Neighbour

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I have a neighbor in the apartment next door who is quite the talker. She's pushing sixty and she gets kind of lonely. My gringa friend used to live with her (for like two weeks) then left because she just couldn't stand her. What a bitch, left an old lady alone... and I love her for that, haha.

I used to shy away from the chatty neighbor, because any quick "Hello" lead to a minimum of 20 minutes in conversation. Then I began feeling like a total asshole for not at least taking a little time to talk to the old lady next door who was living alone. So I started was has become a series of 30 min chats with her. We talk about all sorts of things. She was born in Slovakia, and so has a very interesting perspective on Mexican society. I was born on the border between Mexico and the US, so I sometimes feel as alien to this culture as she does, so this is one thing we share.

Anyways, this woman has had quite an interesting life. She was born after the Second World War in the mountains of Slovakia, where winters were normally -50° Celsius. Since most of the infrastructure was destroyed, it wasn't until she was like 10 that they actually got roads and running water. Geez. Her mother is German and her father was a Russian general. After the war, his boss, Stalin, called back the Russian troops, but her father refused to leave. To avoid getting killed, he changed his name, so her last name is etiologically incorrect. In fact, she says, they never really knew who her father really was, ever. When they moved to the West, he disavowed them, calling them traitors to the Communist cause. The last they heard of him was that he had been killed during the War in Yugoslavia in 1992, where he was participating as a military strategist. GEEZ!

She met her Mexican husband while in Slovakia. She got to meet a lot of important figures in the Latin-American left who got to travel and study in the Soviet Union. Then when she married the Mexican guy, she moved to Mexico City with him. She said "Imagine that, an Eastern European mountain girl living in one of the biggest cities on Earth and not knowing hardly any Spanish... quite an adventure". After living there a couple of years, she found out her neighbour was one of Mexico's most famous TV stars, Jorge Ortiz de Pinedo. After seeing his show for the first time, she walked up to him and said "Hey, you're on TV, aren't you?" and he just smiled and said "Yeah, that's me".

She told me she had had a very violent childhood. She once visited Budapest with her grandmother right when the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 started. She said that even though she was a little girl, she remembered that when they were leaving the train station to go back home she could see bodies hanging from the trees. GEEZ! It's estimated that between 25,000-50,000 Hungarians were killed by the Red Army. GEEZ!

Her husband died while they were living in San Miguel de Allende (a beautiful colonial town in Central Mexico). She had three daughters and had to take them out of school because her late husband's former associates refused to let them have any share in the business they jointly owned. She even said they threatened to kill them if they tried to fight in court. So they decided to move here, to sunny and safe Puerto Vallarta. What a world, indeed.

Everybody has an interesting story to tell, don't they? If we only gave them the time and the opportunity...

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