I'm eating breakfast - two slices of toasted multigrain bread with flax seed - and pure Ms Stress is staring ate me, wondering if I will save that last bite and walk it over to her dog dish.
Her brow is furrowed, like this is the most stress she has encountered in weeks. Perhaps it is. But suddenly she has bolted out of the house, El Torro, and I have eaten the last bite. Now she is nudging me with her nose, like I might have hid it. No, you snooze, you lose!
But I hear the tamale guy. "Hay tamales, hay atole, hay masa!" Two, what I call "gorditos" - little fat ones, fat because the banana leaf envelope bulges from the shredded pork added to the top of the masa tamale under the wrapper. 7 pesos. I will give one to Lora for breakfast (cheaper than canned dog food) and save one for lunch, since I didn't snooze and got the last bite of multigrain toast! With flax and yes, butter!
In an hour or so, Carmen is coming by to reorganize and clean the kitchen. She is just the woman for the job.
Longtime guests at my property may remember Carmen. She worked at the tienda named after her daughter, Karina. Carmen charged my cell phone and laptop on a generator after Hurricane Wilma. She would sell me newspapers and tell me to ready page 13 or whatever. She always made sure I got accurate news, but didn't talk politics with me one bit, knowing I was not, as a foreigner, allowed to engage in political discourse.
When Carmen worked Karina's store, she would cook for Karina's family, launder and iron, all the while serving customers, slicing bacon and cheese, counting eggs, stacking soft drinks and beers.
One November she was really sad. She had to get her gall bladder removed. She was scheduled to be the first minimally invasive laproscopic gall bladder surgery on Isla.
Dr. Martinez was having one of the young docs in from Mexico City to do it. Did I know anything about it, because she wanted to be in shape to make Christmas Eve dinner.
I lifted up my shirt and showed her my three puncture scars and the tiny sutures in my belly button. "Can I really cook Christmas dinner one day later?" she asked.
No, they lie. Give yourself a week.
And so, she called Dr Martinez right then and there and moved up the surgical date. And made Christmas dinner for the family.
I saw her afterward. How did it go?
"Fine. But you were right, I needed a week to recover." Carmen, I look forward to working with you! And her days are full now. After she finishes here, she goes to Karina's to watch the toddlers. Mom and Wilmar will be going to work in the restaurants they have a stake in - Angelos and the new Brisas by the Contoy dock.