If tile setting is an art, which it is, we were lucky enough to get the Michaelangeo of the trade, Martin. Martin, pronounced Marteen, came to us though the carpet store and we were so lucky to have him on the job. He's a perfectionist with a wonderful sense of pride and a quirky way with English but we had no problems understanding each other.
"Your husband says to me, if I hurry and get the kitchen tiled he'll put the stove back and you'll cook us a well breakfast. Do you want me to hurry?" I told him no, I'd rather he take his time and breakfast could wait.
He brought Carlos, his helper and I don't speak much Spanish but I got the idea he was his apprentice. He would patiently explain what he was doing then end with, "capicsi" which is Italian for "you understand?" Carlos did most of the "dirty" work like mixing the cement, cutting the tiles and supplying Martin as he did his job. He seemed to have a lot of respect for his "hefe" and I never heard Martin raise his voice.
On the fourth day the job was finished except for cleaning the floor. I ran out to get donuts while Dan made a fresh pot of coffee. Martin was pleased to stop and have some with us. I don't think Carlos' english was good enough for him to chat because he stayed away and cleaned up.
Over coffee Martin talked about his country, Mexico. He was from Guadalajara, the old colonial capital and was quite proud of "his city." He came to the US because most of his family was here. His grandparents came in the forties but when old enough, their children, Martin's parents, returned to Mexico only to return after all their children were born. He was the youngest and came to study in the states and decided to stay. His father had always told him, don't be poor and marry someone just to make them poor, too. He took that advice "to his heart." Martin never married until one December, when a bit lonely around the holidays, he found the telephone number of a girl he'd dated in Mexico when he was in school. He decided to call and she was still there, still unmarried and they rekindled their relationship. After many trips to Guadalajara he convinced her to marry him and come to the US. He finally could marry her and not make her life worse.
Martin says he's forty and I thought his wife was a bit old to be single in Mexico. When I asked my friend Di if that was normal she said she probably lived with her parents and they had candles burning to an assortment of santos, saint's statues, to bring their daughter a good man. And, if at the end of the year this plea was not answered the statues were hung upside down. I knew a catholic women, not hispanic, who buried a statue of St Anthony upside down in her yard to sell her house. She said it worked, I think she probably turned a few shovels of dirt and made the yard look better.
I guess the Catholics never got over the Inquisition.