Friday, August 31, 2007

Changes and Machismo in Chacala

While I was on my Oaxaca trip, away from Chacala, my favorite downstairs neighbors, Juan and Zule moved back to Boca de Naranjo, Zule’s home. They had come up to Chacala because the Governor of Nayarit’s new money making project is developing their beach into a haven for wealthy people. Big houses and big hotels. And no grubby fruit vendors, I guess.Not enough pay-off for the wealthy, I suppose. Juan and Zule called their time in Chacala a “vacation”, but they worked their fruit stand on the beach every single day. All day. I really enjoyed them. I’m surprised how different it feels without them here.My neighbor, Aurora, told me they asked her to say “good-bye” and to come visit them. They also left a little pile of some stuff I gave them: clothes line, clothes pins, and clothes hangers. That was very nice of them. I didn’t mean them give that stuff back. They did keep some other stuff, and I am glad. Especially a piece of oilcloth that was just the right color for their stand.The other downstairs neighbors started out as good neighbors, but things gradually fell apart. Garbage outside the door. Trash around the laundry area. And then not paying their rent. Dona L. kicked them out yesterday. Some friends came up with a pickup, but S. didn’t have anything to put her stuff in. I passed on some plastic crates someone had passed on to me. And a couple of big garbage bags. She used one for clothes, and the other for the trash in the room. She left things very clean. Her husband was at work, and couldn’t leave. But her boss let her run up to the house to empty out their room.

However, they didn’t leave the key to the door, and seem to have disappeared. Dona L. and her sort-of-live-in were trying to get the door open tonight, in the middle of a terrible windy rainstorm. Dona L. finally came up and borrowed a hammer, but it wasn’t any use. I suggested that he climb in the window and unscrew the entire lock from the inside, but he either didn’t care for the suggestion, or the bearer of the suggestion, or didn’t understand what I was suggesting. Or God knows what.

Their struggles with having only one key per the three rental unit doors has been a three year old problem, at least. I have offered several times to get duplicates made. But I think Dona L. doesn’t want anyone to get their hands on a key. The last time her sort-of-live-in got his hand on one of the keys, he rented out the room for Easter. And kept the rent money for himself. Whatever.

Anyway, their key struggles finally inspired me to make several extra keys for myself. When I moved in here I replaced the door lock, because I wasn’t sure who had keys to the old lock. Dona L. has never asked me for a key to this space. But she knows my neighbor has a key, if it’s an emergency.It’s interesting to watch people use tools around here. Most men seem to be experts with the machete. I bet some of them could shave with one, or mince onions. But some other tools…… I just don’t know. People seem to prefer to use a blunt-ended coal shovel to dig holes, rather than an ordinary spade. Very interesting, and strange in my eyes.

Once I watched someone strip a Phillips head screw with a regular screwdriver, even though I was standing there offering him a Phillips head screwdriver. I guess it’s the machismo thing. Apparently, no women could possibly know anything about tools.

Men here just don’t seem to believe it when I tell them women in Europe and the U.S. drive taxis, buses, delivery trucks, even big semis. They think I am lying or nuts. I am not sure which. I am hoping someone will e-mail me some photos of women drivers, just to prove the point.

When I tell them woman drivers pay much less insurance because they have less accidents per driving mile, they just laugh.Of course, I think only a few local drivers in Chacala have car insurance. For sure the people who run Chacala Tourist Services, the van airport pickup service have insurance. And Federal Driver's licenses, and all the good stuff, like seat belts that work. It’s the law. So maybe these other guys are laughing at the idea of buying insurance. Or driving safely. Who knows?

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