Sunday, May 18, 2008

La respuesta a Dolores

My first week here in Guanajuato was spent in the home of the altogether delightful Aurora (a lady of around my own age, give or take) and her equally delightful, but slightly more intimidating mama, Dolores. As luck would have it, Aurora - who works as a public health nurse and is clearly fairly senior in the local system - spent much of the week away at a public health conference in León, so that day-to-day negotiations about such details as mealtimes, food preferences, interactions with the altogether too enthusiastic fumigator, use of the bathroom, and so forth were almost exclusively conducted with Dolores. Yes, you read that right - I said 'use of the bathroom'.

None of these exchanges was rendered easier by the fact that Dolores's main posture at rest was that of someone firmly ensconced in an antechamber of heaven, just waiting for the angel of the Lord to call, an event she clearly considered imminent. To interrupt a spirit so close to some kind of transmigratory experience could be daunting, at best. Particularly when you were already racking your brain just to get the tense right.

It had always been my intent to spend only my first week here with a family, and to find a suitable hotel to move to within that first week. For a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I am a fairly private person at the best of times. I'm also 51 years old, and though I try to be flexible, living under scrutiny for four weeks in someone else's home seems like pushing it, at best. Unfortunately, apparently nobody had communicated any of this to Dolores. Who seemed to take the news of my departure particularly to heart. Almost, it seemed, as a personal affront.
Whose final words to me, as I handed over the keys were: "You were unhappy here, living in our family".

So the purpose of this entry is to give Dolores the answer that I would have liked to give her, but had neither the nerve nor the vocabulary for. Es la respuesta que le habría dado a Dolores, sí hubiera podido:

¡Estimada Dolores!

Me molesta que tenga la (falsa) opinión de que no me disfrutaba del tiempo que pasé con su familia. La verdad es bastante más complicado y tiene que ver con cosas como tener 51 años y tener dificultades acostumbrarse al no poder dormir....

Dear Dolores: Nothing could be further from the truth to say that I didn't enjoy the time I spent with your family. However, at age 51 my ability to accommodate to certain minor details becomes severely limited. In particular, not sleeping, or sleeping only fitfully for six consecutive days will make a person crazy, and willing to do almost anything to avoid three more weeks of the same experience. Even move to - what is clearly in your mind - an unconscionably expensive hotel.
Also, estimada señora, although I understand that your reasons for asking me each and every time I made a move in the general direction of the bathroom:"Are you planning to take a shower now?" had everything to do with wanting to be sure that there would be adequate hot water in this event, and nothing in particular to do with a desire to track my bowel movements, please understand that three days into a foreign trip, when the revenge of the famed Montezuma is exerting its full wrath, the cumulative effect of having each use one makes of the facilities telegraphed to the entire household is more than a little tedious.
As, for that matter, is having someone who is not eating watch every bite you put in your mouth.
I realise that, on occasion, things might get just a little tedious in that celestial antechamber. But no fair to treat the visitors as if they were animals on display, ¿entiende?

Gentle readers: upon re-reading this entry, I am struck by, and saddened by, the note of pettiness that has crept in. However, I have decided to let it stand as is, on the grounds that sometimes one's blog entries provide a useful and necessary release function. And I do hope it is clear that any difficulties were largely a consequence of my own occasionally prickly personality, nothing more.

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