Thursday, January 18, 2018

a visit to the Mexican DMV

It was time to reregister our car for 2018-19 which meant a trip to the local DMV office.  It's not really called that but you know what I mean.  At first I was told I had to go to Tecoman but Fernando assured me I didn't, that  I could go to Armeria instead.  So this morning he picked me up and we set off on this little chore.

There are plusses and minuses to this endeavor. The minus is that you cannot complete this on-line; you must show up with all your car papers and pay in person.  But the plus, and the best thing, is there was NO ONE there.   The office is located on a side street of the Presidencia and  is about the size of my kitchen; enclosed cashier's cage in front, one (extremely efficient and competent) staff, an ATM machine, a computer and printer, some client chairs, loudly humming fluorescent overhead lights, and that's it.  I presented my papers, she tap, tap, tapped, handed me some other papers, I went to the cage, paid my 900 pesos, returned to her with the receipt, tap, tap, tap and I had a new registration and was out the door in 10 minutes.  No "Take a Number and Take a Seat and Pray for ONLY a two hour Wait".

It may be a manaña kinda place but the DMV was an ¡HOY! experience!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

more progress

It's not that there hasn't been life going on on the other end of this blog, it's just that I haven't felt like writing about it.  But I've come to a point that if I don't get back to it now I never will.  So let's do a quick recap of the past month (!!).

Last you heard we were still waiting for our new screens.  They finally arrived about a week after we were told the group would be at our house the following day.  But in the end, it was all worth the wait.  Here's what it looked like when the workmen removed all the windows and screens from the living room.  I LOVE it like that but, you know, bugs will be bugs and insist on doing their bug thing. The group showed up mid-morning one day and were 99% done by about 6 PM and returned the next day to finish up.  I couldn't  be happier.  Those sliders glide so easily, the doors stay closed, there are no gaping or sagging door screen. Ready for sale!

I wish we didn't have to have screens in the sala but it's a choice between bugs and screens and, well, not much of a choice.  So now that big project is done and we must move on to something else.  That will  be remaining the kitchen/living room and the front and garage doors.

The good news, on the other hand, is that all continues to move along with the usual manaña speed of the tropics.  The weather is perfect ~ warm and sunny during the day, cool and dry at night.  The skies have been so clear that we have not had any spectacular sunsets for several weeks.  We did go down to Dago's for dinner on Friday night and caught a pretty glow in the sky as we ate our usual fare and drank in the seaside setting.

That doesn't seem like much for an entire month, does it?  Christmas was lovely and quiet, not too crowded and noisy with beach-goers.  Weekly market is as usual, filled with glorious things to eat.  Fernando heads up to Colima next Wednesday for knee-replacement surgery and he will be mighty glad to get it over.  He has been limping and waiting for over a year for this relief and it has finally, hopefully arrived.  I spent a few days sick bay with some sort of bad headache/upset tummy from which now I have completely recovered.  A nice bouquet from Mr. C helped tremendously.  Daughter
Alex arrives on Feb. 11 for a 2+  week visit during which we will make a trip to Patzcuaro, one of our very favorite spots.  We've rented a house for a week.  Great shopping ~ fabric capital of the region ~ and lots of interesting little towns around, each of which specializes in a craft like leather, stone, wood, pottery.

You can see that nothing too noteworthy happens on a daily basis so it's hard to write very often.  However, to stave off worried inquiries from my few and several readers.  I'll do better.  Seems like I promise this a lot.

Adios from a pair of huge (about 5' tall) Colima dogs that turned up in front of the Armeria Presidencia at Christmas as part of its big crèche.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

progress report

As I mentioned earlier, we are having some repairs done on the house, namely the garage doors and all the screens and screen doors in the house.  So while I sit here humming along to La Nozze de Figaro I thought I'd let you know how things are progressing


True to its (only somewhat deserved) reputation as a manaa˜a society, the door folks never showed on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.  Fernando made an inquiry and we said that, no, nothing.  So he consulted with his friend Enrique (a carpenter) who told Fernando he knew just the folks who could do this.  So yesterday in the late afternoon a crew of four showed up with all kinds of heavy-duty tools (and a dog, of course), got right to work, drilled, hammered, welded, etc., and within an hour had the whole job done, where packed up and gone.  Cost:  800 pesos ($40).  The doors now close perfectly, swing on gins once more bolted firmly into the walls.  It should last for another 30 years!


They were to come Thursday afternoon to start on the 2nd floor, and finish up by tomorrow.  Today is  Saturday.  Nothing yet. See above for manaña comment.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the budget

It never ceases to amaze me how far our US dollars go here.  So far the only thing we need on a regular basis, gasoline, is the only thing that costs more here than it does at home.   Food, utilities, transportation, taxes, services and equipment all are incredibly cheap.  A sweep through the tiangues rarely sets us back more than $10 for a week's worth of fruits and veggies (exchange rate is now almost 2 to 1).  Last week I bought 7 gallon-sized lantana plants for the garden;  $7 US.  We are having all the screens and screen frames replaced this year; rust never sleeps.  We have 4 screened sliders, 2 hinged screen doors and 29 windows on three floors.  This entire undertaking, including labor, is going to cost about $1100 US.  This crew, located in Tecoman, comes highly recommended, has done work in several houses in town, and is known for leaving no debris behind.  And that can be a construction issue, believe me.  They are due to start the work on the 2nd floor on Friday and have said they will finish on Sunday.  Imagine, working on the weekend without any overtime charges!  I will have to relocate to listen to the Met's presentation of "The Magic Flute" on Saturday but that hardly matters.

Today we are getting an estimate on the repair of our big garage doors.  One of them came loose from it's bolts and the door almost fell over.  We went to the same shop that rehung our front door last year and the owner will be here at 5 today to check out what the solution might be.  I don't want to give up the doors we have; they are heavy enough to withstand the winds that we get here in the summer and besides, I like the way they look. My guess is it will be about $200 for the job.  We'll see.

Meanwhile, the first domino game of the season was yesterday and it was great to be back around the table with beach friends.  A few more souls will show up as the time passes.  It's always great fun when we have 2 or 3 tables and then have time after for good talk and a margarita!

One short comment on current reading:  "In Sunlight and in Shadow" by Mark Helprin is my own personal Book of the Year.  It is long, exquisitely paced, complicated, straightforward, filled with breathtaking descriptions, and I did not want it to end, even after 29 hours of listening.  His latest, "Paris in the Present Tense" is not yet available to me through the LOC program, but as soon as it is I will drop EVERYTHING and get into it.  It is receiving rave reviews.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


If you have ever had your computer programs play catch-me-if-you-can, then you know what this picture shows.  Ever since we got down here I have had nothing but trouble on the Air® getting emails, sending messages, etc.  The iPod® works fine; it's the laptop that's been the problem.  So this morning I decided I'd had enough and set out to figure out what in blazes is going on here.  After a couple of hours of clicking, erasing, testing and digging into the brain of both this laptop and the mail program, I think it's going to work.  I have no idea why it all went wonky to start and I don't really know why it has stopped, but it seems to have.  After I got everything taken care of a host of messages I sent out weeks ago went flying out into the ether and a bunch more that had been hovering outside the house came flooding in.  So I guess that means it's fixed.

Now I can get back to reading my email and posting my life right here.  Nothing of note to mention except that the domino group is slowly trickling back into town so our games will start next week.  And Blanche and Bob arrived, bringing with them our boxes of goodies which they picked up at our house on their way here from B.C.  We have our brown sugar, our pumpkin biscotti from TJ's, and our new coffee pot, along with other various and sundry necessities.  In another few days even more folks will be here and the 2017-18 season will officially begin!  I'll do my best to bring you along.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

a night at the Plaza

We are just back home from a night spent in Tecomán at the Hotel Plaza, a very attractive place known mostly for its buffet breakfasts.  This was not romantic little get-away but instead the means to an end.  Here's the story.

THE PROBLEM:  A week ago Thursday we showed up at the Nissan dealership in Tecománat 10 AM for car service for which we had made an appointment.  We had planned to go to breakfast at the Plaza while waiting. To our chagrin, there were 14 cars ahead of us and we would not have gotten to the front of the line until late in the afternoon.  Se we said, "No gracias" and made a new appointment for 8:15 AM today.  We were told it would take about 4 hours for the complete service.  New car, need to check everything, etc.  Ok, now what?  Here's an idea:  let's stay overnight in a hotel and show up at the dealership at 7:30 at wait until it opens.  Then we can go back to the hotel, have a leisurely breakfast and hang out in the room until check-out time at noon.  I made a reservation at the Hotel Plaza for one night.   Done!  Problem solved.

THE SOLUTION:  The hotel is on a lateral road off the main drag in Tecomán.  It has lovely, lush grounds, very well-maintained buildings, is sparkling clean, quiet, very inexpensive ($37.50 for our room).  It has a nice swimming pool area with lots of chairs and tables and shade, plenty of paved parking.  The rooms are very basic but clean and comfortable.  TV, air conditioning, WiFi, etc.  We decided to go to dinner at a place called Torito Pillin (Rascally Little Bull) but alas, for some unknown reason it was closed.  There was another place we looked for but couldn't locate, so we went to a seafood restaurant we had seen over the years but never tried.  (AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Ms. Neighbor Nelson, if you are reading this, it's the place where you get the fish soup.  We did NOT order it.  Enough said.)  Food was good, location is a bit noisy.  After returning to the hotel we went over to the restaurant/bar for a drink to cap off the evening. It was 6:45 and the place was deserted.  First we asked about a glass of wine.  Yes, they had wine, Padre Kino brand.  Padre Kino can be used to remove stains from carpeting or dissolve fingernail polish, so so it is rumored, so we demurred.  Ok, now about a margarita?  After all, this is Mexico.  Pretty soon a waiter came to the table and said they couldn't make a margarita.  This is not good news in a bar in a nice hotel in Mexico.  But the beer was icy cold land very refreshing and so we capped a nice evening with a nice bottle of Victoria.  Back in the room, I discovered there was something amiss with the top sheet on the bed.  It was way too short.  Thorough inspection showed it was a double sheet laid sideways on a king sized bed.  Once we sorted it all out by untucking it from the mattress at the bottom, we were ready for a good night's sleep.  And we got one.  This morning we left the hotel at 7:15 and pulled up to the service entrance at 7:30.  The doors went up about 7:45 and we pulled in, first in line.  The very delightful service manager, Pable, greeted us by 8:10, prepared all the paperwork, inspected the car, shook our heads several times, put us into a courtesy car driven by Juan and we were back at the hotel by 8:30.  He said the car would be ready by noon.  Breakfast was excellent, although no longer a buffet but the menu is extensive, the service excellent, even the coffee, frequently Nescafe, was brewed and very strong and flavorful.

view out of the dining room
view into the dining room from across the pond
We went back to the room and read for a couple of hours, then Mr. C walked over to the car dealer to check the progress.  I stayed behind to guard the goods.  Navigating the streets in this part of Tecomán is tricky.  There are NO crossings for pedestrians along this route for many blocks.  If you want to get to the other side you just have to hope there's a break in traffic both ways and make a mad dash.  Fortunately it all worked out  The car was ready, he was back at the hotel by noon and we were home by 12:45 in time to catch the Met's first radio production of the new season, Verdi's "Requjium".

We have to do this all over again the end of January in order to keep the warranty on the car alive and well.  It has to be serviced twice a year.  Although we can certainly show up at 7:30 from home, then what to we do?  We will probably do the hotel routine again.  But I'll know to bring my own pre-mixed margaritas, my own reading lamp (what do hotels have against reading lamps?  That's always been a mystery to me.), and my own bath mat ~floor was very slippery.

Next up is to find the aluminum/window screen guy so we can redo everything in the house.  Rust never sleeps.

Friday, November 24, 2017

cold shower weather

First sunset of the season

We have been here for 8 days and only got hooked up with our Internet service and phone TODAY.  Communications from the house have been out for about 6 weeks total.  We had a bit of service for a few hours last week, then nothing until Monday (with a promise to return Tuesday to deal with internet), but now everything is working fine ~ for the time being.  So I will take advantage of this connection for a post.

It has been a busy time; a trip to Colima to shop at Walmart, Home Depot, Sam's Club, and lunch at Kronos, of course.  Then three trips to Tecoman, the latest to make an appointment for the new car's service, buy bacon, cheese and good potatoes in the heart of the city, Mr. C's first "beach" haircut, and a stop at the Bodega for yet more supplies.  Monday was the first shopping at the tinges  our regular grocer was delighted to see us and he had some pretty good stuff.  We had comics at Fernando's presto  last Sunday and will go again this week.  Tonight being Friday we'll go to Dago's; didn't go last week as we feared the bugs, but it has actually been very bug-free for the time being. Thanksgiving was quiet and delicious.  We cooked a big chicken, had brought-from-home wild rice, cumin carrots, and one of Mr. C's stellar pumpkin pies and our own ice cream.  Very yummy.

The town has not changed one bit.  It is as seedy and rundown as ever.  But our house is looking pretty good.  The repairs to the collapsed ceiling were very well done.  He even fixed one of the cabinets and the cracked cement around the kitchen window.  So we are now ready for the hoards of prospective buyers to come in!  I am trying to be as positive as possible and concentrate on selling this wonderful place.  For about the last year I have thought that it would probably be a smart idea to have a hidey-hole in case of big trouble, and I still think that, but not here.Maybe in the mountains of Montana!

Books I recommend:  Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra; The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen.  Now reading Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.  He is adapting it for the screen.   When I finish it I will go back to Berlin Diaries by William L. Shirer; Germany between 1934-41.  I've been working at it, little by little, for about a month; I need to take a break every so often.  It's very intense.  But excellent.

That's it for now.  I'll get back to taking pix and posting more often now that my lifeline has been restored.