On Friday, I was driving home past the Parque de las Americas. As I got closer, I noticed that filming was happening, right at the intersection. I felt nervous because getting across Avenida Colón is frightening at the best of times, and with the equipment, props, actors, cameramen, directors, and bystanders… it would be even more of a challenge. Everyone seemed to be wandering all over the place, busily doing their jobs, without too much concern for cars. I, of course was most anxious not to hit anyone!
And what was the subject of this great production? Best I could see… it was a variation on the theme of: “Your Tax Pesos At Work.” A promo of the City’s street cleaning operation was in the making. The stars, decked out in new beige and orange uniforms were positioned at different distances from the fellow with a gigantic video camera, and when the jefe (in a double knit polo shirt) said, “¡Ya!” – they walked forward, jauntily carrying brooms, shovels and a weed-whacker. Several takes were necessary because the fellows were not too experienced at being video stars and they forgot to smile, or they looked down, or didn’t look at the camera. There were four of them and each had to play his part just right.
But finally, the take was completed to everyone’s satisfaction and the line of waiting cars was waved through. As I passed one of the bosses in a polo shirt, I said, “Why don’t you bring those guys up to my street; there’s lots of overgrowth to be cut down and trash to pick up… add some realism to your film? He took down my address and said they’d certainly come by… and ¡Muchas Gracias! for my fine suggestion… Of course no one showed up to film Act II on my litter-strewn roadway and sidewalk.
BUT… Sunday morning at 7 am, we were awoken by the sound of weed-whackers – whacking… brooms – sweeping… shovels – dumping… and eight good-natured young men singing. The crew had arrived and Calle 7 was getting a thorough make-over. I went out to thank them (two big bottles of Coke under my arm) They opened that elixir right away and took big grateful gulps… It was already H-O-T by 7 am and they told me, they’d been on the job since 5 am. I asked them if I could take a picture? They did not have to be asked twice… they were experienced at this and they jumped up and struck a pose in front of their truck.
I was charmed, as I am about so many things in Mérida. You know the people here can turn an ordinary event into a fiesta. They laugh and joke about everything and I know their good humor rubs off on me. When I am asked, “Why do you live here? Why is it such a special place?” I inevitably answer, “Because of the people!” Guys like the Sunday morning clean-up crew… and the many other hard-working, honest citizens I encounter every day. I try to be as gracious with them as they are with me…
Ask, and you will receive!