A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22
I woke up with a splitting headache. A sinus headache. It didn’t matter how often or how hard I blew my nose, each time the relief faded within minutes. I always tell people who are interested in travelling that it is NO fun to be sick at home, and it is quite a bit LESS fun to be sick in a foreign place. Luckily I haven’t experienced a lot of illness on the road — more often I have a “merry heart”. But on this particular trip I have had my share of drying bones. I thought I might have beat it back in Cancun, but since Sunday I’ve felt crappy.
I had eaten my portion of yogurt and had one of my doughnuts for breakfast. I couldn’t make myself a coffee because I had no mugs to drink it out of! So I was sitting on the couch, holding my aching head and feeling might sorry for myself when I heard someone’s keys in the door lock. And in walks a young Mexican girl. Permisso? We looked at each other in surprise for a minute. She was carrying a bag with cleaning supplies, so right away that endeared her to me. I welcomed her in. Regina, or as they say here ‘Rrrah-HEE-na’, got right to work. She marched upstairs and ripped the bedsheets of the beds and threw them in the laundry. The big heavy drapes in my room got tied into a big knot so the sun could shine in. She found a big yellow bottle of cleaning solution in the bin in the bathroom and proceeded to scrub the toilet. (The toilet hadn’t been used — it doesn’t flush so I’m not that interested in using it until that little detail is resolved!)
Okay! Mario (the owner) is getting right down to work. I had warned him that when my friends from home show up here on Sunday they are going to turn right around and go somewhere else if a lot of things don’t improve at this place. I guess he had taken that to heart.
Around 1 o’clock Regina is done with the upstairs. (I really don’t know what she all did up there, but I could hear a lot of busy-ness up there and it sure smelled like cleaner in the house. When she came down to do the kitchen and the car port I took my lunch (bread with ham and cheese that I had bought at the corner superette) and sat outside on our new (and now clean) balcony to eat it. Not that I can taste anything — I can hardly talk and breathe at the same time, never mind TASTE food.
I’m not sure what exactly I should be expecting from this cleaning — there’s only so-and-so much that ‘cleaning’ can do. The seriously corroded sinks and taps and drains and anything else made of ‘metal’ are going to look like crap no matter how much ajax you wipe over them.
Shortly after lunch Regina announced that she was finito. Completo. She phoned Mario to report. Minutes later he comes roaring up in his shiny new black jeep. He jumps out of the car and announces “It’s Christmas!”. Apparently he comes bearing gifts. And sure enough, that long list of things to fix or replace or provide that I gave him yesterday will not be a bit shorter. A chair for my bedroom, light bulbs to replace SOME of the missing or burned out ones, a new plastic dish rack, and wash cloths, and coffee mugs, and a new toaster oven, and even a brand new hair blower. So now Mario and Regina are busy unpacking and ‘installing’ the new stuff. And I’m sitting there, all schnuffed up, feeling miserable, and trying hard to demonstrate a “merry heart”.
When the two of them are done they leave, but not before Mario informs me that an electrician is on the way. He arrives shortly after Mario leaves and installs a dimmer switch on the fan in one bedroom and a remote control variable speed thingy for the fan in ‘my’ bathroom. This is so they don’t have to be either off or going full blast and sounding like a helicopter taking off. He also changes some of the bulbs. And then I point out that my toilet doesn’t flush and that the sink in the kitchen doesn’t drain very fast. He says he will fix that, too. But after at least 45 minutes with a propane torch and a couple of big pails and pipe wrenches, he announces that he cannot fix that toilet. Mario later informs me that the toilet will likely need to be replaced. Oh good! That way I won’t have to walk through the Driedgers’ bedroom to use their ensuite in the middle of the night!
Mario returns a few more times before the afternoon is over. He is determined to provide us with watchable TVs. Okay, I brought my AppleTV from home and have it connected to the big nice TV in the living room. But both bedroom TVs are just hanging on the wall — without anything to watch on them. So Mario now finagles with several ‘Roku’ kits, trying to get them to make the bedroom TVs into ‘smart’ TVs. In the end, after a couple of trips back and forth, he gets the one in the Driedgers bedroom working. Of course ALL the TVs will have some pirated Netflix account, and most of the shows will have Spanish titles so we’ll need to guess what we want to watch before finding out what we’ve selected.
Then Mario does something really special for me on the downstairs TV. He has brought his ‘Rocket’ connector and account for us to use. The AppleTV gets disconnected and now we need to wait until the internet signal is strong enough (it ‘fades’ regularly) and if one is patient and doesn’t hit too many buttons in rapid succession, ALL the major sports (Deportes, in Spanish) events in the world can be watched on that big TV! Nevermind peliculas (movies) and HBO, etc.
When Mario leaves it is getting dark outside. I’m exhausted. Not from working hard but from holding my head up and trying to breathe. I lie down on the couch and play with those new channels. I keep losing signal and having to start all over again — what’s my code? — and then when I get back ‘on’ I have to navigate through a thousand channels. I could get pretty much EVERY NHL game that was being played tonight except the only one I cared to watch. So I started up some old Reese Witherspoon movie and promptly fell asleep on the couch. When I awoke I opened my laptop and went back to my good old reliable streaming site and watched the Jets beat the Avalanche in the third period. I think somewhere in there I had another doughnut. But not a lot of appetite, and not a lot of enthusiasm in general. I turned off the various light switches, some of which actually work the lights, and headed upstairs. I could now take out my contact lenses without worrying about the helicopter in the bathroom blowing them where I would never find them again. I made sure to spit the toothpaste into the one spot in the sink where that dribbling tap might actually wash it down the drain. I ‘borrowed’ the Driedgers’ bathroom one more time today. And then I went straight to sleep, holding onto my throbbing head and wondering how I was going to survive this night. What would I do if it really became unmanageable? No one to call. Don’t know the emergency phone number. Don’t know where the nearest doctor or hospital is. Maybe I’d just step out on my balcony (with its nice new shiny black heavy-duty railing) and yell “Ayuda mi!”.
Well, I didn’t have to do any of that. Sleep managed to keep the pain at bay for most of the night. But there was no denying it — my bones were getting SERIOUSLY dry.