The Mexico Diaries: Chuey and Julio

The night the lights went out.

The air-conditioning repairman, Chuey, came by yesterday afternoon. You have to understand that I live on the second floor of a five-story building and the air-conditioners are two floors below me in the underground garage. So in order to figure out what was wrong, Chuey needed to bring an assistant, Julio, whose job was to tinker with my thermostat and then run outside and yell down the stairwell to Chuey, two floors below, for instructions. It went something like this, only in Spanish:

“Julio, turn the switch on.”


“The switch…turn it on.”

“Off or on?”

“On, damnit! Now off!”

“It is on.”

“No, you fool, I said turn it off!”

“But you just told me to turn it on.”

“That was before. Now turn it off!”

Anyway, after about an hour of this, Chuey came upstairs to tell me that my air-conditioner was broken. It needed some new parts. Unfortunately, the parts were in Guadalajara (it seems that Guadalajara has all the parts to fix things in Mexico). It would take a week or so to get them. Did I want to order them?

Yes, clearly, I told him.

All right, he said. This is good. He would find out how much the parts cost and would tell Señor Rivera who would then tell me and after I gave them the approval, they would order the parts. But I’ve already given you the approval, I said. Yes, you’ve given me the approval to order the parts but you will also need to give me the approval to pay for the parts once you know how much they will cost. Can’t I just give you that approval now? I asked. No, said Chuey. That is not the way it is done. You must wait until I tell you how much the parts cost.

Fine, I told them. But in the meantime, I’ve already gone a week and a half without air-conditioning. That is not a problem, said Chuey. I can make a small fix to the air-conditioner and you will be able to use it as long as you don’t lower the temperature below 75 degrees. Why is that? I asked. Because any lower than that puts a strain on the compressor. But if you keep it at 75, it will be fine until I can fix it.

Chuey set my thermostat to 75 and then left. Twenty minutes later all the power in my house went out. I called Señor Rivera. “Bulmaro is on his way,” he said. So now the sun has set and it is very, very dark in my house. Fortunately, I have lots and lots of candles. I light about twenty or so and put them all over the house. It looks a bit like a Mexican church on Day of the Dead. I open a nice bottle of wine and get my book and I sit at my kitchen table, candles flickering, waiting for Bulmaro.

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  1. Angeline’s avatar

    Looks like you’re saying Mass.

  2. david’s avatar

    Actually, in a way, Angeline, I was.

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