Monday, July 16, 2012

Mexican Heat and the Curse of Snowbirds.

 Occassional MazReal writer Gerald Hawsley* gets pissed off with heat and takes it out on Snowbirds.
“Hot chilli peppers in the blistering sun”. Bob Dylan incorporates this line in his song about Durango perfectly evoking the summer up there although he's probably never been there at all and nor have I but down here on the coast we could sing the same line “hot friggin'chilli peppers in the friggin' sweltering sun” referring to Mazatlán. Anyway it can just as easily refer to my little bit of Mazatlán. 

I am of Anglo Saxon, Austro Hungarian, pale Scandinavian, northern temperate climate blood with a hint of Dalmatian from my father's 12th wife and servant girl and inside my office or library as I prefer to call it as there is a Kindle lying on a chair, it is a constant 360 degrees Celcius (to our friends from the north that translates as some other number in degrees F) even taking into account the four fans aimed at me, my steaming computer and my termite eaten chunky Concordian-built plywood desk. 

I use fans and have no air con. Whilst writing I am surrounded with fans blowing hot air. I have a ceiling fan 5 meters up spinning to within an inch of its life constantly clack clacking its moving parts, behind me straining on its electricity cord there is a large airplane propeller encased in a black rusting cage aimed at the back of my head which, if I had hair, it would be tearing it out. There is a smaller ‘fill-in’ fan oscillating to my left cooling my left side naturally. A Sumo Fan (that always tickles me), a plastic squatting Sumo wrestler cradling a fan that I bought from the souvenir section of a backstreet Macau whore house, gently cools my nose and eye brows. It is still 600 degrees C and although the fans blow the hot air around they do apply a veneer of chill.

My Amazonian Teak desk built by Indians from the Peruvian village of Iquitos obliquely looks out the floor-to-ceiling windows onto the street where for much of the day catching the street breeze sits a gaggle of old men on the large window sills street side. My window sills are the perfect width and height to sit on and these old men waft away flies and sit and chat and mumble about stuff that is happening around them. Between me and them is 30 centimeters of space and a net curtain so they cannot see me but I can see their silhouette and I can clearly hear every mumble, fart and cough. If I was an impatient man I would rattle the bars of my cage with a stick and tell them to get the fuck off of my property but I like the soothing background chat as it never lets me forget I am in Mexico.

I listen to them out the corner of my ear and learn a few words like pinche this and pinche that. But most of what they say is unintelligible for me because they all have loose fitting false teeth which rattle as they talk and sometime José doesn’t even bother to put his in so his mumblings become even more indistinct and kind of slurpy. Occasionally when they get really annoying I switch on my ultra sonic dog preventer which interferes drastically with their hearing aids causing them to sometimes spew out their teeth and roll around on the street howling and tearing at their ears. Oh how I laugh sometimes because they haven't figured out what is happening.

It is so hot in my library cum office that the net curtains don’t waft inwards in that romantic way bringing in a breeze instead they lie flat and tight against the metal bars from the hot air pushing them outwards. Occasionally I slink off and lie draped in the hammock on the patio. Expired there I order my imported Filipino boy I named Abdul to gently push the hammock backwards and forwards so the movement will agitate the air. I sometimes shed my kit and stand under the garden shower till the cool water already in the pipes becomes hot from the sun-heated water in the tank. ( I got to remember to replace the black tank with a white)The subsequent effort of drying soon adds a fresh sweat and its back to the library half-dried to stand in front of the fans.

More complaining after the jump. Snowbirds with delicate sensibilities are advised to stop here.....

I am one of the group of fair-skinned expatriates who stay all year round in Mexico and one of the group who look towards the so called Snowbirds with disdain for a number of reasons. Mainly because our friends from the north waft into town from their northern mansions and acreages and servants and thoroughbred horses and mint juleps without a by-your-leave only when the temperatures down here suit them and when their own temperatures get a tad chilly and their unpaid slaves have to be sent back to the Asian countries from where they have been smuggled and secondly because they come back into town looking so fresh and healthy full of northern tundra vim and vigor. The Snowbirds then, thinking they now own the place, push us around punching us and occasionally ordering us to carry their groceries from the car or sweep their front porch for a tortilla and a kick up the backside. 

They are disliked by us as much as a group of military reinforcements are disliked when they jauntily come in from an extended R and R and take over your trench or strategic position that you have spent months furiously defending from the great un-washed and now that position is secured they can continue their R and R swigging beers and Manhattans while we the spunky defendants lick their scented feet and limp back to our clay-floored hovels. 

This little ditty from Canadian Anne Murray sums up the romance of being a Snowbird:

"Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day

So, little Snowbird, take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow..."

describes those Snowbirds in a pseudo romantic role flying off to an Elysian fairyland where everything is soft and pink and all enveloping fluffiness.   

Cutting through the gooey romanticism they are in fact:

 frequently persons of extreme wealth and slovenliness with independent incomes in many offshsore accounts who maintain several seasonal residences served by exotic Tamarahumarara Indian servants and shift residence with the seasons to avail themselves of the best time to be at each location.

I was determined to defend my position here in the summer without the aid of modern weapons like air con.  So far I have broken out in itchiness, hives, rashes, thrush, jock itch, dengue fever, swamp fever, leishmaniasis, giardiasis, schisotomiasis, traveler’s diarrhea, yellow fever, chagas disease, cutane tungiasis, leptospirosos and some other horrible sounding tropical maladies and spend the day spreading creams on those red rashes and huge lumps in my groinal area. But I have finally surrendered to the weather after spending a few days cooling off and meditating in my tent in a dark corner of Home Depot where I came upon an air conditioner salesman surrounded by his banks of mini split air conditioning units. I bought three.

However I was once mistakenly invited for drinks at the house of a wealthy Snowbird (he thought I was F Scott Fitzgerald) and subsequently ignored because when I told him I only look like the famous writer and I was in fact the famous actor who had just recently died, Ernest Bourgnine.  So I took the opportunity to explore his Versailles size mansion to see how a rich guy lives and I discovered he had 26 split level air conditioning units scattered every which way (even one which blows cold air up your ass while sitting on the toilet)and he doesn’t even spend the summer here. After he ordered me to to the dishes and feed the whippets I left with some silver spoons up my sleeves.

So I am happy with my three. Relief at last.

ps: We do really like the presence of Snowbirds as they aid the local economy and we get invites to dinner and parties where we eat canapes and talk about drywall erections and screw sizes and some of them are really nice people. Just goes to shows how the heat can make you a bad tempered, nasty piece of work hating humanity in general.

©2012 Gerald Hawsley 
Occasional MazReal Staff Writer

*MazReal views don't necessarily reflect those of freelance hacks.

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