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Looking out my Backdoor: Got myself in trouble


The week has been filled with emails sailing back and forth between myself and my friends in the States and in Canada. We each are settling into a way of living that might be our new norm for months, even longer.

It had been on my mind a long while, since I’m the only northerner on the rancho, to write a group letter lining out my own boundaries for safety during this COVID pandemic. Sooner or later, people will come filtering back. Rather than address them one at a time, I thought this would be the better method, a way to make myself clear with everybody.

So, after weeks of procrastination, I sat down and I did it. I requested that once they were able to cross the border, my friends quarantine themselves from my presence for two weeks minimum on arrival.

I informed them that until a vaccine was available to myself, I would not go caroming around the country with anyone: not for breakfast, not for dinner, not shopping, not exploring, not to the ocean, neither Atlantic or Pacific.

I asked that when coming my way for a patio visit, they ring the cowbell hanging on my small gate. I always hear it. I will come out and invite them inside the big gate. The “boys” and I have devised a system whereby the small gate is mine and the big gate is for their use. It works.

When Benjamin delivers water jugs or David from Vivero Centro comes to spray or I drag a bin out to the garbage pickup men, I wear a mask. Everyone else has done likewise and I respect that they respect my safety. So, yes, I also required we all mask up. I will. I expect you to do likewise.

Once on the patio, I request social distance and no sharing of food and drinks. We may eat together but we each prepare and bring our own vittles.

Know what I forgot? I neglected to say, one family at a time, at least until we see how the system functions. Oh, well. Still plenty of time to address that since nobody is here anyway.

I went on to say that so far Etzatlan has dodged the bullet, so to speak, and only because of extreme vigilance on the part of all peoples. (Do I sound like I’m beating a dead horse?)

Then, boy howdy, I held my breath until the answers began arriving. The majority responded with respect, with positive things to say, with agreement that they would want the same considerations.

One person did not respond and I already know he does not agree with me.

And one responded with outright anger. Which I figured was coming. I wrote back that I respect that her position and choices are different.

Then Kathy and Richard along with Crin, living separately together in the same house, from whom I got a lot of these good guidelines, including having hand sanitizer, soap and towels readily available for all comers, began browbeating me that I am not prepared enough.

They began laying out “what if” scenarios. What if I got sick? Do I have basic medicines? A thermometer? A way to contact the ambulance?

Next, they offered their freezers (my refrigerator freezer is pitifully small but more than adequate for my daily use). Kath and Crin’s premise is that if Leo and Josue were sick, how would I be able to get food and necessities to hold me for a month or two?

I’ve only recently become comfortable with shopping only for immediate use, the Mexican way. It took a long time for me to not stock up on food as though facing a Montana winter in the outback.

I made a two page list and sent Leo off on a shopping expedition to include every other tienda in town. Oops, add toothpaste, Leo. Oh, and I need to put money on my cellphone. And I forget mantequilla.

In addition, I ordered extras of certain fruits and veggies to prepare for the freezer, not a lot, but a little bit. I expect to be supplementing my larder with produce from my bucket garden soon. My mangoes are starting to ripen so I’ll be eating my own mangoes by next week.

So I haven’t exactly reverted to being a true prepper but I do feel better prepared for the worst possible scenario.

I told Leo that if I get sick and die I want him and Josue to divide up all the food in my house and in my bodega. Wish you could have seen his look of horror. Then I forbid him to get sick, in those words, with pointed wagging forefinger.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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