The list of Gringo chain stores in Mexico is too lengthy to repeat here, and it seems to grow longer each year.*
I was particularly delighted when Bed Bath & Beyond, one of my favorite stores when I lived up north, opened recently in the nearby state capital. I shop there often.
There are eight BB&Bs in Mexico. Six are in Mexico City or its environs. A seventh is in Cuernavaca, the not-too-distant Mexico City playground, and the eighth is in our capital city, the only one relatively remote from Mexico City.
Why were we chosen over the considerably larger burgs of Guadalajara or Monterrey? God knows.
Mexico commercially improves on a daily basis. You can now get most of what is available to the Gringos up north. Plus, we have great tacos, fresh avocados and beautiful babes.
Best of both worlds.
* * * *
* Very incomplete list: Best Buy, Sears, Costco, Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Sirloin Stockade, iHop, Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, KFC, DQ, Starbucks.
(Note: We don’t depend entirely on the Gringos for great shopping. For example, the Mexican chain El Palacio de Hierro — The Iron Palace — will knock your high-end socks off, especially the flagship store in Mexico City’s Polanco.)
HOGAR DULCE HOGAR, if you prefer. In any event, we returned Sunday after a week in Mexico City.
It was a good week. I wasn’t in a rush to return, as has been the case in recent years, an inexplicable change of heart.
For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up, we have a condo in the capital, a unit in a government housing development built specifically for employees of the Mexican highway department where my wife worked 14 years as a civil engineer.
She purchased the place in 1997, and was living there when we met here on the mountaintop in 2001 while she was visiting her sister who has a business on the plaza.
When we married in 2002, and she moved here, we rented the condo to a coworker. He stayed until 2007 when he bought his own home. Instead of renting it to an unknown, a dicey proposition even when you live nearby, we decided to keep it for ourselves for the occasional visit to the Big Tortilla.
We arrived at the condo in January 2007, painted everything and bought new furniture and appliances.
For the first four or five years, we were in Mexico City about two months each year.
Then I grew weary of it. Traffic is horrendous, and we drove from the mountaintop in our car. After about six years, I abandoned the car idea, and we switched to buses.
There are basically three ways to get about Mexico City. The subway (the Metrobus is just a ground-level subway), which is almost always jammed, microbuses, which are almost always jammed, and taxis. It’s taxis all the way for us now.
They are metered and quite cheap.
For some reason, I was in no rush to leave during this last trip, so we did a few things other than the usual cleaning of the condo and paying a few bills.
There was time to visit the Pastelería Ideal, one of the most incredible bakeries you’ll ever see. And we even caught a play at the Gran Teatro Molièrewhere we saw Peter Pan, the Musical, a Saturday matinee.
The theater is located in one of Mexico City’s most-chichi neighborhoods, Polanco. We got there by taxi, of course.
Were I wealthy and required to live in Mexico City, I would purchase a nice home in Polanco.
The most momentous aspect of the trip is that it appears that we’re on the verge of getting the deed to the condo, something we’ve been trying to wrest from the grip of the government since we paid it off about seven years ago.
We visited our notario — a type of lawyer who does deeds — and he says he may be notifying us in a week or two that my wife must return to sign the final papers. Let us pray so.
What brought this about was that we were able to provide a final piece of paperwork to him, something we could have done a year ago had he been a bit more forthcoming instead of indulging in typical Mexican vagueness.
My wife paid 100,000 pesos for the government-underwritten condo in 1997, about $5,500 U.S. at today’s exchange rate. It is now appraised at 600,000 pesos, about $33,000.
An identical unit nearby, however, was sold last year for more than 1 million pesos, about $55,000 U.S. For years, we had planned on selling when we received the deed, but we’ve changed our minds. We’re keeping it.
The surrounding area grows more upscale by the day, and the condo value is rising at the same rate.
We got the place tidied up, purchased and installed a new, instantaneous, water heater and headed home to the mountaintop via the snazzy ETN bus line.