I’m Buying a House!!!

(Post 82 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

The running together of days continues, but at least now I know what I am working for. I AM BUYING A HOUSE!!!

In 2008, I set off on a journey across North America (and eventually Europe) in search of myself and what I really want out of life. Things I held to be true changed as I learned more about myself and the truths of the world revealed themselves to me. The most important thing that I came to understand is that my nomad soul needs a home port, and this was point was firmly made at the start of the pandemic. I was so grateful to be relatively settled in Mérida, a city within a state able to manage the challenges of the crisis and provide me a safe place to thrive during a period of upheaval. As I begin my adventure into middle age, there needs to be some permanence in my placement so that I can build on a foundation instead of continually spending money on starting anew. It is here, in Mérida, that I have chosen to build that permanent foundation and lay bare all my hopes and dreams for my future.

So with that decided, it was time to find a real home here, one that I would own. After nearly five years of bouncing around other people’s homes, I long to be in my own space again, to have that certainty that I alone will make the decision to move. Little did I know that the opportunity to do so sooner rather than later would present itself. Just a few years ago, I thought that the best I could do was a partially off-grid tiny house lost in the Canadian prairies. Today, I am about to enter a contract to buy a large, beautiful home on a significant plot of land in the heart of a large city. I would never have had the temerity to dream of ever owning anything like that. It is as though in this one deal, the universe decided to make up for all the times I’ve been screwed over in my life, to put me in the right place with the right people and to hand me an opportunity to make up for all the woes and mistakes of my past and make it clear that they were lessons learned so that in this moment, I could understand and appreciate fully the gift I was being rewarded with.

The house I found where I will make my stand is perfectly situated in Mérida. It has generous and well-proportioned rooms that are light and airy. There is lots of yard for Bonita (and future dogs?!) with room for a pool and fruit trees. It is a lot but not too much, more than I need, but has the potential to be everything I want. I am overwhelmed by the fact that this opportunity has presented itself. I would never have had the audacity to ask the universe for anything like this. And yet, here it is, and I am so very grateful. I will have more details about everything once contracts are signed.

Peace and rest at length have come, All the day’s long toil is past; And each heart is whispering “Home, Home at last!”

I Feel Like a Genius — I Fixed My Treadmill!

(Post 81 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I can’t remember when I bought my treadmill, but it feels like it’s always been here. I use it a lot. I’m probably on it an hour a day on average (while watching TV). Last night, it turned on, but the belt would not move and I got an error message indicating that the problem was related to a voltage spike. Dang, there was a Mexico-wide problem on Monday that could maybe explain that, but I’d used the treadmill without any problems Monday night. Very curious.

I opened the casing where all the guts of the treadmill are located. It was very much temple from the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark in there, lots of cobwebs and dust.

The light on the circuit board indicated that it was getting power. With the cover off, I tried to start the treadmill and was able to determine there was no evidence that the motor for the belt was getting a signal. I did some digging and found a YouTube video explaining what the various blinking patterns of a treadmill circuit board mean. I was getting a steady blink, which the video said meant a problem powering the belt motor, so that confirmed my diagnosis (and that the video was relevant even to my off-brand cheapie treadmill!). poked around and found corrosion and a loose connection to the belt motor. I cleaned that up and tightened the connection, then tried to start the treadmill again. This time, I heard a “click” that told me that the motor was getting the instruction to move the belt, but the belt still wasn’t working. I went further in the video and there was a blinking code for “the motor is seized up.” I wasn’t getting that blinking pattern, but it did give me a nudge towards the next thing to try. So I decided to try to move the belt manually. Sure enough, it was stuck. Once I got it moving manually, I tried again to start it and, well:

But what a noise! Turns out that I should have been lubricating my treadmill. Oh, dear. Am I glad I learned this lesson on a cheap treadmill that was forgiving and not on a fancy expensive one! I found out that there is treadmill-specific silicone-based lubricant out there. I didn’t want to wait for days to get some online, so I called a gym and asked them if they knew where I could find such a product. I was told to try Decathlon, a full-service sports and recreation department store just north of me. I’ve been wanting to check it out for eons, but never had a reason to. Well, I finally did!

I head up there this morning and the store was wonderful to go through, kind of like MEC “light.” There were tons of deals, so I picked up a new workout wardrobe of several pairs of moisture-wicking leggings and tee shirts as well as some bits for making yoga more pleasant. Once I’d explored to my heart’s content (the store was nearly empty), I found an attendant who showed me where the lubricant is and even made sure I knew how to use it.

So that’s my project for tonight, cleaning up the treadmill guts and then lubricating it. Hopefully that little bit of attention will keep it serving me well. I’m virtually walking the Appalachian Trail, am 10% of the way there, and highly motivated to stay on schedule, so an equipment failure would be devastating!

My years tinkering with the RV really served me well. If I hadn’t changed out the converter in Miranda and made all those other electrical upgrades, I would never have had the confidence (or skill) to tackle the treadmill repair!

Covered (Kind of)

(Post 80 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I’m getting very close to the date when I’ll be able to become a permanent resident of Mexico. I’m also in serious saving-for-a-house mode and growing my business like mad… and over 40. Something that never used to bother me too much started to eat at me — lack of catastrophic healthcare coverage. It would be stupid to lose all that I’m working for for because of a medical problem.

I handle the little things just fine paying out of pocket. Because of how the healthcare system didn’t work in Quebec, I just never got in the habit of going to see a doctor for much. The thought of going for a sniffle is beyond me. Heck, I even learned how to do my own first aid care. I would have ideally needed more regular follow-up with my anemia problem, but the process for getting a simple blood test and then having those results followed up on was so onerous and flawed that I never even bothered with that.

So all that to say, I knew that getting myself a private healthcare policy in Mexico here for annual checkups and such would be a huge waste of money. I’m just fine paying the $200-ish pesos every six months to have my iron levels checked by popping out to the clinic right around the corner from me first thing on a Monday morning and then going back out around 4:00 P.M. to pick up the results. Ear wax build up? Most pharmacies have a medical clinic attached ,and it’s just about 50 pesos or so for the treatment. UTI? Message a doctor friend and he messages back a prescription. Easy peasy.

But what if my appendix goes rogue or I find out I have cancer or I trip on Bonita going down the stairs and break my femur? Big things that would affect not just my bank account at the moment but long-term. What if I found myself unable to work on top of accumulating hundreds of thousands of pesos’ worth of medical bills?

A friend of mine is an insurance broker, so I spoke to her about my concerns and the possibility of getting catastrophic healthcare coverage. The request, it turned out, was not unusual and such a product exists! She pointed out that the going cost for an appendectomy right now is around 150,000 pesos (7,500USD/10,000CAD). That would be devastating to my current savings plan.

The policy she recommended is from AXA, a company that has provided me vehicle insurance in Canada and decent service, so seeing a familiar name was helpful. I got the most basic policy for just under 13,000 pesos for a year, covering me, in theory, for up to 2 million pesos in bills. There are a ton of conditions that I’m not insured for for the first couple of years, so I’m glad I started young and can build up a history. The deductible is 40,000 pesos and I also have to pay 10% of the bill after the deductible, up to another 40,000 pesos. So I have to be prepared to shell out up to 80,000 pesos should anything really major happen. But the deductible is waived in the case of an accident.

On top of this policy, I am able to access the government healthcare here now, the new programme that replaced the former Seguro Popular. I just have to present my residente temporal card and a copy of my CURP (Mexican SIN/SSN). So if I find myself in a situation where my policy hasn’t kicked in yet or I’m not covered, I do have a safety net. I can’t imagine that the government healthcare here is any worse than what I experienced in Quebec, so my plan was to go through there if I had something catastrophic happen. But you know what? I’m not poor anymore, I’m constantly upgrading my standard of living, and so I’d much rather be in a lovely new hospital with a dedicated team of professionals than hanging out on a gurney in an overcrowded hallway…

The $13,000 for the policy was a huge chunk out of my savings account, but the peace of mind is priceless. I’m so grateful that I’m starting to have a network here. I think that if I had had to look for a broker first, I would have kept on procrastinating. But being able to go to a friend who knows me really helped cut down on the work I had to do!

In Which I Finally Try Mondongo/Menudo

(Post 79 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

Some months ago, my cleaning lady and I were talking about food. She asked if I had ever eaten mondongo/menudo, one of the iconic soups of Mexican cuisine. It is made with cow’s stomach and/or tripe. It is considered a hangover remedy and is traditionally sold on weekends in Mérida. Such a thing really does not appeal to me, so I hadn’t.

Well… with last Monday having been a holiday, her schedule was a bit off this week and she ended up coming today, Saturday, instead of Wednesday. She remembered our conversation and brought a portion of mondongo/menudo for us to share! I popped out to get some warm, fresh tortillas while she portioned out the soup and “condiments” (chiles, cilantro, lime). The cost of living is going up — tortillas are now 20 pesos a kilo when they had been 18 since I moved here. I buy a quarter kilo at a time, which was 4.5 pesos, but now it’s 5 pesos (0.03USD difference). Insignificant for me, not so much for the average Mexican.

The broth was tasty enough, with a strong tomato flavour, but otherwise very bland and greasy, as is typical in Yucatecan cuisine. You really need the acid from the limes and the heat from the chiles to cut through that heaviness.

The cow stomach had no flavour at all, to my immense surprise, just like the pork stomach had no flavour either, but the texture was awful to my palate. The outside was rather gelatinous and the inside was fatty. This is definitely not a dish that I would voluntarily eat again, but I’m glad the proverbial ice was broken in case it is offered to me.

Yup, that’s just fatty tissue. Not my idea of a good time.

Buying Groceries Has Changed So Much In Lockdown

(Post 78 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

Before lockdown I was pretty much in a routine of either getting my groceries myself once a week or having them delivered once a week. Once the lockdown started, it was 100% delivery for several months.

Before lockdown I almost never shopped at little specialty shops that I had to make a special trip to. In lockdown, seemingly everyone has figured out a good delivery system and I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for the convenience, so I have so many shops that have opened up to me. There are so many ingredients that were a real luxury before but now I can just get with a WhatsApp message, like wonton wrappers to make my own gyoza. I am really expanding my cooking horizons now that I have access to all these extra ingredients!

Today was a really good example of how I shop now between having everybody deliver to me and having the Walmart and the produce shop so close to me. I have a very full pantry, so I don’t buy a lot every week anymore.

Late morning, I heard the sound of a cow mooing, telling me to run outside and buy some fresh cheese and chorizo sausage from a gentleman on a pedal cart. At lunchtime, I took a few minutes and walked around the corner to the produce stand get some bananas and fruit for my smoothies.  I got back in and saw a Facebook post from a ranch I buy pork from announcing that they had smoked hams! So I ordered a kilo bone-in, and I also asked for some bone-in pork chops. Those will come this Saturday or next Saturday. No rush, I still have pork from my last order in the deep freezer. While I was doing that, the person who manages the co-op of small producers in the area replied that they found me a dozen duck eggs! ❤️ I ordered the eggs, a whole chicken, oranges, a basil plant, and a few sort of sundries to get to my delivery minimum. I’m going to be trying some local chocolate! After dinner and after my work was done for the day, I needed a leg stretch, so I popped out to Walmart to get almond milk and dog food. On the way back, the beer store by my house was open, so I went in and bought four cans total of two different types. And voilà, my shopping for the week done!

It’s a good thing that I have more eggs incoming because I got the deal of a lifetime, according to my price checking over the last year, on a KitchenAid mixer during a Costco Buen Fin sale (that I got a colour that I love is an incredible bonus, but I’m not a fan of the slippery bowl). So I need to start baking until I buy the pasta making and meat grinder attachments!

I baptized it by making a very delicious banana bread!

Even with a couple of shops near me, I’m still trying not to go out more than once a week or so. I actually can’t remember the last time I went out. It is good to go out a little bit every once in a while and just talk to somebody who can reply in the language that I really understand. Bonita is the best company, but she’s not the best conversationalist. But I can still understand a lot of what she says. For example, if I come out of the kitchen with a slice of banana bread and a cup of coffee and she’s sitting by her treat bag, this has to be the end result: