Sister, Sister…..

P1000075I have been away for days, but the need to communicate my thoughts have not been iddle. While visiting my mother on the occassion of her 90th birthday, my sisters and I have been spending a lot of time together. We have laughed and reminisced, we have eaten great food and we have had a few drinks…..It has been a lot of fun.

Since my mother had a stroke about seven years ago, these trips to visit, supervise her care, spend time with her, have also been a reason to spend time with each other away from our husbands, children, friends. In other words, a time away from the lives we have made away from the country of our birth. A reason to have time to see the friends we went to school with, the cousins we like, see the changes that have taken place……

This trip has been a bit different. Mother’s birthday was on February 26th. Carnaval started on Friday the 28th. She lives in a small city in the Azuero Peninsula in Panama. This colonial town has been here since 1679 more or less. It is not close to the sea, It has no rivers closed by. People are descendants from Spaniards that came from the arid fields of Castille and Leon and the warm towns of Andalucia. They are fiercerly independent, very proud and not too friendly towards strangers. This time of the year, amazingly enough, they open their town to the hoards of people that descend to celebrate Carnaval.

I will be posting photos of this celeration later on. Suffice to say, that Rio de Janeiro, with all it’s wealth has nothing on this town. The amount of money spent, the beauty and splendour of the costumes, the fabulous floats and the display of fireworks is something I cannot explain…you need to see them!!! So I will come back with details. This post is more about us.

I have two sisters, I am the eldest. Ages are not important, so we will not talk about that. Especially since both Ana and Laura do not talk about it either. That is as it should be, we should live everyday and not put too much emphasis in time. We are very different, and when we are apart, we seem to have little in common. When we are here, we seem to have a lot more. Why? Maybe it’s the atmosphere, the fact that we are aware of the passing of time. The fact that we do not know when it will be the last trip to see our mother. Or maybe it is that we are hanging on to our memories, enjoying this time as we did those other times long ago.

P1000070Days pass very slowly in this climate. Fortunately, we have errands to run and things to do for our mother that keep us occupied. The heat is overwhelming. There is a hint of breeze, but not much shade. Trees are not very important in this region. The people prefer their yards devoid of any shade, incomprehensible to me. Laura thinks they prefer to show-off their homes. Nights are a bit better, at least there is no relentless sun. The breezes are more likely to come at night as well. So they are spent talking and remembering the times when we used to spend school holidays here, visiting our grandmother.

Internet connection is fantastic. Did you know the government of Panama has a special server…..free of charge…that anyone can use, in any town or city? Where else, tell me? Still, I have read a lot. So much better since back home I have no time to do it as much as I want. There is excellent food to enjoy, siestas to take and trips to the seaside to have seafood!! Must important….NO HOUSEWORK!!!!

So far, so good. We are still having fun, not even talking about the day we have to leave…..a day that will come too soon!!!

The Year of the Horse and Housework……

images-1Having heard this before, I can hear you saying: she’s lost it again!!! Bear with me, there is a point here and I will try to make it. Friday, January 31st, was the start of the Lunar New Year 4712: the Year of the Horse. For the next two weeks, there will be celebrations all over the world (not only in China), gifts wrapped in red paper, fireworks for good fortune, dances, decorations with handwritten poetry, posts on Facebook, jokes and great food to share. On February 14th, the Festival of Lanterns will close the celebration in style. You are still wondering, right?

Let’s get to the point, then. One of the things that I read about these celebrations is the fact that you clean your house BEFORE the New Year. Floors are swept, furniture dusted, laundry done. Of course, you change sheets and towels, clean the oven, empty cupboards and fridge……You know what I am talking about because people do it around the world for other New Year celebrations: such as Diwali in India. That is a lot of housework, don’t you think? I remember doing all the above at one point or another in Curaçao…..but I digress.

Your home is sparkling and, if you did most of it yourself, you are exhausted. Now comes the great part, the one I didn’t know about but is the best!! You don’t have to do any housework for the next few days. Yes, that’s it: no cleaning your house for the next few days. Apparently, sweeping, dusting and other such annoying chores will do away with your good luck…..absolute bliss!!!

What I am still trying to ascertain is how many days. Some article I read even mentioned not cleaning for the two weeks!! A bit much, if you ask me, still the principle is fabulous. Housework is not among my favorite things. I used to tell my friends that I am not domesticated. I do what needs to be done and I do it well……but don’t ask me to enjoy any of it, not even cooking!! Most women are like me, I am positive.

imagesI am in good company. There have been famous women that have boldly expressed their dislike for housework. It is wretched work and is not appreciated or noticed unless you forget to do it one day and then…….everyone has an opinion! I think women should get paid for this, regardless. Even if you work outside the home, you should be paid additionally and if you can afford it, you should have help. In previous lives, I have had household help. Yes, I know is not politically correct. On the other hand, politically is closely related to politician and we know how that works. Always felt that I was helping the economy. I was fair and never expected more than what I could do myself, I just didn’t want to do housework!!! So I don’t apologize for this and we can agree to disagree.

Back to the Year of the Horse….. This year promises to be interesting. It seems that this will be a very controversial year when it comes to world affairs. People sticking to their principles and ideas and not much compromising. Financial markets will be unstable, but anything to do with lumber, agriculture and the media will do fine….what? Now, if you were born on the Year of the Horse: lie low this year. The Ying-Yang opposition will be unbalanced (two Horses!!!) and there will be tension and stress in your life. To help you navigate these uncertain waters, wear RED as much as possible this year. Nice to know!!

If you were not born on the Year of the Horse, then just enjoy these days without housework, invest in media companies, take up wood carving or plant a vegetable garden. Everything else is out of your control!!!