The quarantine camp casita

Several days and games later, saw the arrival of Francesca the owner, as Hanno and Kerstin’s rent was due for renewal. This marks a month since our arrival in Todos Santos, when we struggled to get through the road blockade. Casually, she told us that another couple would be looking at the other casita the next day. This was the one whose balcony that I regularly frequented during that day as it was the only place in the whole complex that got any sun before late afternoon.

I don’t think any of us looked impressed.

“Well if Lee’s electricity bill wasn’t so high,” she declared, pointing at me, “I wouldn’t have needed to.”

So now she had no choice as we had spent so much money on electricity and she was, poor thing, broke. We were not entirely happy at being told we would now be living with two new strangers amidst the pandemic, especially as she had said she wouldn’t rent the other casita unless it was to people we knew. It’s also not exactly a big kitchen after all, space maybe ok it’s a small fridge and cooker.

We weren’t too worry, she assured us, they were English and also travelling. We would be friends. After all we came from the same country, how could we not be? We probably already knew each other, isn’t England small or something, wherever it is? Besides, as she said, she has rented properties for ages and she ‘knows’ this sort of thing. Had she really said she wouldn’t rent it? Well she had just meant for that one month then. She had no choice really, it was all Kirsten’s fault for asking to only pay for two weeks rent…

I would have looked for a brick wall to bang my head against, but I fear that like the plumbing situation around here it wouldn’t have been up to the job.

I wonder if there are any other future predictions she can make on my behalf. Should I re-mortgage my house now for example? Perhaps if you give her a good shake, the answer will float to the top like a Magic 8 ball.

By the time she had finished her attempt at cleaning, we were all rather angry at the way she had handled the situation. Communication is quite a valuable skill, which she seems to only possess the basics of, when money is in the picture. You may be thinking how selfish we are, do we not understand a fellow traveller in need after all we’ve dealt with? The thing is, we had already agreed between us we were happy for some to live in the other room if they were desperate. What we were unhappy about is not being told about it, and then being patronised by the very rude landlady.

This happens a couple of weeks after the whole debacle about the electricity bill. She arrived to collect another two weeks rent from us, when she noticed our camper was plugged in. She asked if we were running a fridge. I explained that we were as there was no freezer on the property, so the only one was in the camper. I also explained that a new 12v DC fridge is incredibly efficient, and nothing like running a standard household appliance. She was clearly unhappy about this and the next day sent a lengthy message about the costs. Not really wanting the bother, we unplugged our van and set up our solar panel. This is enough to run the fridge, but it means our already knackered batteries were taking a bit more of a beating.

She claimed that we had already used an entire months worth of electric to charge our van, which is completely ludicrous. As I have built our electrical system from scratch I know exactly the wattage for each appliance and can work out just how much power is being used. This information she chose to ignore, and told us we would be expected to pay towards the electricity bill on the property we had agreed to rent with all bills included. I said the only way I would pay would be if I saw the meter readings from the beginning of the month, two weeks in and at the end. This way we can calculate the first two weeks against the next two weeks and work out the difference, which I agreed to pay for. She also told me that she had had previous tenants who had plugged in a freezer unit and used a lot of money. In which case, you should tell future tenants that the electricity bill does not include the use of additional appliances, but maybe that requires foresight or a brain. At the sight of the next two weeks rent, things changed somewhat.

“Oh thank you so much!!” she cooed at me. “That’s so sweet of you.” Before she trotted happily through the gate.

Either way, we will see what happens at the end of the month.

From our side, we were both adamant that she wouldn’t be getting any more money from us. She was incredibly rude in the way she spoke to us and as cheap as the place was, we were happy to leave.

All those things that you crave on the road; a hot shower, a permanent bed or the Internet are great for a bit. You then realise that there is a reason you gave up all those things when you left your home, and sitting on a picnic bench for a month trying to persuade the Wi-Fi to upload one video is not really what it’s all about.

The next day we waited to see whom our new roommates would be. Martyn and Lara turned up in their own estate car turned camper and were perfectly nice people. Now in hindsight I feel a little bit bad about the reception we gave them. Still angry form the previous day, we were quick to let them know that the Internet wasn’t any good or the showers. They also found out that they were paying more for their smaller room than we were. Unfortunately for them, they had paid in advance before seeing the room. No doubt Francesca is rubbing her hands with glee somewhere. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why their visit only lasted for two nights, I hope that they don’t feel we drove them out but it was a bit of a weird situation to be in. Living with anyone in quarantine can be hard enough as I’m so many people know first hand now. So we said our goodbyes, and wished them luck in finding somewhere with better Wi-Fi. We would soon be in the same situation with only a few days left of paid for accommodation.

We still had so much to do, blogs and YouTube and all the rest. We had both got stuck into a rather horrid routine however. We got up late, about 9am. We then sat on the picnic bench and played some shitty games on our phones while we drank our tea. Then we ate something at around 11am. Then we maybe did something useful for about 2 hours. At around 2pm the gin and tonic probably appeared. We had become so bored we were in a vicious circle. We wanted to do something, but none of the things we needed to do seemed less boring anymore. So we did nothing instead, which made us more bored.

Watching Aimee sit like an idiot in this plant pot was no longer enough.

As I rescued this same bird of the prowling cats for the second time, it struck me that this was the most exciting thing that had happened all day.

I had also finally managed to order Lee’s birthday present off Amazon. The delivery times appeared to have gone back to normal and we had found a local address in the town for receiving post. Mexico is not like Europe, the postman does not deliver t your house. In fact the houses don’t appear to have any names or numbers on them for the most part. So you need to collect it from an address in town. Having managed to order it, I awaited to see what would happen. Amazon told me it had arrived so I walked down to the building where I was supposedly going to collect this from. Having established that it wasn’t the optician next door, I stood in front of the locked gate to the building. Someone was definitely inside, so I shouted, “Tiene un paquet para mi!” Through the door and hoped that I was understood. Sure enough the man came over, but didn’t open the door. He asked for my name, the next stage in the challenge. ‘Willow’ is something that mexican’s struggle with. I posted my driving licence through the crack in the door frame as an easier option. Sure enough, there were my parcels. After signing for them, I left him with my phone number for next time, and paid 60mxp for the privilege. Pretty happy that I had found the place, managed half a conversation in Spanish, had not to pay the rate of the other delivery place (300mxp) and actualy got my parcel, I headed home.

Still, we really needed was a change of scenery so all in all, when we reached the end of our month rental agreement at the property, it was time to move on.

We had started to explore the options a few days before out rent was up. This was at the time that they announced the extension to the quarantine for another month alongside the extension of the US border closure. We still needed a place to stay for a bit, until the beaches reopened at least.

We had got on so well with Hanno and Kerstin (whose name I have now spelt right!) that we were going to try and look for a new place together for the next month. We fell into an easy kind of friendship that comes when you both want the same thing. Some nights we sat in our separate rooms, some nights we watched movies on the projector set up on their balcony. Living with them had made the quarantine more bearable and they had agreed it would be good to find another spot together.

Hanno and I had walked down to the local hostel in the hope that they might let us camp there. Someone showed us around while we waited for the boss to be free, but it turns out that they didn’t want to accept any new guests. Considering what had just happened to us, we couldn’t help but understand. There was also the option of another casita online, where we could both share the space for cooking and camp outside on the land. We were both desperate to get back in our vans. Hanno often went down and sat inside Bruno to work, favouring it to the slightly broken picnic bench, and on occasion I found myself doing the same with Ruby. It seemed silly to pay for a bed and kitchen, when we both already had one.

Therein, the idea to ask Rancho Pacifico was born. The place we had previously stayed for a week after being kicked off La Pastora. Lee sent a message to see if we could negotiate some kind of work trade as payment, and we agreed to meet the following Thursday. Our rent had run out by this point, so we spent the next couple of days making use of free running water and cleaning Ruby’s inside. We would be leaving regardless of whether the ranch would have us or not.

When Thursday arrived, we packed the final things into a van that’s the cleanest it’s been in 8 months, and set about getting ready to leave. It was at this point we had to say goodbye to the two resident cats, who over the last week or so had been increasingly friendly towards us. We had also been feeding them, in an attempt to stop them shredding the bin and eating any food left unattended for more than 30 seconds. This had made them almost pet like, and it was sad to have to leave them to back to their old lifestyle.

It was a shame to leave them behind, but not as bad as poor little Chico. He arrived only a week or so before we left, announcing himself by walking along the top of the wall that surround the kitchen and howling incessantly and loudly. Unable to not feed a hungry cat, we got him into the kitchen where he wolfed an entire bowl of food.

He was a lovely little boy, skin and bones and covered in scabs but very friendly. While the other cats just wanted food and preferably for you to give them that without touching them, he was the opposite. He craved human attention and happily fell asleep on me within the hour. Then he found Kerstin, who became the firm favourite. Every day Chico could be found asleep on her at some point, which would probably have been nicer if he hadn’t been flea ridden.

The next Monday, we picked up some flea treatment for Aimee, and also one for Chico. He was spending all the time that he wasn’t asleep on Kerstin, asleep in our van and we didn’t fancy getting fleas everywhere. Now a bit less whiny, and probably a lot more comfortable he had become part of our little quarantine camp for a while. We debated taking him with us, but it wasn’t fair on Aimee and we couldn’t really afford to keep two cats either in terms of space or money. I watched the other two as they constantly debated whether or not they would take him, trying to balance sense over having a heart for this little scrap of thing, that just wanted some love. In  the end, we left for the ranch and we hoped that next week all things going well they would just us and he would be there too and maybe him and Aimee could be friends.

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