I promised you some entertaining stories a really long time ago, soooo....
A few months ago we were greeted on a Sunday afternoon by a strange guy in front of our house. He was carrying a machete.
He explained that he was a gardener and did work for some of our neighbors, and would we be interested in hiring him to help out? Well, it just so happened that the grass/weeds were taking over our backyard. It was so tall that even Charles was scared to walk through it. So we invited him in to take a look. He suggested a price, we haggled, and we had a deal. He said he would be back the following Saturday to start the work.
The next Saturday he showed up (which was a surprise!) and he did a great job cleaning up the yard.
He showed up the next 2 Saturdays like he was asked....even on time!
The 3rd Saturday, he came again. It hadn't been raining, and the grass hadn't grown at all. There was no work for him to do. Also, more importantly, I was home alone because Jose was out of town. I asked him to come back the next Saturday instead. He got upset, understandably, because he had been counting on the day's work and pay. I gave him all I had in my wallet, which was a lot less than half of what I owed him for one day. I told him to consider it an advance for the next week, when I would deduct it from his regular pay.
Now, you've probably already guessed.... he didn't show up the next Saturday, right?
I didn't mind it, because I was only out $2.
The next Saturday? He didn't show up then either.
But the next Thursday (Thanksgiving!)....
I came home from work and there was a strange man in front of my house. When I saw the machete, I realized it was the gardener. He had been beaten up so badly that I didn't recognize who it was.
So I got out of the car. Stupid! And I asked him what he was doing there, on a Thursday. When I'm home alone! He explained that someone had robbed him and beaten him up. Hmm. Ok, that could be true, but why risk it?! He asked if I had any work for him. I explained that since he hadn't shown up the Saturday before, we had already hired someone else and that we would no longer need his services. Which wasn't true, but....
You see, I had decided from the second that I saw his swollen face that I did not want him in my house or anywhere near it. Around here, being beaten up that badly screams GANG (mara in Spanish). Now, it doesn't necessarily mean he is IN a gang, but that one had beaten him up. And who wants an employee in their house that is either a gang member (marero) or has upset one badly enough to beat the living daylights out of him!?!
So you can imagine my fear when instead of just walking away, he got upset.
"But I don't have any money and now I have to pay the doctor bill and you were supposed to pay me to work in your yard!"
"Umm, you were also supposed to show up on Saturdays, but you didn't come, so I hired someone else. I'm sorry for what happened to you, but I can't rehire you now that I have someone else," I explained.
"Well, you HAVE TO give me some money then!" he demanded.
Eeeeek. "Gerardo, I don't even have 1 lempira in my purse. I don't have anything to give you."
"But I have to pay for my x-rays at the hospital!" He was getting more angry.
"Like I said, I have no money. I'm sorry. Now, I think it's best if you leave," I said, eyeing his machete.
"I NEED SOME MONEY!" he yelled.
I glanced at the front door. Even if I made it there before him, he could try to push in after me and it would be worse than what could happen outside where the neighbors could see, I thought. I prepped my car key in between my fingers in case I needed it as a weapon. You know, to fight off his machete. !?!
Then, thank God, my phone rang. It was my husband.
"Oh thank goodness you called," I said in a completely normal voice so Gerardo wouldn't know what was up. "The gardener is here, and he's really pissed off, and he's demanding money, and I don't know what to do," I said in a cheerful voice.
And then, Gerardo did something totally unexpected, and turned around to leave.
I waited until he was near the gate, and rushed inside and locked the door. *sigh* Safe at last!
About 45 minutes later, the doorbell rang. Eeeeeek! He's back!! Probably with his marero friends!
But it was the neighbor, letting me know that the muchacho golpeado (beaten up guy) had just stolen the spare tire off of the other neighbor's truck, AND a gas tank from the other neighbor's house.
I don't know how he made out of the neighborhood carrying both things on foot. (I mean, why do we even pay the guards at the tranca?!) But, the guards were given clear instructions to never let him back in, and we haven't seen him since.
And if you think that was as bad as the day could get, you're wrong! Later that day my wallet was lost/stolen and I met a lovely scam artist. Stay tuned for that entertaining story...