My Mexican mistakes

New Image
Bougainvilleas I planted 17 years ago in error.

THERE ARE almost too many to count, my errors. And I committed most during my first two years here. I have since wised up or I’ve been corrected by hard knocks.

Where to start? How about where we constructed the Hacienda. Big mistake. It’s on the edge of what once was a separate village, one of numerous surrounding our huge lake. Being the closest to the “county seat,” we’ve been incorporated, and we’re now just another neighborhood (colonia) of our mountaintop town.

An acquaintance who works with the police once told my child bride that of all the villages surrounding the lake, ours causes the most problems.* In spite of that, we’ve never experienced a crime. I think that is due, in large part, to our being next door to the sex motel, which is open 24/7. It offers us cover, so to speak.

Getting downtown requires about a two-mile drive down a high-speed, two-lane highway with no bike lanes, no sidewalks and often no shoulder. This rules out bicycles, which we would have enjoyed. Rules out a motorbike too.

And then there’s the property, which is two adjoining lots that extend a full block from the street out front to the street out back, which is way too big.  I thought it was nifty when we bought it. I don’t think that any longer. The yard is almost constant maintenance which is why I’ve removed a number of trash-tossing plants/trees and covered part of the yard with stone and concrete, more of which I plan to do.

Let’s move on to the house itself. Again, way too large. I thought it was a great idea, but now it’s obvious that it’s not. I could never have afforded such a palatial home above the border, but it’s a housecleaning problem. We could hire a maid, but my wife opposes the idea for some reason. Perhaps she just enjoys complaining about the house size.

Looking at the plus side, you won’t suffer claustrophobia here.

And the details. My wife had the idea of “sinking” the living room a bit, so we did, but not much, just one step down. There is a step up to the dining room/kitchen and another step up to the hallway that continues to the bedroom and bath.

I have stumbled, but not fallen, on the step countless times, and that won’t get better as I age. My child bride sailed off the step a couple of years ago and broke her arm.

For such a large house, it has just one bedroom, which will be a problem if she ever wants to sell it. Don’t be your own architect. There is another huge space on the second floor, which serves as a second bedroom because there’s a closet and bathroom up there.

It’s good for guests, which we rarely have. In addition to having a queen bed, the top floor serves as a TV room, office and gym. And access to the spectacular upstairs terraza.

And there’s the railroad track behind the houses across the street. We did not notice that when we purchased the property. Trains pass in the night, and they rarely do it peacefully. The good news is that we are accustomed to it, and usually don’t wake up.

We could sell the Hacienda and move to our Downtown Casita, which is ideally located just a 10-minute walk from the main plaza. We could get bicycles. We could buy a four-wheeler. We’d have no yard to mess with. But, after 17 years in the Hacienda, I would feel cramped. There is only a one-car garage, and we want our two cars.

You never know. Maybe one day. But I’m used to living large.

* * * *

* At some point in the distant past, we were dubbed “The Village of the Damned.”

The nonstop knitter

knit
Morning in the bedroom.

QUARANTINE FOR my child bride presents no problems. She knits. Hours and hours and hours of knitting sitting bolt upright. Women are strange.

Her days pass with knitting and calisthenics, the latter being quite time-consuming too. Her gym being closed has been hard for her. She has been going to the gym regularly for more than 30 years. These days, she tosses back a rug in the living room and finds gym classes on YouTube. She props up the Samsung tablet in front of her.

Then it’s bam, boom, bam, boom! On and on and on. Every freaking day.

After I shot the above photo this morning, I did a Hacienda walkabout, and came up with the photos below. I don’t knit or do calisthenics. Old boys gotta stay busy.

To date there has been just one Kung Flu case officially reported in my mountaintop town, and that person died. In the last two weeks, no further cases have been reported.

Amusingly, on an internet forum dedicated to Gringos in our area, the old coots, which is what most are, are chomping at the bit to get their “Economic Impact Payments” from Uncle Sam, in spite of virtually none of them having jobs or having suffering economically in the slightest due to the Kung Flu. They want their cash!

And that, mis amigos, is what’s wrong with America.

bones
Ms. Bones has stood 17 years in the living room.
toro
Wall on the downstairs veranda. That iron has a history.
hat
Sombreros in the hallway.
chairs
Rockers, of course. At times, I’m off mine. Allegedly.

Cleaning the windows

dos
From the living room at 9 a.m.

YESTERDAY, WHILE I was Oiling the Cat, my child bride was not idle. She was cleaning the windows. We are a dual-labor couple. And since I bragged on my work, I’m now giving her equal credit so no one will call me a sexist.

uno
From the bedroom at the same hour.

It’s been a good morning so far. I have Al Gromer Khan on the music machine in the living room playing Tantric Drums. A touch of incense completes the scene.

Like most of the Hacienda, the window designs are mine, my idea 100 percent. Alas, I hired a crappy carpenter way back then, and the windows have been an ongoing problem, especially from the outside where they have warped.

I also stupidly told the carpenter to include the glass in his work. I did not want to fool with details. Of course, he installed the cheapest, thinnest glass available. I keep meaning to have it all changed, but so far I  have done nothing. Inertia for 17 years.

I imagine these windows will outlast me.

But they look nice, especially on clear, cool, sunny winter days like this one.

Below are two more.

A keen observer will notice that Dining Room window #1 is the only one without the section in the middle that can be opened. It initially was like the others, but there was so much leakage during the annual monsoons that I had it sealed off.

We’ll be installing a canvas awning outside that window in a few weeks. It’s the window most exposed to the elements, not just rain but brutal sunshine which requires the wood to be refurbished every few years.

one
Dining room window #1, clean as the whistle.
two
Dining room window #2.

Oiling the cat

cat

SOUNDS LIKE a chapter title in the Kama Sutra: Oiling the cat.

But it’s something more mundane in this case. The cat — a panther, actually — has posed on our front door for almost 17 years now. And the cat, like kitties everywhere, requires care, something I’ve put off too long.

I cleaned him this morning, the entire door too, and then applied a coat of 3-in-One furniture oil. The cat’s coat was dull before, but now he’s nice and shiny.

Cats like that.

The door design was my idea, and it was made by an artisan hereabouts during the Hacienda’s construction in 2003. There is an identical design on the inside of the door, but not being subject to the elements, the inside looks almost like new.

The inspiration for this was a panther vision I had under the powerful influence of psilocybin in 1997. It stuck with me, and now I see it daily.

This cat is my friend.