By Alan Armstrong.
‘My Mexico’ includes living with a wonderful family we’ve known for 30 years and sharing joys, changes, duties and challenges. It’s wonderful.
The following roughly describes a typical morning in our neighborhood or ‘colonia’ in Mexico at the family’s corner store or ‘tienda’ in La Penita, Nayarit:
5:55 a.m. While returning from the waterfront I grab a couple hot cups of coffee for Franky and I and zip back for the opening of the store. Don Serfio is waiting.
6:00 Franky cranks open the front door. Pleasantries are exchanged and coffee is savored. Three people are waiting for tortllas. Deliveries begin:
6:01 Tortilla Man #1 arrives. He has the blue cooler and it is cleaned and filled. He also has fresh cheese and drops off a couple of kilos. A lady buys tortillas and a liter of coke. Don Serfio buys his tortillas directly from the delivery man for 2 pesos less, with Franky’s blessing.
6:05 The ‘bollio’ or long rolls bread Ladies rattle in. They are always frowning. They fill the bags with this morning’s labors and rattle off. I dash in and try to sweep the floor. There magically has appeared seven people and two dogs in the store.
6:10 I chase the goats back toward the soccer field and pick up cardboard. We sip our cooling coffee and talk about the missing tortillas.
6:11 Tortilla Man #2 arrives and fills his cooler. I finish my sweeping swoop and chase out three dogs and a rooster. The ‘dusty kids’ show up and buy tortillas, four eggs, rice, 1 liter of milk and 2 liters of coke.
6:15 The ‘Bimbo bread Man #1’ arrives. He sells the mass produced loaves of sandwich bread and by contrast stands out a bit in his sharp blue uniform and new truck.
6:18 The Ice Man arrives. He has no refrigeration in his aging truck and is loosing big time every second as his profits melt in the tropical heat, so his visits are quick.
6:22 Produce Man #1 arrives. Celantro, tomatoes, onions, oranges, grapefruit and mandarins are hoisted over the steady stream of customers. I help a lady with an order of flour and almost nail a kid in the head with 16 kilos. He pays Franky for his six chicklets and is gone. I wonder how this old lady is going to carry her flour as I try to find space on the counter. The little kid is staring at me from the corner of the street.
6:30 Milk Man arrives. He sells milk and yogurt. Nice outfit and truck. He makes $30.00/day.
6:45 I chase the goats back toward the soccer field….again. I dump my cold coffee and clean up a bit. It’s only 6:45 but a lot of litter and garbage has been generated. We share a laugh about how late Ramon is.
6:46 Ramon arrives. So does ‘Bimbo Bread Man #2 and a dog fight almost breaks out. I chase away the trouble makers and give two of the family’s dogs a pet on the head.
6:49 The small loafs of bread Man arrives. The 20′ x 30’ store is packed but somehow the two bread men manage to navigate their respective loads over and around the customers.
6:55 The candy Man slips in and tops-off the rows of tooth crackers and sweets.
6:59 Chicken Man arrives. He has fresh chicken parts. A big seller, he drops off several kilos. Well handled and no sign of ice. A blanket will do.
7:00 Ramon finally gets going and starts to clean the street. I pay him 200 pesos a week to keep the surrounding block, or so, clean. He sleeps in the street…he’s an expert.
7:05 Water Man arrives. Water is cheap. Franky sells a lot of water. The goats get past and go for a romp through the neighborhood. We laugh. The horse food/dog food/chicken food/ whole corn/ etc. Man rolls in. Dust flies. His truck is the biggest to deliver and makes quite a fuss in the small street corner.
7:15 A cowboy on horse back rides up. Good timing? I didn’t see Franky make a phone call….how did the guy on horse back know his grain was here? He has to ride for an hour to get here?
7:20 Ice cream Man arrives. His cooler is at the front of the store and access is somewhat difficult with the throngs now descended on the store.
7:25 Produce Man # 2 arrives. He has bananas, apples, chiles and more tomatoes and onions. He also has some pineapples Franky doesn’t stock pineapples usually because this is a pineapple producing area and he normally can’t give them away.
7:30 I run Franky’s two girls to school. One is in primary and the other in secondary. ( Susana, the oldest, is in Tepic, the capital city of Nayarit, attending university.)
8:00 I’m only gone for a half an hour but have missed the Coca Cola Men; charcoal Man; cookie and sweetbread Man and a man selling Cd’s and DVD’s. Franky buys a 66 gallon barrel from him. Nothing else.
8:10 I’m filling a 66 gal. barrel in the back of my truck with water for the construction workers building Frank’s new shop and apartment down the street.
8:45 I’m delivering roughly 44 gallons of water…. Streets aren’t paved yet.
9:45 I return home to dry and clean up and get on with my day. It’s sunny and about 27 c. I’ve been going for six hours already and fight the urge when Alfredo, my neighbor, laughs at me and invites me to join him for a cold beer. He thinks I’m a little odd. Most gringos are usually not busy doing things that seem unimportant, late in the day, with gringos. He has never seen me with anyone but Mexicans and I’m actually involved in Mexican activities.
10:00 – ? Alfredo and I laugh and watch the day unfold before us. It’s sunny and about 30c. I don’t have a thing planned and I do believe this is ‘one of those days’. Someone has slipped a CD into the stereo…a rooster crows…a dog barks…….Alfredo smiles and toasts “Salud Alan! Viva Mexico!” “Salud Alfredo!” I respond and we laugh some more.
Now somebody is cooking carne asada for tacos and the smokey, charcoal smell permeates the air.
“Viva Mexico!” indeed Alfredo. “Viva Mexico!” Indeed!