Saturday, January 22, 2011

camp following

Before I moved to Mexico, I did not have many expectations concerning my living standard in my new home.  And those I did have turned out to be a bit skewed

I try to remember that when I invite friends to come visit me in Melaque.

My friends who have already visited Mexico have spent vacations primarily in Cabo San Lucas, Cancun or Ixtapa -- in world class hotels with pools, bar service, and cabana boys.

When I invite those same friends to Melaque, I have to manage more expectations than a White House spin doctor.

The problem is evident.  My house is adequate for my life style.  But it is certainly not a world class hotel.  There is no pool.  And if there ever were cabana boys, they have all taken off skimboarding.

The best advice I can give (and do give) potential visitors is to unpack their memories of boy and girl scouting.  Visiting me is a lot like camping.

We don't have sleeping bags.  But the beds are concrete slabs topped with mattresses that feel as if they might be stuffed with unshorn sheep.  Wooly, but lumpy.

Meals will be cooked on a stove that has the temperature control of a Coleman.  Not quite hot enough to attain a boil.  Nor low enough to keep eggs from getting crusty.

Water comes out of bottles.  If you want to drink it.  You can drink from the tap and then spend some interesting down time in the bathroom.  (I suspect this one is an urban myth.  But it is one of the most effective scare tales.  People really want to believe it is true.)

Washing up is just like Camp Meriwether.  The only difference is our hot water comes out of the tap, not out of a pot on the camp fire.  But it still requires treatment.  (See above.)  Wash in the sink.  Rinse in a plastic tub.  Air dry on a rack.  Come to think of it, that is my life as a child.  Pre-dishwasher.

And then there is the shower.  This is the one that causes the most concerns from my American friends -- for a reason that is unfathomable to me.

I am lucky to have a very good hot water on demand water heater.  I can get a good 4 or 5 minute shower with hot water to spare.

That is not the issue.  The issue is water pressure.

I have almost none.  The system is gravity fed -- just like camping when you would shower under one of those contraptions that looked like a bucket with holes in the bottom.  Functional.

For some reason, my American friends seem to believe that a shower has to have the same pressure as a sandblaster.  And that has been the deal breaker for some potential visitors.

In return for those opportunities to expand their living horizons, the guests who do come down get to relax in the sun, visit any number of almost-uninhabited beaches, see as many birds and butterflies as a person can without suffering Stendhal Syndrome -- or just sit and talk.

I have considered a new tack, though.  As a test, I could send this photograph to prospective guests claiming it is my house.  (It actually is a neighbor's house.) 

Of course, as a bonus, there is always the possibility they might spot either Mrs. Howell or The Skipper.  The remainder of the cast members are seldom seen.

Or, perhaps, this one.

I will not tell you which one, but I came very close to renting one of these houses before I came to rest in my current digs. 

I will let you guess which.

I suspect, I would not need to manage any guest expectations with those choices.

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