The problem with removing a day at the ranch from my mother and Bruce's Veracruz travel agenda was that my mother informed me proudly that she and Bruce were bringing a gift for Roberto and Paz. They had found a copy of my marker "painting" of the apple tree and placed it with a very expensive frame... So I said nothing. I just fretted to myself.
That rainy day we bought two cases of Negra Modelo and we brought two of my Chocolate-Coffee Cream Cheese cakes. All my brother-in-laws were at the ranch and my mother-in-law Paz invited her brother "Negro", his wife, their two young daughters and Paz's parents. The day was spent in the kitchen. Bruce and my mother were incredibly pleased. In fact, my mother asked Paz to show her how to prepare sopes (corn dough pancakes they cover with black beans and farmer's cheese or spicy tomato sauce with cheese). Later on my mother and Bruce told me that what they found most enjoyable about their visit to Mexico and Veracruz was the visit to the ranch... No complaints about nothing, not even having to use the outhouse.
Well, let me tell you about outhouses. For one thing, they are outside the house. So, if you have a bathroom problem similar to mine, not only must you become very familiar with the outhouse, but you must use it at night. The house is extremely quiet with the exception of the snoring, the house is very dark, the bedrooms don't have doors, just curtains... Everyone can hear your every step, the creaking of the bed, the opening of the metal door... I don't turn on the lights in the house. But I turn on the lights outside the house so I don't step on one of the dogs or on a chicken, directly outside the room that my father-in-law and mother-in-law share with their 3 younger daughters (Erica and Iris 18-years-old August 6th and Alba 21-years-old) illuminating their room. If someone is a light sleeper that person will know just how often I use the bathroom at night, if it was a bad food day... Since the bathrooms don't have doors, you can hear every noise... I've been very self-conscious about this issue ever since my first surgery. I was always amazed that Scott could talk on the phone with friends while he was sitting on the toilet. SORRY! Can't do that! Ok. Since the bathroom doesn't have a door, the dogs enter it to eat the used toilet paper, leaving their fleas. The chickens leave their fleas too. Since the bathroom and the shower don't have lights, you can't see the mosquitos in order to kill them before they leave a nice big welt on your lower cheek... The shower is a garden hose tied to the ceiling of the shower stall. And that's it. Between the door to the back of the house and the bathroom and shower is a dirt floor that fills with the fleas from the chickens and the dogs and becomes muddy in the rainy season. If you are showering and your clothes or your towel falls outside the curtain, it falls in mud that has a lot of these bugs... From November until mid-february, the water is ice cold. When we're at the ranch during those months, Margarita heats water on the stove and I bathe myself with mugs of water I pour over my head. Can you imagine a problem connected with 14 people living under one roof with one toilet and one shower? From 5am until 8am there is a line for the toilet. If we are going to a fiesta, there is a line for the shower and we tend towards being late for the event.
José Francisco and Wilfrido
In any case, the reason I'm writing this is because after 8.5 years visiting the ranch, I
suggested to Margarita and my brother-in-laws that Margarita and I purchase the materials for putting down cement behind the house, tiling the bathroom and the shower, for installing lights, doors and a wonderful shower head, one that I had used in my Uncle Henry's house when Randi and I were baby sitting our cousins Asher and Zoey in 1996. In December we will buy a boiler... One thing I must say about the men on the ranch or at least about Roberto's 8 sons, not only do they know how to plant and cultivate wonderful café, they also know how to construct their own houses and install and repair anything having to do with plumbing, electricity, carpentry, or masonry. The only thing lacking is the money for creating more attractive and comfortable homes...