Tag Archives: Mexico

Music and whiskey

TWO HOURS after shooting the video above from the upstairs terraza, I was sitting on the Jesus Patio eating seedless green grapes and listening to the hog next door expressing displeasure with her situation, which she does often.

This is being written yesterday, Saturday. The previous night had seen a heavy downpour that lasted I don’t know how long because I went back to sleep after waking briefly to notice it.

Some things don’t change much in these parts, and the sounds of sunrise are one of those things. Roosters, tractor-trailer trucks on the highway up the mountain behind us, crickets, the loudspeakers of the house-delivery propane trucks.

However, some things do change, and they’re generally for the better. We got some great news recently. An international chain of movie theaters, Cinépolis, is opening here in our mountaintop town. Hooray! Now we won’t have to drive to the state capital for first-run flicks.

The changes that have occurred over the past 17 years that I’ve been here are considerable. There were no major supermarkets. Now there are two. There were no stoplights. Now there are many. There were few Gringos. Now there are way too many!

I wonder how they’ll react to the Cinépolis chain. Over a decade ago, the Mexican convenience store chain Oxxo opened its first store here, and the Gringos, many of whom are aging hippies, went bananas. Egad! Modernization!

We have numerous Oxxos now, including one directly on the major plaza. Another sits on the nearby smaller plaza. Their signs are subdued, not intrusive.

I’m praying for a full-blown Walmart and Costco.

Convenient shopping is a good thing, and it does not detract from the morning views I get from the upstairs terraza, something I love and that never changes.

* * * *

An old friend emailed me this week. I rarely hear from people above the border, so it was a welcomed event.

He and I worked together on newspapers for decades both in New Orleans and Houston. Like me, he is divorced more than once. Unlike me, he is not currently married. He’s three years older than I am, and he lives alone in a home he bought in Colorado after he retired from the Houston Chronicle.

I had sent him a note after seeing him briefly on a Netflix documentary of Janis Joplin who was a close friend of his in high school in Port Arthur, Texas, and later in her early years of fame and drug-addled degeneracy.

My friend is a much-published poet, but not in recent years. He said his life now is mostly whiskey and music. And that all his major life decisions were wrong ones. That last resonated with me because all my major decisions were wrong ones too. Till 1996 when my major life decisions did a 180.

What happened in 1996? I stopped drinking. My friend is 76 years old, and I doubt he will do that.

I didn’t even mention it.

Here’s to music and whiskey! And staying the course.

A dental day

perio
The young periodontist’s office downtown in the state capital.

I MIGHT HAVE titled this post A Tale of Two Dentists because they are so different.

One is a woman. The other is a man. One is young, the woman. The other is not so young, late 50s. One is a periodontist, the woman. The other is just a normal dentist. They are both good-looking, intelligent and talented.

One has a very noticeable office that screams at you in yellow and orange. The other has an office that you would not know is an office had no one informed you.

There is no sign outside, and he does not even advertise. My dentist is strictly word of mouth, so to speak, and he’s talented enough to pull that off.

The two of us had a dental day on Tuesday. She had an appointment with the periodontist, and I had an appointment with the dentist. She has an issue, but I only needed a cleaning, which I schedule about every five months.

I also was at my dentist a week earlier when he took impressions for the implant I will get next week.

Three months ago, I wrote here about my need for an implant. Beats a bridge, I say. Those are for old folks, not me.

Dental care, like healthcare in general, is — as one never wearies of pointing out — one of the many superlative reasons to live South of the Border.

On Tuesday, everything was paid out of pocket in cash, and we were not bankrupted in the slightest.

One more week,  and I’ll have my implant, losing the pirate smile I’ve sported for the last three months. I rather enjoyed the snaggle-toothed grin.

And perhaps I’ve frightened children.

dentist
My dentist’s office looks like any suburban street corner.

Sunday opera

SUNDAY AFTERNOON on the plaza. This fellow sings for tips that go into the glass he’s holding in his hand. His music comes from the blue box hanging from his neck.

I don’t know what’s up with the sunflowers.

After I shot the video, I looked in the other direction and saw the taco vendor sitting on the sidewalk with her two kids.

Years ago the vendor’s mother did the same in the same spot till she died. Her daughter took over, continuing the tradition.

A family enterprise spanning generations.

tacos
Tacos! Tacos! Get ’em right here!

Cars, cars, cars

I WAS 50 years old before I bought a new car. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, so not really a car but a pickup.

Before then I’d always purchased used vehicles and darn few of them too. Not a car guy.

Shortly after marrying my first wife in 1965,  I inherited a 1956 Plymouth Savoy from my granny. About three years later, I bought a VW Beetle convertible, used. Now that was fun. But I left it behind when we split in 1971, and I continued sans car.

I had bicycles and motorcycles.

My second wife had a 1975 Toyota when we met in 1976, so that was what we used until about 1985 when we bought another Toyota, used. Later, we bought a third Toyota, used. That was our ride when she dumped me in 1995.

Her current car is a Prius. She votes Democrat.

And that was when I purchased my first-ever new car, er, pickup, which I drove until I moved to Mexico five years later. I sold it in 2000. Most people who move to Mexico bring their cars  — and as much gear as they can manage, foolishly — but the pickup would not fit into either of my suitcases.

serveimage (1)
2014 Nissan March

It was after moving to Mexico in 2000 that I shifted into high gear and began buying new cars. I have purchased four in the past 17 years. All from dealerships, all paid in full, in cash. The last was in late 2013 when we bought my child bride’s 2014 Nissan March, a model that isn’t sold in the United States.

I bought new cars, in direct opposition to the fact that it’s smarter to purchase relatively new used cars, because I did not trust used cars in Mexico. I have since altered my tune, and were I to buy another car it would be a “pre-owned” from a dealership. I still wouldn’t buy one directly from a local.

chevy
2000 Chevy Popular (Pop)

My first car here (2000) was a Chevy Pop, very much akin to a Geo Metro from the turn of the century. It was a real honey, and we kept it till we bought the Nissan March in 2013. We sold it to a nephew, so it’s still in the family.

The Pop had become my wife’s gym car. It had no AC, no airbags, not even a radio. It had squat aside from reliability. We once drove it from here to Atlanta, barreling down the U.S. interstates with the windows wide open in springtime.

meriva
2004 Chevrolet Meriva

But the Pop ceased to be our main car in 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another vehicle that’s not sold in the United States. It was sold in other parts of the world as an Opel or Vauxhall. It too was a gem, but it had no airbags, was a stick shift, no cruise control, not so basic as the Pop, but eventually I wanted something more suited to an old coot.

So we bought a 2009 Honda CR-V with automatic transmission — the first automatic of my life — A-C, of course, cruise control and airbags front and side. Mexicans drive like lunatics, so airbags are not optional equipment.

The Honda got its 170,000-kilometer service yesterday, and the mechanic informed me that the front shocks needed to be replaced. We’ll do that next week. The cost — parts and labor — will be 7,300 pesos, which is a bit over 400 bucks.

serveimage
2009 Honda CR-V

It’s the first repair of any consequence I’ve had to do with the Honda, which is a pretty good car.

Maybe we’ll buy another car one day, depending on how long I keep breathing, but if we do it’ll be a late-model used one from a dealership. I’m thinking Nissan.

Or maybe a motorcycle.

* * * *

(Note: Until recently, Gringos living in Mexico could tool around in cars with long-expired U.S. plates, and Mexico looked the other way. But a few years ago, rules were changed, and you’re not supposed to do that anymore. Most don’t.)

(Another note: I was surprised to learn recently that Renaults and Peugeots are not sold in the United States. They’re popular down here, especially Renaults.)

Just a nice view

100_0113

AS I’VE MENTIONED here on occasion, we own a townhouse downtown, and we rent it to vacationers, mostly Gringos.

Shuffling through internet files today, I happened upon this photo taken six years ago, a photo I had forgotten. Our place is one of those white buildings. They almost look like they belong in Greece, I think. Nice mountains too.

We bought the townhouse in 2010 with money I inherited after my mother’s death in 2009. We purchased it as an investment with no intention of renting it, but after about two years of its sitting there, furnished and pretty, we decided to share the joy.

Turned out to be a good investment. We would have paid much less now than we paid in 2010. The dollar equivalent then was about $76,000. Now it would be about $20,000 less. Oh well, you buy your condos, and you take your chances.

But it’s worth more now than we paid, and it’s fun to have.

We also have a condo in Mexico City, which is far smaller. It was where my child bride was living when we met lo these many years ago. We just recently got the deed to that place, so we own three, free and clear.

Actually, she owns them. They’re all in her name.

I am homeless.

Rain, book, berries

IT’S AUGUST when I normally start to weary of the rain, but that hasn’t happened yet, the weariness. I am still loving it.

Yesterday about 4 p.m., I headed out the door to drive downtown and have a nice café Americano negro, but it was raining, so I sat a spell on a wicker rocker on the veranda.

Pulling the Canon from my man bag, I shot the video. When the rain slacked, I drove downtown. It wasn’t raining there.

I sat with the black cafecito and read my Kindle. I’m about halfway through a wonderful novel, A Gentleman in Moscow by the oddly named Amor Towles who’s a guy.

Who births a man child and names him Love?

While my normal drink at this time of day and at this location is the café Americano negro, I’ve been known to wander off the reservation. That wandering often leads me to the ice cream shop around the corner where one can purchase this pink thing you see below. Agua de fresa con coco.

Water of strawberry with coconut. There is also dairy in there, and it tastes really good. Costs about 68 cents, Americano.

Living where I do provides many pleasures.

Drive safe, amigos!

Bulletproof, baby!

FOR THOSE who consider travel to Mexico dangerous, let me show you something you can buy — or maybe rent — before you come down to live or visit:

An armored Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the price is $1,679,900 pesos or approximately $96,000. That’s U.S. cash.

It’s waiting in the showroom here.

This means that as you are barreling down a highway, and you spot a “police” checkpoint ahead, and you’re not sure if they are real cops or just the pretend ones you have heard about, you can  floorboard your armored Jeep. Don’t stop!

You’ll be protected from the submachine-gun fire, from real or make-believe police that will be aimed your way, by the Jeep’s 19-mm-thick armor. No joke!

If the real or pretend cops do not let loose with their heaviest artillery, be secure in the knowledge that you’ll be protected from the following weaponry too:

.22 LR HV 40-grain lead, .38 Special 158 GR JSP, 9mm Parabellum 124-grain FML, .357 magnum 158-grain .44 magnum 240-grain SWC and, of course, the 9mm Parabellum 124-grain FMJ. It’s also grenade-proof! And it runs on flat tires.

This comes from the Jeep-Mexico website.

Another scenario: You’re driving through backwoods in the area around Los Reyes, Michoacán. You round a curve, and there’s a huge tree trunk across the road. All is silent.

It didn’t rain last night. Think fast!

You floorboard that mutha! It’s got four-wheel drive and is powered by 360-horse Hemi V8. You’ll fly right over the tree. If gunfire erupts from the treeline, like with Bonnie and Clyde, just remember the armor. Don’t look back.

I also visited the Jeep website for the United States. There is no armored Grand Cherokee offered. I had always assumed that armored personal cars were special orders, and it appears to be so in the United States.

But in Mexico, just stop by your local showroom.

This seems unfair. Say you encounter a Black Lives Matter gang blocking a street in Oakland, California. Or Antifa halfwits. Drive right through/over them, but they could be packing. Best to have an armored Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Say you’re driving through New York City with your red MAGA cap on your head. An armored car just makes sense.

While we have our fake cops and highway robbers in Mexico, you Gringos have your Democrats and other sorts of EPs*. In both scenarios, an armored vehicle could be a lifesaver.

Drive safe, amigos!

* * * *

* Equality people. See definition in right column.

Churro man

THIS IS … well, I don’t know his name in spite of having known him more than a decade.

Twelve or so years ago he walked our streets with a cardboard jar requesting donations for a drug-rehab center. I don’t know if he was a patient or just a helper. I suspect the former.

But that didn’t last very long — a couple of years — and then he started selling churros, a sugar-coated pastry. He’s been doing that on downtown streets ever since.

You can hear him coming a block away as he yells churros, churros, churros. Sometimes I buy one to go with my café Americano negro. That’s what I did yesterday.

He totes the basket and loops that collapsible stand over his forearm. And he’s always very upbeat.

* * * *

(Note: For a superior version of this shot and other fabulous photos, take a look here.)

Damnable fruit

Green peaches muscling up. This is just one of many sagging branches.

MY CHILD BRIDE and I agree on lots of stuff, but the damnable fruit trees are not in that category.

She loves them. Were I living here solo I would uproot them all. Why? I’m not much of a fruit eater, and these trees, which were here when we purchased the property, toss their wares on the grass en masse, and there they rot.

And who has to clean it up? It ain’t her.

The peach tree, first photo, is unpredictable. Sometimes its bounty is beyond belief. Other years it does very little. Alas, this year is one of the bountifuls.

Pears, not quite so abundant but bigger. And the tree is very tall.

And then there is the pear, the second photo. Its output is always the same, too bountiful for my tastes, but certainly less than the peach. By the way, I’m a Georgia-born boy, and I know peaches. These Mexican peaches are sorry versions.

Throughout the summer, every day I go out and scoop up fruit from the grass, most of which have been pecked by birds or gnawed by God knows what beasts roam by night.

It is not an enviable chore.

I add this last photo, the red-hot pokers, because I love them, and I want to end on a positive note. They offer beauty instead of bother, and that’s what you want in life, especially as you age.

And it’s also why I have a Mexican child bride.

Beauty, not bother. Except for “her” fruit trees.

Red hot pokers. Pretty and peaceful. A summer blessing.