6:00. The Hernandez family’s duplex apartment is on one of Guadalajara’s busiest streets. The infernal noise of cars, motorcycles, and trucks blends with the shouts of children passing by on their way to the church and school next door. The early-morning commotion does not disturb the Hernandez family, who have no problems sleeping late. 8:15. The heels of Pilar’s slippers clatter as she runs down on the tiled staircase. Still more than half asleep, she lights the water heater and prepares two bottles of chocolate milk for her young sons. She delivers the first to Oliver, whose bed is squeezed into a narrow alcove at the top of the stairs, and the second to Chui, who has his mattress on the floor next to his parents’ bed. Then Pilar falls back into bed for fifteen minutes more of luxurious sleep.
But she sleeps too long and now the children are late. Showered and dressed, they run to the door followed by their young parents. At the last minute, Pilar pulls a sweater over each of their heads to protect them from the brisk morning air. She lets go of them only after receiving a kiss from each one and making the sign of the cross over their heads. The boys climb joyfully into their father’s truck and head off for half a day at the kinder (nursery school). Once the door has closed, Pilar breathes a sigh of satisfaction: “Ouf!” Three whole hours of peace and quiet.
9:15. Jesus returns to eat his breakfast: coffee, scrambled eggs, sausage, and tortillas, prepared by his wife. They gossip about their friend Pablo, who had dinner with them yesterday. “He’s still single at the age of twenty-nine, a sign that he is not taking life seriously,” remarks Pilar. “We must convince him to get married.” She would love to continue-other people’s lives fascinate her- but Jesus has to leave for work.
Jesus owns a small ceramic-tile workshop that he inherited from his father. During the day, he looks for new customers and purchases materials to replenish his stock. His five employees produce the tiles; Pilar does the paperwork and looks after the store, which is just off the kitchen. Pilar and Jesus are saving to renovate the apartment, which they own, and they are ambitious enough to eventually achieve their dream despite the runaway inflation that makes it particularly hard for the middle class.