My Mexican Moments: Chapter 29

The Two Chairs

Within days, Alfredo has had a complete recovery. He felt “weird” — everyone seems to say that just before a stroke; it appears you just can’t pinpoint that weird feeling — and Miriam got him to the hospital, pronto. The stroke was in the right side of the brain affecting movement in the left leg and arm. The blood thinners, or whatever he was given, worked immediately and two days later he was walking with a cane. Many of our friends say he’s lucky because: the stroke occurred in the day, not during the night where the lag time is crucial, and he got the correct medication fast. The professor can’t drive, but has plenty of volunteers to drive him to our condo, where he can hop on the elevator with minimum effort. Or we still meet up at La Copa. But there is one big difference — no mas fumar, no more smoking. Even Alfredo admits smoking is dangerous and the stroke strengthened his desire to quit. I believe we won’t ever see the teacher smoke again. His mind is sharp, and the cane is for “just in case.”

Soren and I have finally begun Alfredo’s second Spanish book. Most people finish the first book in six months; it took us two years, which gives you an idea of our relationship with this wonderful professor. We work, we play and we exchange cultural oddities. Now that I know Alfredo is well, it’s time to do something I’ve always wanted to do — go whale watching. I’ve never seen a whale. Soren hasn’t either and really doesn’t care if he ever does. Even though Soren grew up by the sea in Copenhagen, he hates small boats, large oceans, but decided to go along. I contacted the owner and got all the answers to my questions. Yes; it is a largish boat, only taking six people, life jackets, toilet aboard, completely and utterly safe. The chef is still not excited. I asked Rosemary to join us as I suspected we may need a little humour.

Whale Quest, Onca (no, that’s not a typo, it’s Onca not Orca, which should have been my first clue) Explorations picks us up at 7 a.m. as promised. Just five of us. We arrive at the marina and see six other people waiting. The boat only holds six, why were we 11 people suddenly? Apparently Oscar, the owner, was seduced by El Debate press team (one of our local Mazatlan newspapers) and they got the “good” boat with Oscar, and we — Rosemary, Soren and I and another couple — got the clunker. It was a small boat in high waves, and we all got wet. Never mind the engine dies seven miles out. We were just bobbing in the Pacific. As Soren was not speaking, Rosemary was a great buffer and we kept pretending we were on an outing in Georgian Bay. Not stranded in the Pacific surrounded by sharks. Eventually our clunker boat Mexican team radios Oscar; we are towed back and of course, never saw a single whale. Not even a dolphin. Not even a seal. It was poorly planned, poorly handled and we were palmed off for El Debate. We asked for our money back. With great anger and reluctance we did receive our pesos. Oscar didn’t want the El Debate press guys broadcasting that. He didn’t understand why we would not want to re-schedule. Hola? On our clunker boat (really, just a row boat with two engines) the entire experience was unsafe and unprofessional. We head back to Centro to the Looney Bean. Ah, coffee. And now it’s time for lunch and a margarita at La Cueva. Alejandro, the owner, after we share our story, then proceeds to tell us how two whales swim by almost daily at 4 p.m. right in front. Eye roll. Then wine is ordered. Followed by a big nap.

Our condo has its first and only annual meeting. Soren attends the entire proceedings. I depart mostly because I’m restless and can’t absorb any more negative comments or feelings. I’m telling everyone that I’m allergic to complaints. The construction team is down to 10%, the noise has abated and even the dust is lower. At long last the part has arrived for the treadmill, the elevator to the garage is working, our stove top hood is fixed, our crying washing machine is repaired and, as far as I’m concerned, the project is still behind, but that’s behind us and we are moving forward. All that’s left is our dishwasher, which takes in hot water, but doesn’t clean the dishes. At. All. We can’t figure it out and that’s a tough one to explain, but Antonio is working on it. Both G1 and G2 are on site taking care of business. Landscaping has begun, the BBQ area is ready to be fired up, and the common areas are being decorated. The weather remains very cool and sitting outside is still not possible, for us. Even though it’s 18°C, when you are not in the sun, it feels too cold.

Soren keeps asking me, “Where is my fishbone sweater?” I know he means herringbone (you’d think a man from Denmark would remember herring?) and I carefully show him our “cold shelf.” When we moved in mid October we were in shorts, flip flops and tank tops — we never imagined unearthing our sweaters and jackets. Or the heater the chef insisted on putting into our storage crate in Toronto. “Why would we need that; it never goes below 20ºC?” screeches me. Except this winter — the coldest in 55 years. The chef is lovin’ strutting around the condo playing Basil Fawlty, leering, “Sybil, enjoying the heater, want me to turn it up?” We just have to accept this is a chilly season; still great for walks, taking the bus, playing tennis and wonderful sunny lunches in the square. Is it possible that two of the whitest people on Earth have become so used to heat and humidity? I would have considered 16/17/18°C in Toronto fairly warm, and now I’m all bundled up, looking a lot like the Mexicans on the Malecon with their fleeces and scarves. What is happening?

What is happening to our two chairs? Sylvia, our seamstress on Pedregoso, still has our unpainted chairs that we bought a year ago. Well, she’s only had them for seven months, so let’s be fair. As much as I like Dr. Levid, I’ve found a female doctor who does all the girlie examinations. Wait, this does tie into Sylvia and our chairs. La Doctora had sent me to a lab in Centro to have a mammogram and bone density. I had just finished a “special”; no appointment required, $18 (US). I step off the lab steps and there is Sylvia with her beaming smile. The chairs are finished! Caramba! Her brother painted one, her daughter the other and a neighbour on Pedregoso is making our cushions. How much? I pull out my trusty notebook and pen and Sylvia begins to add it up. I think she’s secretly an accountant too because: every single colour was itemized, the varnish, the material, the stuffing and even the fact I’d paid her $10 (US) for the material ahead of time was deducted. Grand total, $80 (US) for two handpainted chairs with built- in cushion seats. Worth the wait? Don’t know yet.

Now we just have to arrange for the swap of the chairs, but that could take awhile too. I’m hoping Sylvia misses her chairs and wants them back, pronto. Alfredo is driving again, so perhaps he’ll help us finish up the chair saga. After all, he picked them from the artist who didn’t want the project in September, so I think he should be involved in the final product. I’m sure the teacher is wondering why we just didn’t go to a furniture store, like normal people, and buy two chairs. But by now, he knows the chef and I are a little different. Alfredo did not have the pleasure of retrieving the chairs because Sylvia’s husband, Sergio, drives them into our garage in a white pickup truck. Every Mexican either owns a white pickup, or borrows one. I’m a little stunned; the chairs are actually here, finished, in our condo. Worth the wait? Not really. They are fun, funky, but the painting, finishing and varnishing is a little on the amateurish side. I’m sure the seamstress’s daughter and brother did the best they could. They are comfortable, practical chairs for our workstations. They are half-assed and are likely to be replaced in oh, say, 2014.

Everything is calmer on our Pacific Perch, and now I can return to thinking about having an online affair.

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