So I’m a West Coast turned East Coast and returned West Coast overeducated Latina and I’m living with my mom in the barrio. Sounds like the plot of a brand new sitcom on ABC right? Well, actually, it’s my life.
After two weeks of moving in to care for an ailing Latina mother, these are some survival strategies I have picked up, not unlike those vatos on Survivor who eat worms and stuff.
Speaking of eating, there is no trying anything new in the barrio. My mother only believes in using whatever brands of packaged cooking oil, food, etc. she is used to.
Any unfamiliar food “smells bad” which means it is not fit for human consumption.
Also, you can’t eat anything that a fly lands on.
Bodegas are called tienditas here.
My mother has a whole rating system for the tienditas in the barrio based on how flat the sodas are. The lowest rated tiendita owners go to the 99 Cent store and buy the soon-to-expire sodas, rip off the 99 cent sticker, and sell the sodas for two dollars!
It’s okay to buy sodas at the mini-mart on the gas station at the corner by the gay bar. They may price gouge more than the other tienditas, but their sodas are fully bubbly.
People in the barrio also suspect tap water. They buy bottled water. Little bottles of water. Lots of little bottles of water.
So with all these bottles of soda and water that are consumed, you think there would be some sort of recycling program? Nope.
My sister started her own Barrio Recycling Program. Which consists of putting bottles and cans in a separate bag from regular trash so the trash pickers don’t have to do as much work. (Or find the old pair of chonies you threw away when they rip open your trash bag).
Trash pickers are just some of the characters in the barrio. They are part of the scene here, like the neighbors. You have to shred anything you don’t want to see someone on your street wearing. (Ooops).
Speaking of the neighbors, they are most likely your enemy.
If something gets stolen or there is poop on your front door, a neighbor was responsible.
My mother started her own Neighbor Revenge Program which consists of leaving her habanero chile plants out on the stoop so that her neighbor steals them, eats them, and two fiery orifices later, might think twice about taking something else.