I live in something called an ‘andador’. It consists of two rows of about 12 houses with a strip of concrete, and plants between them so that no cars can pass. We have a major street which cars can drive through that empties into a largely useless bridge and a small (but amazing) food market. When my mother originally purchased this house, she purchased it with the idea that her children would have a safe place to play. My mom’s the bomb.
Anyway, I just wanted to write a few reasons why being back in the andador is pretty good.
The neighbors a few houses down bought a goat. I’m not kidding. They bought a fully grown, white goat for their six year old to have as a pet. Mexicans see your dog and raise you a goat. There is something awesome about coming home from choir practice/ church/ running to see a goat walking about without a care in the world, eating the neighborhood weeds and announcing that he does not care what you do, so long as you leave him and the cowbell around his neck alone. I saw six year old Leslie (who happens to be the owner of said goat) taking him on a walk a few nights ago and asked her what his name was: it’s Peluchin, which translates to small, stuffed animal. Only a six year old can say it as joyfuly and unironically as Leslie did, so thank goodness for six year olds! And Peluchin.
Kids play around here. A lot. I cannot go out in the evening without hearing children play- they play house, kick ball, caza venado (a more elaborate version of tag), palitos chinos ( a more vengeful version of dodgeball) and brinca burro (I’m not even going to bother explaining that because if you’re caucasian, and you’re reading this, you would’ve never even been allowed to think about playing it). The kids play to the point of exhaustion and what’s best- they always ask if you want to play as well.
The vendors come to your door step. In a single day there will be a shoe cobbler, a knife sharpener, drinking water, and two guys who sell pan dulce come by. This is not counting the guy who comes every other day selling tamales and empanadas and the guy who occasionally swings by selling coconuts to drink out of.
The neighbors in general. Welcome to ‘My Big Fat
Greek Mexican Wedding’: The Neighborhood Edition i. e. everyone here knows your business and cares about it. You think I’m kidding? Every Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day the doors to all of the houses are open, so that everyone can come in, hug and eat and wish each other happiness. This was actually something I loved very much about my entire childhood experience- the knowledge that if I was thirsty while playing, I could knock on any given door and get a glass of water from a friendly face. This can at times turn ugly as well, because all families bicker from time to time. But overall, it’s good to know that somebody’s got your back.
The currently abandoned house. Need to make stew but you want it to have the flavoring that can only come from cooking it with wood? Just make a fire right outside the abandoned house next door and cook it! Need to feed people that are not allowed in your home because there are no other males around? Get a plastic table and feed in the shade of the abandoned house! Too time crunched to go to the beach? No worries, take your inflatable pool and a tarp and let your kids have a pool party next door. Seriously, the house is fantastic.
The mysterious Mason temple at the corner. That Mason temple has been there ever since I can remember- it goes through inactivity/activity cycles. Right now it’s pretty active; they’ve even hired a guard. The somewhat strange thing about recent gatherings is that they leave the door open (somehow, I’ve managed to be coming from somewhere when that happens), thus allowing a peek at what’s inside. Let me just say that the sliver of whatever I saw for a second felt like something out of a coming-of-age novel.
Honestly, if it were up to me, I’d bring you all here and show you why the andador is so lovely. I forgot how charming a place could be- but the best part about this one is that I live in it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a goat to stalk.