Mexican life

Big changes in our old town

OUR HUGE, beautiful plaza hasn’t changed that much in decades, but we’re seeing some major alterations now.

The cobblestone street circling the plaza, plus a street spoke shooting off thataway, are being totally torn up. There will be a narrowing of the streets, widening of the sidewalks, a bike path and improved drainage.

Drainage improvements may be the best of all.

Currently, the five-month rainy season creates deep lakes in parts of the street circling the plaza, lakes that wash up onto the sidewalks and sometimes into businesses, a massive problem.

The work started weeks ago, and will take months because lots of the work is done by hand. Right now, two sides of the plaza street are torn up, and all traffic has been rerouted to the other two streets. One imagines that when the two streets being renovated are completed, the two other streets will follow suit, and traffic will be routed over the renovated sides.

I’m real smart that way.

The work started as soon as the Day of the Dead hoopla ended in early November, and the tourist mobs went home.

Ever since I moved here and, one supposes, for years before, mayors came and went, and little changed. However, the last election, a couple of years ago, put a fellow into the mayor’s office, a guy named Báez, and there’s been ongoing change ever since, and it’s all been good change.

Other important downtown streets, previously potholed obstacle courses, are either being renovated or have been renovated. A sports center was recently opened. It has a soccer field, two tennis courts, a running track, a gym, and a municipal auditorium.

I voted for this guy Báez, and I’d do it again. He ran as the candidate of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, but was supported by the communist party too. They call themselves the Workers Party, but their scarlet flag with a yellow star tells you who they really are.

You never know with whom you’ll end up in bed.

Báez also initiated a humongous Christmas display on the plaza last year, life-sized artificial elephants, giraffes, burros, etc., and that drew lots of tourists here, which was the point. But it’s fun.

I’ve seen the plans for the plaza via video animation, and we’re going to be spectacular. Of course, if you’re planning to move here, be aware that you’ll freeze your butt off in winter. Go to San Miguel instead.

No Spanish required over there.

Mexican life

December means medical checkup

lab
This is my wonderful lab.

WHEN I WINGED south over the Rio Bravo way back in the Dark Ages, I had the hysterical healthcare mentality of a typical Gringo.

Live without health insurance? Why, that would be sheer madness, so I purchased coverage with a system called IMSS. If memory serves, it was the peso equivalent of about 300 U.S. bucks for a year of full coverage. But after that first year, I knew better and did not renew.

One must go to an IMSS clinic, and I didn’t want to. They’re dicey.

Health insurance? Who needs health insurance? Pick your own excellent doctor and pay cash or yank out your debit or credit card.

After marrying in 2002, my child bride talked me into getting a complete checkup in 2004 at the Star Medica Hospital in the state capital. I repeated the process in 2007. In 2013, I decided on a simpler approach.

Every December I pick a day and head to the outpost of a lab downtown at 8 a.m., and I get my cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and poop tested. The last I hand over with some cute comment. On some years — not all — I get an EKG and chest X-rays. I do those elsewhere. The first in a doctor’s office ($25 U.S.), and the second ($16 U.S.) in a different lab.

I skipped those this year because I did them last year.

After the pretty nurse takes my blood and poop sample, I head home where I arrive by 8:30 — there’s rarely any wait at the lab because I get there when it opens — and I dine on a nice, warm croissant accompanied by hot café Americano negro and a beautiful woman.

In the afternoon of the same day, I return to the lab to pick up the results. Yes, same-day service and, of course, there was no physician’s referral required. Charge: $27. Now that’s healthcare for you.

That all took place yesterday.

How you folks lovin’ that ObamaCare?

This year’s results: I’m in tiptop condition.

Mexican life

The Legal Mexican and bad cultural habits

WHEN I SWITCHED WordPress themes almost a month ago, some things were lost in the transition. One was the Legal Mexican logo that you may see now to the right, depending on where you’re reading this.

It’s been reinstated because I take pride in being a Legal Mexican. The term is even part of my primary email address, which is visible on the “Felipe” page. You’ll find a link in the header. Say hi.

I believe the term is disturbing to the political left because of its proximity to “illegal alien,” which is usually associated with Mexicans in the United States who have not bothered with the inconvenient detail of obeying the law.

Yes, the Legal Mexican is a hot-button term, which is why I use it.

There are two Yahoo forums that focus on our neck of the Mexican woods. On my bookmarks, I have them labeled Commie Forum and Capitalist Forum. Given the sort of Gringos and Canucks who move to Mexico, you can likely guess which forum is the most lively. Hint: It ain’t the Capitalist Forum.

I’m a member of both, but I’ve been banned a time or two from the Commie Forum, not because of any trouble I’ve caused but because of my politics, which are obvious on the Moon though I never mention politics on the forum.

You might wonder: Why even bother with them? Because I occasionally see some useful information there.

The forum focuses on helping old people and orphans, the occasional movie schedule and announcements of hikes through forests. I do not help old people and orphans. I don’t go to local movies (exception: Coco, which I wrote about here), and I don’t hike through forests.

Nor do I attend their monthly cocktail parties at a restaurant downtown. I don’t drink. I don’t need to polish my English. And I don’t want to lament Hillary’s (or Bernie’s) loss in last year’s election. I rejoice in it.

My posts on that forum are very rare. I’m mostly a lurker. When I do write something, it stays in limbo for a day while, I imagine, it’s examined for any hint of “wrong thinking.” Sometimes I get published, sometimes not.

(In contrast, when I post something on the Capitalist Forum, it is immediately visible to one and all across the globe.)

* * * *

Bad Mexican habit

A few days ago, I ventured a post on the Commie side, and it never appeared. I think I know why, and it had nothing to do with the topic.

I signed off with the term “the Legal Mexican.” Oh, dear!

The post I left should have been of interest. It wasn’t about feeding old people and orphans, movie schedules, or hiking in forests. It was about a bad Mexican habit. Of course, the post might have been rejected due to its negative aspect about us Mexicans who are all absolutely lovely people.

Here’s what I pointed out: Mexicans often hide prices on things they’re trying to sell. This habit is completely counterproductive as countless marketing studies have pointed out above the Rio Bravo. But it applies equally here.

I was responding to a forum post by a Mexican woman advertising a house for sale. She, of course, mentioned no price, which is one of the first things anyone would want to know. Email her, she said instead.

A for-sale ad with no price is silly.

Why do Mexicans do this? Because there is no set price. A Mexican wants to get a look at you or at least get a feel for you, particularly a feel for your economic status. The better off you seem, the higher the price you’ll be quoted.

(This is often misunderstood as the Gringo Effect, but it applies equally to well-off Mexicans. It does, however, usually apply to Gringos due to their being perceived as universally wealthy and foolish with money.*)

This practice means things are not sold as quickly as they might have been had a price been attached to the initial advertisement. When there is no visible price, a percentage of potential buyers move immediately to other matters.

Listen up, paisanos! No price = reduced buyer pool.

It’s part of the Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of living in Mexico, which I mentioned in the previous post about Magic Dirt.

On further thought, maybe my entry’s disappearance did have to do with the topic, not the signature line of Legal Mexican. Or both.

Only the Goddess knows.

* * * *

* If you’d quit colossally overpaying for everything and stop leaving massive tips, maybe Mexicans would stop seeing you as easy pickings. By the way, don’t ever buy a house that’s priced in dollars. I mean, really!

Mexican life

Gonna be a hard winter

clock

IT FROZE at the Hacienda Monday night. A little birdie told me, or rather a little birdie bath. That’s the most obvious sign of an overnight freeze, the talavera birdbath on the Jesus Patio freezes over.

Another clue is frost on the grass.

This does not make me happy. Just because I loathe heat, and that being one of the main reasons I chose to end my life here on the mountaintop, does not mean that shivering pastes a smile on my face. It does not.

The cold does serve one fine purpose. It keeps the Gringos from moving here, or rather it used to, or seemed to. It doesn’t appear to be working so well these last few years because more and more have followed me here to altitude.

The Gringos are a hoot. Yeah, I know I used to be one, but I’m less so now than before even though I make a really lousy Mexican. Caught somewhere in the middle, a sort of weirdo limbo.

Late yesterday afternoon I was sitting at a sidewalk table on the big plaza, as I often do, with a nice café Americano negro when a couple of Gringo tourists walked by. Maybe they were Canucks. They all look alike.

I was bundled up with a jacket and scarf, wishing I had gloves, and this goofy pair walks by in shorts, tank tops and flip-flops. I doubt they did that intentionally. I suspect it’s the only sort of clothing they brought.

It’s Mexico, you know. It’s hot. Everywhere.

After finishing my café, I walked around the plaza, investigating the extensive street renovation that’s under way that will take months. I took the photo during that unscheduled scroll. As you can see, it was just after 6 p.m.

It’s gonna be a hard winter.