Sunday, January 4, 2015

How I Got A Room Mate

Many times people ask me what I pay for rent, what kind of deal do I have, do I pay year round, do I pay utilities? I don't like to answer any of these questions. Mostly because it causes problems in the Mexican community. They all have a place for rent, or have a family member or a friend that has a place that they would like to rent out. Regardless of what I tell them my rent is they will give me a "better deal", they always have a "better deal". To the gringo community what I pay for rent is irrelevant, it means nothing. Should I move out and you move in the rent will change, it may go up it may go down. Even if the house next door to mine is exactly like mine the rent will be different. Rent is whatever you can negotiate with the owner and what you negotiate will depend on the family's needs at that time. After you make the deal those needs could change and then so will your rent, usually without notice. If this happens it does not matter if your deal is on paper or verbal, you have no recourse.

This year my family's needs changed, so did my rental agreement.

When I first rented this place my land lady asked if she could keep the one room as a storage room. As her children moved out over the years they left behind "stuff" that they wanted her to keep for them (yup, know all about storing stuff). I didn't need the extra room and so I agreed.

Soon as I arrived I noticed a car and a motorbike parked in my driveway, which I recognized, they belonged to my land ladies youngest son. He is 26, I have known him since 2007. I saw that a kitchen and a shower and a toilet had been installed in the "storage room", clearly he was living in there. Remember, Mexicans don't need as much space as we. A whole family can live in your living room.

At first I got all "Canadian" and was really annoyed at the breach of our deal, at him moving in while I was gone. He was smart, he waited a few days to come around, probably working up the courage to face me. Meanwhile the locals all knew he was living there and were wondering what I would do. They were very curious but didn't want to come right out and ask. They asked "how is everything at your house?", "Any problems at your house this year ?", and of course "if you have problems at your house this year I have a place to rent". Everyone was acting all concerned. My response was simply "nope no problems".

I had time to think, time to feel convicted, time to ask myself some questions. "why can I not share my space?", my Mexican friends and neighbors, and my adopted family here have shared everything they have with me, their food, their homes have been opened, their lives are totally open to me, they share things with me that I do not write about on this blog, and I can't share one room? Am I not here to submerge myself in the Mexican culture as much as possible? I often speak of my heritage here, my roots are here, but yet I want to stay separate from them?  Shame on me.

When he finally came around he was rather sheepish and I felt bad that he so felt bad. He asked if it was ok if he "stayed" here "sometimes". We chatted and we made a "deal".

He will be living here and his girlfriends will "visit" sometimes. Yeah yeah,  I know how girlfriends "visit". We have established boundaries, that I already know will be broken, we've discussed how many people is a "party" and what volume of music is considered "too loud". All of these will all be breached at one time or another, some were breached that very next weekend. However, our communication is good, everything gets addressed  and I always have to remember that this is how the Mexicans live and I am now living the Mexican life and I like it. He is part of my family. And you cannot choose your they say.

There are perks to having a roommate, his brother calls him my secretary, and he's been called my door man. If you come to my house and I am not home he will tell you where I am and will tell me who was by when I come back. He helps me with my cell phone and  installed Mexican aps on my Iphone, he was a huge help in getting my (our) internet  installed. When he is at the super deli he texts me asking if I need anything.....that's when I order a watermelon. (just kidding) When his girlfriend cooks (when she's visiting) he proudly brings me a plate. He gives me a ride in his car and will lend it to me (I'm waiting until he fixes the brakes) He is very eager to help me with whatever I need. He went away one weekend, at first I was happy he was going away, it would be quiet like it used to be, but by Sunday I realized that I actually missed him. He is a part of my life now.

The locals are still making sure that I know that if I "have problems" at my house they all have a way out for me, some are curious as to how often the girlfriend "visits", I just say "yes she visits". His mother has made it very clear that if he gives me any problems she will kick him out. She comes by often to check if he is cleaning, "so that it doesn't stink", yeah I know what she is checking for.

We have had some funny moments. This house didn't really have electricity for 2 people, it barely had electricity for one. I could never be in the shower and have the stove on at the same time, the breaker would flip. The first week our breaker and lights flipped on and off like a Christmas tree gone crazy, I always had the candles ready. We've had water overflowing in the back yard due to one turning the water on and not telling the other. We've had a few too many people over and then accidentally had a party, it happens. It's all good. It's Mexico. 

My room mates Volkswagen, named "Bowtcho", his other car is a BMW which he usually keeps on the other side (Mazatlan) A beautiful old BMW, the kind I would buy.

And his helicopter, that's what it sounds like

Fish that was prepared by his girlfriend, a prefect little tin foil package ready to put on the grill

Ceviche also a gift from the visiting girlfriend.....I like her

Bought a BIG cake of fresh cheese  (queso fresco) off a guy on a motorcycle (not the helicopter) and now that I have a room mate I can share too, 

This is what I do with this cheese, this is my favorite lunch or I eat it with crackers in the evening, sometimes with a glass of wine. Or I put it on almost anything I cook, eggs, potatoes, even on top of soup.
Just to be clear, he has his own kitchen and bathroom in the room that I never used (the storage room) and it has its own entrance that opens to the front yard, my entrance opens to the backyard. Which makes the front yard now his, I still have my backyard to myself. This was a fairly standard Mexican house where you could walk right the house, in the back door and out the front. 


Alexandra said...

Sounds like you are having an interesting winter! love your story!

Contessa said...

How funny!! But oh so very very true. I want to try some of that cheese....please, I will provide the wine and crackers.