During my visit to Xalapa on my trip North I had been walking the streets of Centro for a few hours looking for apartments for rent, and hoping to not become lost in the process, when I spotted an “apartment for rent” sign hanging above the gate. I rang the bell and someone answered but I’ll be damned if I was able to understand what he had said. Soon Jorge arrived to open the gate which provides access to the passageway, perhaps 12 feet wide, that separates the two buildings of the apartment complex. Directly Jorge introduced me to my new landlady, Rosie. Jorge I learned is Rosie’s uncle and the complex handyman, though he doesn’t appear to me to be real handy.
As I entered the complex I noted an odor reminiscent of my days working at the McLean Animal Hospital during my high school days. It is an odor that will not cause one to wretch but which can’t be missed. Though we animal hospital “kennel helpers” conscientiously cleaned the kennel and the outdoor runs with disinfectant, as instructed, an odor would linger. I think it emanated from the floor drains.
Despite the odor and less than desirable apartment, needing a place to deposit the stuff I was driving North to Elma to retrieve I struck the deal. The rent is certainly cheap enough and the apartment is located conveniently in Centro.
Rosie is quite a case. Sunday she bought me a liter of Sol beer, so Monday I returned the favor. When I delivered her beer she insisted I come in and drink it with her.
Rosie’s home smells like dogs and I soon learned why. Rosie informed me that she has 26 dogs she has collected from the streets, though I’ve actually seen only about five. She didn’t tell me how many cats she has but I’ve seen at least two.
Rosie, I learned, was an airline stewardess for Aero Mexico many years ago and more recently has been teaching English at a local secondary school, though cataracts have forced her to give up teaching.
During our conversation I noted that my preferred libation is vino tinto. She jumped right up, retrieved a liter box of California red table wine from the refrigerator, poured me a glass, and explained that she drinks a liter each evening. She she said used to drink a 750 ml bottle of hard liquor each evening but has switched to red wine for the antioxidants it contains. I told her that’s why I drink it.
Rosie had quite a bit to say about the anti-immigrant bigots in the USA, understanding clearly that racism is a major factor, as do most Mexicans with whom I’ve discussed the issue. I explained that it being an election year the republicans are cynically trotting out their usual wedge issues to energize their ignorant bigot base.
Although Rosie can’t hold a candle to Sr. Lopez as far as landlords go, nor can her apartment building compare to that of Sr. Lopez, she is certainly a more colorful character.