When we moved to Merida, we knew things would be different. We were well aware of our lack of language skills. We were ready to learn new cultural ways. When renovating we learned to accept different construction methods and traditions. Governmental services differ, laws are definitely different, and even police officers differ greatly from their counterparts in the U.S. However, there is one thing that has hit me like a ton of bricks; something of which I was completely unaware; a daily challenge that may send me screaming back northwards.
Yes, I said it…leaves.
Leaves on the ground, on lounge chairs, in the flowers, bushes, palm trees. Leaves on the roofs, tables, chairs, circular stairs, and on every stamped concrete walkway on the property. I thought that we had landed in paradise, a place of perpetual summer where raking leaves might have to be a thing of the past. After all, if it is always summer, leaves will never fall off the trees, right? RIGHT???
How naïve I was (some might say stupid). I have learned that every tree has its own life cycle, and that they definitely do not all share the same one.
The leaves began falling in January. Not a lot of them, and not very large ones. Small leaves falling off small trees. One leaf-gathering chore every two weeks or so seemed to suffice. This continued through March, it seems. I was living in a fools-paradise, however, as the size and frequency of the falling leaves began to increase, exponentially.
By the end of April I was seeing not only leaves, but what we always called whirlybirds – those little twin-sided wings that we used to love watch elegantly spin gently to earth. But my initial nostalgia turned to chagrin as the numbers increased and I started digging them out of every nook and cranny of the property.
The end of May saw the fruit trees begin dropping their little round, mushy balls. I don’t have a clue what they are; all a neighbor was able to tell me was, “it’s a fruit, but I forget the name”. Really? There are so many different fruits that you cannot even identify them in your own back yard? Well, join the club. If the fruit was not falling off the trees and into our yard, then the iguanas were up in the trees eating, and dropping them half eaten, all juicy, slimy, and soft, into the yard. I pick one up to toss it over into the abandoned yard next door and along goes a handful of our yard stones, stuck fast.
June. The small leaves continue to fall, the whirlybirds find their way into the spaces behind my pool equipment and water heaters, and the fruit is now nearing the end of its season and is even grosser when I have to pick them up. Now, a huge old tree in the next yard decides it is time to shed its gigantic brown leaves to make room for the new, green ones arriving daily. Now I spend most of my day in our rear courtyard picking up thousands upon thousands of leaves, fruit, and whirlybirds. I get the area all nice and clean, go in the house for a bite to eat (okay, more than a bite, but let’s not talk about stress eating right now), then return to the yard for my next chore when, bam! I eye the ground and start foaming at the mouth and babbling in some unknown tongue. The courtyard is again awash in leaves. It looks like a brown carpet. So I spend another hour picking up leaves. Now, I say pick up the leaves because it is virtually impossible to rake them. First, we have too many obstacles to rake around: water heater, water softener, cistern, a small tree, flowers, bushes, a walkway, a circular stairs…you get my drift. So I pick up the leaves one by one and place them in an old paint bucket for dumping back into the next yard from whence they came.
|The rear courtyard milliseconds after removing leaves|
Removing the leaves in the rear courtyard has become an obsession…and I’m not one prone to obsessions. (Well, there is that little road sign issue, but, again, let’s not go there right now.) I find myself bending over several times per day, duck-walking through the courtyard, gathering every little leaf, twig, stem, and the odd bird feather (don’t know where THEY are coming from). I walk back to our laundry area and as I pass through the courtyard the leaves begin to laugh at me.
“Hahahahaha, think you have beaten us, do you? Well, my bent over American friend, you have not even BEGUN to see the last of us! Hahahahahaha.”
This constant bending over is aging me much faster than my actual young 6th-decade age would suggest. As I stood outside our front door the other day, waiting for our most recent guests to arrive, two women walking by dropped a coin in my hand.
It is early July and the leaf dropping shows no signs of slowing. I am now spending more time in the rear courtyard than in my bedroom. I was prepared for the daily duties of running a Bed & Breakfast, and actually enjoy most of them. I don’t mind sweeping the walkways, cleaning rooms, making breakfast and doing the many little maintenance items the crop up each day. Just today I finished sealing the roofs for rainy season. But raking leaves??? Whodathunkit?
“It’s always somethin’,” as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say. (If you get that, your AARP card is waiting. If you don’t, come back when you have been properly schooled on one of the greatest comediennes of the last century.) But not to worry; I have thrown in the towel. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, as they say. I found a way to keep the grounds nice and clean AND get my full 8 hours of nightly rest. If you don’t believe me, just stop by and take a look in the rear courtyard. Just don’t trip over my bed.