Look ma, no hands!

poolshotThe training wheels are off. We’ve been here now for 10 days (more like two weeks by the time I post) and are starting to feel a little more settled. There’s enough food in the fridge and we are both back at work earnestly but there will still be days. Like Monday, where it takes an hour to tell us at Scotiabank Mexico that we can’t open a bank account until Charlie gets his new green card back (in process) and until after our first bills are issued by the phone and cable companies. We had our lease, our passports, hologram visa in the passport, but little green plastic card not issued yet. And we have telephone and cable long form contracts – in our name, installation and first month paid – but they aren’t good enough either, it has to be the first actual printed bill they send with our name. Paperwork is SO specific here. We don’t really need the account, I can transfer funds for rent from Canada every three months and pay for everything cash but it would be simpler. So we’ll try again in a couple of weeks when the actual resident visa card is issued.

I’m not sure what to do about my own visa but I’ve got til September to decide (as I’m here on a tourist visa good til then). Same problems as always. They don’t recognize me as being the person who married CW because I changed my last name to his, 23 years ago. And my passport has my married name, not my maiden name. But the marriage certificate (authenticated and legalized at great cost) of course, has my maiden name. So they argue the person on the marriage certificate is not the same name as on my current passport (my married name). At least, they argued that in San Miguel. I’ll keep you posted.

Otherwise, I either have to use the line of credit on the house to put money in investments for a year and then apply on my own, or keep coming in and out every 180 days. They won’t accept the house in Canada or the line of credit as proof of stability (although they will accept it if I move it to a stock market account, go figure) and even though I have the rental income and pension, which is enough to get in by income, it’s complicated further by all of our bank accounts being joint accounts (always have been – but they don’t like that). One day, I’ll get it right. I may be able to use my TFSA, which is in my name alone, but did I mention that I have all my accounts paperless and they won’t accept anything but head office issued paper, not computer printouts. Oy. It will work out one day, I’m not going to sweat it. In the meantime, as long as I can get in and out, I’m happy. But, that said, CW’s process has been a lot smoother than San Miguel so far, and simpler. And after he gets his actual card, we’ll try the marriage thing again. Migracion here is used to working with lawyers (few retirees, a lot of the expats are here for work) and we have one, so we’ll see if it’s easier here.


my office on the left

I’ve managed to spill beer on the keyboard of my laptop and it no longer works so I’m stuck on a plug-in keyboard, hoping against hope the computer doesn’t die before my replacement keyboard gets here. Which had to be ordered from the US so that it is not a Spanish keyboard, which has different placements (and which I am working on now). Estafeta, which is like Fed Ex here, has a deal with eBay US, which is very handy. For $50 a year, you can order on eBay US and it will be delivered for free, guaranteed delivery (it’s a partnership between Estafeta and eBay) for one year. You only pay duty, but if what you order is under $50 USD – no duty. It’s an awesome program. My friend here has it (she ordered the keyboard for me – $13!) and I’m getting this service, for sure. Solar lights. Solar balls for the pool. My mind races, LOL.

My new favorite cookie

My new favorite cookie

I’ve been to Costco, Superama, Super Chedraui (big gourmet store) several times and looking forward to going to La Euopea (another gourmet store) and even the big Walmart to see what it is like. And Liverpool. I thought Liverpool was the place with the macarons, but damnit, it’s not. That’s Palacio Hierro. Another reason to move to DF.  I started the Clean Diet Cleanse on Monday April 6  – they say to do what you can – one, two or three weeks, with three being better. Three days has not been hard at all (note: this gets updated later). There’s a big list of what’s allowed and not allowed, plus you eat two liquid meals a day (power shakes/juices/blended soups, your choice) and one solid meal and the solid meal is at lunch. The theory is, the less energy your body has to spend digesting, the more energy it has for expelling toxins that you’ve built up over the years. As a walk up, I’d pretty much eliminated gluten and had eliminated sugars but I thought abandoning caffeine might be trouble. Turns out it hasn’t bothered me at all. And of course, no alcohol – which is good by itself, I like to take breaks.

tvoutsideWe’ve been watching The Good Wife on Apple TV, one more episode and we’re caught up. I have a sling box option but I haven’t set it up yet. And being two hours behind us in time (it’s synched to Vancouver), we will be sleeping during prime time so it might not be useful. We’ll see. There is a way to do it, I just have to read the instructions. Apple TV has everything we want though, so it may be moot. We watch TV outside. That’s kind of novel but it’s very pleasant.

So, here I am. The weather is good, but it’s been a bit hot. April is the hottest month here, they tell me. And if it rains at night, it’s better. Too hot for me is really anything over 80 and it has hit 90 several afternoons. These are all Fahrenheit. Thank God (very seriously) that the humidity here runs very low and most of the time (unless a rain is coming) is less than 20%. And we do have a pool. It rained last night and that made it lovely today, 75-ish. And if I can get through this month, the rest of the year should be perfect with highs around 75 and lows around 60. (About 23 C and 15 C). I’d rather a house without a  pool, myself. We do swim, but I would prefer a hot tub in the next house (which are also common here, but in the hot months – April & May – are used as cool tubs).

The people here seem very nice and we live in the middle of a Mexican middle class neighborhood, finally. I have been in all those stores above, and out and about walking a fair bit and have not seen one gringo. (There are gringo tourists in the Jardin, sporadically, Spanish school students mostly.) This makes me very happy.  I do have gringo friends, don’t get me wrong. But I didn’t come to Mexico to live in a gringo suburb. And finally, we don’t. The local middle class is very important and it’s a large portion of the  population. Many work in Mexico City and commute every day. And all those stores and all the restaurants cater to the locals, not to the gringos. Because we aren’t very thick on the ground here. The locals however, are quite sophisticated and there are local and American eateries, including PF Changs, California Pizza Kitchen, Nathan’s and more. Lots of Organic Cafes, Sushi Bars and international food.

And it was interesting, I was in Costco in Cabo just before coming here. Full of Easter eggs, front and center (and gringos). At least 20 different Easter egg extravaganza choices. Costco here? Two choices. Tucked away in the corner. Because it’s not gringo territory. The gourmet stores have all the imported cheeses and chutneys et al, so there’s not much missing. I just have to figure out where it all is.

fruit3Once a month (the 19th of this month) there is a huge “green” market in the big park here (Ecologia de Chapultapec) that is all organic. It travels around Morelos (our state) and sounds really good. There’s also a huge municipal market/farmer’s market that runs daily in the center of town that I haven’t been to yet but should have some pretty great flowers and fruit and vegetables. Update: The Mercado Centro in Cuernavaca ended up being part of the tour my friend, Guenia, took me on of the city on Thursday, and you’ll find the details a few paragraphs down. I met her at the Screenwriter’s seminar in Mexico City (but that’s another story and we already have a title for it Charlie’s $10,000 US man purse). It’s fantastic to have someone here who knows the city and is so kind. She’s from DF and moved here six or seven years ago and is in the city a couple/few times a week.

I’ve been buying and selling inside the TFSAs (CWs and mine) and running almost 50% increase now, since last year, half was contributed in May, the other half in September. I’m quite encouraged by that, although it’s been a good year overall, I think paying attention works. I’ve had a couple of losers but I’ve had some big winners, too. I’ve got three more Canadian stocks I want to buy and was thinking about selling Apple – I bought at $90 and it’s now about $126 and while it’s still an excellent ‘hold’ in my opinion, that’s not what these accounts are for. Then I can buy a few others. I don’t trade that often and I buy more than I sell, I think I’m a bit of a stock hoarder. But next week is my selling week. And repurchasing. Reorganizing, as they say.

purplejiceWe had friends down last weekend from Mexico City this past weekend and had a great time – did some creative work, ate and drank and swam. Which is why I didn’t start the cleanse til they left. I should have some time clear of guests now, there’s a method to my madness. It’s really quite boring and I’m now on Day 5. It’s not difficult, aside from the boredom. I’m certainly not hungry. We’ll see how long I last. I hope I can do at least two weeks. Each additional week adds exponential value. Of course, if I continue for the full three, I will reap the most benefits.  But it’s boring. I’ll keep you posted. I was going to blog about it, but who wants to see two photos of purple juice shakes and one photo of chicken and wild/brown rice/spinach bowls every day? (I could have different main meals – which are taken at lunch – but I  like this one, LOL.)

smokerI did manage to get some real work done this week (the other stuff is all real, but I mean ‘paying’ work). There will be more done next week as more things get checked off the ‘to do re move’ list. And I don’t want to move again soon. Except there’s a chance this house is too big for us. We have a one-year lease and are delighted to stay. May even change our minds about it being too big and stay a second year. A few parties should take care of that. We do only have two extra bedrooms and one is in the main house, one is a casita. And the office is totally separate, which is very good, actually. And the cabana is separate (might be my office Monday to Friday). We closed the door on the formal living area when we arrived and haven’t been in it yet, we pretty much live in the office or the outdoor living room or the cabana (and there are two kitchens and two really good fridges and gas stoves, which thrills me). The grounds are quite large. Did I mention the killer BBQ – smoker that was here? That’s a bonus – we used it all last weekend.

cmarket3I had a great tour of this end of the city yesterday – a friend drove me on the major routes to major stores (Costco, Sams, Superama, Home Depot, Office Depot and a few small specialty stores for things like French breads and teas) and then we went inside the Central Market – technically Mercado Adolfo López Mateos – and it was incredible. Walking distance to boot. I think it will take me a few visits to see it all. Everything from crawling bugs (that you eat live, apparently) to pinatas, to fruits & veggies from hell to meat and fish and housewares and toys and witch stuff. Like the San Miguel Tuesday market only more food and more oddities. And it’s open every day in a permanent building downtown. We had lovely cold coconut milk (served in a baggie with ice and a straw) and I learned a few things (a fruit I hadn’t known before, like a small plum, and of course, those bugs). I intend to haunt this joint further.

Clean Eating snack

Clean Eating snack

Charlie is busy on his paper that’s due this week, plus Migracion so the deal was, he keeps his head down the first two weeks. Then we’ll start to explore. I have my eyes on a few restaurants to try. Screw the cleanse. Day 6 and I’m not enjoying myself. I think I have to ease off the cleanse for now, I have too much to do and whether my logic is simply justification, I’m not sure, but it feels real. This cleanse is taking up all my brain power (in execution planning and worrying and a little obsessing) and I’ve tried to beat it back but it’s not working. The cleanse is controlling my life. Yeah, I know, it’s only three weeks, but not now. Even though I’m one day shy of one-third done.  And I do mean ease off, not jump off. I’m not going to go crazy and ‘Clean Eating’ is much less restrictive than this 3 week cleanse. So I will try to eat clean(er) until I can attempt the cleanse again. I need my focus.

I feel kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to do it this time, but Junger insists that you shouldn’t feel that way, and you come back to it when you can and in the meantime, eat cleaner. So there you go. I think I lost about seven pounds in six days though. That’s not bad.Could be Wheat Belly. I think gluten might be my issue, I had pasta last weekend just before I started, after having cut back on gluten, and stuffed right up. I don’t think I’m allergic, but possibly sensitive to it. And if that’s what the tire around my waist used to be made of, I’ll eat gluten free bread 🙂

things in storage

things in storage

I am trying to walk everywhere and then cab back. It’s good for me, teaches me the town and my mind can think about the upcoming projects. I am still deep in the memoir editing and it’s great. Plus a couple of other story lines with my friend from DF – a doc series idea that I find quite enchanting, an animal-based reality show and a half hour comedy, all in very early stages. Some would call it development, but I call it speculation (oh you cynic). But it keeps me off the street, you know what I mean? Idle hands and all that. After Migracion, it’s dealing with the car and attaching it to the resident visa. Then it’s my visa. And we need to arrange to move our stuff down from storage in San Miguel but we seem to have a few options there. Hope to do that at the end of the month. I kind of forget what’s there – a bunch of Day of the Dead stuff, glass hummingbird feeders (many), George the Gargoyle, the Birdmen statues. Some kitchen stuff and a few colored vases, I think. A big tub of broken glass and talavera for mosaic work (one day…) and more clothes than I could possibly need. The big star that J&E gave us, the tin Xmas tree that L&R gave us. Office supplies too. And some booze (good tequilas). All my glass mask candle holders (I love them, need more to really make a grouping). A lot of the clothes will have to go. I doubt we’ll be wearing a sweater here. A wrap in the winter at night I could imagine.

So that’s that for this week. Nothing terribly exciting but settling in and so far, Cuernavaca’s population is turning out to be what we thought it would be (local), and very friendly. Not the same as the smaller town of San Miguel – there is some of the city in that not everyone wants to meet your eye and say “Buenos/Buenas dias/tardes/noches” but on the neighborhood streets, they do. But not in the more urban shopping areas. After all, this is a city. And that makes me happy (you can take the girl out of Toronto and all that). Costco close enough to walk makes me very happy too (although I haven’t done it yet, and it will be a 40- minute walk, maybe a bit more). The central market makes me very, very happy. I think we will settle in well here and get a lot of work done in the next year. I leave you with The Secret of Life for now. Remember: Canta, no llores.

 [youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHWHPPHpAj8″]