The Latina Nightmare

If sometimes it seems like I focus on the negative, it’s probably because the negative stories are so much more dramatic than the ‘happily ever after’ type. As far as that goes, the only time you can be sure of ‘happily ever after’ is after at least one of the pair are pushing up the proverbial daisies. But disasters? Once you see one, it’s usually pretty clear that it would take nothing short of a miracle to turn it into a ‘happily ever after’ story.

I have had the misfortune to be witness to more than one such story, even to the point of being the ‘on the spot’ observer. I can happily say that I have not been a participant in a Latina Nightmare as I am going to describe, but I have had a front row seat to more than one, so what follows is more than hearsay.

Problems with alcohol are nothing unique to Latin America. Perhaps there is somebody who has never known a problem drinker, but if so I have never met that person. But problem drinkers come in many colors, so to speak. There are those that are amiable but drink daily to the point of semi-paralysis. There are those who go on a bender for days at a time. There are drinkers whose personalities undergo a Jeykel to Hyde transformation and lots more I don’t have time to number.

I have a couple of good friends who ignored warning signs and ended up in messy situations because of whom they chose to get involved with. An ex-roommate of mine was just getting together with his future ‘significant other’ when he talked me into becoming his roommate. He neglected to tell me that he was going to move his new girlfriend in within days. I had met his new girlfriend down in Jaco, where she had a job of sorts in some sort of souvenir shop and lived in an apartment that used to be a motel of sorts, sharing it with a couple of other girls.

My first impression of her was that she was not particularly attractive, to my eyes at least, though not bad either. The three of us hung out in Jaco and did what most people do when they visit Jaco… drink a lot. As I got to know her, she seemed rather immature. She also got quite a bit drunker than either her BF or I did. In the space of the few days that I was there, she missed two days of work. She said it was no big deal, the boss wouldn’t care, and but I wondered. My friend and I made a few more trips to Jaco and it was always the same, she never wanted to stop the party until she was ready to pass out. Because I hadn’t known my friend/roommate all that long, I kept my mouth shut regarding his new girlfriend, but even though she was a likeable person, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten mixed up with her even if she had been a lot prettier.

Fast forward about a year. I am no longer living with them for various reasons, and my friend calls me to tell me that his gf is pregnant. Now, both he and the girlfriend were under the impression that she was unable to get pregnant, apparently because she had been doing the wild thing since her teens without protection and hadn’t gotten pregnant in that 8 plus years. Well, miracle of miracles, she’s pregnant. My friend is happy about it, though his financial situation has become shaky due to the early stages of the ‘great recession’ we are still in. But he’s relatively young and optimistic and happy about the whole thing. So the pregnancy progresses and they end up with a son. Now the fun begins. It turns out that the ‘wife’ misses the carefree days pre-motherhood. They both liked to party then and although she would get sloppy drunk it didn’t bother my friend much. But a party-girl mother isn’t the same as a party girl girlfriend. My friend finds himself being both mother and father to his new son for days on end at times because the ‘wife’ is out on a three day bender. When she finally comes home she is often belligerent or otherwise impossible to deal with. The neighbors complain about her antics, noise and such, and the police have come to know their home all too well. If this were North America he could likely get a divorce and custody, but this is Costa Rica. Because she was married young and never got a divorce, the child is not his under the law, and he’s been fighting to get his son legally recognized as his son. At the moment he has no rights to speak of and stays with the ‘wife’ for the sake of the son and waits for the glacial Tico justice system to do the right thing. Ain’t love grand?

Case #2 is quite similar. Another friend got involved with a local girl and they lived together for a couple of years. At first things were all hunky dory, and they had fun together. He’s a bit of a binge drinker and she likes to go out and drink too, but they were happy and he was enjoying the profits from the sale of his condo in the States which he sold near the top of the market.

Time passed and friction arose. Her family began to hammer her for money. She had a gringo boyfriend didn’t she? Wasn’t it his obligation to take care of her and (by local tradition) her family too? Well, strange as it may seem, he didn’t see it that way. So the girlfriend began to get angry at him because she felt he wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain, whatever that bargain might be. The relationship gets steadily worse until she begins to get both verbally and physically abusive with him, especially when she’s drinking. Unlike case #1, boyfriend 2 isn’t about to stop partying, but unlike his girlfriend, he’s not a mean drunk, just a sloppy drunk.

Well, they fight and she moves out. But they miss each other after a while and get back together. Then they fight again and split, then make up and rejoin. After maybe 4 of these yo-yo swings, they are living separately but they run into each other one night and they are both feeling ‘frisky’ and end up having sex. Well, up until now she’s been taking monthly injections for birth control. But it seems she got a little behind on her timing, and what do you know, she’s knocked up. The first thought is abortion, but in Latin America there’s only one country you could go to, and that’s Cuba. They try a couple of times with morning after pills, illegal but not unavailable, but since it’s long past the first few days, it doesn’t work.

So she moves back in and the baby is born. So what kind of mother is this party girl? Well, she could be worse. She could be physically abusive to the baby, but she isn’t. She does change his diapers and feed him… when she’s awake at least. But she sleeps over 10 hours a day and doesn’t get up in the morning, so she gets her younger sister to babysit mornings. Which gets paid for by the boyfriend, naturally. Well, that’s not ideal but not a nightmare. The nightmare comes as she realizes she is expected to quit going out and getting drunk because she’s a mother now. Of course the fact that Daddy is a binge drinker doesn’t help matters.

So the fights become more frequent and more violent. By now Daddy has run through all his money from his house sale. The GF is pissed off because she’s not living the lifestyle they used to have and because he’s still partying and she is supposed to stay home. Well, she is NOT going to stay home. She gets a job as a bartender and instead of going out once in a while she’s out every night, coming home in the early morning hours drunk and abusive, to the point where Daddy can’t get a good night’s sleep without her waking him up with her fists. They both want to split up but there’s just not enough money to do it. And just like the prior story, she is legally married to some other guy and Daddy can’t get custody or even a passport to take his son to meet his grandmother in the States.

If the legal system in the USA is a Chevy, the system in Costa Rica is a Yugo. The fact that the mothers are alcoholics and the fathers would take better care of the boys is of no import to the system here. So they both are trapped in their separate but similar nightmares. Does that kind of life sound good to you? Then I suggest you find a nice party girl, do her bareback, and let the chips fall where they may. Buena suerte, mai.

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  1. this happens everywhere though …

  2. What does this have to do with Latinas, again?
    This should be called the 10%-of-the-population-that-are-drunks nightmare.