  We were hot and sweaty so we were using what ever we had to try to dry our faces and necks before we met these people.  Heather had kleenex in her purse so that was our only choice. 

We finally arrived at our destination and walked up to the house where the party was already going on.  Needless to say Heather and I kind of stood out in the crowd.  We were the only white people there.  Now that should not be unusual when you live in Mexico but when it happens the first time it kind of unsettles you. 

Mary introduced us to her friends, Bertha and Carlos and their son, Juan who looked sparkling in his pristine white communion clothes.    Mary immediately wanted us to eat.  The food today was Pozole.  A soup made from pork meat broth with hominy in it. 

Bertha was dishing it out and I had my choice of meat, pork shoulder, tongue or other parts.  I asked for the shoulder and just a little tongue.  I took it out to the table outside where there was cilantro, jalapeños, onions, radishes and of course, limes.  It was delightful.  Full of flavour, wonderfully cooked,  it was great.

Beer was offered, accepted and more pozole was requested.  We were introduced to the people around the table who were gracious and very nice.  We met Bertha’s brother who is a monk and spoke english.  The day was good but being able to converse with somebody easily was great.

We were still sweating and using the kleenex to dry our foreheads and necks when Heather looked at me and said that we must get cloths for this chore as for the last hour I had been wandering around with little bits of kleenex attached to my neck and beard.  Nothing like making a good impression on new friends!

All in all it was a great day.  We made some new friends and had a great time.  It was a life lesson for both of us coming from a culture where people are more closely guarded and not as free with their affections, and I was definitely one of those types of people.  Mary and Lore did our laundry and now we are proud to count them among our dearest friends. 

It just goes to show that if you go around within your own little world the rest of it just passes you by.

Without meeting Mary & Lore there are so many things we would have never experienced.  Wait until you hear about the trip to Guadalajara….