There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In
(gracias, Leonard Cohen)
We moved into our condo on October 22. It’s now mid January and the noise and dust has never been worse. Slowly owners arrive but that’s just adding fuel to fire; everyone is angry, stressed and feeling betrayed by the developers. Soren and I are not sure how to combat this level of stress. So we do what most couples do — take it out on each other. Major things, like the freight elevator, is still not operating. So our friend, John, who has a motorized scooter can’t leave the building, his life is curtailed. His promise was broken. We never get an answer as to why the elevator has not been programmed to work. People expected to pull into the garage and load their purchases onto the elevator. That simply is not happening. Other small things like: the pool is not heated, there is no hand rail, the treadmill part has been missing for two months, our washing machine part ditto, and the stove exhaust fan has never been resolved. Hammers are going nonstop. Well, they do cease at 5 p.m. but by that time all my goodwill has melted to frustration. I go to my yoga classes with teeth clenched. There are million little things that are incomplete and we don’t get answers or resolutions. Warren departed in a dense fog (climatically speaking) on December 10 and it continues to roll in daily now, for six weeks. It’s my third winter in Mazatlan but I’ve never experienced such a cool, damp, windy time. It’s even prompted us to buy a duvet. Oh God, I left two duvets back in Toronto, who knew? The fog burns off around 10ish and while it’s perfect for tennis it’s downright depressing not to be able to sit outside as we have in the past. Everything feels as if it’s turned sour and that we’ve made a mistake. Have we?
Hospice Mazatlan, which we contributed all of our advertising and marketing skills to, suddenly after board approval does not like the “heart” look. The US snowbirds have returned to Mazatlan, and unanimously agree, that they do not agree, with the new strategy. All that work, all those printed brochures and the new website that Soren designed are not being appreciated or enjoyed. Not even a “thanks for the Amazon shopping connection.” We thought we had created a strong fundraiser piece; the board does not feel that way. David Croly, an active Hospice member, does not hesitate to share his complaints loudly with us on the Malecon. He’s crystal clear; everyone hates our work, and perhaps us. Brochures were delivered in June, and in January the board just informs us? What a waste of our time and Hospice money. I guess we haven’t given back at all; we just have given the board more problems. The Hospice team could have been more gracious in their explanations, but I guess I’m expecting too much from a volunteer organization. Disappointing, but that compass will point us away from volunteering on any other committees.
Another drama emerges. Ligia’s daughter, Ligia, is pregnant. So the circle of unprotected sex and having a child at 18 continues. Poverty and education are the two largest problems in Mexico. I think. Followed by corruption. Our new state and city government have assumed their appointed roles. Rumour has it the previous government officials took everything but the kitchen sink; literally they stripped the Town Hall of computers, air conditioners and even the tires from the police cars. The good news is that our shipping/storage company in Toronto, AMJ Campbell, after three months, acknowledged our claim, and claim they will put a cheque in the mail. Let’s see if and when that arrives at Warren’s condo.
The fog has lifted and we once again experience the beautiful blue skies of Mazatlan. Yes, it’s certainly a cool winter, about 17°C but that’s acceptable, just a surprise. We continue to meet and enjoy new people. The weeks over Christmas were very happy and relaxed. I just can’t shake a slightly sad feeling. Oh, it’s not for Canada, not for Toronto; perhaps it’s just the pure frustration of living in a construction site with no end in sight. I should be used to the mañana attitude by now; maybe it’s different when you own and don’t rent. Maybe I’m missing the joys of Mexican street life and am regretting being in a condo with a bunch of complaining Canadians and Americans. I ponder my irritation on my yoga mat. The chef and I discuss it over a glass of wine and a cigar. Being Danish, being clear headed, being a man, being a wonderful insightful husband, he agreed with me. Our irritation level is high because of the constant noise; and the noise is random. You can’t plan for it, and you can’t escape it. Just when you think you’ll have a quiet read, or my famous afternoon meditation, the hammering starts. Yesterday the bathroom ceiling began to leak. We located Antonio and, sure enough, the workers in the unit above us have hammered too hard and deep. No, a pipe didn’t burst, they just left a bucket of water to slowly drip down into our bathroom. Really, this is Chinese water torture. At some point the workers will return, patch, sand and leave a mess. Most likely just after Ligia has cleaned.
We leave the noise behind and visit our friends Kevin and Linda on Stone Island. Which isn’t really an island, but a peninsula. We met them two years ago. Actually, we didn’t really meet, we picked each other up. Kevin, a cigar smoker, overhead Soren chatting to a waiter about cigars and wanted to know the answer. We introduced Kevin to Thorny “I’m Horny” (who is now in US recovering from mucho tequila) and the relationship just continued to blossom. Linda and I would e mail each other, as we are all jazz fans and we’d often meet up in Centro. Kevin has a wonderful moral compass but is completely irreverent. Like a mellow Bill Maher; a combination that I revel in. Linda is funny, thoughtful, but outspoken. She’d have to be, to be married to Kevin. They are some of our favourite friends. For two years they’ve been taking the boat from Stone Island, which isn’t an island, to Centro. High time it was our turn to see their turf.
We set out on a cool, sunny January day. Got on the wrong boat, but never mind; Kevin found us anyway. They bought a new piece of property overlooking the marina, which has a wonderful silent boat view with no street noise. It’s almost always tranquil except when a stray donkey crashes through their alley, looking very confused by the water. Kevin and Linda are confused too; there are no donkeys on the island. We never did resolve the donkey mystery. They’ve parked their huge RV (I have no idea of how the hell Kevin drives that thing from Mazatlan to Colorado. I’m thinking you have to be American to do that) in their lot while they build a permanent house. On our arrival their casita is about 50% finished. They too had shooed away their construction workers; we are all sick to death of dust and noise.
I am gazing at their new house. I notice some interesting windows but there is no glass. I ask, “What’s up with that?”
Kevin lights up a cigar and says, “Well, when you order windows in Mazatlan, what makes you think they come with glass? Linda was expecting far too much to have them painted the colour she wanted and to have glass.” All four us howl at that Mexican Moment — who delivers windows with no glass? Lots of Mexicans apparently. So, that’s how the light gets in. I have floor envy too. The latest and greatest style, and it’s my absolute preference, is poured concrete, polished, then stained with the acid of your choice. You can score it too, to make it look like tiles. Kevin’s and Linda’s entire patio is made from concrete and acid stained in yellows, rust and oranges. It changes with the light. It’s so stunning, so sophisticated, so subtle. If we ever bought another condo that’s exactly what we would do. However, the chef and I are never moving again. We pile into their SUV and they give us a tour of the island; we’ve been there before, but this is our first real tour. They treat us to their hidden gem of a restaurant, Pizzas Benjis. Juan and Victoria have owned this beachfront restaurant for 30 years. It has a long private protected beach, which I’d be happy to swim and snorkel in when the weather warms up. You can sit in the shade or the sun. You can even bring your own picnic; they are happy to set up tables and let you enjoy your day. The whole attitude is “no problem, everything is good, whatever you want.”
Kevin’s a member of the exclusive Estrella Del Mar Golf and Beach Resort. The course is pretty and most of the 18 holes hug the Pacific. There’s a fancy hotel with two tennis courts, a full gym, a spa and a clubhouse. Just one tiny problem. You are totally isolated and the clubhouse is too far to walk to from the hotel. I briefly considered this as an escape from Carnaval, but with Soren’s eye movements and body language I knew that was off the list. As we got back into the SUV Soren confirmed it — no way was he going to be stuck there for five days. Even with internet and tennis courts there is no reason to push Estrella del Mar; lots of people in Centro refer to it as “Australia del Mar.” I think we know why. As the sun sets, Kevin and Linda drop us off at the wobbly wooden dock and we watched three cruise ships, from a completely new angle, glide through the narrow outlet. When seeing these monsters depart you really feel like you are only one inch tall. Returning to the condo we remarked on what a great change Stone Island was and we should stop focusing on these construction irritations. I’m feeling more balanced, I feel in control and that I’ve got our condo problems in perspective.
Just as I am mellowing out, we get a phone call that Alfredo has had a stroke. We can’t speak Spanish yet; it’s just not his time. We can’t imagine our life without Alfredo. Yet another nudge to sort through what’s vital and what’s not. We both retire with tears in our eyes.