Sunday, January 24, 2021

7 Unexpected Benefits of Sweeping the Street in México

 Five Years After Moving to México, Jon Discovered This

Jon Sweeps the Cobblestone in Front of Our Casita
     It’s customary in México to sweep in front of your home or place of business regularly, typically each morning. Some people who have a tile or stone entry even damp mop the public sidewalk in front of their gate or front door. For five years, our housecleaner has swept the cobblestone street in front of our gate as part of her weekly cleaning duties. We thought that was often enough.
Our Tropical Almond Tree Viewed from the Second Floor

     But apparently, it wasn’t, and the reason revolved around an important tree, one that we have a love-hate relationship with. We have a large tropical almond tree, a variety that is valued in this area for the shade they provide, that overhangs the cobblestone street, our yard, and the exterior stairway to our second floor. We sometimes cuss the tree for the mess it creates—dropping huge amounts of leaves and plum-like almonds daily and providing a roost for the chickens that poop on our stairs and garden wall. 
Leaves and Tropical Almonds on Our Exterior Stairway

     But the neighbors valued the shade of that tree for their gatherings on warm afternoons where they relaxed and chatted just outside our garden wall. And we liked it for the privacy screen it provided between homes. We could never cut this important shared tree down, but we could have it severely topped, reducing the debris that fell by half. So, once every two years we hire a guy to climb up and remove the fast-growing upper tree limbs, sometimes with a machete and sometimes with a chainsaw.

     We noticed that the neighbors often swept our side of the street, sometimes daily during the season when the purple, fruit fly-covered almonds were dropping into the cobblestone area where chairs were lined up ready for family gatherings. Some days the briskness of the sweeping outside our gate sounded furiously fast—were they angry with us for not sweeping our side of the street? So, occasionally Jon or I would sweep the cobblestone when the leaves and almonds were accumulating, hoping the neighbors appreciated it.
Sweeping Leaves and Almonds on Our Stairway

     About a month ago, Jon started sweeping the cobblestone street in front of our casita every other morning. Our house is on a corner lot, so that means he sweeps two streets, a strip of about 200 feet (60 meters) long. He sweeps well past the center of the street but not quite to the neighbors’ houses on the other side, a width of 15 feet (4.5 meters). That’s 3000 square feet (270 square meters)! In addition to leaves and almonds, the amount of dust and sand that accumulates daily is amazing—a product of the many cars and trucks that drive in and out of the dirt lot kitty-corner from our house.

     In addition to increasing our pride in our home and neighborhood, there have been 7 unexpected benefits of Jon’s sweeping. Who would have thought sweeping was so valuable?

1.   Smiles and Friendlier Greetings from our Neighbors—It has dramatically changed our relationship with our Mexican neighbors for the better! When we leave home and return, the neighbors outside smile and greet us with more friendliness. Several neighbors have had discussions with Jon comparing brooms. Jon has five types of brooms now and is becoming an expert on which works on cobblestone and what is best for the tile steps.

Jon's Broom Collection is Growing

     2.     Health Benefits—Jon gets 5000 to 8000 steps recorded on his Fitbit by the time he’s finished sweeping, depending on how dirty the street is. Yesterday he had 7200 steps, 2.49 miles, 125 aerobic minutes by noon! The steps are smaller when he sweeps than when he walks, so he probably didn’t actually walk 2.49 miles, but the health benefits are in the steps and the arm motions which raise his heart rate into the cardio range. Since Jon has Parkinson’s disease, this has added to his exercise regime to slow the progress of his symptoms.

     3.     Safety, Especially on the Exterior Stairway—Jon imagines me walking down those outside stairs in flip-flops and stepping on one of those almonds, my foot rolling over the nut like I was wearing a rollerskate, and me landing on my butt. He cares about my safety, so he sweeps the stairs every other day, too. I don’t even want to think about Jon losing his balance after stepping on one of those hard little balls—balance is already an issue for him as a result of Parkinson’s.

     4.     Less Dust in Our House—Beach towns are sandy and dusty. We live on a dusty street in a dusty town with the windows and doors open most days, so dust filters in with traffic from motos, cars, delivery trucks, bicycles, and animals. Jon’s sweeping has lessened the frequency of my knick-knack dusting.

     5.     Construction Debris is Being Swept Up by the Mexican Laborers—Jon has set an example for the guys on the crew who are doing construction next door. In addition to sweeping the street, Jon has been sweeping our shed roof where construction debris fell from the removal of an old palapa roof next door. He’s shown them that sweeping isn’t just “women’s work” and they have begun sweeping up their mess at the end of the workday.
Jon Sweeping Construction Debris Off of Our Roof

     6.     Social Time for the Men on the Block—Other men who live near us are beginning to sweep the street on days when Jon doesn’t, and sometimes while Jon is out sweeping. It has become a social time when Jon can practice speaking Spanish and learning more about our town. Maybe the women have suggested that if Jon can sweep, so can their husbands. Or maybe the men want to show Jon how well their brooms work.

     7.     Broom Sharing and Discussion About the Best Brooms Improves Relationships with Neighbors—One morning while Jon was sweeping, the lady next door came out to greet Jon with a smile, showed him her broom, and demonstrated how well it worked for sweeping the cobblestone. Jon told her in Spanish that it was better than his brooms and so she let him borrow it. Now they greet each other on the street like old friends, and he’s on a quest to find a broom just like hers.

If You Enjoyed This Story, I Invite You to 
Check Out This “Healthy Living in México” Book

Living in Mexico Lessons Learned: Healthy Living in México #3

Book Description

     In this continuation of Terry and Jon's story about moving to Mexico they learn that, while their new lifestyle is everything they had hoped for (relaxing, full of adventures, and less expensive), some surprises and unexpected adjustments are also part of living there. Now residents of México, they find it is not quite the same as taking a vacation to this beautiful country. Read more at Living in Mexico Lessons Learned

          Are you interested in learning more about Parkinson’s Disease? Take a look at my novel, “Pickle Jar Test”, available on Amazon worldwide.

          I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     Thank you for reading my articles and books. Follow me on Facebook at "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" for more information about life in Mexico and my Amazon Author Page for updates on my books and blogs.
Terry L Turrell

16 comments:

  1. very interesting I really enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Thank you, Atzin, for reading my article and for your nice comment.

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  2. It is a law in most towns that the owner of the residence is responsible for cleaning in front of their house daily. Has been that way for at least the last 25 years that I know of. Buen suerte. Fun article

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    1. Babs,
      Thank you for reading my article and for your comment.
      Terry

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  3. Good to know! I enjoyed reading your article.




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    1. Evon,
      Thank you for reading my article and for leaving a nice comment.
      Terry

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  4. How interesting! We lived on an unpaved sand (beach) road in the Yucatan, so people didn't sweep it, but many folks (NOT all) were fastidious about keeping the area outside of their front gate/wall/fence (which most houses had) weeded, pruned, and picked up. We weren't very good about that, since we had a yard guy (paid for by our rental home's owner) who was supposed to do it, but he was not very regular or persnickity about it. There were large bougainvilleas outside our wall that I ended up pruning since he didn't seem to want to do so, and that wasn't very pleasant due to the thorns, heat, and humidity, but I felt embarrassed that our front was untidy, so I forced myself to get out and do that from time to time. Glad Jon is getting good exercise and creating goodwill and friendship with the neighbors!

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    1. Emily,
      It's a job keeping bougainvilleas pruned but they are worth it--we have three and are going to put in one more. They also drop a lot of leaves and flowers on our street, adding to Jon's workload. I think he likes the feeling of accomplishment it gives him to change the mess into a tidiness, and he likes the social interaction. One thing I didn't mention in the article--Jon does not have good awareness of distancing himself from others; he just doesn't remember unless I'm there to remind him. So I worry about how many people he talks to while standing within 6 feet of them, naturally not wearing a mask. He even shakes hands with other men without realizing the risk--it'll be a miracle if he doesn't get COVID during his sweeping and socializing. Well, he feels life is short, he wants to live it like the locals (most don't wear masks). I keep hoping we have some immunity from what we think was COVID when we were sick in February. It's a crazy time! I hope you are doing well.
      Terry

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    2. Yes, that would scare me. I would insist he wear a mask even if the locals don't, until you can both get vaccinated. If you didn't have COVID early last year, if he catches it, you will most likely get it as well. And with his medical issues, he could be susceptible to more severe disease. I am naturally super cautious about this stuff, especially since the virus is running rampant in the US. Please stay safe!

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    3. Thank you for your concern, Emily. Jon can't remember to carry or wear his mask most of the time if I'm not there to remind him. His memory is not what it used to be because of Parkinson's and he doesn't worry much about COVID so I have to be the bad guy about wearing a mask and distancing. He refuses to wear a mask while he sweeps, so I pray a lot. Some people will not be convinced of the importance of masks, so we do what we can and then we just take care of ourselves as best we can. I hate to say it, but lots of men are the worst about COVID safety. They probably think masks aren't macho.:)

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    4. That's certainly the case with AMLO and Trump downplaying them (and they both got COVID, no big surprise!) I'm glad one of you is careful, but seems like sweeping a dusty area would be a perfect time to wear a mask even without COVID. Here's hoping Jon will stay healthy.

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  5. Nice article! We have noticed some of the same things when we are outside cleaning our home and the street. I often clean across the street as well because the home is vacant and in shambles. I get lots of smiles and compliments from the neighbors when I do so. Have a great week!

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    1. Tina,
      Thank you for reading my article and for your great comment. I'm glad others are discovering this simple way to help us be accepted into the community here in Mexico.
      Terry

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  7. I loved your article on the benefits of sweeping in front of
    your home in Mexico. Last year my husband and I retired early to Ajijic, Mexico from Texas. Sweeping has been a great way to get to know our neighbors. :)

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    1. Annette,
      Thank you for reading my article and for your great comment. Best Wishes with your retirement in Ajijic!
      Terry

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