Geneva, who writes the monthly series Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style, shares her daily life in Mérida, Yucatan.
What is an ordinary day? A day in the life of any human being should never be ordinary, for every breath is precious, every moment is valuable.
My daily routine looks a lot like that of any other work at home wife. We wake up, have coffee, maybe have breakfast, do a few chores around the house. He goes to work and I go to work on the computer. I do a few more household chores. At the end of our workday, we have dinner, read, check social media, sometimes watch a movie. Sounds pretty normal, right?
Early morning has always been my favorite part of the day. I love sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, drinking a hot cup of coffee in the cool of the day while it’s quiet before the rest of the world wakes. We are both very early risers, waking usually between 4:00am and 5:00am with no alarm clock. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we used an alarm clock. So, our schedule is very different from most of the people we know, many of whom are getting ready to go out for dinner about the time we are going to bed.
But it’s our household chores which stand out as being different from the chores we did in the states. Twice a week, we start laundry by 6:00am so it has the best chance to dry on the clothesline before afternoon rains. We have had the rains surprise us and we wound up with a full load of laundry laying in the mud twice, so the earlier the better. My husband runs a garden hose from the kitchen faucet to the washing machine so that it fills faster, time being of the essence and all.
After breakfast, I wash all the countertops with soapy water and spray a vinegar/baking soda mix around the window ledges and baseboards to discourage ants, and my husband mops the floor. This is the tropics, and insects are a part of life, so these practices are necessary. Fortunately, most creatures prefer to live outside, like termites, snakes, scorpions, cockroaches, and iguanas. On the other hand, ants live in the walls and the electrical systems so they can visit us any time they like.
Twice a month, my countertop becomes a high school science lab slash cocktail party for ants. I whip up treats for my little friends. The key ingredient is boric acid, which when eaten by the ants, will kill them. Unfortunately, they can be a little picky. So, I mix boric acid with a little flour for my bread loving ants and add a few drops of milk to part of it so that I have both wet and dry bait on each piece of cardboard. The worker ants eat the dry food and take dry food to the other workers, so the dry food is always popular. The wet food is carried to and fed to the larvae, which produce the food for the queen.
After a couple of applications, we noticed a huge reduction in the number of ants, but we continue treatments for prevention sake. I do variations for different ants, peanut butter for the protein-loving ants, and soggy cardboard for my cellulose loving ants. At the same time the bait is out, I treat all my wooden furniture with orange oil, which I also distilled myself.
As with all things, what one becomes accustomed to is what seems normal, so this routine feels quite normal to me, and I’d much rather do this every few weeks than spray harsh chemicals in my home, especially in my kitchen. But I hope that even this routine never becomes ordinary, even in an ordinary-seeming day.