A Balloon In Cactus

By Marge Van Ostrand
(From the Ojo Archives)

ballon in cactus


“The Times We Had” Or (What Comes Down Doesn’t Necessarily Go Up)

In James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, people age rapidly if they leave the idyllic Tibetan civilization in Shangri-La, where people live to be very old. Ajijic could easily be confused with Shangri-la, since I have aged at the speed of light since my departure.

If you are planning a move, shop around. Failing to get several estimates, I learned too late that prices can vary from $1800 to $6000 for the same amount of stuff. Get everything in writing. Ask what customs charges will be. Get insurance. Get a delivery date deadline. If you have a small load, sharing a move with someone else will cut costs. Don’t let the mover tell you that you have to find someone at your destination to help him unload. This can be trying if you don’t yet know anyone.

Don’t ask the mover to pack for you unless you’re there. Surprisingly, my mover was not personally present for the packing. I don’t think his right-hand man was there either, judging by the poor quality of the work. I packed some books myself before flying north, leaving the boxes open for the contents to be seen and noted. Big mistake. The packers shoved additional books into those boxes, causing bindings to be ripped and book spines to be broken. Many items were smashed to bits due to poor wrapping. Some stuff is still missing. Left standing amidst the rubble of my collapsed house after the Northridge (Ca.) Quake was a pre-Columbian statue of a dog. That statue did not survive this move.

For no known reason, these packers disassembled a table, resulting in the loss of a crucial component. The heavy wheels of this table were thrown loose into an inverted lamp shade, and rolled around during the move until they tore the shade to bits. In fact, only one of the five shades made it, and I couldn’t get the table back together for weeks. A friend once crossed the border into Mexico with only what she could carry, and now, many years later, she says there’s nothing she couldn’t leave behind. Way to go, Louise!


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