Gifts from a Foreign Land

Today was my last morning and partial afternoon in Chelem! I really didn’t have much to do besides finish up my own laundry and run into the village to buy the owners a few 5-gallon jugs of water. And, of course, I played with Puppy for the last time…

The owners, V (wife) and F (husband) had flown into Cancún and texted at 10:45 to say they were in the taxi on their way, about as early as I expected them to have cleared customs and collected their luggage. So that put their ETA around 2:30 and that’s almost exactly when they showed up.

V and I did a a quick run through of house stuff as F got reacquainted with Puppy and she started to unpack. She had quite a few treasures for me! I have no idea why anyone would see anything bright pink and think of me… 🙂 Lovely housewarming gift!

She had several scarves and this light turquoise (it really is bluer in real life and darker than aqua) with roses fits in so well with my decor that I’m going to display it!

I’d asked for a jar of tikka masala sauce and was brought all this!

The jar and one packet are tikka masala. The other is butter chicken, which happens to be my second favourite!

We had a coffee (which I will likely regret) and then it was time for me to head home before it got dark. I was surprised that it was only about 3:50 when I gave Puppy his last cuddles before pointing Moya east.

The last thing I wanted to do was make any stops so I just went straight home, knowing that I could walk to pick up a beer or anything else I might need once I landed. Bliss!

I got in and had no trouble squaring Moya away in a parking bay, where I anticipate her staying for a bit…I unpacked what I had with me and then promptly went to check on my fridge. Everything that had been frozen before was still frozen, but what I’d added was only partially frozen! I was definitely on the right track! I put the freezer setting up even higher and I think everything will be okay now.

I then went around the corner to get water for tonight (will see about getting a five-gallon container delivered tomorrow) and a beer, then went a bit further afield to the Super Aki to get a BBQ lighter (for working on my water heater) and… ice cream. Oh, I’ve missed being able to bring home ice cream. 🙂 I’d brought my hosts back a giant Costco pizza yesterday and was not surprised to be sent home with part of it tonight, which was all the supper I needed.

The water heater isn’t getting propane regardless of the position at which I set its propane hose valve, which makes me think that there might be a “master” valve right at the tank on the roof. I’m going exploring tomorrow!

Tomorrow is going to be more hectic than planned since I got in two jobs I couldn’t refuse and my desk isn’t ready to go. I may just work out of my IKEA chair because it would be stupid to put the desk back together only to have to dismantle it again.

Now for a cold to lukewarm (crossing my fingers for the latter) shower and then to see if I can actually relax for a bit and leave for tomorrow all that needs to be done. But it’s only  6:30, even if it feels like 9:30!

Hiccups

I’m T minus about 24 hours to moving into my house and am reminded of pre-departure days when I was RVing.

1) I have no hot water because the guy didn’t show again (odd since he was so punctual about the bedroom fan);

2) My fridge is still freezing everything (although I think I’ve finally figured it out — I hope…);

3) My UPS (uninterrupted power supply) does not like the outlet I was going to plug it into in my office with a heavy duty power cord. By the way, this is why you should have such a thing — it protects my electronics from now just blackouts but also brownouts.

On a happier note, my master bathroom has come together nicely, even if I’m ruing my GREY hand towel!

The blue towel and purple mat I bought for my house in Maz were perfect for the room and I added a purple garbage bin I’d bought for my office corner in Chelem.

I love how bright this house is…

I’m quite happy with the bathroom the way it is. All of the things I wanted to store in the vanity fit in it and the bit of larger overflow fits in a cabinet in the master closet-room. I have some pretty wooden boxes I’m going to dig out for holding my jewellery and I’d like to put up some art, but like the master bedroom, I’m happy with the space I’ve made with very little.

Ditto with the living room:

I really need to replace or recover those hideous cushions, but the fabric I bought for the house in Maz continues to serve me well. The IKEA chair is awaiting a makeover of its own…

The kitchen is coming along really nicely, although I have so many things to wash! Since I can trust the freezer, I put all my frozen things in it and I put things that can freeze, like cheese, in the fridge. I left everything else — condiments that don’t necessarily need refrigeration — in a cooler with ice to deal with tomorrow.

The thing with the fridge is there are two controls, one in the fridge, one in the freezer. The one in the freezer determines how much cold air is sent to the fridge. When I first saw that my fridge was freezing everything, my instinct was to set the fridge control to the lowest setting. As it turns out, the setting is for how warm the fridge is. I should have left it on the highest setting and only played with the freezer dial, which I’ve set to “normal.” Now, to see the state of the water bottle in the fridge when I get in tomorrow…

My office is a disaster and I have to go back to work Wednesday afternoon (client is too important to say no to), so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that at this point. It really seems a waste to put the desk back together without fixing its issues, but I’m not sure I’ll have time for that on Wednesday morning. Never mind where am I going to plug in everything?

I’m a bit annoyed that I had all this time to sort out issues and am caught at the last minute, but it is what it is. Live and learn! At least, all the heavy duty cleaning is done and my bedroom and living room are made up so that I can collapse tomorrow evening! I’ve still got my kettle and toaster here in Chelem, but the kitchen is clean and ready to receive them so I can make breakfast Wednesday morning. I just hope I can put the milk back in the fridge!

My last night in Chelem is going to be an easy one — pizza, beer, Star Trek, and The Big Bang Theory. 🙂 It’ll be nice to just chill after so many very full days of working extremely hard to get everything ready. I’m impressed by how on top of everything I’ve been and that, really, there’s not much to do tomorrow except play with Puppy and wait for my hosts to get home so I can go home!

Already Feeling Like Home

Today was the first day at my house that ended with my wishing I could stay instead of being eager to return the Chelem.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I somehow managed yesterday to do everything I needed to do to be able to have another easy morning. I remembered to top up Moya’s engine oil, which would end up solving the issue with the concerning “tick-tock” noise she was making. She still needs muffler work, but I was much happier with her performance today.

The movers texted me around 9:30 to say they were inbound and we were well on our way to Mérida by 10:05. I’d asked for us to leave the beach “around 10:00” so I was suitably impressed.

They drove more slowly than I did so I had most of my truck unpacked by the time they showed up. They got the desk roughly into the position I want it. Ideally, I would have had them wait until I screwed it back together so we could move it against the wall, but so many pieces are bowing that I need to repair them before doing that and it’ll be easier to work with individual sections.

They then moved the dressing table upstairs, where it fit perfectly where I wanted it… But you’ll have to keep reading to see where. 😉

I approve of this sort of junk mail that I found in my mailbox (sushi restaurant that delivers!).

The movers had just left and I’d done all my heavy lifting for the day when a guy peddling ice cream just happened to go by my house. A cone of lime sorbet was a great morale booster! What amusing (and perfect!) timing!

Before sorting out my dressing table, I wanted to unpack the treasure chest my hosts gave me. I was going to wait until it was all clean and put away, but I can’t! Click on the picture to embiggen!

My hosts are from former Czechoslovakia and these pre-WWII dishes come from there. They have a delicate rose pattern.

These dishes have obviously been well used, to the point that I will feel comfortable using them on a nearly daily basis (at least whenever I bother to make a “proper” dinner!). They have travelled a very, very, very long way and have been in storage for some time. I am incredibly touched to receive them and will give them a good home.

I got sent on another treasure hunt when I returned to Chelem to find the yellow cup that goes with the yellow plate:

The colourful plates at the bottom right belong to another set and I was told I can have them as well. I was only missing plates for my everyday dishes, so what a bonus!

I have afternoon tea just about every day. Imagine me doing so with these pretty cups and saucers complete with creamer and sugar bowl!

Dishes unpacked, I added the new pulls to my dressing table drawers and brought them upstairs. So now’s the moment you’ve all (?) been waiting for:

It fits absolutely perfectly between the sink and the toilet paper holder and the door has plenty of clearance! This is just what the bland grey room needed. The spot at the top is a hole that I wasn’t able to patch — I’ll just put a tray or a pretty box over it. This dressing table will hold washcloths, first aid supplies, toiletries, jewellery, etc.

The insides of the drawers were pretty gross, so I painted them as well. The glossy paint makes for a plasticky finish, perfect for a bathroom:

My dressing gown made itself at home on a hook by the sink:

(There’s a proper towel holder on the other side for a hand towel.)

The unintentional turquoise theme continued in the kitchen (even the dish soap matches, LOL):

I’m coming in with a lot of purple, orange, and pink accessories, so the turquoise really is going to be almost a neutral.

I really love this part of the kitchen, with its windows:

To be honest, I’m not sure yet how I feel about my current storage solutions (everything feels so far from where I’m actually going to cook), but I know that setting up a kitchen takes time and that I’ll figure it out as I go along. I can tell that I’m going to be very happy to spend a lot of time in this room.

The only hiccup is that my fridge is running way too cold! I am kicking myself for waiting this long to test it out. When I came in, the cans of Coke in the fridge were frozen solid! I found a badly scanned user manual on the LG Mexico website and hope that I’ve sorted it out. I’ll know Monday. Absolute worst case scenario, I have a good freezer for the time being that can supply me with ice for my coolers for the cold stuff that shouldn’t freeze, which would give me time to sell this fridge and buy another. But I’m hopeful that the setting changes I made will fix things. I’m going to wait until Tuesday to bring any food over in case I need to make more adjustments on Monday.

The guy for the water heater never showed up and after waiting quite a bit of time for my landlady to follow-up about that (she’s out of town), I decided to go on with my plan to go check out a nearby used furniture place for a dresser. I found the store without any trouble, but they didn’t have anything suitable. I am going to go back there since they had a ton of used clothes and I need a more city-appropriate wardrobe.

I then went to a nearby shopping plaza to pay my JAPAY (water) bill. Had a bit of a hard time finding the office and was glad to finally find a security guard who could point me in the right direction. He radioed to a colleague to look out for me and that colleague sent me down the correct corridor.

After that, I decided to grab some Chinese takeaway at the food court. Chinese food in Mexico tends to be pretty ho-hum — a nice change, but nothing spectacular. This stuff, though, OMG. I like the grilled teriyaki chicken at Panda Express and their chicken was exactly the same! Like other Chinese restaurants here, they use the wrong noodles for the chow mein, but the veggies and seasoning in it were spot on. My meal came with this steamed bun thing filled with meat, nuts, and spices that tasted like nothing I’d ever eaten in my life — so good! This shopping Plaza is by another Chedraui, a Soriana, a Walmart, an Office Depot, and more, and is an easy 4.5KM walk. So I’m sure I’ll find an excuse to go back there. 🙂

I came back and sorted out my closet as best as I could with what I had and then did some more work in the kitchen before collapsing in the armchair in my office for a break. I had my computer with me and it needed charging, which is when I realised that all but one outlet in the room look like this:

I need three prongs to plug in my UPS. The water heater guy is an electrician so I’ll ask him for a quote to fix an outlet by the desk. Absolute worst case, I can run a heavy duty extension cord (which I have) from the three-prong outlet in the built-in bookcase. Amazing the obvious things one misses!

It was past four by the time I’d convinced myself that, really, I had to head north. I was absolutely beat and the last thing I wanted to do was make an extra stop, but then I would have had to go out tomorrow to get food for the cleaners. So I took the “back roads” to Chedraui and got what I needed.

I then made a stop for fuel, which is no effort in Mexico since gas is pumped for you.

As I was coming into Chelem, I realised just how much I wanted a cold beer when I landed and that I was willing to make a final stop at a Six store to get one! I did so and then pushed on to home, where a certain puppy was very happy to see me. Maybe he just wanted his supper. 🙂

Tomorrow is my last full day in Chelem. It’s going to be a busy outdoor chores-centric one. I’m going to try to get an early start since we’re bringing the clocks back and so sunrise (and cool weather) is coming an hour earlier. I’m not looking forward to it being pitch dark out at 5:30. 🙁

Well, time for my own dinner — pizza. 🙂

Final Friday in Chelem

I didn’t have much work to do today so I got to have a lazy morning. I gave Puppy his bath, took my time with our breakfasts, and then completed the hour or so of work I had by about 11 (although a small non-transcription job came in around five). I then took my desk as apart as I could on my own and texted the movers to make sure we’re on track for tomorrow morning.

Since I had taken out my daily limit the other day to pay rent, I didn’t have enough cash left over to pay the movers. There is a HSBC in Progreso, so I figured I might as well go there today so that the movers don’t have to wait for me to make a bank stop in the morning.

I don’t like driving in Progreso (horrible roads, maze of one ways, traffic, little parking downtown), so I dropped my truck at Bodega Aurrera and walked the 1KM to the bank. I find the walk to be very pleasant, especially since I can stroll through the lovely Parque Independencia.

After making my withdrawal, I remembered that there was an ice cream shop very nearby with real creamy ice cream and that they had Oreo the time I went there. As it turned out, it was one block up from HSBC on the other side of the street. So that was lunch — perk of being a grownup. 🙂

I returned to Bodega to do a bit of shopping. I was hoping to find a dishwashing tub for my kitchen sink. I had a hard time with my dishwashing routine in Maz because I wasn’t used to having only one sink. It was only in Bulgaria that I had my ha ha moment. Dishes were rinsed and placed in a tub and then washed in there once a day or as needed, depending on quantity, leaving the sink free. Bodega had one tub, perfectly sized for a standard kitchen sink (tarja), in a nice thick plastic with handles for a mere $15… and it was turquoise. Easiest purchase I’ve made in a while. 🙂

Next, I grabbed a few groceries and helped some brand new Mexican arrivals from PEI pick out some edible butter. They weren’t shy about being out of their depth and so I helped them with most of the rest of their shopping. At the last minute, I remembered that I’d promised Puppy some eggs, so I grabbed a flat of those.

I got in and backed the truck into the yard so I could load it with almost all the rest of my possessions, including my printer and my computer chair. I also very carefully loaded an amazing gift my Chelem hosts gave me after seeing a picture of my china cabinet. Sneak peak with more details to come after unwrapping, cleaning, sorting, and putting away:

Tomorrow is a Mérida day. I have the movers coming here at 10:00 and am expecting water heater help at noon. I’m then going to go to a nearby used furniture store in the hope of finding an inexpensive dresser so I can start sorting out my clothes. I’ll then come back home to start putting together my office and kitchen.

A job came in for Sunday and I think I’ll stay in Chelem to do it. I can work from the couch or the hosts’ desk area, even if it isn’t ideal. This way, Puppy won’t be alone two days in a row and I’ll be able to finish up my garden and pool chores during work breaks.

Monday, I’ll bring everything but an overnight bag’s worth of stuff to Mérida and continue getting set up. I have a Costco run to do for my hosts and will need to be back in Chelem by 3:30ish, so it won’t be a super full day in Mérida.

Tuesday, my hosts have requested that I stay here until they arrive in mid-afternoon (they are landing in Cancún late morning and arranged for a car to bring them here, about a four-hour drive). So that will give me time to do any final little bits with the garden and get in my last cuddles with Puppy. I do want to get home not too late (before dark) and I’m sure my hosts will be tired anyway and glad to have the place to themselves to unwind a bit.

Everything is coming together well and I don’t feel overwhelmed at all with what needs to be done by Tuesday afternoon.

Of course, there will be tons to do at home from Wednesday morning onwards, but it should all fall into place since I won’t be losing so much time driving back and forth anymore. My desk in particular needs some work (this climate is not kind to particle board) and that will be my Wednesday project so that I can be ready to work Thursday morning.

The last several months have positively flown by. I really hope time stands still for the next little bit so that I can enjoy being in my first home since I left for London last June!

Keystones

A keystone is something on which everything else depends. I first heard of the concept when it comes to homemaking on a forum I used to belong to. I used to have a hard time keeping a tidy home until I found out my keystones. Now, as long as I can deal with those, the rest comes together.

It was much of the same with setting up my new house. I was having a hard time moving forward until I could get the kitchen set up and I couldn’t do that with the existing sink and faucet. Both were disgustingly crusty and the tap was loose. I bought a new faucet a full month ago, but was only able to get it changed today. That meant that that was it for grunt work in the kitchen and that I could properly clean it and start setting up.

As a point of reference, here’s what the old faucet looked like:

The plumber got the new tap in in record time, but things looked worse when he left:

I would have like to have removed the old tap myself to have plenty of time to clean all the crusty bits under it, but one of the shut off valves was seized so I wasn’t able to do that. It’s really wasn’t pretty!

Well, I got in there with a scraper, steel wool, Bar Keeper’s Friend, and a green scrubby and greatly improved things. It’s still not perfect, but I left paper towels soaked in vinegar over them and that should further loosen things. But even so, I made a real improvement. Behold a sink I would actually want to use!

I then cleaned the counters really well and set up the microwave.

It’s really not a great place for it, but it’s the only three-pronged outlet in the room and was specially wired for it, so I’ll have to live with it there. I went out to Oxxo at one point to get water and to pay my power bill and ended up coming back with a decent ham and cheese croissant that I was able to heat up in the microwave. It worked well!

I can’t believe how much I look forward to spending time at that sink thanks to those windows!

I still don’t have all the storage I went for the kitchen, so for the time being, I set up my plastic table. Eventually, I want a stainless steel island, but I’m glad I waited because I don’t think I would have bought the correct size.

I’ve been pricing stoves and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy a brand new one. I’m always nervous when it comes to gas appliances and would have to hire a professional to install a used stove anyway. So I figured I might as well check the sales and buy from a store that will install for me. I’ve actually seen stoves that meet my strict criteria for less than $5,000 so this could easily be a November purchase for me. In the meantime, it won’t kill me to keep cooking on my hot plate.

I’m glad I turned the fridge on the other day because I’m able to do some tests. I put a bottle of water in it this morning and within less than an hour, it was forming ice! I’ve lowered it a tad and hope that my water will be liquid when I return on Saturday!

Once the plumber was gone, I put another coat of paint on my dressing table (spoiler: it looks amazing) and then did the kitchen cleanup. I then had to head out to run a few errands. I needed to pay the rent, the internet and water bills, and get some food. Rent needed to be paid at HSBC, internet at the Izzi store, and the water bill could be paid at a Comercial Mexicana. So it made sense to go to Gran Plaza as it had all three businesses I needed, plus a food court.

Gran Plaza is always a bit of a nightmare to get to, but I’m starting to learn my way around.

If you go the way Google suggests, you get caught in this spiral where you inch your way to towards Gran Plaza, but have to make a lot of turns and really go out of your way. I figured that if I took Calle 9, I could shoot straight over to Prolongación Paseo de Montejo and then easily get to Gran Plaza with no detours. Worked like a charm!

I did the bank first and learned that I can only take out $7,000 per day when my rent is $9,000. Thankfully, I had other cash! I just had to give the teller my landlord’s name and account number to do a direct deposit. Easy peasy.

I will pay my CFE (power) bill at the bank next time as well because Oxxo charged me $6 to pay it there. I know that’s not much, but fees add up! My power bill for the house being empty was just under $50 (yes, about 3.40CAD!). I can’t wait to see how much it will jump when I’m living there. I’m billed every two months for power.

Next, I went to the Izzi store and just had to give them my account number to pay with cash.

After that, I went up to the food court to buy what ended up being a ginormous “salbute de pavo,” (link goes to a picture) which is a fried masa base topped with shredded seasoned turkey, tomato, pickled onion, lettuce, and avocado. I couldn’t believe the portion for just $21! I have a feeling the stand where I get them won’t be there much longer, which is a real shame since their food is always consistently good. 🙁

Final stop of the day was Comercial Mexicana for a few groceries, a new mop for the cleaner, and to pay my Japay (“high pay” — water) bill. Unfortunately, their machine could not scan the bill, which was delivered to me super crumpled and dirty. So I have to find the actual Japay office to pay there.  The bagger explained to me that it’s near Chedraui, but I really didn’t have time for an extra stop as I had to get back for the cleaner. So I think I’m going to be a couple of days late paying that bill. 🙁 I could not believe how high it was — $249! That is the standing rate for two months with no water used at all. I have a sinking feeling that my water bill is going to be a bigger deal than my power bill…

I don’t think I’m going back to the house until Saturday, which is desk moving day! I’ve advised my clients that I’m basically off from Friday night to next Thursday morning, so I’ll be able to pretty much set up my office. The movers are also going to bring my dressing table upstairs. I measured and it should fit absolutely perfectly where I want to put it!

Also Saturday, my landlady is sending me help to light my water heater (I officially have a water heater curse). While he’s there, the guy is going to check to see how much gas I have, so that could be another bill coming up soon.

There was a bit of miscommunication with the cleaners in Chelem and they are having to come on Monday to prepare the house for the owners’ return, not Tuesday. So I think that I’ll bring the rest of my things on Saturday and keep in Chelem only a few clothes and my computer equipment so that I don’t have to rush Monday morning. That will really just leave me Sunday here in Chelem. I’ll still have to sleep here on Monday night because of Puppy, but I can spend Monday at home getting set up and be there for good by midday/early afternoon Tuesday, as planned.

I can’t wait for the dressing table to make it up to the bathroom so that I can start setting up that room. I need to figure out a fixed home non-travelling lifestyle earring storage solution, so I think I’ll spend part of this evening on Pinterest. 🙂