By Ellen Greene
Ana Ruiz, my housekeeper and property manager, is a class act. I’ve written about her before. About her coming to San Pancho and to me from the agave fields of Jose Cuervo. About her rise from dishwasher to head chef at one of San Pancho’s finer restaurants, Café del Mar.
She continues to amaze. Over the course of the last year and with some trepidation, Ana has learned to use a computer. She emails me, calls me on Skype, sends photos of work projects that she takes with her cell phone, and details expenses on a spreadsheet I receive every month. This from someone who, as recently as two years ago, had to walk over to her sister-in-law’s house to receive a phone call.
She has also learned to be proactive. She now keeps a maintenance calendar and schedules things like cleaning clogged irrigation and shower heads, ordering cartridges for the water purification system, and buying salt for the pool. It’s such a relief to arrive to a home buffed and in working order, as opposed to a long list of projects waiting for me and multiple runs to a hardware store.
But what I most appreciate about Ana is unrelated to the mechanics of house management. It’s her innate optimism, her positive attitude when it comes to problem solving. No obstacle is insurmountable; nothing is a big deal. Ana whips out her cell phone and calls one of her retinue of service providers: Beto the mason, Jose the plumber, Cornelio the electrician; Javier for appliance repairs, Eneas for electronics, Hugo for all things related to water. In her pleasant yet authoritative way, she makes appointments which they keep and negotiates prices if she thinks they’re out of line.
When there is no easy fix, as was the case recently with a wall oven that needed a part and that a year’s worth of badgering did not make appear, Ana expresses no rancor. She matter-of-factly declares, “Ni modo” (roughly translated, “Oh well, what are you gonna do?”) and moves on to something more doable.
I listen and learn. Between Ana and me, learning is a two-way street.