Our latest maid lasted all of three days. We paid her double of what she used to earn. We treated her nicely. We were happy to arrange for insurance and all of the benefits that she is entitled to. We give 9 to 10 weeks of paid vacation per year since we travel so much.
So why did she quit? She was completely traumatized by the food we eat – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and some roasted chicken, basically, healthy stuff. Even though I offered to buy her white rice and red meat if that is what she preferred, she was completely overwhelmed by the thought of having to cook our food. Seriously, she walked around our house like she was having a PTSD flashback and kept telling me how overwhelmed she is when I offered to teach her how to make black bean soup. After all here in Colombia, they eat red bean soup cooked with pork lard so black bean soup with some vegetables thrown in was just too much of a departure.
This woman was highly recommended to me by a close friend. My friend has known this maid for four years and said that she was so sweet and great with the kids. She was unhappy with the family that she had been with for these past four years because they paid her a pittance (way lower than the minimum wage), didn’t pay insurance or any benefits, only gave her 2 Sundays off a month and treated her badly. She was thrilled when we met and I offered her the job. She had a happy, outgoing personality… until the night she moved in and I served tandoori salmon for dinner (my kids love it!). And then I made a hummus dip the next day to go with some cut up veggies and asked her to try it. She scrunched up her face like a little kids eating brussel sprouts for the first time. Seriously!
Now you have to understand that the basic Colombian diet consists of various starches (white rice, potatoes and fried plantains, all served at the same meal) and either fried red meat or chicken. I would die of boredom (and heart disease!) if I had to eat this every day but apparently, this maid would rather earn half and be treated badly than have to even cook the food that we eat. That’s the essence of cultural differences for you! Sometimes it’s so hard to understand how people from other cultures think.