Unemployed 17 years

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Pastoral scene not too far from the Hacienda.

JUST EIGHT weeks shy of reaching 17 years of no paid employment. Me, that is.

If someone had told me at, say, the age of 40 that I would retire at 55 and, 17 years later, would be living in a lovely Hacienda on a Mexican mountaintop in good health with a child bride, speaking Spanish all day, I would have said:

Yeah, sure. In my wildest dreams.

Yet stuff happens. I would not have believed it, that such good fortune would fall atop my head, but it did.

One reads of people who retire, usually men, and then drop dead a year later, often out of sheer boredom, having lost their reason to live, their job. But I’m not that person.

I’ve never been bored in my adult life. Not a moment.

How does one survive that long with no paying job? I do it with a combination of capitalism and socialism. I profited from the roaring stock market of the 1990s, plus I have a corporate pension, although it’s a puny one.

And then there is Social Security, the socialist element.

None of the above would have been enough were it not for the final element: moving to Mexico. One reads that living in Mexico is not as cheap as it was “in the old days.” Maybe, but it’s sure way cheaper than living in the United States.

Seems like it’s every week that I read about the ever-soaring medical insurance premiums the Gringos have to pay for the ObamaCare scam, the “you can keep your doctor” and “you can keep your current plan” bamboozle.

And the taxes! Lordy, what taxes, especially property taxes in some areas, and paying taxes for those unionized schools that turn out young, brainwashed airheads.

I was sitting at a sidewalk table on the plaza yesterday with a hot café Americano negro, reading a book, when I paused and looked at the cobblestone street and the red-clay roofs, and I thought to myself: Boy, you’re one lucky sumbitch.

Gray but cool

New Image

NAT KING COLE sings You Made Me Love You on the music machine as I sweep the veranda on this overcast day.

It’s cool, but it’s ever cool in our mornings.

After the brief trip to Mexico City, it’s nice to fall back into a routine, which is a very relaxed one. At least mine is. My child bride doesn’t understand relaxation.

I understand it all too well — and always have.

Check news on internet. Drink coffee, eat bagels — or sometimes croissants like today — chores, shower, dress — and, in the case of my child bride, wrestle with curly long hair forever — and on Sunday go somewhere, do something.

That something today will be a ride down the mountain to the state capital for shopping and eating. Sunday’s a good day to do this because perpetually unsettled socialist “teachers” normally take that day off. No highway obstructions.

With luck the overcast will clear soon, introducing blue skies. As I head to the shower, Julie London has replaced Nat King Cole on the music machine.

Chet Baker’s warming up in the bull pen.

I hear a train in the distance. And I think I spot the sun.

Cement, hammers, nails

HERE’S SOMETHING about Mexico you don’t know if you don’t live here: Our nation’s in a building frenzy. You can hardly drive an urban mile without passing numerous construction projects. You’ll see them on rural miles too.

These can be small, medium or large in scale. Businesses that sell construction materials are ubiquitous.* Trucks carrying material down the road from Point A to Point B are an hourly sight. Cement, rebar, bricks, you name it.

We never stop building here — or renovating.

hammerI view this positively. A nation that’s constantly building is a nation that’s moving ahead, and Mexico is moving forward at a remarkable pace.

(We’re even taking steps to legalize marijuana, and that would be lousy for the narcos and great for the rest of us.)

Construction labor is inexpensive. Compared to the United States, it’s incredibly cheap. I like this, of course.

A man who builds things here is called an albañil. It’s invariably a man. I’ve yet to spot a female albañil.

Mexico knows men and women differ.

A Spanish-English dictionary often defines albañil as bricklayer, but a good albañil does far more than lay bricks. A great albañil is a magician. He can build anything.

Barry Obama, the Mohammedan sympathizer and half-white Hawaiian-Indonesian, would not be able to look an albañil in the eye and say, “You did not build that” because the albañil would have built it, and built it quite well.

(Yes, I can inject politics anywhere.)

Unlike tradesmen in the United States and teachers in Mexico, albañiles are not unionized.  You never encounter them blocking highways because they are out of sorts.

The lack of trade unions is a big reason you can get work done at a very good price south of the Rio Bravo.

Many, perhaps most, get into the profession as children, helping relatives. An albañil now working at the Hacienda began when he was 13. Now 40, he’s remarkably talented.

Perhaps the narcos who find themselves without income due to drug legalization will put down their M16s and turn to honest construction work. There’s lots to be done.

Mexico is on the move.

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* I rarely use two-dollar words, but sometimes it’s fun.