It’s all becoming very Lord of the Flies here at Mirador San Jose.

During a meeting last week with town hall poohbahs in Montecristi, our fantasy HOA informed us in an imperious Facebook post, the lawyer representing Inmirsan (Inmobiliaria Mirador San Jose S.A., the developer of our urbanization) agreed to transfer maintenance of all common property into their feverish little hands.

With that news, a group of HOA executives dismissed security guards and took bolt cutters to the locks on all common areas – which, I might add, had been secured against them for refusal to pay their common property maintenance fees, some for many years.

They brought boom boxes and held a boisterous victory party, which featured the always pleasing sight of middle-aged public drunkenness. Gordon Poole, president of HolaEcuador and a true gentleman, immediately sent a cryptic wink emoji to the leader of Groupe des dix. You might be interested to know that HolaEcuador’s lawyer also represents our fantasy HOA. I would have to assume that client privilege doesn’t exist in these parts.

No one else at MSJ had been invited to attend this glorious occasion. So a gaggle of about 40 full- and part-time MSJ inhabitants, including a handful of Inmirsan employees and a translator, drove to city hall to find out what the hell was going on.

Turns out Inmirsan’s lawyer had only agreed to begin good-faith discussions, on 6 January, to transfer the common areas to a homeowners’ association. Inmirsan’s lawyer had cautioned, during the town hall, that this complex legal process could take up to a year or longer. The common area locks would be replaced; please don’t lose your shit over this news.

Shit Immediately Goes Missing

Unfortunately for the rest of us, losing shit is what our fantasy HOA does best. When one member of the executive discovered Inmirsan’s new locks, I am told by witnesses, he flew into a rage and physically disassembled the gates to every access point of our common property. I am also informed that the president of our HOA assisted in this clever enterprise. Certainly, the photos now on Facebook are quite damning.

Chantal and I decided to review the vandalism for ourselves, and I had it in mind to take photos for my blog. The next afternoon, we wandered over to the pool.

Almost as soon as I aimed my smartphone at the damaged gates, a woman we did not know sprinted – she didn’t walk, nor jog: she sprinted – to confront us. Wheezing as if she were about to draw her last breath, she demanded to know who we were and why we were taking pictures.

What follows is an exact account:

Woman (in French): C’est quoi ton nom?
Me: Hi! How’s it going?
Woman (in very poor English this time): Who are you? What is your name?
Me: My name is James. Who are you?
Woman: My name is Ghislaine. What are you doing here? Why are you taking pictures?
Me: I like taking pictures.
Woman: That’s very nice. Who said you could be here? Why are you taking pictures?
Me: This is common property. I like taking pictures.
Woman: Who’s your chief?
Me: I don’t know what you mean.
Woman: Who’s your chief?
Chantal: We don’t have a chief. We’re individuals.
Woman: Where do you live?
Chantal: We live here. Where do you live?
Woman: Lots of people “live here” (bombastic air quotes). Lots of people who “live here” (bombastic air quotes) cause trouble. Some people cause trouble by taking pictures.
Me: I suppose that’s true, from a certain perspective.
Woman: Why were you taking pictures?
Me: Here’s the thing: I don’t actually have to tell you. So, if you’ll excuse us. Chantal…
Woman (immediately picking up on my wife’s French name): You understand French?
Me: I’m from Quebec.
Woman: Well, pardon me, but in Mirador San Jose…
Me: This is Ecuador, not Quebec. Here, I can speak any language I want.
Woman: Fuck you.

We discovered later that this particular Ghislaine, of which there are three at MSJ, is married to the cool-headed individual who destroyed our gates. Which is not the first time the wife of an HOA executive has posed as the community brownshirt.

But those are other stories, soon to be told.