I Really Tried My Best

(Post 40 of 193. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I went out today for the first time in a week because I had to pay the rent. Even though my landlady and I bank at the same location, I haven’t figured out if there is a way do a transfer online between our accounts. It’s something I’ve sort of looked at over the years, but most months, I have to get most of the money from my Canadian account and don’t have the full 10,000 pesos in my Mexican account anyway. So physically going to the bank just seems easier. But that could change. Today, at least, the bank was operating as normal.

The plan was to walk to the bank, get a few things at Superama, and walk home, thus avoiding getting into a car with a stranger. Even though the temps were already infernal by 9AM, I set out anyway, using an umbrella as a parasol. Did my thing at the bank, crossed Montejo much too easily (no traffic!), and… lost the soles of my sandals. 😐

These sandals served me SO well in Oaxaca. They have died a Good Death. 🙂

No problem, I thought, I’m tough. It’s not a long walk. I can still do this.

Did my shopping, loading up my little cart, and… it fell apart. 😶

So I enjoyed a lovely chat with my Uber driver in his mercifully air-conditioned car. 🤷‍♀️

Mexico has now declared a state of emergency as we move into phase 3, so there are going to be increased restrictions on going out. Still curious as to whether my next dental appointment really is going to go forward. But so far, this party feels a lot more like a polite dinner party than the raves I’m seeing up north.

Life Carries On

(Post 39 of 213. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I’m almost jealous of how much free time most people seem to be having right now at home. I work primarily now for the legal system, so I am an essential service and I am starting to be busy again.

Still, things just feel very weird. I am in my usual routine. I’m too busy to go out. And yet, I feel unsettled, because at the back of my brain, I know this is not normal life right now. There is such a dissonance between my reality right now and that of most of the people that I know.

I am closely following all the latest updates about what the various governments in the Yucatán are doing to keep us safe and to protect the most vulnerable. The state is clearly being very proactive and learning from the mistakes of other countries. I’m seeing non-essential services shut down so that more money can be pumped into the essential ones and various social programs. I’ve witnessed care packages brought to neighbours with a few resources. And I am hearing about how they are creating a measure of unemployment income for those who are out of work right now.  But it is sadly not like this all over Mexico. Yucatán is wealthy and has a lot more resources than other states, so at this time, I feel that I am probably in one of the best places in the world to ride this out, but I wouldn’t feel like this, most likely, if I still lived in Sinaloa.

It has been so quiet.  Well, except for my mechanic neighbour getting back to his regular production about the same time that I started getting a lot of work again. There is nothing like trying to transcribe police  body cam audio while somebody is backfiring cars on purpose just a few feet away from you! 😆 (Hey, he was here first and I’m the one who rented a house next to a mechanic!) But there is almost no sound of buses, almost no traffic going by.  I heard the children in the house on the other side of me playing and laughing today and it was music to my ears.

If I wasn’t many times a day dictating emails and various messages, I would be afraid I would lose my verbal English. I’m pretty sure all my verbal interactions since I got home have been in Spanish or in French. It seems that everyone is a little lonely and eager for a chat. So when I expect a delivery and am standing at the gate door, passersby will stand the requisite two metres apart, but gladly engage in conversation. Restaurant delivery guys are not busy, so they are happy to shoot the breeze with a customer  for a minute before going off to wait for maybe another order.

I had to laugh when my water delivery guy came on Friday morning. For some reason, some of his bottles were leaky and it took him a minute to find me a good one. He asked how I was doing and I said that if I had a pool, I would be an introvert paradise. He chuckled at that and said that if I needed any donations to fill my pool, he could help me, gesturing to the leaky bottles. 😂

Really, as long as deliveries  don’t break down — I can still get drinking water, groceries, the odd restaurant meal, and just about anything I need from Amazon — I am good to stay home as long as I need to. I am frustrated seeing extroverted friends looking for any excuse to go out, not understanding that the recommendation is to go to the grocery store once a week, not once a day. I just don’t see any reason to go out when I can get anything delivered, which really limits my interaction with other people and my chances of catching something that I could then pass on. In fact, I don’t plan to go out until my next dentist appointment on April 14th. I am not even at this point feeling any strong need to leave my property for a walk, maybe in the evening or early morning. I’m just really comfortable here. But I have been out of my routine since the end of January, so maybe I’m just enjoying getting back into it and I will eventually start to go stir crazy.

So I am making sure that I have plenty of projects lined up for the quiet hours between jobs. Some of you asked about my colouring book that you saw in the video. It is Colour Quest by Joanna Webster. A friend in the United Arab Emirates talked about it on Facebook. I looked it up on Amazon Mexico and it was available for only about 100 pesos, with free Prime shipping. I had it in two days! I am really enjoying it as a creative outlet that doesn’t require a lot of energy. I am just frustrated that I needed a better pencil sharpener for my coloured pencils than the one I have at home and I have to wait for it to come from Amazon because I can’t walk a couple blocks to the amazing art supply store by my house where I have been buying all my art supplies since I moved here. ☹️

Well, that’s the latest update. It doesn’t sound like I have much going on, but I am working on some pretty exciting stuff at work. I just can’t talk about 99% of what I do. 😆

A Dental Emergency of Elastic Proportions

(Post 37 of 193. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

This weekend, two ligatures on one of the top brackets of my braces failed — those are the often colourful elastics that hold the wire in place. This caused the wire to move horizontally. The dentist is closed on the weekends, so I used a pair of tweezers to gently move the wire back and then secured it with wax. I called the office first thing yesterday (Monday) morning and the soonest they could take me was today at 10:30AM. This morning, as I was preparing to go out, a third ligature failed, this time on the bottom. Great timing!

I didn’t really want to be one of those people out and about during the apocalypse, but we’re only “just” entering phase two in Mérida (local contamination) and I knew we were counting down the days to being able to go about our lives “normally.” I had a legitimate reason to go out, so I made a list of all my errands and figured out how to do them all in the same general area so I would limit my use of Ubers and keep my movements contained.

Mérida was almost like a ghost town. I know a lot of people have said that they’ve never seen anything like this in their life. I have — the 1998 Ice Storm, during which there were curfews and the army patrolled the streets. Thankfully, we don’t yet here have the kinds of shortages that we had then that led to temples in Israel sending us candles!

My dentist’s office was clearly taking extra precautions, but was operating as normal. I was surprised that my dentist himself attended to me (rather than the assistant who does most of the work). He opted to change all my ligatures as I seemed to have had a bad batch. There was no charge for this visit!!! He believes he will be open on April 14th, my next appointment, but I think he’s being super optimistic. We shall see… I’ve been taking my own impressions of my teeth since I started this process and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at how quickly I’m seeing positive progress. I had a front tooth that was not only really sticking out, but much longer than its neighbours. Now, it is laterally even with them and has gone back up enough to be almost equal with the other front tooth. It is still much longer than the tooth to the side of it, but that doesn’t bother me much. I thought I was going to come out of this “needing” veneers, but the braces are providing results I wasn’t expecting at all as I didn’t know they can move teeth upwards and downwards as well as sideways and front to back.

After my appointment, I walked to Altabrisa mall as both of my banks are there side by side. To get into the mall, I had to have my temperature taken and then sanitize my hands and my shoes (by wiping them on a mat soaked in some sort of solution). The mall was empty, with most businesses closed. I’ve heard reports of some folks having a hard time getting money out of ATMs, but I’ve never experienced that and had no trouble at either HSBC or Scotiabank.

Then, because I was sticking to one area, I went to the Soriana grocery store, even though I don’t like shopping there and its prices are much higher than Superama. The store was surprisingly well-stocked (something it rarely is even at the best of times). Check-out was slow because everyone had to bag their own groceries, but all the employees were doing their best to make things feel normal.

My final stop today was an Oxxo. I deposited two days’ pay onto my cleaner’s debit card to cover this week (she had actually wanted to come today, but her pueblo is now in lockdown) and the next. My hope is to be able to support her until she can come back to clean for me, but I have to make Bast’s family my first priority, so we’ll see. It’ll really depend on how my own income is over these next few weeks. Right now, I only have one client at work and no idea if my current receivables will be paid in a timely manner.

Now, I am firmly in stay at home mode. Even without work, I always have plenty to do — I have to do my own cleaning again, of course, but I also have Spanish studies; various art projects; very full Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and YouTube queues; exercise equipment; and, of course, a stocked pantry. I’m so restauranted out from Oaxaca that I’m eagerly cooking. The other night, I made this really good soba (buckwheat) noodle and veggie stir-fry in a spicy chili sauce topped with soy and ginger-marinated pork loin.


Life in a Dystopia

(Post 36 of 193. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. The family needs help now more than ever as they are locked down, all have vulnerable immune systems, and do not have the means to stock up.)

Phew. What strange times we live in…

Everything seems under control in Yucatán at this time. I frankly feel much safer here in Mérida than I would in Canada. So far, large gatherings have been banned and people are advised to self-isolate, but the city is still functioning. There is a request that we support small businesses, especially restaurants, by ordering in, so I’m trying to do my patriotic duty of eating the worth of the GDP of a small country in tacos. 🙂

I thought that I would get ill after coming home from Oaxaca because of how little sleep I got during that week. But at four days home, I’m absolutely fine. So tomorrow or Tuesday, I am going to venture out to get cash, the groceries that were not delivered with my last order, and to have my braces checked because I’m having an issue with the top wire. That should all make it possible for me to truly hunker down if we get the order to do that.

My work/income situation is worrisome, but I’m getting small jobs steadily so far. Most of my clients are getting set up to work remotely, so everything should pick up after that if all hell doesn’t break completely loose in the U.S. over the next few weeks…

I hope my readers are well and safe wherever they are. Please drop a sign of life, saying where you are and if you are self-isolating.

Making sure I get my vitamin C! These green oranges are Valencias, are super inexpensive compared to the bright orange oranges you see from Florida, and, frankly, make better and sweeter juice. I alternate between orange and grapefruit juice. I got a great deal on my juicer from an expat who was leaving and use it at least once a week. It’s a bit small for juicing grapefruits, but I make it work.