As I sit with Andrea in her small house on Calle Chopo, talking about her family members in Maine, she suddenly looks at her watch. It is almost 7 o’clock in the evening.

“Hang on,” she tells me. “I have to get out my job.”

Andrea goes into the kitchen and comes back carrying a small table, which she places just outside her front door on the sidewalk. She covers the table with a lace-edged, white tablecloth. Then she goes inside and opens up her fridge, pulling out several dozen plastic cups full of Jell-O that she made this morning. “The flan, too,” she says, pointing at a plate. I reach down to get it for her and she cuts it into portion-size pieces.

Andrea carefully arranges the Jell-O, flan and mug of plastic spoons on the table. “There,” she says. “I’m at work now.” She sits back down just inside and we keep talking.

Two minutes later, three of the smaller cousins from down the street run up. “We want an orange Jell-O and two lime ones,” they say. Pesos exchange hands, and they skip off with their plastic cups and spoons.

Andrea is not the only one to run a small business — such as it is — out of her front door. Many women peddle everything from candy and cereal, to tortillas, tacos and tamales, passing food wrapped in paper napkins to passers-by. Just around the corner lives “The Sandwich Lady.” The Sandwich Lady makes the best sandwiches in town — and she assembles them in a hallway in her house before handing them out the window to her faithful customers. The line outside her narrow doorway usually stretches to the corner.

“She’s been there for years,” the other residents of Calle Chopo tell us. “You want to pack a sandwich for your lunch, you go to her.”

“How late are you ‘at work’?” I ask Andrea, nodding toward the table.

She shrugs. “As long as people are out in the streets. Ten, maybe 11.”

People buy everything locally here — often food prepared by small local vendors, rather than from grocery stores or restaurants. These kitchen-run enterprises fit right into the street life of family neighborhoods.

Andrea sells several more Jell-O cups and most of the flan as the evening progresses, tucking the pesos into her apron pocket. “Every peso counts,” she tells me, patting the pocket.

People trickle in and out to visit, including family members and friends on the street. Esteban has just come from an English conversation class with one of the tutors from Maine. “How did it go?” I ask him.

“Great,” he replies in English, going on to show off some of the new words he has learned.

Andrea’s niece is another one of our students. She and her family invite us all over for lunch the next day. “Molé,” they say, “made with chocolate and chili and nuts. If you want to learn how to make it, come an hour early.”

We make the molé on the stove in a large vat, stirring it slowly to cook it down. I understand how to cook it, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to find all of the ingredients back in the United States.

“Buy the chilies here and bring them back in your suitcase!” Andrea’s sister tells me.

Soon I will be leaving Michoacán. After we have all eaten our fill of molé, I try to get as much of the family together as I can for a photograph. “To give to your relatives back in Maine,” I say. “They need to see what you look like right now.”

“Forget the chilies in the suitcase,” Andrea tells me. “Come back to Mexico next summer, and bring the kids in your suitcase.” Everyone laughs.

Though pesos are tight, they wheedle me into packing up leftovers in a bowl to eat the next day. Here in Mexico I have met the most amazing and generous hosts, people who have shared everything they have with me. Many have treated me like family, and family is no small thing here.

I am moved by the strength of the people I have met in Mexico. Despite struggles and sorrows, they have found humor in desperate situations. And along with that strength and humor, there is kindness and generosity; though my accent is bad, and I do not look like the people around me, they have taken me in and accepted me warmly. I have been made to feel at home.

“So how have you liked Mexico?” I am asked for the umpteenth time.

“Mexico is beautiful,” I say. “Especially the people.”

Meg Adams, who grew up in Holden and graduated from John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor and Vassar College, shares her experiences with readers each Friday.