Monday, October 27, 2014

Rosa and Blanca

Home, Clean Home
Part of the culture of Mexico, something that's common in numerous parts of the world, is the concept of house-help. It's expected that you hire someone to come and clean for you at least once a week. It's kind of funny; women arrange get-togethers at their homes based on when the cleaning lady has come. "Friday is a great day because my cleaning lady comes on Thursday," they'll say. Having cleaning help is a good thing, too. Besides providing employment for people, it keeps houses clean that are constantly inundated with dust that comes in through open windows. Actually, when you think about it, it would make more sense if it were more of our U. S. culture. But we're so independent that if we have someone who cleans for us, than we are either rich snobs or obviously incompetent. I am guilty of never having had cleaning help except for shamelessly using my mother who loves to clean and doesn't mind tackling some of my crazy life. Okay, rant over.

So here we are living in an apartment complex that the university leases, and part of the deal is regular cleaning help. Our building has two women who tackle the eight apartments: Blanca does the front of the building, Rosa does the back. They sweep, mop floors, scrub down bathrooms and sometimes even clean the windows. They also take apartment-provided towels and sheets to be washed. It is marvelous. Particularly because the things they do are things that I've always let slide. I'm okay with staying on top of clothes laundry and the kitchen (which are two things they don't do), but floors and bathrooms are not my forte. As for windows, if I can see through them we're all good.

Jon and Rosa
We've gotten to know both Rosa and Blanca because we started out in the front of the building, then moved to the back after the first month. I'm thankful for this duel-knowledge; both women have come to be part of the fabric of our lives. They adore our kids--Jon in particular. It helps that every day when the kids come home from school, they look for the open apartment doors and call out "¡Hola!" and when one of the ladies appears, Jon tackles her with a hug. Jon has practiced more Spanish on Rosa and Blanca than anyone else. With them, he's perfectly happy to try out "¡Adios Amiga!" or other phrases. They eat it up.

For me, these women have been my sounding board for Spanish as well. Rosa knows a bit of English because she has a sister who lives in the U. S. and she spent time there years ago. Blanca doesn't know a word, but with a translate program on my iPad, we've had full conversations about herbs, gas-leaks, and why Americans take their shoes off at the front door. I always feel like we're communicating, even when we can't understand half or more of each other's words.

Clare shows Blanca a school project
(and we learn animal names in Spanish)
The women are a study in contrasts. Every time I see them I can't help but think of Mutt and Jeff, or VeggieTales' Larry and Bob. Blanca is tall and lean, with long hair usually pulled back loosely. She's laid back and a little sassy. Rosa, on the other hand, stands only a foot taller than Jon, if that. She's round all over with sparkling black eyes and hair pulled smooth and tight into a bun. Tiny gems sparkle in her ears, and one ear is slightly misshapen. Her work is thorough and efficient like she is. I realized the difference in cleaning styles immediately after we moved. Blanca tends to be looser about things.... But I've grown very fond of both of them. Every time I head off to get the kids Blanca tells me to drive con cuidado ("with care") and Rosa helped me learn how to say "I'm going for the children."

I hope someday that I'll be able to let them know how much they've helped all of us feel more at home here. And I hope that our lives will leave a positive imprint on theirs in a way that will have long-reaching results. It's impossible to know at this point. But I do know I am daily grateful for Rosa and Blanca.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:15 AM

    I would be thankful for them, too! What a blessing they are!