Old World Style. And I am surrounded by them; and I love it. For example, I needed to get my ancient navy blue cashmere cardigan sweater darned. A lady who does mending lives 8 doors down. And then there is my more ancient REI thin fleece vest has been threatening to wear out for the last 10 years which of course has been unreplaceable because REI hasn’t made that particular model in at least a dozen years. But fortunately it occurred to me a couple of days ago – I was in Mexico – just go get the bloody thing copied! For that tailor service I had to walk up to Lupita’s house over on Zaragoza. I took it with me and she asked me to put it on. She asked if I wanted any modifications and by golly I did. I wanted it 2 cm. longer, the pocket slightly larger to hold my cell phone, and it slightly looser.

Damn but I love that kind of service! Not just can she do the job but she is sharp enough to anticipate that maybe – while I might love the thing – it still may not be quite perfect. She (and others like her) remind me of my mother. My mother is one of the few people in the world that I can give a job to and she’ll give it back to me 120% better than what I asked for.

The closest ironmonger is 6 blocks away. He’s made me 4 sawhorses out of welded, painted black steel that provide the support for white planed pine boards that serve as my two 6 foot long work tables. A very elegant and modular, not to mention most inexpensive table solution. He also made me an bent iron chin up bar, custom, to lock onto the bottom of my metal stairs. Now I have no excuse for not doing pull ups.

There is a carpenter 2 blocks down. A block down from him are 2 barbershops; staffed by old geezers who still shave with straight razors. The Mercado just 4 blocks away is loaded to the gills  with every sort of fresh fruit and vegetable under the sun. They also sell farmer’s fresh cheese, freshly butchered meats, flowers, coconuts, and make keys and fix watches. And heaven only knows what else.

There are 2 hardware stores within 5 blocks. Got a broken window and need glass? One block over and 2 blocks down. Oh yeah, they come to your house and remove the broken pane and install the new one. It’s all part of the service. There are 4-5 bakeries and pastry shops within a 6 block radius. And yes, they deliver too.

Other home delivery services? Everything imaginable including gas cylinders, 20 liter bottles of drinking water, raw unpasteurized milk (served with a cup out of old fashioned stainless steel milk cans), along with fresh creme and cheese. Shampoos, soaps, cleaners, and detergents are all ferried around through the neighborhoods in the beds of old overloaded Nissan pickup trucks and sold cheap.

Medical services? 2 hospitals are within a 20 minute walk. There are a dozen doctors offices within just few blocks. Cost? Cheap. Quality? Excellent. I had an x-ray done of my heel a few months ago and it took just over an hour to get a doctor’s sign off, the walk to the hospital, the return to the doctor for him to read it. All for less than forty bucks.

If you die here? The street in front of your house is blocked off for a day or two, a tent is erected, folding chairs are put out and your friends and neighbors all stop by at some point to have a chat with the surviving family members. (Lacking family down here; nobody will probably know I’m dead till that big old fiery Cerveza Modelo chariot finally stops in front of my house to make its first free big delivery).

There are still all of these splendidly personalized services here that began disappearing in the US 50 plus years ago.

I feel extremely grateful to be amongst these people who work hard and take extreme pride in doing all of those little things that gives substance to all of our seemingly inconsequential tiny little lives.

I agree with The Modern Lovers, a punk band from the ’70s who sang

“And I still love the old world
I wanna keep my place in this old world
Keep my place in the arcane knowledge
And I still love the ’50’s and I still love the old world…”

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