We hired help.
Yes, we must now admit that we have a once-per-week housekeeper. And worse, I must admit that I'm loving it.
Now, let me dispel a few misconceptions first: She doesn't do our dishes, nor our laundry, nor does she cook for us. But we have a lot of tile floors, or wood floors, and three fluffy shedding cats. I was spending most of one weekend day sweeping, mopping, scrubbing tubs etc... and now I'm paying a nice lady to do it all.
At first it was a bit of an uncomfortable mismatch when she (her name is "Cuca" which is a common nickname for those named Maria del Refugio) wanted to scrub the front sidewalk, wash the floor mats and bleach everything else. But now she understands that we're water-misers and washing the sidewalk and garage floor really isn't a priority and that floor mats disintegrate in the washing machine and really, I just want the cat fur off the sofas and the tub to be shiny. So now we're on the same page.
It's a long-standing cliche that people assigned to posts in Latin America are always fortunate to "get good help," and it's true. I come home on Tuesday afternoons to the house already clean, smelling good and I don't have to either feel guilty for not getting the cleaning done myself, nor ticked off that I'm having to do it. Now I'm helping a woman put her twin kids through college, right? She is a busy lady, with 4-5 other Consulate clients. We often find things knocked off the wall, or cleaning products left in weird places as she rushes through our house to get on to the next. We get frustrated sometimes, but more often joke about it as just another "Cuca-ism" as we pull the dust pan out of the trash or re-hang the picture that she knocked off the wall while dusting.
So there you have it - our guilty pleasure. But I our defense, I must say that at least we're not as indulged as some people we know who have full-time help (like every day!) to include all shopping, cooking and cleaning. The type of folks who have a dinner party and then say, "Oh don't worry about the plates - it's the maid's day tomorrow!"
Now THAT'S going too far.