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


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 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.

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!