I’ve had two visitors this past week.
The first was my friend Alex, who is building a house next door to mine. He arrived on Thanksgiving night and stayed through the middle of this week. I had been thinking about cooking Thanksgiving dinner for us, but couldn’t find some of the things that I would usually use to make the meal (Fresh cranberries? Nowhere to be found…nor could I find puff pastry, a turkey breast, fresh – or canned – pumpkin, seitan…you get the idea) The good news is that Alex surprised me with a huge container of Kalamata olives, so I won’t be missing those for quite some time.
I had resigned myself to going out for Italian food for our “big” meal when JV, the teenager who helps me out in my yard, told me about a restaurant in town that was serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. That alone was a big deal, but when I saw that reservations were required, I knew this was THE place to be. I quickly made reservations for me, Alex, and JV before they got booked solid.
The wait staff was a bit confused when I told them that I wanted my turkey and gravy on a separate plate, and to please hold the gravy on my mashed potatoes, until I explained I was a vegetarian. JV was more than happy to polish off the extra plate! And while the boiled vegetables were a bit bland, I was thrilled to see the cranberry sauce…even though I usually make mine from scratch. All in all, we had a fun night celebrating an American holiday in the Guatemalan jungle.
Alex and I had a busy week doing stuff for his house – picking out sinks, toilet and paint colors; designing the kitchen; and talking about how to landscape his yard – and driving to Santa Elena (about 30 minutes away) every day. His house is coming along great and should be done in a couple months.
His visit made me realize just how much I’ve gotten accustomed to the culture here. The things that we take for granted in the United States, such as one-stop shopping at a Home Depot, aren’t here yet. There would have been a time when I would have been either amused or annoyed, but now it just “is” and I go with it. It’s become part of my life and I just plan accordingly.
My second visitor was Nena, the dog that had been hanging out in my yard in the summer. I hadn’t seen her for quite some time, until she showed up about two weeks ago with a couple puppies in tow. The puppies were fully weaned, and my sense was that she wanted me to see them. She looked healthy and well-fed. I talked to her through the fence, pet her, and admired her babies.
Fast forward to today. When Alex was here we went shopping in the brand new Dollar City (!!!) store that opened up in Santa Elena and I bought two hanging, magnetized screen doors so that Jaguar could go in and out of the house without me having to get up from my desk every five minutes to open the door or have a whole lot of insects coming in by having the door open without a screen.
I was in the front yard talking with some friends who asked to see the work that JV had been doing in the back yard. We walked to the back, and then I saw her. Nena had gone through the screen door into my kitchen, knocked over my trash can and was scrounging through the garbage for food. I had started my holiday baking, so the trash was filled with egg shells, butter wrappers and other apparently yummy things. She heard my gasp of surprise and ran off, but not before I could see how skinny she had gotten.
While I wasn’t happy about the garbage, I was and am more unhappy about how thin she is…and even though I can’t feed her, I’m kind of glad that she was able to get a little bit of food from my trash can and the cat’s food dish before she ran off. I cleaned up the mess, and she came timidly back. I sat on the back steps and she snuggled up right next to me and rested her head on my knee while I pet her. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know that for now some kind words, love and pets can be given without causing any problems with the neighbors.