Love In The Time Of Covid

Love In The Time Of Covid

By Bernie Suttle

elderly couple


Connie finally found an apartment she could afford, a one-bedroom, first floor on Lake Chapala in San Juan Cosala, Jalisco, Mexico. It even had a garden where she could plant some flowers. San Juan was the village where the maids, gardeners and laborers lived. Connie was thrilled to see where the common folk lived amongst the lush flora of central Mexico. This was paradise compared to Norwalk, California. Although Connie’s friends had been against her marrying Ralph, she was a widow who didn’t like being alone and, besides, he had most of his hair. Connie remembered how she felt when Ralph said, “We’re moving to Mexico.” She was afraid of the unknown but the chance of getting out of a second-story, one-room apartment with two month’s rent past due was a relief. And she appreciated that she would have the opportunity to learn about a place she’d never been.

They drove right through, two days and nights, feeling the warmer air and sunshine as they progressed south. They arrived at their new home and it made them smile. The small house was surrounded by hibiscus and bougainvillea. Connie had never seen so many flowers in one place. Beautiful, dark-eyed children were playing in the street. Connie and Ralph settled into their San Juan Cosala home.

It wasn’t long before Connie had them signed up with Chapala Med. Like everyone else, their lives were impacted by the pandemic and Connie wanted them to get vaccinated. Over breakfast, she asked, “Ralph, Honey, when are you going to see about getting a vaccine shot?” Ralph grunted and continued sipping his breakfast Corona. Connie continued, “You better wear the COVID mask I got for you. The Governor of Jalisco says that it’s required. And I think you shouldn’t wear cowboy boots with those plaid shorts. You look silly.”

Ralph retorted, “Nobody tells me how to dress. I have my rights. Besides, the mask tickles my nose.”

Connie looked down at her feet and responded, “Don’t go out without your mask. The governor said it’s required.”

“How’s he going to enforce his rules? With his cops? They live on bribes.”

“Ralph, you said we could retire in Mexico. We are guests here. It would be better if we followed their rules.”

“Hah! Mexican rules, you’ve got to be kidding.”

With a weak smile Connie looked up at Ralph and said, “No, Ralph, dear, your, ‘My way or the highway’ didn’t do it in the States and won’t make it here in Mexico. They’ll put you in jail.”

“Wanna bet?”

“No. I like it here and besides, we can’t go back home with all we owe there. If you want me to be your wife here you’ll go along with the Mexican ways. I’m serious. Do you understand me?”

Ralph grunted over his shoulder as he went out the door carrying his mask saying, “Yes, dear! See ya’ later.”

When Ralph returned later that day he entered the house, leaving the door ajar.

Connie asked, “You get your shot?”

“Naw, they don’t have any yet.”

“That’s too bad, Hon. What should you do?”

“Joe, at the clinic, said that El Paso is flooded with vaccines. I should go there for a shot. I can probably get it under my old company medical insurance. I’ll stay with Bart, my old work buddy.”

“You cancelled our insurance when you left work. You said the insurance companies were money grubbers that gave you nothing in return for your money. Don’t you still owe Bart from that loan he gave you before we came down here?”

“He’ll let that slide when I talk to him. I’m going. It’s the only thing I can do. Loan me the money for the plane ticket. I’ll pay you back as soon as I get back.”

Connie responded with a tired, “Yeah sure.”

Ralph left for El Paso on Saturday. While he was away Connie enjoyed the warm, bright sunshine and the friendliness of her Mexican neighbors. She fell in love with the bright colors that grew in big pots in her patio garden. In her mind she referred to it as her Garden of Eden.

A few days later Connie was wearing the colorful skirt that Ralph didn’t like. She had purchased it at the tianguis. Its bright colors caught her eye as she walked by. It was a forbidden, impulse purchase. She was humming while watering her plants when Raul, the landlord’s young gardener came into her yard. He greeted her with his usual sparkling smile, “Good afternoon, Señorita. I will move those pots as you wished the other day. Is not the Señor here?”

“Oh, hello, Raul, good to see you. No, he’s in the states trying to make a deal. I have no idea why.”

“Very well. I’ll move the pots as you wished. That is una falda bonita you are wearing today. It makes you look like a young señorita.”

Connie blushed and mused, “What a gorgeous guy! Such bright brown eyes. So much curly, dark hair. And that red bandana tied around his forehead. He looks like a pirate.” Connie found herself smiling into Raul’s face as she drawled, “Why thank you, Raul.”

Raul looked straight into Connie’s eyes and said, “What else can I do for you, Señorita?” 


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