December 31, 2008

BULLETIN: Cat in papaya tree

Lora got her nosed wacked doing this one! A little kitten, who she growled at from within the compound when she saw it lounging with puppies on her old bed, got in her way going to the golf cart for WE GO!
She chased it around and into under the golf cart, got her nose wacked with claws, then chased it to the papaya tree, which kitty was very good at scaling. To the top!
Neighborhood kids were in a tizzy and parents didn't know what to do either since there aren't any other trees in the neighborhood so good for cat climbing.
I told them to settle down for 15 minutes, took Lora on her run, then got a step ladder for big half brother to use. I really thought the kitten would climb down by herself, but everyone was in a tizzy.

December 29, 2008

Cabathon

Carlos, my Cabbie in Cancun took Scott and me on! He was at our beck and call for about 4 hours Monday when we broke for lunch at Mercado 28 at El Cejas. What a great lunch! Scott has posted the food porn on the MyIsla.com site, so I'll spare you. But the rum punch that looks like we shared was mine, all mine!
High on the list of chores was getting Lora a new doggie bed. Scott said the only model in her size at both Walmart and Costco was the Kirtland brand one stuffed with polyster and cedar chips, like her huge mat, looked cheaply made and cheap. Well, it is kinda Elvisy, I'll admit. But Lora took to it right away. And the neighbor's puppies like her old bed just fine.
Lora Doggie Dog, sharing with doggies who have less than she. Happy New Year!

December 27, 2008

Close kin. My example.

When we were in Merida and Halacho before Christmas, Carmen and I stopped to visit her aunt Ignacia. A wonderful woman, she is a widow raising two remarkable teens. She made the ornaments for her tree, was making tamales for a huge fiesta because that is the kind of thing she does to make money, and treated us to some while getting her son lined up with a borrowed SUV to take us to the camioneta station for the ride to Halacho.

As a follow up, the day after we got back, she came by my house with Ana Karina, Carmen's grand daughter, and the daughter of a niece from Playa del Carmen. Ignacia is leading me by example: She has hearing loss in both ears. I do too and the Cleveland Clinic suggests I get two hearing aides. Ignacia has them and Carmen said they were a gift to the whole family, tired of speaking up so she could hear them.
It is an example I need to consider more seriously. Thank you Carmen and Ignacia.

December 26, 2008

Santa Claus is here!

He arrived with a lot of luggage on Isla Mujeres, courtesy of First Class, and started spreading gifts to children like Miguel and me! And then, ho ho ho, he found a girl who had been really nice! And for that, Rosemarie from Cool Ice Cream got this stinking picture with Sancho Claus in Facebook. Ho ho ho!

Music at Miguel's Moonlight, dinner at Ballyhoo and a nightcap at Viktor's Cuban Restaurant. This girl is tired! Santa is doing the beach today. Me? I think I'll take it easy. Stuffing for breakfast, more for lunch. With winds at 7mph, it's a little bit breezy to set up the pool on the rooftop. Oh, a Christmas carol reference. Up on the rooftop, reindeer paws...

December 25, 2008

The firecrackers have stopped!

Now, it's pinata time! A lot got killed over night, but Isla Mujeres kids will be treated to pinatas at every turn until Three Kings Day on the 6th of January. Little tiendas all over the island are selling pinatas. Mamacitas everywhere are making them, starting with paper mache around a balloon.
Last night was wonderful! A great get together at Casa Sirena (I had no idea a tamal could be so good!) and then on to Marta and Jose's. Marta made breaded shrimp and multiple side dishes. I brought Baltic ceviche: herring salad. Now, I think I need more sleep! Or a treadmill!
Later, I will roast a chicken and await Whozat. We then plan to go to Miguel's Moonlite for mojitos. If I can drag myself out of the house!
The swelling in my ankles is gone, two days after I stopped taking Indocin. Thank you Baby Jesus.

December 24, 2008

Mexican Christmas elf

This Nice Man, in his red hoodie, went for cappuccino when Carmen and I were freezing in Merida in the chiropractor's shelter. We never got his name, but we know he works for Santa Claus. Be nice to him in case you see him. He has connections! Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad! Y Prospero Ano Nuevo!

December 22, 2008

Christmas present to me!

My facelift is complete! Just when I was in doubt about Sancho Claus! Merry Christmas everyone! And a Healthy and Prosperous New Year

December 21, 2008

Return to Maya village

From the first sighting of a Maya stone fence, my Maya friends have all drifted off in their thoughts as they approached their ancestral homes. It is a very different life from what they lead now on Isla Mujeres. And so inviting. Of course, there's seeing Mami again, being able to bring parents money you have made where the pay is so much higher.

And to see Papi, too, caught in the act of taking off his hat in respect. He was a self employed citrus grower, later a beer vendor. They each get 500 pesos a month in pension because the minimum wage is less in the state of Yucatan, setting all the other income as well. They are not really poorer. It is just a different life. There is citrus to eat, low priced chickens and cornmeal. Lots of bananas and mangoes.

But there are others. The sister with stories to tell, getting her kids off to Posada parties, telling stories about other kin.
And seeing a new nephew who will be baptized in the coming weeks.
And back in Merida, there was an aunt who came to Quintana Roo on the same night as we returned and stopped by the house with Carmen and her grandkids. I'll post that later because after all, we are all getting ready to celebrated the Baby Jesus's birthday,

December 20, 2008

The last breakfast


Gilberto and his friends brought their own breakfast to the job site this morning. At 1pm, I will pay them their 4000 pesos and they will take a bus to Merida.
I will be sad to see them go, but glad that a dust cleaning may hold for a bit! They will be back on the 1oth of January to work on Pizza Mia.
Lora and I GO this morning to the ATM for 5000 pesos, now $380, and she ran there and back 80 percent of the time. Delfino returned her midday yesterday, clean as a whistle. He took a fine wire brush before bathing her and got her winter coat off, although we will still have some chilly nights, and took a skin biopsy. There is only one cause for her shedding: Being nervous and constantly surrounded by activity the past couple months.
At 11am, Carmen will come and help me clean up the rubble! Well, she just came by and week agreed to Monday.
And me, after the chiropractor and a day to recover, WALKING without a cane! Praise the baby Jesus!
Mary Ann might be available for a massage later and her son next week to set up and fill the pool. I love it when a plan comes together!

December 19, 2008

And they came as if he made loaves and fishes

This man carried his girl to see Adan Enrique Aviles Sierra. The chiropractor in Merida is knons as a human x-ray and draws hundreds a day. Names like Aguilar get dropped in the conversations early morning in the shelter outside.
He makes no promises. He suggests pharmaceuticals to help. I am now on indomycethin, and a bone builder and a connective tissue supplement for 15 days. Just doing through the pre-dawn waiting is up there with lifetime experiences

Street walkers in Merida!

Back after a 34 hour jaunt to Merida, where Carmen and I walked the streets!
That' big news for someone who nearly couldn't walk! The mechanical and semi arthritic conditions in my back had piled up. Carmen suggested I see the chiropractor who got her off a cane six months ago. She was on the verge of using a walker due to sciatica. She was referred to the man known as chiropractor to the stars.
We rolled into town at 4am and went to the office. I thought it was to check out his sign and phone number. It was to wait for him. Now, I am totally underdressed with a light jacket over my white huipil as is it is inching toward 45 degrees.
Then along came a Nice Man who went and got us cappuccino laced with cinnamon. They nicely sat on each side of me to help warm me up and soon I just stretched out on a cement bench to cool my spinal column inflation. Within minutes, I was snoring like a cat purrs.
Funny, because on the bus, Carmen snored like a trucker! Sharing this detail with her family was funny, because they all know the sound. She was one of seven in the choir on the bus.
She had told me to bring along pain pills, because about 12 hours after the chiropractor did his thing, I would suddenly have pain. Ok fine. I felt so good, I didn't think it would be possible.
Then last night, eating fresh oranges and sweet bread at her parents' house in Halacho, I suddenly let out a yelp! Time to take the Ultram! Wow, I still hurt today. But after the treatment I shopped for miles like a near normal person.
We go back to the chiropractor in about 15 days and that should be it for dealing with my facet syndrome and different spondy-this, spondy-thats.
So back to the chiropractor. By 6am, there were 30 people behind us. "We are first. You could have been in the waiting room with 40 ahead of you if we got here later, Carmen noted. It was like a behind the camera scenes of a faith healing show or something like that. Old ladies on walkers, children with canes, folks walking with arms around shoulders of relatives. Quite a scene with more pix to follow.
I could hear my bones move. So could Carmen from across the treatment room. Her treatment was much quieter, a touch up. We each paid 200 pesos and that was it.
Then we took a cheap cab to close the municipal market and walked and walked. Carmen got pinatas for the grand kids for 35 pesos each: they are 150 here. I got a great handbag for 112 pesos; 300 here. A New Year's dress for $40 dollars. Nothing that elegant here at any price.
We took a 25 peso combi to Halacho, an hour and a half away, and visited with sisters and parents, nieces and nephews. It was great and no stress at all.
Then we hopped a bus to Merida, took a midnight bus back to Cancun, and here I am, alive to tell the story over the coming days!
And Lora, she got a full spa treatment from Delfino. When I woke up from the concrete bench outside the chiropractor's office, Carmen said, "Your dog is warm in her house and you are sleeping in the street. Life is funny." It sure is! And doggy dog looks beautiful.

December 17, 2008

New camera test!



Merida mason project

Lora's Blog

She writes about me all the time. I told her I could speak for myself. She, here I go!
Go is a big word in my life. "We go," she says. And all I hear is "Go!"
That means I get exercise. My favorite is running along side the golf cart. We go! In the middle of the night, she woke me up and said, "We go!"
I got to run into town. That is my favorite. There are almost no people or cars. But there are lots of dogs I can see. Every once in a while, I stop and smell thema dog. Then, we go!
There are also cats. Gawd do I hate cats. When Miguel was my master, he taught me to hate cats. Now I just can't stop it. But when we go, she doesn't let me stop to kill cats. I hardly see them.
When we go in daylight, there are a lot of cars. Lately I have decided to chase some of them. I don't understand why she puts the leash on me then, but she does.
There is a thing on the leash that sometimes goes around my nose. It is black. Both of them are black. One is called a head collar and I hardly know it's there. Except, she can tug it and my head turns around to look at her and she makes me stop. Well, I can't help but stop. I'm not sure what that's all about. The other is fits all around my nose and jaw. I heard her call it a muzzle once. In Spanish, it is a tapaboca. I don't like it. She makes me wear it when I want to eat fish. Really yummy smelly fish.
Anyway, she is up to no good. After we go this morning, she gave me treats and a flavored chew bone. I think she is going shopping again. That is OK. I get to stay inside my little house while she is gone and she brings me treats.
I don't like what I saw before we went to sleep. It reminded me of Halloween, when she was gone for two days. She was putting clothes in her bulta. It goes over her back when she goes.
Well, if she goes, there are men around. I guess I'll get my chest rubbed. I like men. They rub my chest. Toca me pecho is nice to hear.
I am from Tabasco. When I lived there, women would kick me and throw rocks. A man named Chihuahua, no I'm not kidding, brought my sister and me to daddy Miguel. She was allowed to stay with Miguel but his woman said I had to go. So, we go to Zina's house.
It is big and I have a roof to sun on. And when I'm not doing that or sleeping, I like we go.
Well, that's my story. I promise to write more. Now we descansa. That's rest and I'm doggone tired after we go.

December 16, 2008

Getting out of Dodge!

I am only 32 hours from a road trip! And there is so much in between: Hitting the ATM after a check deposits at 2am, paying the cable bills when the office opens in the morning, going to Cancun for Carlos (be true to your cabbie)to take me camera shopping, Walmart is recommended by Jim in Cancun, coming back and getting Lora packed off for her spa stay.
Yes, she will get a shampoo and a thinning hair brushing with a razor: she has been in constant shed mode for six weeks. And then, around 10pm, Carmen and I will board the Ultramar, take a cab to the bus station and a first class bus to Merida.
From there, we will first take a commuter bus to her village Halacho, where her sister is preparing a multi-course breakfast including baby shark, a visit with her mother and then back to Merida to see a chiropractor and shop the municipal market, maybe nap at her another sister's, shop some more then and take an overnight bus back.
Well, I'm tired just thinking about it!
This morning, Lora and I made three runs to the paint store. Coming home after the third, there was no one on the job site. I cooked with faith that Gilberto and his right hand man would be back. They were. And have worked their hearts out since.
The good news is they have lined up enough work for their buddies and themselves to be busy into the new year.
Would there not be work while I was gone, they asked. Contrario! We hope to return to a finished job, I said. Gilberto smiled and gave Lora a little petting. Well, she will not be around to supervise. I just hope they remember her directions.
Right now Gilberto and his right hand man are finishing up lunch. It was once of the better pesacado veracruzano caldos I have produced, but a habanero was hotter than I thought. No really, it is great, Gilberto said. I had avacodo, radish, onion garnish with parmesan noodles and tortillas to wrap it all up.

December 15, 2008

Sunday: Routine fun!


Ron and Kathy from Portland came by for Sunday brunch. An easy thing for the hostess, when it's conchinita pibil day and my main man now has a whole room next to his meat shop just to sell from for this Sunday tradition.

They checked the status of my papaya tree, slowly growing its fruits!

And then were were off to Zama Beach Club for dark beer and quesadillas. Kathy and I enjoyed the chilly pools!

I took a siesta and then the Salinases arrived! Ooops. I had a calendar error, repeatedly using the same wrong arrival day. Since it was a long trip from the San Francisco Bay area, they took a nap and off we went to Daisy and Raul's. They got some churros at el parque to go with French roast coffee for breakfast, and are off to Playa Norte. Gilberto and I have a date to go to Marma! And then tonight, Ron and Kathy, and probably the Salinases and I will go to Miguel's, to verify he makes the bests mojitos on Isla Mujeres. Now that Kathy and Ron have a reference point!

December 13, 2008

Gilberto has moved mountains


Gilberto and five other masons from Merida arrived on Isla Mujeres Monday morning, after taking the overnight bus. I found them around the corner, on a side street that looks like a Maya village, with stone fences and stone houses, next door to where my friend "Mamita" lives. She is a little old Maya lady, energetic, erect, who once dressed down a cabbie over me. What do you two have in common, he interrupted as we sat chatting in the back seat. Well, we are good neighbors and friends, she began.
Gilberto and the other masons had rented a room near Mamita, rent being they work on the property while here doing other work. They heard there was a construction boom but didn't realize it was now almost all contracted condos that solicit masons from Chiapas for a fraction of what a Merida mason, 350 pesos a day, commands.
That's how I saw them, sort of working, wondering what to do. They were here for cash to send home. There has been almost no work for masons in Merida the past month, Gilberto would later confide.
So they came right over and in four hours, under Gilberto's leadership, moved mountains.

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A job that had no end in sight was almost finished. Enough so that I ventured a detour to go ahead and finish the fence, which I really had not planned until January, when the rooftop scaping would be done.
Now that is done and today Gilberto and friends started tucking corners, stripping paint, leveling the cement for the above ground pool, so it's seams don't burst like the first edition. See, I wasn't nuts when I bought a back up! That and making all the rebar columns one level is the heart of rooftop scaping in this plan.
Below is the chief assistant. I don't even know his name! He has something that would pass for a criminal tool in the US. A shearer that just snaps through armex, a type of reinforcing bar for cement. That is being used to cut the open rebar off so it can be finally enclosed. If I later choose to build another room on top, well, I'll just have to take out a work permit. That is the reason rebar isn't closed here, a signal the job is never done.

One reason the masons and I got along so well is that I recognized what a value they are with their knowledge. They save time while charging a bit more. They know their stuff.
In the last week, I spent $350 on them,a crew of part-timers. As much on cement and supplies. A bargain at twice the price, I'd say. And I fed them well, something they appreciated, being in sticker shock when they saw only tourist food prices. Actually, the way things are going, almost all our restaurants now have tourist food prices, even the loncherias and taco stands.
So two squares from a good cook was welcome. Tomorrow morning, Sunday, they will be back - at least Gilberto - pounding out places they to retuck and paint, and Monday, after I take Gilberto to Marma for a special kind of cement he asked for, they will pour and trowel the final cement and paint over it. And take the plywood that was in my bodega, so they can enter any job able to make their frames.
And Alex can come over and set the new pool up for the holidays. Yes, mountains have been moved!

Job site crisis!

The masons underestimated their need for bars for the fence posts, so one of them and I will be making an emergency run to Marma with the golf cart and bringing back a bar first thing this morning! Marma delivered just a half hour before their arrival yesterday, some 9 hours after I bought.
I have made Tuna Helper, with an extra can of tuna and one of mixed vegetables for their breakfast. It's cold out there! And I think I will do the chicken roasting for lunch also. I might just open a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix I brought from the US to round out their lunch.
The guys fed themselves last night, getting rolls from a street vendor. They didn't say they were hungery and I was so tired, I doze while they worked. But I feel good about it because the end is in sight!
Carmen will come back Monday to dig me out of cement dust and redo the rooms. She's having some abdominal pain and eating light. Her symptoms are just like what I had when I was devoloping gall stones without a gall bladder in Ohio. She's getting an ultrasound before we consider that trip to Merida toward the end of next week.
Currently its 63 degrees and cloudy. I slept on a heating pad!

December 11, 2008

Two year check up!


 

The Health Census made its biennial visit just after I ate two eggs for breakfast. That must be why my cholesterol was at an all time high. No, I think it was the Philadelphia cream cheese toasts I had yesterday! Blood sugar good at 76.
Ah, but enough about me. These two ladies are going door to door with not terrific local cooperation. People just don't want to let them in.
The questions are innocuous enough. Except for the sneaked in political ones. What is the greatest danger facing the country today? The narcomenudistas. The drug lords. Claro que si, they agreed.
But beyond that, answering the questions made me realize just how well I have it as a visitor in this country. I don't count the fruits and veggies I eat by the number of times a week, but by the number of times a day. I really had to mentally count and recheck myself for the number of chairs I own. How much do I spend on food a week? Do I eat out? Rarely, it is expensive. Claro que si.
These women are better educated than most they survey. They see it all. They like gringo households. We are just so sensible in the nonsense they see. No, I don't have video games. I have canned food for the foreseeable future. They said many don't see a future without video games.
Some of it was rote: Do you understand English? I try.
As they left, they were going to break for breakfast up the street. A greasy spoon. Yes, it is bad, they said. I think they cook with lard. The Department of Health Workers agreed. And the tortas are gigantes. Huge hoagies! Filling fried in lard. So, off they went into the cold air, now 72 degrees.
Me, I went for boneless skinless chicken breasts. I'm on top of that cholesterol today. Hasta proxima vez. Until next time.
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December 10, 2008

Poor Fredy~


Like big Jim said yesterday, the work on Hidalgo looks to be more exentensive than previously announce. This is the very north of it, near Fredy's on the right, right there by the backhoe! I don't see this moving along in a week or so. Uh uh;
Meanwhile, when I drover off this morning, I took a shot of the house. Shaping up! The guys from Merida come back this afternoon to take frames down and paint here and there. I got 60 dollars worth of paint on the way back home.

December 9, 2008

Just one day!


26 hours later, I couldn't be happier! The boyz from Merida have taken charge. I had plywood in the bodega I wanted to get rid of to make room for the washer. Since Eriso took wood with him, they boyz needed wood for frames to finish columns. I needed to get cement to the site, quick, and the lead time from Marma can be 7 hours. I bought two bags and rebar from a couple working masons. The boyz finished up painting posts before building frames for missing columns.
I actually have hopes that everything will be done by the weekend! Then Carmen and I go to Merida for 36 hours, returning to one more job for the boyz, replacing a section of fence I had not planned to touch until January.
Feliz Navidad!

December 8, 2008

Toilet training?

Lora and I have had this intimate thing I haven't told anyone about. But hear me out as a prelude to a possible real story!
She comes into the bathroom when I an "busy" and waits so she can watch the toilet flush. She loves sticking her face in until everything is gone and it is dry for that flash second.
Today, while four new guys were on the job site and I was on the laptop, she was coming and going out of the half bath, I could see in the corner of might left eye.
One time, I heard a crash in the bathroom and saw her run, but I didn't think she was in there. I thought she heard the crash and jumped from a spot on the bed that I couldn't see. She's been sneaking up there lately. "What were you thinking?" gets her down.
All day long, when I went in, the seat was askance. Mental note: Buy a new toilet seat.
Just a bit ago, I went into the bedroom and there was a nugget near the bed. Now I'm wondering, is this dog trying to train herself to have cause to see the toilet flush? Is that why the seat was off center all day? Is that what caused the crash, her falling down?
She didn't want her back brushed several times during the day. Rare. Maybe a bruise from the fall?
I've heard of cats doing this, but never a dog. Is it possible? Hmmmm....stay tuned!

December 7, 2008

Growing weed


Ha! Not what you think! It is a dandelion planter on Isla Mujeres. All my friends know I am a little nuts for greens, often not available here.
In Ohio, I landed at the Castellucci household, where mom Nancy is about as nuts for dandelion greens as my mom was. She was cooking them up with turnip greens, eating them by the bowl full. The lot next to the house is like a dandelion farm, with the greenest, tallest leaves I have ever seen.
One evening, watching the fireflies, she lamented that although she takes seeds every winter to Florida, she has never been able to get them to grow.
Got me to thinking. I picked two heads of seeds and tucked them into a button baggie. Put them in the fridge when I got to Mexico. From years of forcing bulbs as a hobbie, I reckoned they might need a winter to come up.
Well, look at them! They look like Bibb lettuce! I'll be mixing some into my salads this weeks since there was some succulent romaine at Soriana's. And later, I'll make Italian wedding soup. Maybe even cook them with lean, free range bacon, sort of what Nancy does.
I don't want them to go to seed here and have introduced a pest. So I am on top of them. And I have another flower of seeds to plant when these are gone.
After a supper of fried plantains, and a breakfast of beet and carrot juice, I am feeling better than Popeye!

Virgins on Parade


This weekend marks the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. There are the official doings. There are also a lot of unofficial displays of faith, like this little parade in front of the house this morning.
Next week, we celebrate the Feast of the Immuculate Conception. At least "trick or treat for Jesus" will end. De la rama, of the branch, involves a group of kids carrying decorated tree branch, a replica of Jesus, a manger and a virgin - sometimes a picture, sometimes a Barbie doll! There is a 72 verse song. If you tip, you get another verse.
Anyway, Lora wanted to join, like she did in the spring for a Passion Parade. NO, she had to go to her pet carrier.
I have a load of laundry to hang now. But I did want to share the parade!

Five and a half hours of doggie fun!

I don't even think Lora was hanging out on the midway! I think the cops brought her home. I am glad I talked with them, described her appearance and street past. That she had Tabasco vet clinic tattoos in her ears.
It was 10:30om, five and a half hours after she disappeared, when I heard a car door slam and she sheepishly entered the cracked open screen door. Then the argument started.
She smelled sweaty! She had burs and ticks. Thank got she just got vaccinated, so they weren't biting her. But she had obviously been running through fields with a pack of Isla Mujeres street dogs. She also smelled slightly fishy!
I got dry doggie shampoo at Soriana's this week, actually a can of foam made by Bayer. I cleaned her up and continued to talk about good and bad dogs. She was contrite.
She still is not hungry, nearly four hours later!
I went through the gamut of doggie owner emotions. Watching Margaret walk with her new black dog in the mornings, I decided that is something happens to Lora, I will replace her. She is a good barker. People always ask if she bites. I and the neighbors generally say no.
Margaret got her black dog after nearly being assaulted one morning by a transient.
When we went to the ATM early in the morning, a man in Seven-11 asked if she bites. Only when I say so is the answer from now on. People here respect that in a dog. Even a stupid one!
Ricardo, who whispers to her, is coming this morning to install a new ceiling fan in the downstairs unit. One more detail before the high season rush...
And he too, will give her a talking to, when he hears what a bad dog she was on a Saturday night!

December 6, 2008

Just an illusion


This is the tranquil Hacienda, SAT, the equivalent of the IRs. It has to be the most tranquil government agency in Mexico. It has to have something to do with the decor, the piped in music and pleasant WOMEN revenue agents.

This is Pacal and Anne-Marie. I couldn't get the picture of the three of us to upload, or you'd see how he usually poses with short women in his life: A lunge so he doesn't tower over them and also confound the picture taker. They are such a nice couple! I say that about all the people who love Lora!
Anne-Marie is a dog rights activist and vegan. Boy, vegans eat a lot of cheese! She says it's just easier on the road. Tomorrow, they hop the big plane to Montreal, maybe never to dive in Quebec again. I'll say one thing for Pascal. Both his English and Spanish improved here. My comprehension of French increased as well! I'll miss them.

December 5, 2008

Sue was so right!

After breakfast at Lenora's, Anne-Marie and Pascal took the ferry to "the other side" with me. Carlos, my driver, was waiting to take me on my governmental errands and I offered that he could take them to a car rental place on the way.
The cabbie mafia in Puerto Juarez had other ideas, saying he had permission only to take me. Being helpful, he had driven into the garage rather that meet on the street, so the union was sticking to its bully tactics.
Carlos engaged in heated debate with union officials on his cell phone and the thugs in the garage. "Si, they are her guests, it's a last minute thing," he tells the union. The fat guys kept heckling us and Anne-Marie and Pascal said it's OK, we'll walk across the street! To appease the hecklers, I said, perhaps you know a car rental agency they can use. Well, there are many car rental agencies. Oh, si. I thought you might know someone who would give you a commission! ha! Pascal had led the charge across the street and Anna-Marie was already wheeling and dealing!
Carlos and I were off. We had daunting tasks and hopes to visit Walmart.
When we got to Cancun's Palacio Municipal annexes, call the Tents, he was surprised I knew my way around, saving us time! And he saw he could pay his property tax early at a 20 percent discount, so he left me at the Civil Registry to get me CURP, unique personal ID. But then, even though he had a receipt, the computer showed he was in arrears from July...
Back to my issues...The man in charge, after sitting down to HIT SEND, noticed my f'ing document had a typo in one of three uses of my name!
No CURP for you. Migracion must fix its error! Carlos and I quickly thought out loud, it was nearing lunchtime. Carlos said, let's try his house, but I knew my lawyer's work habits. He might have a client at Migracion. Carlos also has a friend who works there, so we tossed the dice.
When we got there, Sue and Miguel were setting on a wall, waiting for their health insurance agent and Mauricio. I forgot it was Sue's finger print day!
Just to cover our bets, Carlos went in to see if his friend could fix it. Nope, need a letter petitioning Migracion to fix their typo.
Then Mauricio arrived and basically said the same thing. OK, if the government wants to forfeit my rental taxes for another month...
Mauricio took my passport and f'ing document as he escorted Sue to her fingerprinting.
He came back in minutes with a smile on his face! By then, I had bought two miniature live, decorated Christmas trees for 20 pesos less than Soriana's had them(50 pesos!) from a street merchant as gifts for Carmen and Deborah, and we had watched a show of force as a drug lord was appearing in court nearby. It was like a lights and siren parade of all the agents who had a part in arresting El Huevo, brother of the killed El Vacco. Being Mexico in a drug war, the agents all had stocking masks and helmets on too!
With the excitement over, we knew we had limited time to get back to the Palapas of City Hall...and there was tension: Would the man ever think an error could be fixed to quickly by Migracion?
He bought it! By now it was 1pm. Time was running out for the Hacienda, the equivalent of the IRS, to activate my RFC, taxpayer ID. We decided to go for it rather than break and chance me needing another Cancun trip.
The Hacienda is like a bureaucratic oasis in Mexico. Pleasant, clean, piped in music. But the wait would be an estimated hour and a half. Here's a ticket with your turn printed on it. Late in the day, all the appointments and walk ins stack up and the computer displays who is next. But it's like a lottery. New out of sequence number pop up along with the old as the office tries to service everyone who came in for the day, including those who walked out. You have to stare at the scoreboard or lose your turn. I am number 9044.
Carlos was antsy and I asked if he could go to the drug store and buy a syringe of a light cortisone Dr. Salas uses to take inflammation down in my back when my feet start dragging like they were, so off he went, leaving me to enjoy the ambiance. No, it is really nice except you have to stay awake.
He came back with the betamethasone and I was called within 20 minutes of the office closing.
Got everything in order, ready to hand to my accountant! A miracle! Quick conference and we decide to count our blessings and get me home before I collapse. So with my two miniature Christmas trees in one hand and my brief case over the shoulder, I head for the ferry. Margaret says hi, she's going to her accountant. Mary Ann's husband says,"let me take your plants." Rosemary says, sit with me, but I have to go to the front or I get nauseous.
And we launch into Mexican inflation and the gringos who want her to sell ice cream at a loss! She has hand made sugar cones and this is not a milk producing region, she has rent, electricity, spices, etc. and people get ugly when confronted with a cone that is 5 pesos more than a dish. Well, then Eberhard called - he forgot a set of stainless steel trays somewhere near the docks.
She goes up to the captain, who can't locate them, which produced a heat cell phone exchange. My neighbor Oaxaco, the tire guy, and his wife are behind us and totally amused!
I disembark and head right for my golf cart as the Special State Police are staging in the lot for an apparent drug sweep. Thank you Jesus, I am home!
I drive by the house, hand Eriso Deborah's tree, and head for La Bruja, since I could die of hunger at any time and doggie dog can wait.
Had a quick pollo en mole and made my way back past the park, when I see all kinds of poinsettias and palms. Got a red one in fairly good shape and head home!
I communized a couple tortilla's from La Bruja for Lora and she just can't believe I am home! She has her orders - a quick out and chew her bone. We will run today!
I take my shot and fall into a 9 hour nap! My legs are already stronger, my back doesn't hurt, thank you Carlos!
On November 28, Sue wrote in Dentro del Jardin to "not cheat on your cabbie." She was so right! I couldn't have moved mountains without him! Yes, I overtipped him!
He in turn gave me more business cards, promising tours, rides to the airport or shopping at a discount for my guests at Zina's Guest House. Be assured, I will not cheat on him!
Oh, I'll post the pictures another day! I need to sleep before Carmen gets here!

December 4, 2008

Another Cancun day...

I'm not going to go on about how I hate trips to Cancun. My new driver, Carlos, makes it easier. Yesterday, he came into Soriano's before I was ready to check out and joked with the cashier about what a dangerous pair we were...he a chilango, a native of Mexico City, and me a foreigner without a Mexican ID. It was minutes away! ha! Potential bandits foiled again.
Anyway, we go back for taxpayer IDs etc this morning. The plan is that Pascal and Anne Marie will ride the ferry with me. They have decided to spend their last night in Akumal so they can scuba Cozumel. These are folks who took their certification dives in 1 degree Celsius water in Montreal and our cold wave at 55-70 is nothing!
Last night to celebrate my new papers we went to Miguel's so they would not have to return to Montreal saying I made the best mojitos on the island! I am a bit slow this morning!
Mike brought my new camera to the table, bless his heart, so the blog will soon be illustrated again. This CoolPix is a bit different, but I read the manual this morning and made the settings, so manana baby!
In Cleveland, they are still bleeding. 50 in all were cut from the newsroom. No list was published of who got axed, so they are still counting amongst themselves. There was no respect for seniority or work quality. It was like a gunman went in and strafed the place. Silently. Only using the same script by phone. You have been selected...
Yes, I was a lucky one. Now, to figure out how to transfer money to the credit union account to help people pay bills.

December 2, 2008

And I'm counting my blessings

I am being lazy today, trawling the web, looking to find names of friends who didn't make it to work today. At the same time, I am counting my blessings. I found a post newsie niche in life, spending most of my time on the island, doing very little, greeting guests, paying hired hands.
I got news this morning from the lawyer to come pick up my f'ing document. It will have to wait til tomorrow since I am waiting for the f'ing vet. He was born here, but his wife, a French Canadian, went through the f'ing document thing too. Then she became a citizen.
Carmen is fine tuning my bedroom with Lora's help. As if to supervise, Lora plopped herself on the bed and posed. She's not allowed! Con que direcho? With what right?
So, I am enjoying the sweet life, but also realize the world isn't right. It's the economy, stupid. Yesterday, I got an email canceling a December reservation. This particular couple has booked and cancelled three times since September 25. So, the bad news is, December 17 through Jan. 15 is open in one unit! In a recession, there is worse news to be found, and I am grateful.
The vet came and gave Lora her pedicure and anti-tick shot. His wife is French Canadian and we got to talking. Ana has just returned from LA where she took a course in movie makeup. Pascal, renting with his wife in back, is a movie set designer, so Delfino wants Ana to meet him. I sometimes have whole strings of days where I believe there are no coincidences in life.
Tomorrow, friends from Wisconsin arrive with my new camera, replacing the one claimed by a bus tire in Merida. I still can't get over my brother: The camera fell in a very busy street in the rain and I saw the bus run over it. My brother's question was, did I go back to see if the memory card might have survived. It's your turn to scratch your head. I'm done!

December 1, 2008

I'm a lucky one!

Some six years ago, I was freaking out. I was "bought out" at work. They sent me home first, to return to Human Resources, and bargain my exit. I was the first of dozens and as someone with a disabling illness, would be the test case for how to COBRA a long time employee with health issues being severed to save money.
Since then, there have been dozens. Hundreds actually. Now, the worst. The books don't balance and 37 were to be laid off this month unless volunteers stepped forward for a not very generous severance package. Two weeks for every year worked. No health insurance compared to the paid two and a half years I and the others in the buy out groups got. No one year or more salary. Two weeks immediate pay and the two weeks a year somehow parceled out. They'll get to come back for their stuff and final paycheck in a couple weeks.
No, there is no good way to do this, as the editor wrote the staff this afternoon in an email. So here is how they will do it at The Plain Dealer tomorrow:
Reporters, line editors, photogs are to get up and sit by the phone. If the editor does not call you by 9:30am, you are safe, not one of the 27 who didn't leave of their own choice. Report to work and watch the continuing decline of advertising revenue on the antique vessel, turning your own work product into blogs for the newspaper's web sites.
We all knew this was coming for a couple months now and I said more than one prayer of thanks as I shared my Thanksgiving traditions with my Mexican neighbors and talked to my American neighbors back home.
A couple weeks ago, John Tidyman declared my contributions to his book a wrap. I haven't heard yet when it will be published. But I look forward to reading the volume put together by those of us who worked in the newspaper business when there was still competition and a market for newspapers. So sad!

November 29, 2008

We clicked like clockwork!

I am a fretful hostess. I always think people will be disappointed by life in la Gloria, as much as I love it. And expecting guests from Montreal was a nail biter. I just thought they'd hate it!
They love it. They love the neighborhood ambiance, the apartment, the amenities, the food and Lora! They loved the welcome mojitos.
She is a vegan and Raul made her some special sopes. Daisy just loved us all to death. I haven't spent any time with her since summer, but she's been monitoring the masonry project and knows its a lot of work for the recipeint.
I am taking this insomnia to cook up some beans for a bean and corn salad I make. It will be good for all of us through the day. They are divers. I will help them find a fit.
She has been on a yoga retreat in Tulum. This is his first time out of Canada. We laughed and laughed at El Charco, while Raul was cooking. He speaks little English and lost some hearing on the airplane. So listening to him speak SpanFran to Raul was a hoot.
A lot of things were misheard and misstated! We laughed! He agreed to take my heating pad so his ear can equalize so they can dive together.
When we came back from Daisy and Raul's, Lora no longer barked at them. She knows good people when she smells them! She went into submissive softie, where she acts like a kitten. Charming!
Tomorrow, duh today, big plan is hit the green grocer and juice stand. That is it! I love it when a plan comes together!

November 27, 2008

Dia acciones gracias....compartir!

The Spanish translation or Thanksgiving is acciones gracias, the act of thanks. To me, it is not about finding the biggest best traditional meal, but making the best traditional meal I can for the people who need it or who I need to thank. To share it, compartir, like it is OURS.
Yesterday, as Carmen was finishing up, Eriso was talking about today's work day and how he had to get done so I could go to town and eat. No, my Thanksgiving Day is here! With the Maya and other Indians who helped me survive another rainy season, who helped me pick up the pieces (make maintenance repairs, etc.) and who helped me earn my wings with the government.
Yesterday, as Carmen cleaned, I made roasted vegetables, beet salad and stuffing. When she left, I roasted two stuffed chickens and am almost done carving with the Black and Decker! yeah, yeah, cranberry sauce will be be out of the can. But there are cranberries in the dressing too!
My acciones of gracias will be to see that Amelia's family is fed, that she goes to sleep full, knowing no matter what happens, she made a difference in my life.
Carmen, the jefa of this household, is coming back today to tear apart the second apartment. She will make something fantastic out of it while cursing all those who came before her. She is definitely the head of housekeeping. She will be treated too.
Ricardo left me with enough hot water for a shower yesterday. This morning, he replaces some resistor in my water heater. He will get chicken with dressing and roasted vegetables, too.
Eriso, Deborah and their three children will also partake. This is Thanksgiving, the way I chose to celebrate it. I don't need a big, overpriced meal downtown. I need to see a big meal I made being enjoyed by my neighbors, who have never been invited to share an American Thanksgiving before.

November 26, 2008

Deadline pressure...I love it!

Nothing like a deadline to make my blood flow! I think that's why I chose the news biz. Now, Thanksgiving! And Amelia, and Eriso being behind, and guests arriving Friday. Yippee! We're working now!
I got stuff to finish off a Thanksgiving chicken with stuffing and all the fixin's to take to Amelia tomorrow. In the middle of the night, I went to the ATM. I like doing it then. The streets are nearly deserted, except for the routine cop patrols, the guys at Seven-11 are glad to see a soul. A Bimbo dog man was ready to feed the overnight crew on the Medina project, so a got a true Media Noche! And came home to a puzzled doggie dog.
Shopped the green grocers this morning and took the golf cart in for a wash 'n wax. It was about time. Coming back, I ran into Luci, who dropped off more rosemary and some bags of dirt. Stopped at Eriso's to impress that we have people coming the day after tomorrow, then called Ricardo about my water heater thermostat. Can't keep using the back apartment when the people are here! He'll buy it in Cancun today and replace it tomorrow. Allrighty!
So, now I'll peel carrots and potatoes, look for a chicken as I take Amelia her carrot juice and start to peel vegetables. Better drain the brine off the cabbage and start Kim Chee step two. Did I need to be starting that now? Oh well...

November 24, 2008

We're on our way!

This morning, Eriso surprised me with a tamale. A few hours later, Carmen went home to check on the grand kids and came back with a bowl of white bean, vegetable and meat soup. Wow! I felt so special!
Carmen earlier agreed to stay on and be homemaker to the guests at Zina's Guest House. How wonderful! She lives nearby, has a son-in-law and daughter with interests in two downtown restaurants, and is a worker used to working without a real job since Karina rented her shop out rather than keep it in the family.
Carmen also brought word from the shop keeper running Karina's store that Amelia is failing fast and can't feed her kids. I had dropped her carrot juice off earlier this morning, but just stuck it inside the door.
So as she cleaned the fridge, I went through the "food for ten armies" aka Three Hurricane Wilmas and made a food basket for Amelia and the family. Her husband is failing too with some complications to his tongue cancer. So, it felt good.
My legs have been a bit weak during the last day or two, so Isabel, Eriso's daughter, took the foods over along with a navy blue sheet to dress up Amelia's hammock.
Isabel said Amelia was overcome. Good that I have food for a few more hurricanes like that. Pensions are a week away and I my just have to dress two chickens for Thanksgiving and take one over!
Carmen tasted my cookies and suggested they could have been baked more and might not be so crumblie. Hmmm. I'm thinking it's a sea level thing and just cheat and put an egg white in. We'll see.
After she finished washing personal clothing, Carmen dug in and washed all my shoes! Yes, all my shoes. Now that's a trooper and a clean freak. I like that in a head of housekeeping!

November 22, 2008

Who let the dog's word out?

I feel like the pied piper. It was a weird day for dogs yesterday.
First, around 6:30am, Lora and I visited the ATM. Outside, we met a nice black dog, spayed and with a collar. She and Lora hit if off and played.
When it was time to go, black dog got in the golf cart and wouldn't leave. Lora was irritated, like I was, and we couldn't get her to budge from the back seat. We rode up and down Medina, trying to get Black Dog out. Eventually, we did. And Black Dog ran the golf cart race at full speed until we got a little ahead of her and took the turn off at Salina Chica, on a road we need to take to jog over to the other side of the island to pay the electric bill. She had run a mile and a half at 25 miles an hour to try to be with us. At the electric company, Lora stayed outside, near Miguel's house, and played with a dog there. No problems.
She stayed home for the FM2 brindis and I went early since I hadn't eaten and I need to get some fat and protein into my belly (a drinking lesson my dad taught me, but it wouldn't be necessary. But I digress...)
My pork chops and baked potato with a virgin mojito arrived about the same time as Miguel and Sue and a look alike dog Miguel would call Lorenzo.
Sue said hi to Lora. No, it's not Lora. The pork chops were extremely tough and gistlyy and Lorenzo seemed hungry. He ate well.
As soon as the expendable food was gone, he left.
I came home around 8:30 after spending the evening with Marianne, Pony Tail Jim, Adrian, Sergio the Artist, and Sue and Miguel. Gregorio sang his heart out. Lorena stopped by briefly.
I had left Lora in her pet carrier. She wasn't barking when I got home, but there were two dogs waiting on the front step. I shooed them away and let Lora out the back door. What I want to know, did she let the word out? Woof woof.

November 20, 2008

A time to celebrate!

I can celebrate the progress around the house, that's for sure. But Friday afternoon, I will have an F-ing party! F for FM visa and a number!
I now have the best FM possible, a 2, and am listed as asimilada. Assimilated! The restrictions on me in Mexico are very few now. If I wanted to, I could just up and apply for a job! No extra permits needed. No hassles for the employer. Nada! But of course, with the multiple sclerosis, I wouldn't be a reliable employee. Hmmm...maybe that's what makes me fit in! Bad joke.
Anyway, I got the news Tuesday and after shopping in Walmart, the day I got chocolate chips - truly a stellar day - I went to Miguel's and we cooked up the idea of a brinda, a toast, to my new status of acceptance. A few people have been invited. Outside of that, I intend to buy a 2x1 cocktail for anyone who comes by.
Not that I will enter into it lightly. It'a full work day for me! I have to pay the electric bills, greet the aluminum guys again - daddy Hererra thought he was going to collect today but after looking at the folding door, agreed the boys did a bad job.
Today it was as much a job site as ever. I painted a window for privacy, to match the property colors, and hung a sea shell mobile over it with nylon net as a valance. Ricardo and I worked on the ceiling fan, I did laundry. A complete day! And Lora lost her fur-laden scab from the gaurd dog/taxi incident.
Carmen got the new huipil she was working for on credit and showed it off, saying she might want to work some tomorrow. And I can use her. Eriso will be here working, too, so it will be a job site again...still...maybe always? Ha!
Drew got his FM2 also and someone else got an FM3. All are welcome to the F-ing party! 4:30 to 8 tomorrow at Miguel's Moonlite!

November 18, 2008

Not a Mexican Tradition!


A highlight of my trip into Cancun yesterday was listening to and sharing in the rant of a cabbie from Walmart to Puerto Juarez. Mexico is in full Christmas mania. Things are flying off the shelves in Walmart. Acrylic drinking glasses for the apartments aren't there any more! The six I have will have to do.
I wanted a wreath frame I had seen two weeks ago. Gone! Guys on street corners are selling Santa Claus hats with antlers. It is truly nuts!
The cabbie's wife spend two years in the US and wants a Christmas tree. It's not a Mexican tradition! A wreathe, well, OK. It symbolizes the crown of thorns Jesus would wear before his crucifiction. But a Christmas tree, in what fairy tale, railed the cabbie!
And Halloween. Oh, he got me started! Not on my Christian calendar, or his! I told him about the school Halloween parade last week. On what calendar was that, he ranted.
Well, I just needed to vent. The morning was great in Cancun.
I got to Migracion early, saw Roger and Garnette waiting to deal with the aftermath of their FM3 renewal, they paid twice because the system cannot credit, and I got fingerprinted and offered my signature multiple times. Now, the document goes to Chetumal for a rubber stamp and I'll have it in hand within 10 days.
Only then will I be able to get a new and now more proper tax payer ID. Migracian seemed unconcerned with the casi. Casi Mexicana, is what Miguel is calling me. Casi Casi, almost almost.
But back to this Christmas business. The mania is way worse than that in the US. We have a major holiday in Thanksgiving to put on the brakes, or to open the gates. Here, folks start their Christmas shopping in August. The frenzy just builds and builds. Until the kids start whining for Christmas trees because of TV and cartoons. Listen up. It's not a Mexican tradition.
And me, I thump my chest with pride. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong: I think I may be the first person from Isla Mujeres to have ever bought Hershey's chocolate chips in Mexico. I am a good shopper, so I note what is available. The chips I got Tuesday have never been here before! Yes, two bags!
And I saw Marco in the store before that, so I couldn't pass the news on to Julie! But maybe a reader will. Julie, there's chocolate chips at Walmart. But look out. Stuff is flying off the shelves! That IS a Mexican tradition!
So in planning Friday's party, Miguel and I shared a tequilita. Casi casi boracho! But I could lie down until it passed. Poor Miguel, working under disability!

From ant to grasshopper!


After three months of property maintenance and upgrade, while working on imigracion and taxpayer issues, the light at the end of the tunnel is here!
This morning, I go to Inmigracion for an upgrade in my status, giving me more rights on Mexican soil. My house is clean, my downstairs suite is in perfect condition. Oh, OK,there's a squeak in the ceiling fan for Ricardo to take care of by Monday, when it becomes occupied, a new bodega door arrives Wednesday and through all this, it is time to rest!
Trip Advisor has updated its site to include a picture of the property, an agent has taken me on, and the "cannery" is full.
I have had two actual beach days since coming back from my Ohio home in July. Crisp weather that we are having, I don't miss it. But by weekend, when all the dust has settled and a toast has been drunk, I am a beach baby with few cares in the world!
The picture at the top of the page is from my kitchen looking back to the downstairs apartment. The crafting table is about to be set back up so the most difficult task for my coming weeks will be to decide which beads to nice with which shells in cafting necklaces, frames and other high art!
As Jimbo on Isla would say, disfrutes! Enjoy! I sure plan to. I think I'll book a massage!

November 17, 2008

Towards better order!

Today my friend Marta and I dig deep in the main house and back apartment. I now know what little things need corrected there...the squeak in the ceiling fan, rearranging the linens in the linen closet that served all the units, and a window washing so I can paint some acrylic shade producing designs.
It's always something! But I think this year, the linens won't all have to be laundered for mildew. We had good breaks in rainy season and I exercised better climate control.
Mary Ann dropped by yesterday with an wish for success with inmigracion tomorrow. The lawyer and I have a 10:45 appointment for my thumbprint and booklet. Then, I need to go to Cancun's Palacio Municipal to activate my CURP - short for unique personal ID - AND then to the Hacienda to activate my new taxpayer ID. Both numbers have already been assigned. Casi Mexicana!
The cold front continues. It's 66 degrees and wet outside. The trash men have just pulled up, a highlight of Lora's day. They yell, they whistle for the driver to move on, it's a big deal for doggy dog. Now it's over and she's back inside, content that another day has really started. Maybe mom will take me for a golf cart run today? Maybe indeed! We have lots of time before Marta gets here and need an avacado and some eggs.
Problem is, the veggie ladies aren't set up until later on Monday, the trucks come in on the car ferry, so it will be 8 or 9 before we see what they have. Then Marta comes at 10, when her own housework is done.
Even here, absent fluctuations in gasoline prices, groceries have been going up steadily in price. I did get a bag of red apples and two bags of ciruelas, a plum but not much like the rest of North American is accustomed to, for 10 pesos a bag from the fruit man yesterday. By the looks or his truck and knowing where I am on the route, SeptAmbre, a blend of September and hunger, has extended into November. That's local slang for the hunger of low season. Not much spendable cash. There just aren't the tourists one would expect this time of year. A fraction.
Ah, but Canadians are coming for Christmas, said Patricio Osorio at Miguel's the other afternoon. Well, in that case, all is well with the world!
Just last year, the Port Authority in Cancun was so proud of getting a direct flight from Tokyo. Now, Japan too, is in a recession. You can run, but you cannot hide from this one. It's big!
A reader wrote and asked if I had laid in a good amount of food. Now that Carmen has organized what were my hurricane provisions stored in water proof bins, I see that I could go on for three months without buying groceries. Survive three Wilmas, as Carmen put it. She called my kitchen a lataria, cannery, when she organized all my stuff, and I do mean order by categories and brands.
That's good. I can at least live with Mexican inflation by having the staples, buying other idemes on sale, and soon growing some veggies. And Erisos Sunday fish events are a bargain at twice the price, which would be the price in Centro. So, we will survive. With sun and gentle breeze, and no fuel oil costs, it might even be fun. Well, in a Survivor way. Ha!








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November 16, 2008

We are all tenderfoots here!

Indians called those who lived an easy life but returned to the trail tenderfoot, because the callouses were gone. Those of us down here in the current cold and windy snap - not so cold now at 77 but really windy - are tenderfoots.
We bundle up, turn our water heaters back on, sleep under our emergency down comforter.
Yesterday, as the front approached, I was talking on the phone to Kimberly from Cancun and we both had the same kind headache. Eriso had kept urging me to take something, but I wasn't sure what it was. Kimberly had become sure it was sinus, so I took a sinus pill. It cleared it up.
Sinuses are great weather forecasters. A little inflammation and a drastic drop in barometric pressure, and one can't "equalize" to the new pressure. A front is on our doorstep.
Eating becomes a big part of coping with the chill. Add chilis to everything, for starters. And eat often! This is the time for comfort foods.
So far today, I've had an egg, some bacon - not even two slice by the time Lora was done doing tricks, and then a couple hours later, salmon and cream cheese spread spiked with Liquid Smoke a friend imported for me. Thank you!
I have a couple tubs of refrigerator pesto I am thinking of digging into with hot rotini. And salsa de chili arbol to kick it up a notch.
The TV is on in the back apartment, where my vacation ends tomorrow.
My bedroom in the main house doesn't have TV and I may have to reconsider that! TV and a hot bowl of pasta is what makes a norte more bearable!
At least I'll be well rested for my various meetings in Cancun Tuesday! Oh yes, I'll have to stop at Walmart for sure! Only to break even on ferry and taxis, of course.

November 15, 2008

Weekend reconciliation!

Like a book keeper, I feel obliged to let my readers know that most of the things I anticipated happening on any given day in the past week didn't happen. It's life in Mexico.
So, I will ask Eriso to plant the habaneros where they belong, kill the remaining bougenvilla, spread dirt into the new beds and mucho mas before he starts painting, side II.
I went to Miguel's last night after hitting the ATM, and giving Adrian money for the subcontractor who did soldering on the old laptop, and did not ask Miguel for the package I went to pick up. I guess I'll have to go back!
Now, back to helping Carmen make sense of my kitchen!

November 14, 2008

Major dig!

At the end of the day, Eriso and I made a pact that he would plant habanero peppers that have been sitting in their seeding cans for at least a couple weeks now and plant the chaya cuttings that give me no space in the not-s-great great room.
I need to get to Centro and my flu shot, assuming they got the vaccine in Monday, and to ask William at Ballyhoo if his mama still makes compost and track down Luci the plant lady for more bags of dirt.
While idling yesterday, waiting for the electric company to turn the power back on at the credit union, I bought some serano chilis and free range bacon. The beans are on!
I also started collecting small, sweet squashes to do some pilgrim thing with later this month, since we didn't get any pumpkins on the island.
This supermarket business on the island is really irritating. Locals have always referred to it as inferior. SuperExpress is a San Francisco de Assisi CV enterprise. I now just think it's their scratch and dent raise-the-price attic!
The veggies would not be offered for sale in Cancun. No way. The butcher shop gets de-boned meat. I wanted beef bones to clean up for Lora. No hay. The bones are in Cancun from the loins, etc. You can't even get a bone to scrub that would last forever for your dog. Forget about soup bones for humans!
If you read the papers, San Francisco has all sorts of items for sale, cheap. Here everything is 5 pesos more. I go to Cancun on Tuesday for an appointment my lawyer is taking me to. I will stop and get STUFF that will offset the ferry and cabs fares, if you could get it here!
Which brings me back to the dig. The whole project involved raising the flower beds and making a cement pole fence. With deeper beds, I can grow carrots, radishes, green onions, zuccini. All the stuff that looks like it failed the scratch and dent rack here. And of course, salad greens! Prettier flowers are a bonus.
Well, time to stir the beans and get doggie dog fed. And perhaps, dig a bit before I go!

November 12, 2008

No cash flow!

It's just around the corner - my pot of gold! I have a pension payment on Wednesday and two rental deposits in the mail, people checking in. BUT...
Zina's Guest House has had its gastos - expenses - for two months now. Lucky for the "food to feed an army" bought in anticipation of hurricanes and even more as Mexican pricing started going up with the value of the peso going down, racing the dollar. Enough economics, macro.
In my micro economy, Eriso is reeling from two sick toddlers and a pre-teen daughter as well. He needed cab fare (22 pesos RT) yesterday to go to her school and at the end of the day asked for 50 pesos. He just got paid Saturday! And by the "local" economy, he is well paid.
It's the world economy, he said. The cost of medication has skyrocketed at the hands of the multinationals.
He reads. He, who went to work at age 7 to help his dad raise 5 kids, reads and gets it. He does not think Barak Obama, brown as a Mexican, is going to fix this in 30 days. It can't be done, Eriso says.
He has been watching casual labor go through the job site, most making in 2-4 hours what he makes in a day. All let go when they reached the point of "abuso de confianza" abuse of trust, or simply not earning their wage and expecting more.
Mamita, good to see them go. It's the economy, worldwide, and she is ill, he says. A couple days ago, he met a mason in the park unloading several bags of cement. Got 100 pesos? That's 28 pesos less than Marma charges for a bag of cement. SURE! 28 pesos is a chicken, I replied.
Yes, Eriso. The economy, she is ill. And for another day, I have no cash flow. Caldo de pollo, anyone? My kitchen, she is not ill!

November 11, 2008

It's the stress!

I'm eating breakfast - two slices of toasted multigrain bread with flax seed - and pure Ms Stress is staring ate me, wondering if I will save that last bite and walk it over to her dog dish.
Her brow is furrowed, like this is the most stress she has encountered in weeks. Perhaps it is. But suddenly she has bolted out of the house, El Torro, and I have eaten the last bite. Now she is nudging me with her nose, like I might have hid it. No, you snooze, you lose!
But I hear the tamale guy. "Hay tamales, hay atole, hay masa!" Two, what I call "gorditos" - little fat ones, fat because the banana leaf envelope bulges from the shredded pork added to the top of the masa tamale under the wrapper. 7 pesos. I will give one to Lora for breakfast (cheaper than canned dog food) and save one for lunch, since I didn't snooze and got the last bite of multigrain toast! With flax and yes, butter!
In an hour or so, Carmen is coming by to reorganize and clean the kitchen. She is just the woman for the job.
Longtime guests at my property may remember Carmen. She worked at the tienda named after her daughter, Karina. Carmen charged my cell phone and laptop on a generator after Hurricane Wilma. She would sell me newspapers and tell me to ready page 13 or whatever. She always made sure I got accurate news, but didn't talk politics with me one bit, knowing I was not, as a foreigner, allowed to engage in political discourse.
When Carmen worked Karina's store, she would cook for Karina's family, launder and iron, all the while serving customers, slicing bacon and cheese, counting eggs, stacking soft drinks and beers.
One November she was really sad. She had to get her gall bladder removed. She was scheduled to be the first minimally invasive laproscopic gall bladder surgery on Isla.
Dr. Martinez was having one of the young docs in from Mexico City to do it. Did I know anything about it, because she wanted to be in shape to make Christmas Eve dinner.
I lifted up my shirt and showed her my three puncture scars and the tiny sutures in my belly button. "Can I really cook Christmas dinner one day later?" she asked.
No, they lie. Give yourself a week.
And so, she called Dr Martinez right then and there and moved up the surgical date. And made Christmas dinner for the family.
I saw her afterward. How did it go?
"Fine. But you were right, I needed a week to recover." Carmen, I look forward to working with you! And her days are full now. After she finishes here, she goes to Karina's to watch the toddlers. Mom and Wilmar will be going to work in the restaurants they have a stake in - Angelos and the new Brisas by the Contoy dock.

November 10, 2008

I want to move!

Two nights in the back apartment have me considering moving there next spring! Bigger bedroom space, nice dinette, good closets. I could reserve the kitchen in the main house for me and the guests of the complex and create space for a family of 5 in the main hose, or one bedroom and two daybeds and a trundle in the great room.
Well, it's a lot to think about. Would in effect be creating a true bed and breakfast. But I do love the back house!
Margarita didn't show up today and after her booster talked to me yesterday, I figured she might not.
Seems a bad man has her under his wing and in the sack! And he is a suspected house robber. She probably cased me as not having anything worth stealing.
Her sponsor was very apologetic. We both had the same rule: no lies, no theft.
Margarita told the lady and old man I only paid her 30 pesos. One lie. And that she left the job site because she was hungry. She told me she wasn't the multiple times I offered her food. Eveyone in the area knows I'm generous with food, so Elisa was here asking about that.
And no, she was not the one collecting a commission. The old man, who she first said was an uncle, is getting money from her and apparently she hid it from him.
So, I have a couple other options within the neighborhood for more mature women eager to work. You'd think it would be easier to find someone on an island tourists perceive as poor.

November 9, 2008

In the dark of the night came a knock

I was all ready to head to the rear apartment for the night, just short of hitting the mosquito and flea foggers in my bedroom and living room, when there was a knock on the door.
I turned the outdoor lights and saw men I didn't know. Who? Friends of Marta,they said. The said they had vedona, venison.
They had come from Sacalum bearing the venison that wasn't being slaughtered in torrential rains when I was there.
Venison is farm raised now in villages near Merida, its hunting outlawed to preserve the species.
If my house was being watched, it all looked so suspicious. Two men enter, open a canvas black duffle, not taking time to sit down. My reaching into various brown paper wrappers and taking a pinch to taste. The meat is precooked for preservation and if you've ever handled venison, you know it will be cooked for many more hours!
So, I settled on two have kilo wrappers.
So for one holiday, I'll make venison tacos, a Mexican tradition, and the other, venison chutney, a Zina invention.
And just before that, Adrian came with news about the old laptop - looks like I'll have one to rent out - and authorization to buy a wireless card. And then Adrian set my Dell laptop to feed the printer in the office. Very sweet. Also installed the ink cartridges that were confounding me. Bled them first, all the right stuff.
Earlier in the day, I took the ferry to Puerto Juarez to pick up my Christmas decoration, left behind in the bedlam when Sue and I got back from Cancun on Friday.
Got the three strips of bacon for beans at Mirtita had a mojito at Miguel's, where we traded some stories about Jose and his spendy appetites. He no longer works for either of us. We can't pay him what he thinks he is worth or feed him what he thinks he is entitled to: no ground meat or chicken!
Earlier in the day, I started training Margarita, a sweet young girl from Chiapas, not yet spoiled by the system or taught to steal. But the woman who referred her, a woman I only met twice and who couldn't produce her name, wants 20 pesos a day from Margarita for getting her the job. I might have to fire her and rehire her. She is being paid little because she knows little. And to have someone take 20 pesos from her is not just. It is a kickback! One she agreed to go along with because she knows no one here and has siblings working in Cancun.
She had never swept or washed a floor before, but she did both and she dusted. She did very well, but asked that I check every step of the way. Better that way!
It was time consuming, so I sent her home early so I could go for the Christmas hanging. She'll be back tomorrow and I will teach her over the next two weeks how to make beds and how to do laundry.
Then, she can do laundry for Zina's Guest House clients at the same prices the laundries charge, but it would never have to leave the property. And I would supply the washer and soap. She would have interaction with more foreigners, building her confidence. She has two rules for now: Never lie, never steal - or you are out!
And this morning, I read the fine print on the foggers. Seven months of no flea or mosquito infestation! Great, because while Lora was vaccinated against fleas and ticks, I was not and I think fleas got me. I have little blister-like itchies. Either that, or perhaps a side effect of antibiotics. Either way, with a house dog, it's good to have the house flea proofed!

November 8, 2008

From Dentro del Jardin to hambre!


The trip to Cancun had two agendas: get photos for our visas and shop for our rental properties. I had contracted a Cancun cabbie to take us to a studio, shop and return to pick up photos. It was power shopping to the ultimate degree.
First, the photo studio. Sue mumbled something about it being in a neighborhood that Miguel said wasn't safe. Carlos the cabbie said not to worry.
We posed, we left. On to Sam's Club, in and out in record time. But Sue was very happy she found a lamp set. I got HP printer cartridges, white towels and some foodstuffs.
On to Walmart, where I got a 1 pesos bottle of sweet low cal French. A whole lot more, but when you get something for a peso, it's news! Wayne had told us about a crazy sale earlier in the week and this must have been a leftover.
On to Costco, where Sue got cat food and I a lighted Christmas spray. And then our hambre kicked in. Gotta eat before we go. We asked Carlos to join us, but he had eaten in the Walmart cafeteria.
We had a discount pharmacy stop. And then, we learned the full worth of Carlos. It was drizzling and he went into the photo shop for us. Not done.
Cruising the block, he pointed to transvestite beauty salons. Good looking chics! And at an intersection, said this is where the pick pocketing and purse snatching happens. I said that guy over there looks like a suspect.
"He is working. See the guy on the other side of the street? He spots the easy victims and gives him signals. Necklaces, open purses, wallets inching out of pockets. It's over before the victim knows." And he pulled up in front of the studio and went in for us. Mission accomplished.
Carlos helped the baggage handler get our things sorted and packed on to a luggage dollie in the rain. Sue gave me her hombro again: Hombre, hombro, hambre. Work on theses words, folks!
Came the ferry, came to Isla, and when we got off, the baggage handlers were working about 4 shopper clients and we had to stay on the dock.
Sometime after coming home, Donna Jane came with a bag of tofu and condiments she got by mistake and later I notice the Christmas spray was missing.
A call to UltraMar settled found it and I pick it up in the afternoon. They also have a bag of someone's new clothes.
And Lora doggie dog, in the pet carrier - good for her as she had overworked her injured ankle - was so happy with a new flavor of dog food that she didn't notice a new bag of rawhide. She's a good, but stupid, doggie dog.
Eriso was upset at the rains pushing him behind schedule. To ease his angst a big, I gave him a jar of chili arbol and two cans of tomatoes. Chilis always ease his upsets!

November 6, 2008

It's a big island!

After two weeks couped up with construction work, I had a very social day! First, Gladys stopped by while having her car washed. It was nice for two landladies to compare notes and recessionary strategies.
Lora had been looking for trouble the last few days and encountered it when she tried to play with a guard dog while on muzzle. Gladys noticed her limp first. It got worse until I had to leave and put her in the pet carrier.
Stopped at Sue's looking for Pepe's number, then called him and Delfino, with no luck. Went around the corner from Sue and met Donna, once from Ohio. She and her husband share Negra with Sue.
Then onward. Got 3000 pesos without being pulled down by leash! Ran into the daughter of the man who had picked me up off the ATM room floor and she said he has my glasses! She'll leave them with Miguel. Quick visit with Miguel on the street and andale!
Jose Sosa had some new merchandise from Yucatan, incluidng a nicely decorated cotton dress, almost a huipil and a man from Muna was selling hammocks. I got him down two 300 pesos for a double. Then he said, how about 50 for my wife, who made it! It was still a good deal at 150 pesos less than I could get in nearby Sacalum.
Its a fine quality hammock, almost as nice at the ones coming out of the prison near Merida. I tried to joke with him, asking Miguel Medina if his wife was in prison. He didn't get it. Well, it is a men's prison. Still, I thought it was funny,
After a trip to Dr. Simi and a quick shop at the Super, I stopped at La Justicia for a seaside seafood cocktail. It was a glorious day.
Back at Sue's, Wayne (IslaGringo) stopped to introduce himself to us. Such a glorious sunny day. We kvetched about the plants we can't grow in strong salty winds and talked about nothing of consequence
Soon after I got home, the phone rang. It was Sue saying Delfino was on his way. And I looked out while she was still on the line and there he was.
He gave Lora a pain shot and came back in an hour to examine her, concluding no major bone of hip damaged. And based on her response to the anti-inflammatory with pain killer, said he'd be back in the morning to give her another shot. She looks like such a stoner now!
I reflected on this small island and how big it seems once you leave your neighborhood. It felt like a big city tour! Ah, training for what's to come today when I go get mug shots for my visa and visit Walmart and Costco!
Elisa stopped by in the evening again. She had come the night before since she heard I wanted a white huipil. But the one she had was huge and one she brought Wednesday was trimmed in mauve. I liked it! And she said there is a 15 year old girl from her Maya village looking for work. She can't use her because her math is bad and she is a merchant. But the gal is a hard worker.
She'll stop by with her early on Saturday so I can resume a beach life in the afternoon!

November 5, 2008

It's HUGE

Barak Obama's victory will be talked about in historic superlatives for the next weeks. It is a feel good day.
Mexico, on the other hand, lost a huge amount of hope last night with the loss of Interior Minister Juan Carmilo Mourino, who was appointed in January.
Among his varied responsibilities: Waging the war on the drug cartels which are fighting for who "owns" Mexico.
He died in a plane crash in Mexico City. It appears to be a "natural" Lear jet crash. An investigation will determine the cause.
One can only hope that President Felipe Caulderon will find a strong replacement, or the country threatens to be owned by the cartels. With the execution style murders, message sending beheadings, huge monies involved, only the strongest will survive. Then, the nation will be lost to the world's stage without any influence of its destiny.
Happy for my first home, sad for my next one.

November 4, 2008

Facing time

Facebook ate too much of my day yesterday, what with getting caught up on Isla Mujeres's Halloween doings, and getting Fairy'd and Walled by my Friend's kid! I barely had time to Twitter!
But in my daily readings, I learned my former employer, The Plain Dealer, has added Twitter to it's election coverage. I guess you Twitter as you stuff the ballot box! No, I think folks are supposed to Twitter the newspaper if they wait too long for a ballot or something. You can Twitter from your cell or PDA.
At any rate, Eriso never came back after taking the kid to the Centro de Salud. He said the line was really long to be seen. I need to get a flu shot, so I think I'll wait til Thursday.
Lora and I both ate our chicken yesterday. Well, she still has some left. My breasts were so yummy I ate both by the time the day was over. Drunken chicken took one Stella Artois and one Sol. The broth was just too good. I used some chili max, a Maya wild chili, about the size of a pea. I used to just throw a handful in soups and stews. In Sacalum, I learned to pop them like popcorn on the skillet first. That makes them really potent!
Lora and I went out with the Gentle Leader head collar twice. It's making a difference! She is on a short leash, so to speak and there is no pulling!
I did not post last that she took me down twice on outings last week. The worst was at the ATM, when she pulled the leash so hard she just flipped me on to the floor of the bank!
A nice man helped me up and called her what Eriso and the neighbors have started calling her: El Torro.
The golf cart physical fitness program has developed her front body into a board shouldered physique and if she wants out, she just barrels though the screen door, Like a bull!
Last night, I took her running again. Without the head collar, naturally, which makes her really sense the freedom. Of course, with that, goes not listening. So doggy mommy has to stop the golf cart and yell, sometimes get out, to make her pay attention. I think it's her age. By people years, she approaching her teens now. If she had hormones, they'd be raging. It's all attitude!
As for Facebook, I think it's all attitude, too. My friend's daughter and I are friends now. Pretty amazing considering we never met. But like her mom, I promised I won't show Kelly's Facebook to her dad, so I guess I'm kewl or whatever 18 year olds say these days. Ugh.