Once Upon a Time

Stories I will tell when I am an old woman rocking on my porch…

Once upon a time, I had homes with no running water in winter and that required effort to heat. It was normal for me to survive half the year as I hung on to the promise of a few months of respite from the drudgery.

Once upon a time, I had bosses who were downright abusive and made me question my self-worth even as I worked myself to the bone for them. I had jobs that required back breaking manual labour and jobs with mind numbing tedium.

Once upon a time, I believed what my society told me, that to have a “good life” I couldn’t begin to live until I was in my sixties. And that the good life came at a hefty price tag I wasn’t sure I wanted to work hard enough to pay for anyway.

Once upon a time, I finally quit the rat race to search for my own version of the good life. Followed years that had long periods of hunger and drudgery that were a small price to pay for the wonders I saw.

Once upon a time, I found myself having high tea in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I finally understood what people meant when they said they had “arrived.”

Once upon a time, I chose to live where there is a perpetual summer. I turned my back on survival and began to demand more for myself.

Once upon a time, there was a day when the housekeepers took care of the tedium of house minding while I worked hard at my own enterprise. I then had a Skype meeting with a client and cemented a new contract that would secure my immediate future. After, it was time to go for a swim, play with the dog, lie on a chaise longue with a cold beer and bask in the sun for spell, and finally I made a lovely dinner in my spotless kitchen.

Once upon a time, I realised that over the course of several years I had inched my way across a line that could never be crossed again. That I wanted comfort and beautiful things and to be able to take an evening off without feeling guilty about it. I had found the Good Life and, best of all, I could not only appreciate it, I had earned it.

Peninsula-Wide Power Outage!

I lost power at 11:04 this morning and didn’t think too much of it. But with my computer being at only half charge and the freezer being full, I wondered if it would be worth firing up the generator. I went to the website for CFE, the power company, and there was no message on the main page about the outage. There was, however, a link to their Twitter and through that, I got the Twitter for the account for the whole of the peninsula (which includes the states of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo).

There, I found out that it was a peninsula-wide outage! I kept monitoring the account (on my phone, which, thankfully, is now getting decent reception here) and I could see progress being restored along the same route I took to get here from Villahermosa. Shortly after their, “Next stop is Mérida!” message, a full hour and a bit after the outage started, the power came back on! I immediately tweeted that Chelem had power and thanked CFE for their service.

It later came out that there was a problem in the power line between the states of Tabasco and Campeche. It’s rather scary that we have such a tenuous connection to the power grid, but I was impressed by how fast CFE moved to fix the problem.


Legal for the Next 344 Days

Sunday was a pleasant at-home day. I had a bit of work to do in the morning, but then took the rest of the day off even though I had more work in the queue. Of course, that meant I spent the afternoon catching up on my bookkeeping, which I’ve been progressively neglecting. It’s hard to do it paperless and it was great to be able to print off all my statements and highlight and annotate as I went along.  I watched a movie in the evening and started on my Van Gogh puzzle, which, as expected, is going to take ages to do!

First thing this morning, I headed into Progreso to see if my residency card really had arrived already, as per the notice I received on Friday afternoon. En route, I stopped to drop off the trash. Collection at the house is not regular and my hosts find it’s better to hold the trash at home and then deposit it at the “dump” (area by the side of the highway on the way to Chelem) as needed. It’s really not a hassle and there’s a guy at the “dump” who takes the bags out of the truck for me.

I got to INM and, sure enough, my card was there! It was accompanied by a lovely welcome letter from Mexico laying out both my new privileges and my new responsibilities.

“Mexico, a hospitable country… is pleased to issue you this card as proof of your status as a temporary resident… Like for any other resident of Mexico, it allows for free transit across the country as well as access to education, healthcare, and the justice system.”

My responsibilities are to safeguard the card, show it when I need to prove my status, inform them of any changes (like my address), and to renew the card 30 days before it expires — so that’s the end of March since the card expires May 1st, 2018, which feels so soon!

I find it amazing how many expats don’t find getting to this point incredible and worthy of celebration. There is just such a sense of entitlement. 

From INM, I went straight to Aduana. The guy who was so surly last week actually greeted me with a smile and a few kind words! I didn’t have to wait long for the customs officer from last week to come out with some paperwork for me. As it turns out, it takes three to four months to process the extension for the TIP! OMG! What she had for me as a letter saying that I’ve requested an extension. That’s it. There was nothing in it about the request being granted. I asked the lady to confirm that this would be enough to be legal and she said to just hold onto the letter with my other TIP paperwork and that it will be sufficient if I get pulled over and asked to prove Moya’s legal status. Hope she’s right! I was given a website URL and request number so I can track the status of my extension.

When I got back to the pier entrance/exit checkpoint, the guard there told me I’d do well to make a colour photocopy of my license plate, have it laminated, and stick it to the front of my truck so that I don’t look as conspicuous! I’ve heard of other expats with no front plate doing that and getting the same suggestion from someone official cemented it for me. So that’s my next arts and crafts project.

Now, it’s time to get to work. It’s rare for a Monday to be busy, but this one is. I even had a request to take a job waiting in my inbox when I first logged on.

The house cleaner comes on Wednesday, so I’m going to lose most of that day and so I’ll need to work late tonight and tomorrow to make up for that. It was strongly advised that I leave when she’s here so as to not be in her way. So I think I will go to Progreso centro and have a poke around. I accidentally drove through there today looking for the Super Aki grocery store and it reminded me so much of Maz I got a little homesick! Looks like there’s a market to explore as well as, of course, a malecón. I figure doing that will kill the time it will take the cleaner to do my suite and then I can come back to work while she does the rest of the property. Yes, my hosts trust her! She has actually housesat overnight here to take care of the dog. I’m therefore not worried about having her here alone, but I will tell her not to touch my desk since there’s so much on it.

Tonight is the last curry night for a few weeks and so I’ll be heading out in a few hours to pick up supper. One of you lovely readers sent me some funds a few weeks ago for a treat and it exactly covered my three curry nights! So thank you again!

Settled For the Long Haul

I learned my first winter on Isla just how long five months really is and that it’s worth getting comfortable and settled. So I was much happier in my rental casita the second year. Coming here to Chelem for a full half year and knowing that I would mostly be in my own space with most of my things, it was imperative to me that I make myself truly at home so that I could restart healthy and positive routines in all aspects of my life.

So Friday was mostly a work day with some chores interspersed, like watering the huge garden.

I hadn’t yet made a proper meal here and rebaptised all my kitchen things, so mid-afternoon, I went through the fridge to see what I could make considering I really didn’t have that much in there. Well, between the onions, limes, and and wheat tortillas my hosts left, the peppers and chicken I’d picked up at Costco, the cumin and chili powder I’d brought from Canada, and some manchego cheese and crema I happened to have on hand the logical answer was fajitas! It was one of those meals that made me wish I had someone to cook for. I ended up having leftovers to make at least two lunches.

This morning was a much needed lie-in. I had a bit of work to do for the weekend and got started when I received around ten a message in reply to an ad I’d posted on a “garage sale” group on Facebook. I’d asked about puzzles and a lady in Chuburna, the next village over, said she had some and I could come by this morning to look at them. I thought she was offering to sell me a lot for $200, but she wanted $200 each. She’s lucky that I know puzzles and that all her Ravenburgers were most definitely each worth that (basically half price) or I might have laughed at her. At any rate, I couldn’t resist a half-price Ravensburger, so I got this Van Gogh puzzle:

I also got another non-Ravensburger with colourful cupcakes that she let me have for $100 when I pointed out that there was a sticker on it for $170. I have hours of entertainment ahead of me. In fact, the Van Gogh alone could take me the next six months, so $200 well spent!

The rest of the day was spent between work and sorting out the rest of my suite and my office space. Which reminds me that the WiFi in here is very flakey and that I would not have been able to have my office in here if I couldn’t get hardwired. So I was really grateful to not only have the billion feet of Ethernet cable I inherited from my winter at Croft’s, but also a way to get it to the modem, in the main suite, without much effort (there’s a window in the bathroom that goes into the pantry of the main suite and from there I just ran the cable behind furniture to the modem).

Mid-afternoon, I got a craving for a cuppa, which made me laugh because of the climate. I was going to “settle” for a hot chocolate (Abuelita!) when I remembered I’d picked up some loose Earl Grey when I did a Bulk Barn run in Moose Jaw for spices! So I got my cuppa after all, and in my favourite mug to boot. I might have shared the story of it, but here it is again. It’s a panorama scene of the Las Vegas Strip highlighted by a magnificent sunset. I saw the mug at a gift shop but was not willing to drop $20 on it! I could afford it, but it was the principle of the thing. Anyway, the next day, at Circus, Circus, I put a quarter in a slot machine and won enough tickets to redeem for the mug! 😀

I got creative in organising my space. I really didn’t want to buy much since a lot of my storage needs will be resolved next month when I get the desk and bookcases. So in the meantime, I moved a little unit that was by the wardrobe closer to my desk and stacked in its place the three boxes I can’t unpack yet or store in the humid bodega (books and DVDs). Then, I covered them with a blanket and put the plant back in its place. 🙂 Looks ridiculous, but better than looking at the boxes!

I did something similar by the door. I really needed a place other than the couch to drop my purse. The shelf I built for protecting the printer in transit has proven to be some very well spent time and material. I used it as an end table on Isla and it made sense to do the same thing here! I have a box full of footwear under it and the whole thing is covered with the fabric I bought on Isla for that purpose. Notice my own mat by the front door. The mat I was left was much larger, but it was white and that was going to be way too much upkeep.

Here’s my suite now. I put my rainbow blanket across the foot of the chaise longue to protect the couch fabric from possible dirty feet and that’s my own blanket now at the foot of the bed. I want to replace their bedding with my own at some point, but I love the look of the orange sheets so much that I’m not in a hurry to do that. 🙂 The desk looks cluttered, but it’s really not that bad and will look much better once I have the real desk in here that will let me hide cables. I found that cute little pink bucket to use as a trash can for next to nothing and the pink one on the desk was bought for my kitchen on Isla.

The old “plant stand” is next to the desk and has a drawer and a couple of shelves behind doors for storing office bits. On top, I put my collection of brass candle holders that I started collecting in Wisconsin in 2005 as well as the soapstone mule my friend Donna gave me that keeps me from being too nostalgic about Canada and the glass rakia flask I won in Belgrade for knowing the most Serbian (still laughing about that). I hope to find a cork that will fit it. I’m glad it made it all the way here intact!

Most of my treasures have made their way to Mexico with me. I obviously can’t hang anything on the walls here, so I rested artwork around the room. My raven:

My print of Alcatraz is by the door and the painting my sister made for me is across from the foot of the bed. By the globe, you can see the only painting of mine that has survived and then all along the back of the “desk” are my plaques with my favourite quotes on them.

And here’s my Egyptian papyrus:

The bathroom looks much better! I’m leaving the suitcases and tub of clothes there because I’m afraid they will mould otherwise.

My own towels are hanging, blue for the shower, white (and gigantic) for the pool. It’s purely a coincidence that the containers are the same colour as the towel. I had zero storage in this room and the two containers that best suited my needs in terms of size happened to be the same colour as the towel. One of my new tumblers was blue and was therefore the obvious toothbrush holder. 🙂 And it’s also a coincidence that my shampoo, body wash, and bath mat match. 😀

Here’s my room from the bathroom with a bonus shot of my charge.

After taking these photos, I went out to play with him for a bit, had a nice swim (taking the time to skim the top of the pool and pick up big pieces at the bottom — it’s been windy!), and then played some more. I know, I know, it’s a tough life… but I’ve earned it! 🙂