Mail on a misty morning

PO
This is my post office on Calle Obregon.

WE ATE WARM biscuits and honey for First Breakfast* today instead of our usual options of croissants and orange marmalade or bagels with Philly cheese Lite.

At quarter till 9, I jumped into the Honda and headed downtown to the post office, a biweekly trip, to check my box, a service I’ve had for 19 years.

I rarely find anything there anymore, which is why I rarely check it. It has to be checked though. Recently, a threatening letter from the IRS** lurked in there longer than it should. But usually, nothing is there, which is how I like it.

These early morning drives to the post office are fun. Traffic is light, and I see things I don’t see in the late afternoons, which is when I’m normally downtown.

An old Mexican town waking up.

Up until about five years ago, I checked my box on any afternoon. It was easy to drive down Calle Obregon and park near the post office. But then City Hall was moved from the main plaza where, I imagine, it had sat for centuries to the same block as the post office. The block became way more congested and nearby parking is impossible weekdays.

So now it’s early every other Saturday morning.

I park at a nearby corner on Calle Carrillo Cárdenas.

carrillo cardenas
That’s my Honda. Clearly, parking is no problem at the early hour.

I read a local internet forum aimed at Gringos. There are always things to chuckle at there. Most participants seem to embrace the notion that the Mexican postal system does not work, which it does. People are often asking if someone is headed to the border and if it would be possible to take a letter or package to mail in the United States.

Mexican mail works fine. It’s just slow, and if you’re in a rush, it has an express service, which costs a good bit more, and there is registered mail too. You can track both express and registered items to their destinations above the border via the internet.

Not only does the Mexican mail work, so does the healthcare system, another issue that provides me laughter because, as they don’t trust the mail, the Gringos don’t trust the healthcare system either and if it’s anything more than a routine doctor visit, they often flee above the border for “real” healthcare.

Okay, many do it for “free” Medicare, I admit, but even major issues can be addressed here at a minuscule fraction of the ripoff prices above the border. And, more importantly, healthcare here is nicer and more personal.

There was nothing in my post office box this morning except a routine advisory that my pension from the Hearst Corp. had again been sent electronically to my Mexican bank. It’s a waste of postage on Hearst’s part, but they send it anyway.

At least there was nothing dire from the IRS.

* * * *

* Second Breakfast arrives at 11 a.m. Lunch at 2 p.m., and supper at 8 p.m.

** I phoned the Internal Revenue Service and discovered the problem was their error, not mine, and all was ironed out peacefully.

29 thoughts on “Mail on a misty morning

  1. Felipe, I have a healthy respect for keeping the IRS at arms’ length. Like you, my last encounter with them was peaceful and easily remedied, but my first wasn’t and lasted nearly a year before resolved. They assigned me to a mediator who spoke limited English, so it was a grind getting through the mess, but we prevailed together on it. I loved seeing your quiet street early this morning, and it reminded me of my last visit there where I took a liking to all the old door knockers on the very, very old wooden doors. I photographed over 45 different ones. Unique in many ways and a few were even funny. I think I’ll go look them up now and reminisce.

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    1. Leisa: The IRS gave you a mediator who spoke English badly?! Jeez. Just another example of the nincompoopery of promoting multiculturalism. Sad.

      Yes, doors are one of my favorite things to notice as I wander around. I haven’t paid all that much attention to the knockers, however. It could be because I’ve become accustomed to them, as I am to many things down here.

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  2. 22 years ago, when my local post office was two blocks from my house, I asked about getting a post office box, only to be told that it wasn’t necessary since there was home delivery, and the quantity of magazines I received would be too much for the post office box anyway. And then the post office moved a half a block away, and then around the corner from that location. Just as I was about to get a post office box, just so that I could have an abbreviated postal address, the post office moved clear across town, off the mountain and deep into the valley. But I still get home delivery, sometimes as often as three times in a single day. And to this day, I do not understand foreigners’ misunderstandings about the Mexican postal system.

    But there is so much that I’ve come to not understand about those odd and curious foreigners in this country.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: We have a bronze mail slot in our front gate, something I installed when we built the Hacienda, and before I discovered there is no house-to-house delivery. We live in one of those areas where the mail for the entire neighborhood is dropped off at a designated spot, and you gotta go there and pick it up. Lame. Especially since our designated area is in someone’s home, and that someone often doesn’t answer the door. So thank the Goddess for the P.O. box.

      When I lived in a rental house in an enclosed area with three other rentals near downtown my first 2.5 years here, the mail was just slipped under the main gate or tossed over it to the bare ground. Since it rains here daily for five months, you can imagine how great that was. Luckily, I already had my PO box, but my neighbors did not. Silly them.

      I think a PO box is the best option, especially since it costs so little, just to eliminate the final delivery step of its teetering atop the back wheel of a motor bike bouncing over the cobblestones.

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      1. Señor Lanier: Ms. Shoes can answer for herself, but I got here first, and I know the answer. She was not born here, but she’s lived here a long time. I’ve been here almost 20 years, and she’s been here a few years longer. I was not born here either.

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  3. I’ve had plenty of experience with Correos de México and it has always been a bit sketchy. Better now than it used to be, but there are still frequent hiccups. Lately a registered mail sent to the U,S, never arrived. It was an important letter and by not being delivered cost me a considerable amount of trouble. From now on out, DHL is the delivery system of choice.

    For the most part I have been an advocate of healthcare in this country. There are several highly skilled medical professionals in the family. But a recent experience with an elderly relative in the state of Colima was far from optimum. The care recieved was fine. Diagnosis was accurate, the internist was quite capable and the nurses were efficient, kind and caring. The problem arose when the patient needed blood transfusions and the difficulty acquiring the needed amount. All of this in a state that offers modern, up-to-date medical technology and skilled doctors. It makes me wonder about the difficulties getting quality care outside of major urban areas.

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    1. Gerard: I think the mail situation, like so many things in Mexico, depends on where you live. I’ve always had good luck. Since I live in Mexico, I have to send a yearly form to the Social Security Administration to show I’m still alive. Sometimes I’ve sent it by Mexpost, the express service, but more often just by registered mail. The Mexican tracking number also works, as you likely know, with the USPS tracking system. Last year, the letter crossed the border with no problem and went to a USPS holding facility in Pennsylvania where it sat for a couple of months. It finally got delivered. This year, I sent it registered again. I tracked it to Pennsylvania again where it sat, and maybe still sits, at the USPS facility in Pennsylvania. I suspect it got delivered, and I just never received an advisory. I mailed the registered letter in June. In early September, to play it safe, I sent a duplicate via regular mail. I imagine one or both will make it or have made it. Point is, Mexican mail sent it over the border just fine. It was the USPS that bogged it down.

      Dang U.S. postal system.

      On healthcare, again, it depends on where you live and whether you go the private route and the public system. If you depend on the government, it can get dicey. It’s always dicey to rely on government. If you use the private, more pricey (but still way cheaper than the U.S.) system, it works well, or it’s always worked well for me. Yes, I know that blood transfusions can be a problem. You usually have to find friends and relatives to restock the blood bank if you need a withdrawal.

      There is no perfect world, but you’ll never see me fleeing to the U.S. for healthcare. It would be traitorous. And unnecessary.

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    2. When our gardener’s wife was about to deliver, my husband and I, and my brother-in-law, went to donate blood. But they took only my brother-in-law because we were too old. The gardener? He was scared of donating blood.

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      1. Señor Lanier: There are advantages of being old. I’m not sure I could donate blood, my being a bit squeamish about blood. But if it were someone very important to me, I’d do it.

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          1. Señor Lanier: I’m waaaaay over 65, so I’m home free. I wonder if it’s felt we might die in the process, or if it’s just that our blood is old and worn out. I’ve never seen Geritol here, but then I’ve never looked either.

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  4. Yes, Felipe. The mail works much better these days but it still has its flaws. And while most everything delivered is unimportant and its tardy arrival is of little consequence there are certain matters where that can be a problem. The best thing these days is almost everything that once required a paper trail is now conducted electronically.

    The blood problem was more involved than merely agreeing to restock the supply. Apparently there is only one blood bank in the whole state of Colima. The patient became ill and was hospitalized in Manzanillo and we drove in the middle of the night from Guadalajara to Colima to pick up the blood and then on to Manzanillo, a five-hour trip altogether. And we had to go to Colima again the next day for more. Fortunately, we have the resources to do this. Others are not so lucky.

    But we are in agreement about the general state of Mexican healthcare. The only time I would go to the U.S. for treatment would be if it was unavailable here.

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  5. It seems to me that the U.S. healthcare system may be up for some real changes. The more I watched the Democrat debates, I got the feeling that the “Medicare for All” idea would flood the system. Those that paid for years into this program would just be more small fish in a huge ocean. Who is going to pay for this? The U.S. government has already pretty much picked me clean. And I suspect a lot of other folks are in the same spot. And yet, those Democrats still want free healthcare for illegal aliens. It makes no sense.

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    1. Señor Gill: We both know that little of what the Democrat candidates say these days makes sense. But there is so much “free stuff” involved that it appeals mightily to the nincompoop voter, which is the intention in the first place.

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  6. I see the Sackler family who made a huge fortune on opioids has successfully transferred over a billion dollars overseas with the aid of some European bankers. Somehow, I get the feeling they will not be paying for “Medicare for All.”

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  7. Hi Felipe. Just got back from our summer on the island. Funny you should be talking about the postal service as there is currently a huge controversy regarding our very small post office. It’s a tiny building which has been around for about 70 years on property belonging to a general store. The owner just sold and the new owner isn’t going to run the store anymore so wants to cancel his commercial insurance and have the post office building moved off his property. Recently and rather stupidly a new post mistress bought the building for $1 but now has a week to come up with $2000 for insurance. Add to that she’s got six months to move the building to another location which will cost thousands more. Now she is begging for cash donations and is on stress leave. Not sure how this will end, but there are a couple of hundred people including us who get our mail there as our principle residence. Never a dull moment on a small island. Cheers.

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  8. Estimado Felipe: We once got delivery of a speeding ticket from Italy (as in Europe) right up to our ranch, about 20 miles out of town, addressed to our Mexican address.

    But otherwise we get our mail through a forwarding service with a U.S. address in Laredo. You pay for it, but it’s quite reliable. They’ll deliver any damn thing, including, most recently, three room-size rugs, though we had to pick them up at their warehouse in town.

    As for the healthcare system in Mexico, if you or I, at our advanced age (you a little more advanced than me), God forbid, had something really serious, we’d be well advised to grab our Medicare card and head north — and put our politics aside.

    First, care at private Mexican hospitals, i.e. StarMedica, H+ or Mac Hospital, is not so cheap anymore. Someone we know went to Queretaro to get eight chemotherapy shots for a tumor in her colon and the charges were 2,000 dollars for each shot. Cheaper than in the States, but still, not cheap. (She died anyway, from reaction to the chemo.)

    Would she have had a better chance of survival if she had gone to MD Anderson in Houston? Not necessarily, but probably.

    Al

    PS We never paid the Italian ticket which was 50 euros, or 75 dollars.

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    1. Señor Lanier: Oh, dear. You are a classic case, and I say this with all appropriate respect, of the Gringo who moves to Mexico but nervously, not wholeheartedly. First, you settled in San Miguel, surrounding yourself with other Gringos and where even speaking Spanish is optional. Yes, I know you speak Spanish, but I imagine Stew does not. When you have significant health issues, you flee to Texas, and now you tell me that your mail comes from a forwarding service above the border! Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh, dear.

      As for pricey healthcare in your area, I still believe prices in your area are elevated due to the extreme foreign element. Bottom line: excellent healthcare is available in Mexico at a reasonable price. Might even have to go to Mexico City in some cases, but no matter. By the way, if your friend (R.I.P.) was charged in dollars for her chemo shots, you can take it to the bank that she was being hosed. Over here where I live, healthcare is charged in pesos, the coin of the realm.

      I use Mexican mail. I use Mexican doctors.

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        1. Señor Lanier: Ah, of course, Intercam. If memory serves, you opened that account fairly recently. I will admit that I too would still have a U.S. account had it not been yanked out from beneath my feet. It was the American branch of Mexico’s Banamex, called Banamex U.S.A.

          Due to the dreadful FATCA legislation, they dumped me with almost no warning five years ago. Caused me mucho problema at first, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the most part. One big exception is that now, since my SS is deposited in my Mexican account, I have to return the yearly letter that SS sends to us who live down here without a U.S. account, proving that we’re still alive.

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  9. I’ve learned a lot by following this thread. I once owned Telmex stock. (My Dad once gave me $50 worth, a gift that kept on giving for about 25 years.) Someday I hope you will write an article on the phone system, wired and wireless, so I can read the thread that follows. I remember a friend telling me years ago, the only way to get a phone in Mexico City was to buy a number from someone who was giving it up. Like taxi medallions in NYC.

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    1. Phxxer: The phone system now works fine, thanks to Carlos Slim, I imagine. You want a phone, you contact TelMex, and they send someone to your house pretty quickly. You want WiFi, no problem. There are a number of services available. Cell phone service? Piece of cake. Numerous providers. I imagine this does not apply in some areas of the outback, but if you live in a populated area, it’s not an issue.

      Mexico is firmly in the 21st century, especially in metropolitan areas.

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