So many different worlds

Well, we’ve been here just four weeks now, and learning lots about the city. Charlie’s visa process was super simple, what had taken over a month in San Miguel took three days here, which is bloody incredible. He submitted his info (from the consulate) on a Tuesday and had his green card (Residente Temporal) in his hand by Friday. From what I understand, it’s that fast on the coast, too. Not sure what the problem is in San Miguel (except the number of gringos, maybe). There’s a lawyer going to Mexico City to register the car with his visa, so it will be legal as long as his green card is legal, and he can even take it in and out of the country if he chooses. But why would he? Our plan is to drive it here for the next four years (the max temporary resident length, then you switch to permanent) and then decide whether to trash it or drive it back to Canada. By then it will be 20 years old, maybe we nationalize at that point. We’ll cross that bridge if we ever get to it.

herbs1We went to the “green market” last weekend, a traveling Morelos organic market. It had some lovely stuff, we bought some salsas and some bread and some fresh herbs (with roots).  Delighted to have found a stevia plant, so now I can use stevia in my coffee instead of honey. Honey is fine, but stevia is better – just so insanely impossible to find pure stevia in the grocery stores. Lots of sweeteners that try to trick you, like Svetia for example. Many are nothing more than horrid sweeteners with a dab of stevia. You really have to read the ingredients, which is time consuming but you’ll find most things are not what they try to look like. It’s the damn PR-ization of the world. And oh yeah, I bought mezcal. Mint mezcal. Except for the sample I tried at the market, I haven’t had any yet but it was good (they served the sample over ice). And we got jams and breads… it was a decent market. There is an organic market every Tuesday, I just heard, so we will check that one out too.

Hotel for the Glass Market

Hotel for the Glass Market

I’m still working away on the memoir editing/transcribing project which is a fun job. I think it will turn out to be a good read. And a couple of other small projects for other clients. And thinking up more ideas, as always. I may try to run a shopping tour to Tlaquepaque & Tonala for other gringos in Mexico (even gringos from Vancouver and Toronto, but they have to get themselves to Guadalajara). I can get a shuttle to take people from San Miguel if I can get enough interest. Have to work out the numbers but six – eight should surely do it. Probably three days – one to arrive and wander in the early evening, market day, one recovery day and leave the next morning. I was thinking about also running a Mexico City tour around the same length with shopping and dining options. Some, especially single women (of which there are multitudes in San Miguel), need some hand-holding to go to these places. And it would keep me busy. Ok, that was fast, I did set it up, we’ll see if we get any takers. But if I don’t get six takers by May 15, it’s off. Too much trouble and it’s only worth a few hundred dollars (and a free trip, but I don’t need any glassware so a free trip is not the point).

Captivatist Story photo

Chinese Lanterns in Scotland

I’d actually like to buy a website I have been working for – it makes its money on google ads and is already well-established. The owner has shelved it for a while, but it still earns money and could be brought back up to snuff. I loved writing for it – and reading it. I need to find some passive income. It won’t entirely be passive, as I’ll need to write for it, but semi-passive. The stocks aren’t passive and are somewhat risky…well, nothing is for sure but some things are more likely than others. We’ve made good money on the stocks in the last nine months or so, I was thinking about cashing some of them in – I’ve been treating it as a savings account but I think I need to take out X amount each month in order to feel like we are actually making real money. But I think I’ve actually made more there than writing so far this year, which is awesome because I’ve made okay writing money. Because it’s another thing that I can do from anywhere.

Legal with BC plates!

Legal with BC plates!

We did get the car attached to his green card – so it’s now legal with BC plates for as long as his temporary residency (four years and then he has to go permanent which means he can’t drive a foreign plated car). It’s registered in BC on a Mexico 919 Class, which means we can keep up the registration and we’ll get our little yearly ICBC registration stickers without being insured up there. So we are legal, period. If we want to drive it north, we just phone them up, give them a credit card and they send us a new insurance policy by email. It’s all so civilized. Once we finally figured it all out, that is. Took a while. We tried to do it last time but it was never confirmed. This time, we have a confirmation letter from Aduana, which we can show to any Federale who asks. The Federales and Aduana (customs), by the way, are the only ones who can challenge the legal status of a car. But if they do, and it’s not legal or you have fudged something, they will confiscate the vehicle, apparently. It’s happened to a few gringos that I’ve heard about. That would be nasty. But I still know people who take their chances. Oh well, not my circus…not my car (haha, bet you thought I was going to say ‘not my monkey’).

I went to Mexico City yesterday, an easy bus ride. We’re still looking at spending a few years living in the city itself. The rents are high, and you get less than here certainly, if you buy. I looked at an apartment yesterday with a friend in Mexico City – he’s in the market. It was nice, could use some updating, and it was 1,500 sf with a large (long) balcony. The house we are renting in Cuernavaca is 4,300 sf big and the gardens and pool (lot size) sits on 12,000 sf in a central neighborhood (that’s just over 1/4 acre). And the asking prices are terribly similar. Puts things in perspective, but the apartment we looked at wasn’t a good buy for other reasons. On the right street, with a kitchen a little more modernized, and it would be though, I think. We need to buy where the market is fluid – and it’s not that in Cuernavaca. From all accounts, we got lucky in San Miguel but I stand by my assertion that if you buy smart and then price it to move, you’ll can sell a house in almost any market (except maybe Detroit). But we do want to be in a fluid market, and we want to live in Mexico City for a few years so it makes sense to wait. We might change our minds, you know us.

smastormWe had a great thunderstorm last night, really cooled things down. It’s been 30 (Celsius) here regularly – they tell us this is not normal, but what is these days. When the rain comes at night, it really cools it down and last night was a doozy. Lots of thunder, lightening and pissing rain. We sat out in the covered living room and watched it. It blew a lot of bugambilia blossoms on to the pool cover. Good thing we had it covered or they would all be in the pool. We had to turn the solar heater for the pool down, it was getting too hot. But I’m not complaining. At least not yet. The humidity is running about 12%, which is tolerable.

Mango tree

Mango tree with orchids

Did I tell you about the mango tree? I wasn’t paying attention I guess, but it’s easily 20 ft tall so I don’t really look that far up very often. It’s huge and just loaded with mangos. ‘Under the Mango Tree’ is sticking with me as a title. Of what, I don’t know. I just want the damn things to ripen so we can cut them in cubes and freeze them. We have two fridges here and they are both pretty decent (and two stoves, a dishwasher, a convection oven that I haven’t tried yet). So we can have lots of frozen stuff. We have two full kitchens, actually. One is where the staff does all the heavy-lifting cooking (back in the day, not on my watch, I cook myself) and one is where the hostess flits around, taking things out of the fridge and popping the odd appetizer in the oven. Anyhow, given the size of this tree, I think I might have to be digging for mango recipes the way I had to dig for cherry recipes the year that the tree in Ladysmith gave us 100 lbs. Did I tell you about all the wine glasses, champagne glasses, espresso cups  that there are in this house? Easily 40 wine glasses.  And Reidel to boot. A large selection of White/Red/Stemless/Champagne Flutes/Heavy crystal tequila sippers. Quite the house. There are a couple of nice contemporary flatware sets we’re using, then there are more formal sets for 12, which we really won’t see any call for. I looked up the name on eBay. Once piece (not one place setting, but one single piece) sells for $40. He has good taste (the owner). The plates are white, square, but not your average off the shelf plates. And I love that they are white. Except for the very odd munchie snack serving dish, I must have plain (or even clear) plates. You can’t make the food look good on the plate (especially for photos) if there are patterns. Check out any food blog and see what I mean. And then, there are a whack of square appetizer plates, with cut outs for holding your wine glass (china ones). I better go make some friends so we can have a party.  I’ve never seen so many wine glasses and espresso cups in a residence. I think he had a lot of parties here.

cuernaupThere are a pair of parrots who fly by every few days, making a lot of noise. They’re funny. I don’t know if they are wild or they belong to someone. But they sure chatter. Nothing we can make out, but noisy, noisy, noisy. One has a yellow head, one has a blue one. Stuff like that makes me feel like I’m in Mexico. The problem with San Miguel is that it was starting to feel like Arizona, if you know what I mean. Not that much was exotic, especially when the temperature lows were often a match for Vancouver Island at the height of winter. That distressed me. And it’s amazing what about 200 miles south can do, this is a totally different world, as far as ecosystems are considered. We are in what is known as a Tropical Savannah Climate – where San Miguel is a “Temperate” climate, like Vancouver Island and Ajijic (I just looked it up) is considered a “Moderate” climate. I remember needing a fire in the morning in December and January in Ajijic, but it’s been a long time (2003, I think, or 04). We have fireplaces here but I’m told we’ll use them once every 10 years. We sure used our gas fireplaces in San Miguel. Often.

So round and round and round it goes. The days already turn into weeks and then months. This is a very good place from which to plot out the rest of our lives. Which may be 10 years or 20. Maybe 30 but not sure we can count on that. I wonder if we’ll head home in 10 years or if we’ll die here (in Mexico). I wonder if we’ll ever move to somewhere like Spain or Portugal. We really want to see Bruce in either Helsinki or Rio. Rio will cost Charlie a couple of hundred dollars and some paperwork for a visa, I can fly in under my Irish passport without that trouble because Ireland doesn’t have that dickhead Stephen Harper. (He imposed visa restrictions on Brazilians, so they retaliated.) God I hate that man, but don’t get me started. It’s too peaceful for that here.

Well, do I have much more to say? No. So that means, time to go. Always know when to leave the party, I always say. Just a song before I go – one of my all time favorites. And remember, Canta no llores.

[youtube url=”″]