Today Amused Me Greatly

I’ve been trying to get to Mérida for a week now. I meant to take it easy this past week, but that didn’t happen. I have a one-off contract that’s ending shortly and after that, I should have much fewer opportunities to spend endless days just typing and typing and typing…

But I somehow found myself able to take this afternoon off if I was willing to get up super early and also to work overtime tomorrow on a very easy job. I needed to get out. I was losing focus on work, starting to get grumpy, and I was beginning to sleep poorly, all signs that I really needed a change of routine. It’s starting to be a bit frustrating being out here in the middle of nowhere and needing an hour just to drive to Progreso and back for things because I can’t just “dash out” for a long lunch the way I did in Maz.

Anyway, there was nothing really pressing for me to do in Mérida, but I did need to do a massive shopping spree for Puppy and decided to fit in errands of my own in between.

I got all dolled up and tried to leave around 11:30. This is when I discovered that life in the tropics during the rainy season is just like winter in the snowier and colder parts of Canada — you can find your desire to run out to run errands impeded by a vehicle stuck in something, there snow and ice, here sand. My passenger rear tire spun out into a deep crater before I even knew what was happening and my truck wasn’t going anywhere. *sigh*

Never mind that I was wearing one of my best dresses, I went back to the house to get a spade and some tiles to use as traction. I dug around the tire, arranged the tiles, and then tried to get out of the hole. SUCCESS! This reminded me of the time I changed a tire while wearing high heels and a suit because I was on my way to a day of training with the RCMP. You haven’t lived until you’ve jumped up and down on a tire iron in high heeled shoes to loosen a bolt to get a flat tire off your car. But I digress.

Thankfully, the rest of my drive to Mérida was uneventful.

The pet store where I wanted to try to buy a Kong chewing toy for Puppy is in a part of Mérida I have not been to yet, so I got to take the periferico to the eastern side of town. Traffic was horrible and when I got to my exit, I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to merge into the right lane to make my turn. Driving here is nothing like driving in other parts of Mexico — people actually drive civilly/less defensively and and if you try to muscle your way to where you want to go, you are very likely to get an accident.

Thankfully, though, my turn was at a roundabout. So I just stayed in my lane, entered the roundabout and drove it all the way around. When I got back to my turn, I had priority since I was in the roundabout and was able to go my merry way. Yay for roundabouts! 🙂

Of course, the pet store was closed even though they’d told me they are open all day Saturdays. I asked my GPS to take me to the nearest Walmart since there are a few things I’ve been needing, haven’t found, and suspected I would find at a Walmart, even if I’m not a fan of the Mexican version.

I got to the Walmart more than ready for lunch. I really wanted a hamburger and there happened to be a Burger King across the street. I had my first Burger King burger in England this spring and was pleasantly surprised. My second was today and, really, it’s not nearly as “fast foody” of a burger as I expected and it was loaded with vegetables. I’d still rather support a local business, but needs must sometimes! I do like that Burger King has onion rings!

I went back to Walmart and was pleasantly surprised to get everything on my list and things I hadn’t expected to get there, like Earl Grey tea (two boxes for $99 on offer when I paid $65 for one box at Superama!) and some food and treat for the dogs that were the brands I was looking for. No Kong, though.

From Walmart, it was time to head to Costco and on home. But I was hoping to buy a Moleskine notebook and had a lead on a supplier in Mérida. This is where I have to sidebar for a second and recount my tale of woe about my first Amazon.mx order…

Middle of June, I put in an order on Amazon for some office supplies I couldn’t get locally. I was happy with the prices, selection, and estimated arrival time. The package took a while to ship, but then made it to Mérida on a Friday. On the following Tuesday (this past week) I called FedEx and they asked for better directions to my house. I suggested that the driver meet me at a nearby hotel, but they insisted on coming to my door. I sent them in writing very detailed instructions.

Wednesday, my package was finally out for delivery… then delivery failed because the driver could not find my house. I contacted Amazon to cancel my order. At first, they were very unAmazon-ish and gave me the runaround on canceling and getting a refund. Then, they saw what I had sent Fedex and they were pissed. So many people in Mexico don’t have a proper easy to find address and delivery people have to be flexible and use directions and landmarks. The Amazon manager who ultimately dealt with my case even sent me a Google Map with an X marking where he expected my house to be and he was right. Amazon is reviewing its relationship with Fedex in Mexico… At any rate, I got a refund immediately (!) and also a $200 gift card to put towards a future order (I may try again when I live in Mérida…).

So back to today, I lost leave of my senses and asked my GPS to take me to the store that might have Moleskine notebooks. With the odd numbering system and some construction detours, it wasn’t until we passed the zoo that I realised that I was WAY out of my way and the GPS had no idea where I wanted to go! But hey, I was in a part of town that I actually knew from having lived there for ten days, so not all was lost. 🙂

I headed north to Costco and missed where I had to stay in the left lane to continue on the main road that goes by Costco and leads to Progreso. This left me caught in the Bermuda Triangle-like area around the Grand Plaza where once caught in the maze, escape is difficult. I finally worked my way around and… passed the art supply store I’d meant to go to! Talk about serendipity!

It was only as I parked in front that I realised just how unflustered I was so far about driving today. Driving in Mérida isn’t the nightmare I was told it would be. I guess I have Mazatlán to thank for that. 🙂

I went in and they said that they only carry blank Moleskine notebooks, but they could order what I want. However, there is a bookstore in the Galerias that has a better selection. I was advised to try there and if they didn’t have what I want, I could send them an order via Facebook. I’ll be back to this store when I’m ready to start oil painting again since they have all manner of supplies!

A quick check of Google revealed that “Galerias” is what I call Liverpool… right by the Costco! So I decided to drop the truck at Costco and walk to Galerias. Little did I know the discovery I was about to make…

Here’s a map of my day to hold you in suspense for a bit:

Little did I know that today I would win the prize (if there was such a thing) for most amazing thing ever found at a Costco. Behold… my first cenote!

I can’t believe it’s right there by the Costco without any signage or anything!

I ogled for a bit and then crossed the road to get to Galerias. There, I discovered that Scotiabank has an ATM again (YES) and I was able to make a much needed withdrawal. I then started to look for the bookstore when I passed… a pet store. That had Kongs. I think I was meant to come home with one!

I then asked a very nice security guard if he knew where the bookstore was and he sent me in the right direction. The store did have Moleskines, but not what I wanted and the prices were way too high. I decided to give up for now and bought something else that will tide me over until I can try Amazon again.

I then did something I haven’t done in far, far too long and asked a sales clerk for help in picking out a book! I told him that I can read at the level of Harry Potter and I like epic stories with lots of characters. He and another clerked hemmed and hawed and then settled on a few titles. The first one did nothing for me, but I got shivers reading the description of the second one and knew it was it. It was also only $90! At the till, I was asked if I have a membership card for the bookstore and decided to get one even thought it was $70. I have to look over the terms, but I think I’ll get my money’s worth out of it because the store has all manner of stationary supplies.

I then went back to Costco where I did a decent sized shop for myself. I’ve been comparing prices of some things in supermarkets and Costco has them beat. The best supermarket price I’ve found for almond milk, for example, is still about 30% more than what I pay buying it in bulk at Costco. I also bought two ginormous (read heavy) bags of dog food and two bags of rawhide bones. I lamented to the guy that loaded my truck that I had no help at home to unload. He told me to look on the bright side — I’ll have arms like Schwarzenegger after that. Thanks. I think.

It was past five by  this point and Puppy gets his supper no later than 5:30, so it was time to head home! I got there, tied puppy out of the way, then backed the truck into the yard to make it easier to unload. That still took a good 30 minutes since most of my purchases were super heavy and bulky. Puppy got his supper, then a bit of peanut butter in his Kong for dessert. He’ll be getting most of his breakfast in the Kong from now on.

I was so overheated by this point that all I wanted was the pool. I had a quick swim then went in to make an easy supper of croissants (I blame the Costco sample woman) with salami and mini sweet bell peppers.

Looking back on my day, driving around so much in a super hot car in terrible traffic and making so many unnecessary detours, one would think that I’d be exhausted and frustrated and maybe even peeved, but no. I’m in one of my happy moods where I find humour in everything. My outing did me a world of good even if I’ll pay for it tomorrow!

Now, to get myself lost in El atlas esmeralda (The Emerald Atlas), which I’ve just learned is the first of a trilogy!

150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation

Today is the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. I will confess to having few maudlin or particularly patriotic feelings for the country I left behind. I went as far as I could there and I know my future is brighter outside of its borders.

But I am infinitely grateful to have visited ten provinces; two territories; eleven capital cities; and hundreds of cities, towns, villages, and hamlets from Charlottetown to Tofino, Chatham to Tuktoyaktuk.

I feel blessed to have experienced so many of its climates, from scorching summers in Dawson City to frigid winters on the border of Quebec and Labrador, although perhaps not the unrelenting gloom of the Wet Coast, but most certainly the glorious Prairie summers.

I have seen tall peaks; flat plains; rolling hills; desert; expanses of granite; great black pine forests; and more ocean coastline than one can imagine as I have swam or waded in the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans.

I’ve called four provinces and one territory home, consider myself a québécoise in happy exile, love and miss my piece of Saskatchewan more than anyone can imagine, still have the Klondike in my bones, and I remember every sunset I saw driving up the 105 from the junction of the 366 in La Pêche on my evening commute.

I hope I can be away long enough this time to forget the infuriating things that made me leave and be left with only memories of landscapes that made me weep with awe.

Like the Saskatchewan badlands.

View of the Big Muddy Badlands from the top of Castle Butte