December 25, 2011

Dealing on the wheels

I thought I'd give the issue of my Christmas present to myself a rest over the holiday since it was on the back burner anyway. I couldn't complete the insurance purchase on Christmas Eve day, so it's just sitting there.
For a 10 a.m. appointment to sign the "Vocho" title over and collect 19,00o pesos, Andres aka Luis May, a postal letter carrier, showed up at 10:45. What's the hurry, eh? I had the VW Beetle for nearly a week. I took it for short rides around the block, where I learned it had a fuel thrust problem and called in the electro mechanical pooh ba. Jorge Leon took it for a ride and said, too, that there was a thrust problem and no one on the island with a computer to change the fuel injection chip and tune it properly. He also showed me a CD player/tuner he had that fits a VW Beetle, since this one had a hole where there once was such a thing.
He went to Cancun to a VW shop he trusts and returned without the car. The fuel thrust repeated after the chip was replaced and the computer guy was gone for the day when he returned. So, next day, he went. He came back with a car that purs and a note that there are other minor problems in the computer. And since the VW shop he deals with guarantees its work, he has extracted a promise for them to drop in a rebuilt computer free of charge that would correct those minor problems. Well worth the $40 I paid Leon!
So. Andres May shows up, still a little baffled that I was going to pay less than the 20,000 pesos he wanted. "It's a 150 peso chip," he started. So you knew? But really the chip is nothing without a shop computer to tune it and there isn't one on the island, I start.
OK, OK, he says.
Now, during those days I had the car, I'd been picking up information on May. Knowledge is power, right?
Carmen told me he lives a couple doors away from her and is always selling a VW. Miguel Moreno, when I told him I was getting a VW from May, asked, "The white one?"
So I asked May where he gets those VWs in such good shape. Surprised that I knew so much about him, he blurted out "near or in Merida."
This one came from his village in Campeche. Previous owners were all brothers who transferred it around the family until it went to the woman cousin who sold it to him. He drove it back and his wife drove it around the island.
"This is not some stolen car," he suddenly offered. Well, I see from the title! I was just wondering about all these similar names, I replied.
Anyway, could you give me your number in case one of the foreigners who've been asking want one?
He gave me home and cell and then offered his life story. His father has held the same job for 22 years and was recently released from the hospital after pneumonia that threw him into a coma for two weeks.
His father taught him the only way to succeed in life was to work. day in and day out. Here on the island, most people don't want to work daily. Easy tip money, he offered, has created the mindset. And big money that gringos are willing to pay for small things.
There are people, a lot of them he said, that charge gringos triple and beyond. It's not right, he said.
I know, it winds up costing everyone more in the end. "Exactamente!" he exclaimed. He's got 10 years with the postal service here. That will get him a pension and lifetime health care eventually. He also drives afternoon shift cab for my friend Jose Flores, who took me to his village with his wife Marta several times. He bought the car from Mario Cicero, the owner of Ciro's Golf Cart Rental, but pays him monthly for the license. His Sacalum is the next village over from where Andres is from. Small community, those Maya villages. It's also on the other side of Carmen's village.
Well, he was heartened I'd been to both places. So, who works for you now? he suddenly asked. "Jose Misvalazques, an isleno, and the mechanical consultant was Jorge Leon. My friend Carmen cleans to help support her father in Halacho." He nodded. "So, if you ever need a man to work around here, remember, I was raised to work!" Carmen's daughter at this point yells into the house looking for her mom. "No esta. Trabajando lunes!" Andres smiled.
He hold me now he learned the art of making hats in a cave where the ambient moisture is correct for keeping the reeds pliable until done. His wife has a breakfast shop near the juice joint I go to daily, which is where I spotted the car.
"She is available to clean after closing," he said. We're workers that way."
That said, we signed the title and no sooner was the ink dry than I went to Centro thinking I could immediately insure it at Banamex, the new kid in town, a Citicorp affiliate. "Not here if it's over 10 years old. Open an account, and you can do it on line," said Elvia, my personal banker. "Elvia like Elvis." she said. Elvia como Elvis the pelvico, I said. She snorted.
So, my investment account with a debit card required a ton of paper to be filed in the US for Off Shore investments and three perfectly matching signatures. Don't ask how my sets of paper I went through. I lost count. Insurance can't be bought with an American credit or debit card. So you have to do it and having a visa, a Mexican taxpayer ID and proof of residence (a utility bill in your name) is required. And to see you US Social Security Card and Passport.
And then it took 24 hours for the account to be activated and I still have to wait for a PIN numvber to be mailed.
And when I went to the bank site to buy the liability insurance 24 hourse later, it was so close to closing time Christmas Eve, that I'll just have to wait in line on line for my appoint Monday.But it will be done. Dr. Salas even warned me not to drive without insurance!
Now that I have the papers, I see the 1994 Beetle is Cherry Red. My fist car, a 1964 VW Beetle, was tomato red. A nice distinction. It is really a classy color!
And that's my story of dealing the wheels. Somehow, I think it will lead to other chapters in my life.
It has been said many times that doing business is very personal in Mexico. That the small talk is everything. I now totally agree! It's the deal maker or the deal breaker.

December 22, 2011

40 years and 40 pounds later

This is the car I bought from my guidance counselor my junior year in high school And below is the car I am about to buy from the letter carrier on Isla Mujeres.
I believe there are no coincidences in life! And this VW Beetle, affectionately called a Vocho, is in much better shape. Having the ceiling re-draped is all that's necessary at a cost of $100. Sometime next month! And a better spare tire if I'm to go on the car ferry into Cancun and beyond.
Jorge brought it back from the shop in Cancun yesterday and it purs like a kitten. Santa Pirata and Punta immediately went for a ride.
If I get the plates transferred and buy insurance at the bank in time tomorrow, Santa will be making his rounds Christmas Eve in this red sleigh!

December 18, 2011

Isla's village ruin

It's thanks to my iPhone, where I learned of El Meco and could sent my house guests, Bently, Deborah and Sydnee and my Russian friend Anastasia there on Thursday. It was only uncovered 10 years ago, so I didn't know anything about it as a tourist. I learned about it from Julie Fraga's Isla Apps via iPhone.. And Isla Mujeres's Office of Tourism doesn't seem to be promoting it. But there is a nice write up on Trip Adviser.
Anastasia took these pictures before her camera battery failed. It took the group about an hour to read the self-guiding signs and explore the site. There were three other visitors the time they were there.
Anastasia, who has visited the Old City in Jerusalem and not any of the other Mayan ruins yet, said she could feel the power of the people as she sat with Sydnee, contemplating the life of the Maya who used this as their port to Isla Mujeres, with it's salt mine now known as Salina Chica and Salina Grande on Isla Mujeres, the island. This is on the mainland part of our municipality. I'm going to be recommending that my guest this high season go! I know, it's hard to leave the island. But you'll be back in three hours and have had a taste of history!

December 14, 2011

All new designs!

The Women's Beading Co-Op on Isla Mujeres has all new designs. They are striking! Bellaruth Naperstak made mention of this in her blog recently. That was posted on Karen Rosenberg's Facebook page recently.
Today, I took Deborah Klausner, who teaches social work at Georgia State University, to the co-op after dropping off her 12 year old daughter Sydnee to volunteer at Isla Animals.
I was struck by the designs!

In addition to being all new, the prices have moderated. I got a set of earrings with matching necklace and bracelet for 200 pesos, about $15US at today's exchange rate.
The co-op is sponsored by social workers from Cleveland who hold pre-holiday sales among their friends and co-workers and University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic. They do a lot more as well to help the women educate their children. There are currently 47 members but not all are grown women. On Saturdays, the girls in the co-op also come to the shop and bead along side the adults.
The co-op is across the street from the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in La Gloria on is marked on the Isla Mujeres Can-Do map made by Laura McFarlin, also known as the Map Chick. Buy a Map Chick Map by clicking here.

December 13, 2011

It's the season!

Several friends who blog from paradise are getting nudges (along with me) from friends and family members about our blogs. Like we are lazy or something!
Look it. It is December and while Christmas is coming, that's the least of our worries. We have been dealing with the Virgin Holidays. Feast of the Immaculate Conception and yesterday the Virgin of Guadalupe Feast Day, which really was celebrated the day and night before. We are coming up on Posadas, sort of block parties to show there is room at the inn in Advent.
Now, we aren't all partying all the time. But a lot of Mexicans are! And they are our workers. So more falls on us and the reservation inquiries are something else! A lot of time to answer that email while checking and filling the calendars, etc.
Hey, landlords aren't the only ones with problems. The Quinata Roo Education Secretary did not declare yesterday at day off for schools, although it was a banking holiday. Absentee rates were 40-50 percent at Isla Mujeres schools, just days before Christmas break of nearly a month.
So forgive our tardiness in blogging. It's just that we are stymied by the spirit of the holidays!

December 7, 2011

Punta explains a lot

Mom went to the new super store - Chedraui - yesterday and didn't buy me anything. So excuse me if I choose a baby picture from June for my blog entry. I think it's attractive, which I was not at all yesterday. But I was stressed. Let me explain.
Mom took me for my morning run and before I got any real energy released, we got stuck in school and new store traffic. We were in front of a school and traffic was rerouted from near the new Chedraui store and there were kids on motor cycles with their parents and trucks and noise, I couldn't take it.
Then I ran along the salina and Mom stopped to visit her future car. I saw this dog, an old dog but I knew he had been a bad dog in his life by the way his balls clanked. So I got mad and started to growl and chase him. Once. Then again. And the second time he ran in front of a moto. I ran to Mom.
He howled and howled for about 10 minutes, maybe more. And Mom just made me sit and watch. He kept being petted by the old lady he was with and then they slowly walked away. The moto driver also had a sore thigh.
I hurt for that dog. I was ashamed. I went under the bed and stayed the whole day. Well, I did come out for lunch. But I was sorry and so scared.
Street noises scared me, ceiling fans scared me. They reminded me of the traffic for some reason.
Then Judy, Ticker and Baby's mom, took my pet carrier away.
Hey, I hadn't been inside of it for a month, but it was mine. I don't care if it bothered Mom so near the dining table. And I am an adult. But that was mine!
I was afraid Mom was going to give me away for being bad and making that big dog get hurt. I just didn't know what to do.
Then she left. She said she'd be back and she always brings me something when she goes like that, right? Well, she didn't come back with anything for me.
But she had stuff that made her happy and quick got me a treat from near where my kennel used to be,
She put things away, fed me, and then insisted I go to my bed in her room. Yes, the one in the closet. Then, she called me to her bed and held my paw while petting me and telling me how beautiful and good I am and that none of it was my fault.
This morning, she waited until after rush hour to take me out. I ran by the sea and the salina and stopped near where the big dog lives to buy juice. I feel myself again, chewing rawhide and wagging my tail.
But change is hard for me. And yesterday was a day that changed everything here on the island.

December 6, 2011

All's well!

Folks have been asking me how the kitchen turned out, why I have disappeared. Well, the team effort and all the dust took a lot out of me. I am about done coughing it up.
But in addition, there is the getting ready for high season business and busy-ness of inquiries, bookings, and remodeling other parts of the property. And enjoying my new kitchen!
There is also a Russian woman staying on the island until her fiance visa clears in the US. She speaks very little English and virtually no Spanish. I am teaching her both languagues. We hang out together a lot and wait for her commuting fiances to return. He'll be back Friday for four days or so.
So, yesterday, I opened a can of small smoked fish, sprats, and we cooked potatoes, ate sugarless yoghurt, and Russified our food as much as possible the whole day!
It is a beautiful day and I hope to get to the rooftop and show you the new design there. And you may have heard, our new super market/department store, Chedraui, opens today. It is a big deal! I'll go there after some of the hubbub dies down. So many things. Hardly any time! I promise to do better!
I am also looking to sell the golf cart and looking at a Mexico VW Beetle, nicknamed the Vocho, for my high traffic needs. So much stuff going on!