Dentists, dust, cars, maids, Lent, etc.

WE WENT TO the dentist yesterday, both of us. Actually, it was two dentists. One for her, and another for me.

My child bride was to get, after three months of waiting for the posts to set in her jaw, her four new implants. She ended up getting three. There was some detail with the fourth, and she’ll be returning in about 10 days to get that last one.

While she was doing that for over three hours, I drove about 10 blocks away to a specialist who does root canals. That went well, if longer than usual, two hours in the chair, and then I returned to the other dentist to pick up my better half.

A friend in Arizona told me yesterday that he needs a root canal, and his dentist’s fee will be $2,500. That’s U.S. dollars. My root canal cost $3,200 pesos, which is about $172 in U.S. dollars. This cost difference is astounding.

We have no dental insurance, but we don’t need it. Unfortunately, my friend in Arizona does not have dental insurance either, and he does need it. Just one more example of how life in Mexico is superior to life above the Rio Bravo.

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THE SEASON OF DUST

shelves
Veranda shelves where dust and bat poop accumulate.

This morning, like most mornings, I swept the downstairs veranda and wiped off the shelves. All the shelves were dusty, and some harbored bat turds that had dropped from the roof tiles where bats doze during the day.

We’re heading into full-tilt dry season, which means lots of dust, inside and out. The dust inside drives my child bride nuts. We really should hire a maid, but we never do. The minor reason is that we don’t want another ongoing household expense. The major reason is that we don’t want anyone underfoot here.

In the years we’ve lived here, we’ve had two maids. I forget why we fired the first, but we fired the second because she was unreliable. For months after she departed, we noticed things had been stolen, mostly clothing and music CDs. If we ever hire another maid, we will not leave her here by herself, which is another reason not to hire a maid.

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CARS, CARS, CARS

Unlike so many Gringos who make the wise decision to move over the Rio Bravo, I did not bring a car with me. Delta Airlines provided my transportation.

I bought my first car in September 2000. It was a little Chevy Pop, something that was not sold in the United States. It was almost a clone of the Geo Metro, a very nice little ride. Four years later, we bought a 2004 Chevrolet Meriva, another car that’s not sold in the United States. It was made in Brazil and sold in other nations around the world as a Vauxhall, sometimes an Opel. It too was a very nice car.

A bit over four years later, we bought our 2009 Honda CR-V. Aside from some design flaws that only the driver notices, this is a very nice car, and it’s still serving us well.

About four years later, again, we bought my wife’s 2014 Nissan March, and yet again, it’s a car that is not sold in the United States. It is small and sweet.

The Honda is almost a decade old now. It’s been great. However, a large plastic part  where the front bumper should be — why do cars no longer have bumpers? — fell off recently in the state capital. No huge issue, and a mechanic reattached it for free.

Is this a harbinger of things to come? Will we be tooling down the autopista through avocado groves and narco hangouts toward the sands of the Pacific when something else falls off or simply stops functioning? It’s a concern.

I don’t know when I’ll buy it, but I have decided on its replacement: the Kia Soul.

soul

It’s smaller than the Honda CR-V, but it’s far roomier than it looks. We went by the dealership in the capital city recently to see if my tall, lanky, aging self could get into the Soul with no problem. It was a piece of cake.

The front seat is incredibly spacious. The back seat not so much, but we never sit in the back seat. The safety ratings are good, and so are customer reviews.

Inexplicably, when I tried to sit in the significantly larger Kia Sportage, I cracked my skull on the top of the door opening. Kia, a South Korean firm, has been making a big splash in Mexico the last couple of years.

When this change will take place is unknown. Currently, the Honda is working fine. I recently bought new floor mats and had it waxed for the first time. Soon, I’ll need four new tires, no small expense. But when a new car is purchased, I’ll become a Soul Man.

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BEEF AND WALKING

I wrote the above this morning before heading out on my daily exercise march around the neighborhood plaza. The butcher shop in the next block, run by another Felipe, was closed due to its being Friday during Lent.

Semana Santa is just a couple of weeks away, so he’ll soon be able to sell again on Fridays. That won’t affect me, however, because I rarely eat beef, being more of a chicken and salad man. It always amuses me that Catholics think God worries about what they eat.

And Jews think God wants guys to cut off the tip of their dingus.

I’m sure he has more important things on his mind, like how to get the Mohammedans to see the light and put down the scimitars.

Object of envy

New Image
How it looked today, June 30 of 2016.

HERE I SIT on the veranda, just in from the morning walk around the neighborhood plaza, something I do most days to maintain my boyish physique and high humor.

I am an ideal object of envy. No job. No money worries. My health is good. My wife is young and beautiful. The weather is wonderful. Waffles and maple syrup (100%) await.

Birds sing. Burros bray. Horses neigh. Dogs bark. Hogs oink. All within earshot, night and day. And last night till 2 a.m., musicians howled on the plaza, so we slept with earplugs, something that doesn’t warrant envy, alas.

Hereabouts 11 a.m., the sky is blue and white. The temperature is 69. My utility bills are low, and my grass is high, green and damp. My wives are all alive and my daughter too.

I have no dogs, no cats, no outstanding bills, and both of our cars run smoothly though they could use a wash. It’s the rainy season, a constant battle for self-respecting vehicles.

The waffles are ready now, I’m advised. The maple syrup too, the daily second breakfast around the hour of 11.

It’s an enviable position in which to find oneself.

Paying the bills

IT’S JANUARY, and that means it’s time to pay the bills.

We have three homes and two cars, and annual bills are due. The bills on the three residences are property taxes mostly, but there’s also an annual bill for water at the Downtown Casita.

The water bills for the Mexico City apartment and the Hacienda are paid monthly, as are the electricity bills.

Lots of bills.

billBut they don’t amount to much compared to what they would be above the Rio Bravo where many of you po’ folks live. My heart goes out to you.

The property tax on the Mexico City place is payable online. A few years ago we had to do it in person, but modernity is arriving. Alas, it has not arrived here on the mountaintop. If there is an online way to pay property taxes for the Hacienda and Downtown Casita, I have not found it yet.

So we go to City Hall and stand in line. We have a new City Hall. For centuries, I imagine, it was in a colonial edifice on the main plaza. It was quite cramped there.

But City Hall recently moved to a spacious, new, three-story building just three blocks away, a huge improvement.

The new City Hall sits in the same block as the post office, so we pay that annual bill at the same time. We rent a mailbox, and it costs 300 pesos, about 16 bucks a year.

Mail service works well here. It’s just pokey.

One thing we do not have is a monthly phone bill. We have neither a land line nor cell contracts. Our two cell phones are pay as you go, and we don’t go far.

The vehicle taxes used to be the biggest headache. It entailed going to an office here and standing in a mob of people trying to reach the counter. It was chaotic and absurd.

But now I get those bills online. I print them and go to the bank and pay a cashier.  This is one example of how Mexican life has improved during my 16 years (today!) here.

If memory serves, when my last wife kicked me out into the street in 1995, the annual property tax on our rather routine, three-bedroom ranch house was over $2,000 a year.

It’s gotta be far more now. Somebody must fund those fat American entitlements and freebies.

For our three places here, the dollar equivalent of the property taxes is $83. That’s eighty-three U.S. bucks.

Interestingly, the total water bills for the three homes total $140. The annual prices are set, not metered.

Until a few years ago, the taxes on the cars were high, but for some reason the car tax was eliminated on most cars in my state, and now we just pay for the window sticker.

The total for the two is $70. The charge is the same for both even though one car is five years older than the other.

These dollar equivalents are helped by the very sweet exchange rate we’ve enjoyed for the past few months.

To sum up, the outlay for the three houses — property tax and water, both set figures — and the car “tax” total $293. Oh, heck, let’s toss in the post office box’s $16, to reach $309.

I might as well mention the light bills. These are monthly charges based on usage, but since the Mexico City place and the Downtown Casita are usually unoccupied, those two bills are often a base charge. The total for the three places is $36.

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LOTS OF BACK PATTING

I enjoy looking at these figures every January. They cause me to pat myself on the back for being so wise as to move over the Rio Bravo these 16 years ago. Best decision ever.

I wonder how many thousands my ex-wife is paying in property tax on the Houston ranch house alone these days.

At age 68, she is involuntarily retired due to the lackluster Obama economy that Weepy Barry brags about.

I’ve told her to sell and move south, but that’s too much for most people to do, especially after a certain age. We get set in our ways even though the sun is shining brighter on the other side of the mountain — the Mexican mountain.

Never a sailor man

shipI’VE NEVER BEEN on a sailboat.

Oh, I’ve stood on one tied to a dock in the same way I’ve been on a cruise ship tied to a dock in San Juan. But out on the open waters, sails deployed and speeding along?

I’ve never done that.

Strange, since I’ve been on planes — myself at the stick — motorcycles, hot-air balloons, gliders, cars, trucks, trains, buses, you name it, but never on a sailboat in spite of being raised in Florida.

SterlingThough I’ve never been on a sailboat, I have a favorite sailor: Sterling Hayden.

Hayden was a reluctant movie star, often broke, and a full-blown eccentric. He made movies entirely to finance his sailing. He became a movie star because he was a very good actor, a born ham, and because he was so freaking handsome.

HaydenNot only was Hayden an actor, he was a very good writer. He wrote an autobiography named Wanderer and a novel named Voyage. Both are excellent.

But more than anything, he was a sailor who wandered the world. I admire that.

And I’ve never even been out on a sailboat. What’s wrong with me?

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(Hayden’s eccentricity increased with age. Here’s an interesting video. Notice the car he arrives in. He died in 1986 at age 70.)