MONDAY, January 6 I have resolved to write something for twenty minutes a day. I have to tell you that the two things I identify myself most with are reading and writing. I like to do a lot of other stuff, too, but these two top the list. Reading is way ahead of writing. Reading is EASY, writing is HARD, at least a lot of the time. This bit I’m scribbling now is easy. It’s essentially, what do they call it, not stream of consciousness. Nah. This is more like automatic writing: whatever comes to mind, put it down.
So not much is coming to mind at the moment. Well, that’s not true. What first comes to mind is that we’ve had no internet for three and a half days, let alone telephone and television, all provided by Megacable. This is the first time we’ve had any significant problem with Megacable. I think the problems have been amplified by the fact that each time we’ve called or gone to the office, the clerk has said the equivalent of the check’s in the mail. What if, instead, she’d said, we'll try to have someone at your house on Monday, which is today, in the afternoon? Nah, that wouldn't have worked either. Monday, we'd have screeched, or not screeched because we would have tried to be polite. You don't think it could be sooner than Monday? The cable guy who is not Jim Carrey and who speaks Spanish probably exclusively which is not a problem, just a probable statement of fact, came, probably or possibly, while we were in Coatepec on line at the Megacable office (or in line as people not from the Northeast say). When we returned home, our cleaning person told us someone had come to the door and told her the cable guy had come, and had gone back to Coatepec for some cable.
We are still not placing any bets on having stuff back in service tonight. As we discovered as we attempted to go to Coatepec to make our daily inquiry about our service, there is a manifestación, a demonstration, on the main road, the only easy (and it is very easy) route, not only to Coatepec but also to Xalapa and other points in between. The alternate route is a dirt road, recently graded, but very muddy and slithery and twisty and rocky.
Manifestaciones blocking important roads are very common in Mexico, and the right to have them is guaranteed in the Constitution. At least until recently, nothing could interfere with them. Nada. Recently, after endless teachers’ demonstrations tied up vital spaces in Mexico City’s highway network including a very main avenue in the city and main access to the airport, I think some changes were made to put limits on the right to endless free speech which unfortunately doesn’t always have the impact the demonstrators hope for. Jim suggested that in our area, one of the reasons manifestaciónes don’t always have significant impact is that there isn’t always enough publicity. All we drivers know is that the road is blocked again. Sometimes people in the Colonia know what it’s about, sometimes not. If it’s not a big manifestación, sometimes you can make your way to the start of it, like the time demonstrators blocked the crucero, the intersection where the road turns left to the very interesting town of Teocelo and right to our colonia. The demonstrators were protesting the absolutely horrific state that critical road to Teocel had fallen into. I mean talk about potholes, the pavement interfered with the potholes, not the other way around. And indeed, THAT manifestación seems to have been successful as well as to have garnered quite a bit of justified sympathy. Repairs have actually begun. Often there is reason to have sympathy with the manifestacion participants, though not for me anyway with the corrupt teachers' union. I do share many of the concerns with the education law, but that's another blog post that I may or may not get to. I just have to add that the roads are in terrible shape because we had extraordinarily heavy and lasting rains during the rainy season.
TUESDAY, January 7. Next daily twenty minutes. Back to my Opening Paragraph. I'm not referring to the issue of automatic writing. I'm referring to the absence of internet and television and coming in third, the telephone.
Until recently I hardly watched television. Jim would put on a movie at night and ask me if I wanted to watch it. I would sit for few minutes and start getting antsy remembering that I was at a tense point in my latest Scandinavian mystery. I eat up Scandinavian mysteries. I have no idea why. They are often depressing, and the weather in them is not generally inspiring. It's usually not even beautifully snowy, more often rainy with harsh winds blowing.
Then one day a few months ago a friend of ours whose opinion I tend to hold in high regard asked if we'd seen Breaking Bad. I was shocked. Uh, no. Why would we watch a series about a bunch of suburbanites who somehow get involved in selling speed? Our friend smiled knowingly. I´m an addict, she confessed. I watched the whole first season in one sitting. Then another friend whom I never would have dreamed would get caught up in Such a Thing confessed to a Breaking Bad addiction. She and her husband had the excuse that it was set in Albuquerque where they had lived for quite a few years.
So we renewed our subscription to Netflix (which we'd intended to do anyway) and with trepidation and certainty that we wouldn't like it got into S1 E1 of Breaking Bad. That evening we watched four episodes.
Fortunately last Friday when our cable connection failed, we had watched all 54 episodes available on Netflix and were waiting anxiously for the last season to show up. There was no satisfactory substitute so I had retreated from TV and returned to Scandinavia, this time Finland.
But I craved the internet. I am not an addict. I swear. I had only given in to the craving once, yesterday, Monday, when we stopped at an internet cafe in Coatepec and where I realized to my despair that I didn't remember my gmail password.
Since the information about the cable guy had been kind of blurry, I went to my neighbor's to check what the cable guy had actually said, and SHE had never seen him. She did, however, hear me cough and recommended that I try hoja santa leaves on my chest. She told me what to do. I went home and tried heating the leaves, but they shriveled up. I went back. My neighbor explained more exactly what to do and gave me some replacement leaves. And then one of the kids who plays on the block told me he'd only seen the Megacable guy up the street, not near our house. Once again Jim and I comforted each other while being sure it would be a long time, considering the manifestacion in progress making driving slow at best, and what cable guy would contend with THAT?
So Jim and I were sitting around trying to comfort ourselves that we could hone other skills, do other stuff. We could, we could….And in fact we DO do a lot without the internet(because we’re not really addicts, we only need maintenance doses, but you know there’s that maintenance dose….)
Well, as you can see if you’re reading this, we did get our service back.
The cable guy showed up about 1:30. He said he just had to turn on the connection. Huh? You mean fix the wire? No, he said, turn on the connection. Huh? He said when someone doesn’t pay the bill for a while a cable guy comes out and turns off the connection. But we PAID our bill we huffed (I mean puffed) indignantly. They realized that, he said, and that’s why I’m turning on the connection. He climbed up the pole which is outside our on the corner. Maybe someone further down the line hadn’t paid. Whatever. We practically threw ourselves at his feet in gratitude. Let’s go inside and make sure your internet works he said IN ENGLISH. You speak English? Yeah. He smiled. He spoke fluent English and our internet was back. So not all cable guys in our area speak only Spanish after all. I bet more people around here speak English than an equivalent bunch of people in maybe St. Louis speak Spanish. Guess why.