It was close to midnight by the time Jennifer, Lily, Anna, and I arrived at Quinta Elena on Nov. 23. It was good to be home and to have a houseful of company arriving the next day, Tuesday. Thursday would be one of our best Thanksgivings ever, I just knew.
Up early the next morning, I went into the kitchen to make coffee and saw a note on the refrigerator. “It pains me to tell you, Senora Elena,” wrote my housekeeper, Ana, “but the refrigerator, oven, and telephone aren’t working. I called the repair people but no one has come.”
After twelve years of owning a home in a small beach town in Mexico, I’ve learned not to panic as a first reaction to these re-entry snafus. My heart did sink, however, when I slid the coffee carafe under the tap, opened the faucet, and heard the familiar gurgle of an empty line. The house was out of water. Again.
A chagrined Ana arrived half an hour later, and we sprang into action. Ana badgered and begged the appliance repair shop to send someone asap. I called a contact at the phone company who had helped me out many times before and pleaded for internet access. No way could my guests, NYC media types, do without. Manuel, my gardener/handyman, moved water from one storage tank to another while I ordered a truckload to be delivered to Quinta Elena, an address the tanker driver knew well.
And it all happened (well, almost all. An oven part had to come from Guadalajara.). Broadband restored, water running, frig fixed, the last truck headed down my driveway as my guests’ rental cars headed up.
Over and over I am offered the same choice here. I can sit on the porch of my beautiful house (www.quintaelena.com), savoring the exquisite sights inside and out while counting my lucky stars. Or I can allow myself to see only what needs to be fixed or buffed up, creating self-imposed stress as I turn each visit into an urgent to-do list.
Stuff needs maintenance, to be sure. But, I have to remind myself, not to the exclusion of admiring what’s lovely about the place. How the garden had flourished during the past rainy season, for instance. “Reina exora” blossoms, in multi-hued pastels and big as my fist, ran up the driveway now, on bushes that towered over our car. Lavender “leticia” cups and golden “copas de oro” hid barbed wire, climbed fence posts, and coated slopes that were bare back in August when I was last in San Pancho.
As for our Thanksgiving, it was grand. Guests loved our little town and the beach at neighboring Sayulita, where Lily and Anna got up on surfboards for the first time.Eateries Baja Takueria, Cafe del Mar, and Ola Rica were huge hits. Everyone joined in the spirit of water conservation, taking “Navy showers” and closing faucets while washing dishes.
And for the record, here’s how you turn out a fine Thanksgiving dinner for twenty without an oven: You bake pumpkin, pecan, apple, and key lime pies, plus a coconut flan for good measure, at someone else’s house; you dry-brine the turkey and slow-grill it on a Weber; and you declare all side dishes as meant to be served at room temperature.