Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yesterday morning a pair of ants made the unfortunate mistake of vacationing in my cup of coffee. I hope I didn't slurp down any of their friends before realizing that those black specks weren't in fact coffee grounds.
The woman who brought my cup of coffee is Maria. And she does make one good cup o' joe. It may be because of the three spoonfuls of sugar and plenty of whole (yes WHOLE) milk, but I actually love Nescafe. Yum. Anyway, Maria is our 'nana' here at the Paloma residence, an occupation landing somewhere between nanny and servant. I forgot to mention that my coffee arrives at my room on a tray, no less. She does the laundry, makes all the meals for the day (serving us as well), and cleans the house. I find myself quite often debating the pros and cons of the nana profession. I must admit Maria is like the Jewish grandmother I never had. And I love the way she calls me 'mi amor.' Though, I still find myself conflicted: At one moment I feel quite like a princess, but then reality and a touch of humanity steps in and I start to feel a bit uncomfortable. Maria genuinely seems to enjoy what she does and there is no way she will ever allow me to help her wash the dishes or mop the floors while she's present. She always serves me more than I can eat, she constantly asks me why I'm so skinny, and she never forgets to show me the massive pills she takes to keep her diabetes in check. I love Maria.
But then I wonder, what would the American version of Maria look like? The relationship between nana and employer would be completely different in the States. Or so I think. In this household here in Chile there is no real social or socioeconomic barrier between Maria and ourselves. We treat her as we treat each other. From what I have experienced growing up in the U.S. there seems to be an obstruction between those receiving pay and those doing the paying. And I guess that's all I have to say about that.

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