Answers in a Flash

Since I had a blood test at ten yesterday morning, I was in no hurry to get up as that would mean waiting longer for my first cup of coffee. 🙂 I played with Bonita, put on a load of laundry, got started on a file due that afternoon, and then left at 9:50 for my blood test. I was home with coffee made by 10:10, and that included being made to sit for a few minutes and eat a granola bar after my test! The test to check my blood iron level was $192 (12.36CAD/9.64USD) and was told results would be available after five!

I love how efficient private clinics are!

Minutes after I got home, the phone rang. It was my landlady informing me that she’s heading to Toronto and Montreal this week (!) and wondering if I can give her the low-down on temperatures to expect. When she told me about her trip, I surprised myself by bursting out with ¡Qué padre!, a Mexican expression that means “Cool!” or “Awesome!” It’s really happening, folks!

I hung up with her after a brief chat and was about to go back to work when the doorbell rang. It was a gas delivery guy looking very confused. “Google tells me the address is here,” he said. I told him that I’ve contacted Google a couple of times about the addresses being placed incorrectly on my street, only for Google to tell me they believe I’m wrong and their info is correct… Based on the number he was actually looking for and the house colour, I sent him to the other end of my street. The guy came back shortly thereafter to ask if he can call me next time he’s lost. LOL!

I worked steadily through the day and went back to the clinic around 5:30 to get my results. Normally, the results would have to be taken to a doctor for interpretation, but I’ve been pretty much self-managing my iron issues for 20 years so I know what is a normal result for me. The results made me go EEP. A the spectrum of acceptable levels for woman ranges greatly and my levels were at the very lower end of that spectrum and much, much too low for me.

So next stop was a pharmacy for supplements. The one nearest my house was absolutely useless — they made it clear they did not want to deal with me by actually ignoring me. It was the weirdest thing. I called out hello when I came in, standard politeness when entering a shop in Mexico or Spain, and they didn’t reply to that. And then, when I went to the counter and spoke directly to an attendant, she continued to completely ignore me and continue stacking boxes on the counter. After two men came in and did the exact same thing I did and got fast friendly service, I walked out. Very, very odd.

The next pharmacy I went to was the complete opposite experience. I was greeted warmly and then asked the pharmacist for the supplements I normally take. She said that they didn’t carry them, but they had an equivalent, and that equivalent was what I expected. She confirmed the dosage and how to take it — all of which I knew, but it was good to get a confirmation as medical information does change. She sold me a month’s supply and told me I should go have another iron level check at the end of three months to make sure the supplements are working. If not, then I really should go see a doctor and get a full work up. All of this advice was just $65 for the supplements. Wow!

Getting all of this sort in Canada (and by that, I mean Quebec) would have taken me literally weeks if not months, hence why I learned to self-manage. I wonder if the novelty of accessible healthcare will ever wear off and be something I take for granted. At any rate, hopefully I’ll feel more like myself soon!

A More Stressful Morning Than Expected

I had an appointment at INM at 9:30 this morning to be fingerprinted and submit my photographs as the final step before getting my new residency card. The appointment card said to show up by 9:20. I decided to leave really early so I could stake a claim to a chair in case they were running late.

Well…

I signed in at about 8:50 and the waiting room was already packed, despite services not starting until 9:00. It was standing room only and they started to turn people away (made them wait outside) shortly after me. I went to the counter where you get funnelled to ask if I needed to check in and the lady snapped that I had an appointment and they’d call me when it was my turn. Ie. why would I need to “check in” when I’m expected? Duly noted for next time!

A chair opened up around 9:20 and I almost didn’t bother taking it since it was almost time for my appointment. But I’m glad I did.

Because I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Last time I waited like that at INM, they had “forgotten” me/skipped over my number. Finally, at 10:45, I cut to the head of the queue waiting to be funnelled to ask what was going on. I didn’t mind the wait — I had the day off and nowhere else to be. What I did mind was not knowing if I was waiting for nothing.

The lady at the funnelling desk was nicer this time — their systems were down and they were backed up! I couldn’t believe it because this happened last year too! She said I could reschedule, but I said I was fine waiting in case the system came back up before closing at 1:oo. She smiled and said that was fine and that I was actually next in line for fingerprints.

I went back to the waiting area and found a new chair. I barely had any more wait when I finally heard my name!

The visit itself was super short. I presented my photos and confirmed that they were new and not from last year. Then, I got my fingerprints taken the old fashioned way with ink. Getting my prints taken electronically has always been a huge pain because my hands are so dry so the old style might be messy, but it’s efficient!

I was then told my card would be ready in a week and to come back in two Mondays — one business week!  So that’s the 28th. I’ll try to get that day off as well so I can go to SAT and submit a copy of the card and then make my run to Progreso to do the same for Aduana.

It was just past 11:00 when I left. I’d thought to go “do something” today, but I am absolutely exhausted. I just wanted to sit quietly for a bit with a pot of coffee, so I decided to go home. But as I got to the Chili’s restaurant, outside of which I could take a bus to go home, I realised that they might have American-style coffee with free refills. So I went in and asked. They sure do so I ordered coffee and an early lunch. The coffee was excellent and they even warmed up the milk for me. I sat there for about an hour, just enjoying not being rushed.

When I came out, there was a bus I could take waiting at the red light so I flagged it down as it came through the intersection. The driver shook his head at me and zipped passed, only to slam on the brakes as the cars ahead of him stopped at the red light down the next block. The bus door was open, so I hopped on. That rather made up for last night!

My stop was 10 minutes-ish later. I decided to make one detour before going home — stopping at a blood analysis clinic not even a half-block from me to make an appointment to have my blood iron level checked as there is no reason but anemia, a problem that has plagued me on and off for the last twenty years, for me to be this tired. They’re expecting me Monday morning and then I’ll know what dosage to get on supplements to get me back up to speed.

I’ll eventually get government health coverage to deal with any big stuff that might come up health-wise, but for little things, I’m glad to have access to private clinics. I’ve gotten more routine/non-urgent medical care in Mexico in the two years sum-total that I’ve been here than I did in my 35+ years in Canada simply because it’s just so easy and accessible here (and affordable!). Since first paying out of pocket for a blood test in the US in 2011, I’ve been doing that when convenient rather than resorting to long waits and subpar service in Canada, but, of course, Mexican rates are a weeee bit lower. 😉

Bonita was super happy to see me when I eventually got in and even happier that I spent the afternoon on the couch with her watching a movie. I fully intended to go out tonight, but I don’t think I’m going to make it any farther than a taquería. I need to find something fun to do tomorrow — can’t just sit at home all day and squander a precious day off!

Today Was a Long Day

I worked super late last night and only got about six hours of sleep before being back at it super early so that I could complete today’s most pressing work before going to Mérida, if it came to that.

In between work spurts, I dealt with an interesting email issue I’ve been having. I want to get an online account for Izzi, my ISP, but haven’t been able to because I never got their confirmation of my email address email. A couple of days ago, I tried again and this time went to Track Delivery in my cPanel and discovered that Izzi’s emails were marked at being a 9/10 spam score! Legit emails are generally a negative number and I have my spam tolerance set to 4. I added Izzi to my whitelist and again tried to get the confirmation email. This time, it was marked as delivered, but did not come to my inbox.

I contacted my webhost and they got back to me to say that due to some bug they haven’t identified, my Izzi emails were being redirected to another email account under my domain (ie. still belonging to me!). I went into it and there were the emails! Thankfully, clicking on the confirmation email from a different email account wasn’t an issue and I finally made it into my online account. There, I could see if I owed anything (No. As it turned out, the $600 I’d paid was for the first month, not an installation charge!) and if I input my debit card info, I can just pay my bill from the app with one tap. That sure sounds like less work than going to Oxxo or to the Izzi store. I’m having PayPal issues related to my Mexican card that are in the process of being sorted out and once they are, life here is just going to keep getting easier thanks to HSBC (and my landlady!).

By 1:30, I had not heard from the mechanic and I was kicking myself for having forgotten to get his number. The rental car was due back by 3:00, so I made the decision to go into town and see what was what.

Traffic coming into Mérida was appalling and I realised that I was a lot more patient since I wasn’t boiling. The truck AC is definitely getting looked at.

My mechanic (“Rod”) texted me as I was two blocks from home saying that he’d been sent the wrong part and the truck wouldn’t be ready until Monday. 🙁 I read the text at a red light, but waited to get home to reply. Just as I was doing so, Rod showed up, saying he’d been pulling away, but noticed that a car was parking right in front of my driveway and figured it was me. He gave me more details. I went through a similar thing with Miranda’s axle repair in that Ford has just very slightly changed some parts (augh) on newer models of some vehicles and the newer parts, of course, don’t fit the older vehicles. Rod said that he was super frustrated because he had taken everything off last night and gotten up early to put the new parts in, only to find that they didn’t fit right. By the time he figured out what was going on, it was too late to get the correct parts delivered as the part shop closed at noon. He tried a few other places before giving up. He says he can surely get the parts tomorrow and then have them in by noon Monday.

That meant that I need the car for another two days. *sighs* I called the rental company and they said there was no problem with keeping the car two more days. So that’s another $1,000 that I need to magic up out of somewhere. Thank goodness I can eat so cheaply here!

BTW, I am surprised by how much I love having a landline! Cell service in my house isn’t great (expected) and it’s noisy outside. I love that I can sit in a comfy chair in a well ventilated room and have a very clear conversation. I just need to figure out how to dial Mexican numbers, though (Canada and US are straightforward). Sometimes, the phone wants 10 digits, sometimes 7, and sometimes it wants 11. Must be related to the type of number I’m calling (landline, cell phone, “long distance”).

I had an appointment in Progreso between 4:00 and 5:00 (more on that below), so I decided to do some unpacking as best as I could with the storage solutions I have on hand. This way I’d feel like I’d made some progress and the trip hadn’t been for nothing. I also brought a small load from Chelem. It’s actually getting difficult now to find an actual load of stuff that I know for sure I won’t miss in the next couple of weeks.

I started in my master closet room, amused that it has a window I could open and fan I could turn on for ventilation! I hung up what needed to be hung up and sorted a few things to eventually get put into a dresser.

I then moved to the office and put away some of my books. It’s not home until I have my Harry Potter books on display. 🙂

The rest of the books will go upstairs with a bookcase (that I could not get up there on my own) as I think I will like the landing as a reading nook with my Poang chair.

I then started on the kitchen. One of the first things I found were my plastic wine glasses, so they went into the armoire in the living room with a rack for them. I think that now that I don’t have a house on wheels, maybe it’s time to get some proper ones? Then again, plastic is safer on tiles and these are pink!

I started to put a few things onto one of the bookcases in the kitchen.

Top shelf has the acrylic tumblers I picked up at Costco some weeks ago. Next to them are four really pretty mugs that I picked up for next to nothing (less than I would expect to pay for used mugs at a thrift store NOB!) at Chedraui one day, and then two cereal bowls. Below that is some ovenware and below that my Pyrex bowls. My trusty food processor and tortilla press won’t live up there forever, but are at least out of the way.

I didn’t do much with the deep armoire, just shoving into the bottom baking things and other bits that I won’t need often. I put my mandoline and a strainer in the huge drawer that I’m thrilled to have even if the rest of the cabinet feels like wasted space to me.

Once the faucet change is sorted and I can properly clean the counters, I’ll move the microwave to where it belongs and will keep my pots and pans where the microwave currently sits. Poco a poco and all that. 🙂

It’s really exciting to see a home emerging from this big echoey house. I really want to get my desk over there, but have given up on my movers and can’t afford anyone else at this point. So I will take it apart entirely to make it moveable on my own. I was really hoping to avoid that since the particle board is so fragile, but I’ll glue some of the parts together to make the desk more solid and it should last me a while longer.

I left around 4:00 and headed straight for Progreso. A couple of days ago, a woman posted that she was coming back from England and a few people jokingly asked for stuff, including one who wanted HP sauce. A man in Progreso said that he had a bottle for her, but she’d have to come get it. Neither had a car. It was clear the woman really wanted her sauce! I offered to pick it up and bring it to Mérida for her.

(In a funny case of things getting paid forward, I jokingly asked the English woman for Jaffa cakes and… I have an economy sized package of 36 incoming next week! Some people are so nice!)

Well, I am never going to Progreso again if I can avoid it. Its streets are an absolute disgrace and I had to drive through a dozen actual lakes in my rental car to get to the guy’s house. It was terrifying and I waited at many of the lakes for someone else in a low to the ground car to make it across safely before I went through. I remember from my last trips there that the lakes were no less terrifying in my truck! I was just trying to do a nice thing for someone and never expected my little side trip to be such an ordeal. 🙁

I finally made it back to almost terra firma (I had one huge lake left) and popped into Bodega to get some fried chicken for dinner, helped a grateful guy pick the best sliced cheese for his burgers (Lala — made with real milk!), and exhaustedly headed home to be greeted by a dog who was very sad at having had me go out two days in a row. We had a good play session and then we both had our dinners. I asked him at one point to please bring back the sandal he stole from me a few days ago and… he obliged, dropping it at my patio door while I was having dinner! I had such a laugh about that. He apparently buried it as it was covered in sand. I gave it a good rinse and hope it will still be usable when it dries.

Then, I went to work. If I could squeeze two hours of work out of myself tonight, then I could have a super lazy morning tomorrow and then spend the afternoon proofreading from the couch. I still have an hour to go and I have to give up since it’s a translation job that needs more brain cells than I have left. Zzzz.

Looking Ahead

This weekend wound up being a good time to catch up on my bookkeeping, set up a budget for the next quarter, and start to work on my projected budget for the start of 2018. There is no doubt that I’ll be able to afford a comfortable life here, but I’m trying to pay down some debt and step up my retirement savings so I wanted to see if there was some fat I could start trimming right now. Absolutely. I have a few calls to make for that tomorrow.

It will be good for me to have a stable (ish) budget for a couple of years to catch up on some things. I’m doing absolutely fine for someone pushing 40 who just spent a decade gallivanting over about a quarter the planet’s land mass and I want to make sure I’m in at least as good a position 10 years from now.

I really didn’t go into this without a lot of thought. Setting up a home again is going to be a big expense and I had to be sure that it’s something I’m ready for again and that this is the right location for it. I definitely am certain on both counts. So that’s one of the reasons I chose to go with more house than I really need — I wanted a place to grow into.

I didn’t want to find myself wanting to move again in a few years, especially since I know I’m going to be in Mérida for at least four years. I really wanted a proper home base where I can receive people, pursue hobbies, and continue to grow my business. If I had continued to snowbird, I would have definitely gone with a much smaller place as I would have had to maintain two homes, but this will be a year-round home for me, something I had started to doubt I would ever have.

While there are a few things I’m not thrilled about with the house, especially the location of my office, there is so much more that I’m looking forward to and I’ve spent probably too much time in the last couple of weeks dreaming of how I’m going to set it up and doing some online window shopping.

The room I’m probably most excited about is the kitchen, which is huge and has great light from two windows. I am going to be able to really get back into cooking here, something that I’ve missed since I’ve stopped living in Miranda full-time and had access to a pantry.

I also know that I’m going to spend a lot of time in the rear courtyard off the dining room. I saw so many homes with uncovered exterior spaces that would have been difficult to make comfortable in the middle of the day.

The laundry room that I discovered on the second visit is such a bonus. I’ll be able to do laundry without there being noise in the house and there is so much space to hang everything outside.

My bedroom is going to be so airy and I’m ridiculously excited to have a closet almost as big as Miranda after squeezing into her tiny wardrobe all these years.

I’m thinking of turning the upstairs landing into my art studio, but I suspect a comfy chair might end up there to turn it into a reading nook. Regardless, it’s so bright and well ventilated that I’m sure it won’t be wasted space.

I really hope that I get keys with my lease on Wednesday so I can take you on a tour of my new digs. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak! This photo is taken from the centre of the living room (which you enter directly into from the front door). Looking ahead is the staircase to the master suite. To the right, you can see the dining room and the door to the courtyard. Both spaces that you can see here come with really nice furniture!

RIP Brutus

I got some very sad news from Haven yesterday, that Charles and Caroline’s beloved dog Brutus had, after a period of decline, finally crossed Rainbow Bridge.

Brutus is the dog who really converted me to dogs and made me think that one day, in the right place and at the right time, I would want such a personable and loyal companion. He was such a sweet soul and a grumpy old boy. I knew that when I cuddled him for the last time before leaving in April that it would be the last time. I’m glad that we got that final week together. It was so very special to get up in the morning and sit by the fire with him and Charles and have my coffee.

Here is Brutus in August 2014, when he was still in his prime.

Brutus, you were well loved and will be sorely missed. Thank you for making our lives a little brighter.

Charles and Caroline, I’m sending hugs across the vast distance that separates us. Far in body, close in spirit. Love you both.