Language by Baptism: Parte Seis

Spanish immersion continues for me and my daughter in San Miguel de Allende. Our time here ends a week from tomorrow. So, naturally, we are thinking about and planning hard what to do over the next week. For sure, I plan to spend an afternoon or more photographing the wonderful architecture of this beautiful town, starting with our new place of lodging. Look for it soon.

But first–wait!–a new place of lodging?

Yeah. New.

No photos this time; just a dramatic interlude.

Last night, at around 8pm, Christiana and I found ourselves hastening two blocks through the rain with all our belongings on our respective persons to the main drag in order to flag down a taxi. Which we did.

“Colonia Guadalupe, por favor,” I said to the befuddled looking driver.

We arrived at our destination, our new place of lodging, several minutes later; where, still raining slightly, we were greeted by a remarkable person, a woman of maybe twenty-five years, holding a newborn, who’d rushed over from her home to meet us, let us in, and give us a tour of this place, a rental she and her husband own.

Everything about this meeting with our new host ran smooth as silk.

Let me just say here and now: if you’ve ever thought about using Air B&B but haven’t, throw all your reluctance out the window now and forever! In less than half an hour, we found and booked our new lodgings and have been kicking ourselves since for not having done this in the first place.

The new digs are wonderful! We’ve got our own kitchen, two bedrooms, three bathrooms, an outdoor terrace, and a killer spiral staircase all to call our own over the next nine days (wish it were longer!). And all for cheaper than our other place.

About that other place, we started getting suspicious on the very first night.

AHA! promises to handle food and lodging (for a reasonable fee) if prospective students ask. The idea is to put students up with a host family that provides three meals a day, a Spanish-speaking family, so that the immersion can continue 24/7.

Great idea. So we asked.

But some last-minute changes had to be made in our case. The original host family had a family emergency come up; so AHA! scrambled and found us another host family.

This new family, however, didn’t exactly follow protocol. They own a small inn, in which they placed us with no explanation. Seriously, we didn’t know for the first few hours whether our hosts would be back, whether we’d be eating dinner with them, without them, where, when, or what.

After some text messaging and navigating our way around, into, and through language barriers, we realized the truth: for the next four weeks we would be essentially on our own.

Still, the agreement was three meals a day. And we wanted dinner.

“Muy bien,” our hosts texted, “cena a son las siete.”

So, we patiently waited for seven o’clock to come . . . and go; then eight o’clock; then nine. And still no dinner!

Hangry, at last it arrived. But it was obvious that our hosts had forgotten about my daughter’s food allergy!

Anyway, that was our first night. We’d become a little wary.

Now, this “host” family happens to own a restaurant in town too. We could go there for meals if we preferred, they said.

Okay, we said. Si.

But, for the next two weeks, these provided-for meals were always awkward. The restaurant was almost always empty. Some wait staff pressured us to leave tips. Others billed us–despite the agreement. The hosts said not to worry about it.

Yet the awkwardness remained.

Also, groceries were supposed to be part of the deal. We’d be happy to cook for ourselves now and again. We agreed that here was a win-win situation!

Yet few if any came (in spite of our sending numerous reminders).

We nearly left one day (we should have trusted our instincts). A guest showed up at 4:07am. Except we didn’t know he was a guest. For all we knew, the person outside the gate ringing the doorbell and pounding incessantly and urgently was a part of a cartel.

We just sat there in the pre-dawn darkness, a little frightened, hoping the doorbell ringer would go away and that photos of our dead bodies wouldn’t end up on the evening news in Yuma, giving Trump more pointless fodder for his silly wall idea.

When someone finally came (one of the restaurant managers) and let the guest in, he turned out to be a wonderful young man from Paris, traveling solo, looking for a place to crash for a couple of days. He was just as frightened outside the gate as we were inside–something we all shared a good laugh over that night. Still, it would have been nice for our “host” family to have communicated his anticipated arrival ahead of time.

Long story short, we showed up to the restaurant a couple days ago to find it suddenly and abruptly closed down until further notice.

What?

So, hangry again, I notified AHA! of this newest surprise and explained that we had been requesting groceries and drinking water since Sunday and now we have no meals whatsoever and our hosts should at least lower our price and . . .

Apparently, we were told, the landlord of the restaurant shut off the electricity as a means of motivating the restaurant management (i. e., our hosts) to pay more rent.

We were also told that our hosts would be contacted about our needs.

Then came yesterday afternoon. We arrived home–after our hosts had been contacted about our needs–to our little inn, to find the electricity off there too. No wifi, no refrigerator, no hot water, nada. So we poked around a bit–and discovered that, in addition to the electricity being out, all the drinking water and (of all things!) toilet paper had been removed from the premises.

“No TP? Okay,” I declared, “that’s it! Christiana, show me what your Smartphone can do.”

A brief time later we found ourselves out of the old place, across town, and in the new place, a very cool property we get to call our own for the next nine days.

I don’t know: I might have to give in and get a Smartphone myself soon.

Whatever the case, we’re glad to have our lodging situation worked out at last. As for food, I’m happy to say, the money saved on our new digs should just about cover home-cooked (by me) breakfasts and two meals out a day. Looking forward to exploring the gastrodiversity this town has to offer!

And just so you know, AHA! has handled this sensitive (y no es tipico) matter with dignity and aplomb. We received a written apology and a satisfactory, albeit very partial, refund.

Look for architectural photos in the next few days!

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