I’ve been gone so long that I don’t know where to begin! I know, the key to successful blogging is updating regularly. However, if you’re one of my friends, I probably haven’t spoken to you since March, either. I haven’t showered since March (ok, that’s not true). But I have been earth-shatteringly busy. The culprit is grad school. So here it is, mid-May, and I don’t even have time to be blogging right now. But here I am.
In the past two months, my parents came to Guadalajara and met Paco and Canelo. We had a good time, although my translating and tour guide skills were put to the test. I would have written a whole blog post about this, with some thoughts about showing my parents the unfamiliar land I have decided to live in, and about language differences and how we overcame them, but the moment has passed. Let’s just leave it at this: we ate a lot of ice cream, Dad tried mezcal (liquor similar to tequila) for the first time, Paco tried gin for the first time.
Although class and homework have pretty much dominated my time, I’ve also been on three required field trips. It’s not as fun as it sounds, and in fact, losing entire weekends devoted to “reading the landscape” and sitting in a van only added to my stress. But I have seen a lot more of Jalisco, the state where we live. Maybe when the semester ends, I’ll write about the trips.
Instead, the long-overdue blog post is about cockroaches. First, let me explain the title.
I’ve been reminded recently that in Spanish, “decadencia” means “decline or decay,” what “decadence” technically means in English. But I grew up hearing “decadence” associated with chocolate cake, or a fudge sundae. It’s a restaurant menu word. Anyway, in our case, “decadence” applies to the apartment only in the bad way.
The busier Paco and I got with our studies, the messier the apartment got. Two full time students? Who will take care of the house? After some inner ethical wrestling, I came to the conclusion that we needed to outsource. That is, hire someone to clean our humble abode. My reluctance came from the following association: paying someone to clean the house twice a month=having a maid=feudal lifestyle, oppressing serfs, etc. However, the hygienic state of the apartment was also approximating that of feudal times, back when people really did bathe once a year. So we decided to post an ad online.
I had never hired anyone before, so I tried to compose an ad that would convey that we didn’t have much money, that we really needed help, and that we needed someone responsible. In return, we would also be responsible and grateful. Looking back, we don’t sound like the most attractive employers. But soon after, Doña Patricia called and offered her services.
The morning she was scheduled to arrive, I felt very nervous. How was I supposed to tell someone what to do? Or act like a boss? I’m 22. Paco and I made a sort of half hearted list of tasks for her. When Doña Patricia arrived, I sheepishly handed her the list. She said, “ok, honey.” Then she went into the kitchen and started working her magic.
Two hours later, the apartment and patio were cleaner than they had ever been. Working on her own, Doña Patricia is faster, more efficient, and more thorough than Paco and I are working together. We pay her what she asked for, which is affordable for us. So it’s been significantly less filthy around here.
However, since our apartment is dingy and sort of old, it seems like it can’t really ever be completely clean. Case in point: we realized that the cockroaches that we found dead on the tile floor in the mornings were emerging from the shower drain, which doesn’t have an attached filter. Canelo, Cockroach Hunter, had also realized this, and he kept a nightly vigil on the bathmat waiting for his cockroach “playmates” to come out. We bought a plastic drain filter, but Canelo routinely removes it from the drain.
Paco, a devoted dad to our crazy kitten, said to me, “maybe we should just leave the filter off so Canelo can play with the cockroaches. He’s all alone in the apartment and doesn’t interact with any living creatures beside us.” I was not moved. Yeah, sorry Canelo. Cockroaches do not belong in our apartment. You’ll have to make do with the 20 million flies, which you also catch and eat.
Anyway, other than the mosquito problem, and the sweltering heat, and my homework, everything is great!