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.

A Measure of Linguistic Confidence

My time and Spain and my interactions with a Spanish teacher in England apparently helped me pass another mental barrier when it comes to my confidence level in my Spanish. I know I did very well at the border and with immigration and customs, but it wasn’t until the last couple of days that I’ve come to realise that I’ve finally settled into a wonderful place where Spanish generally isn’t scary or an effort anymore and things that were mentally taxing just a year ago aren’t anymore.

Take last night for example. I was absolutely brain dead and couldn’t bear the thought of any more mental gymnastics. I wanted to put on a movie and let myself be swept away. Well, the movie I picked, which I can’t recommend highly enough, Lion, was only available with Spanish subtitles over the Hindi and Bengal dialogue. I decided to give it a few minutes and, sure enough, the Spanish subtitles were as comfortable as French or English ones. I think I paused the movie all of four or five times to check a word or verb tense I wasn’t sure about.

Then, there was today, which was the day to finally take Moya to see a mechanic. Money is trickling in and not feeling comfortable taking her far is really beginning to cramp my style. The directions I got to a mechanic who was recommended to me by not only an expat but also a Mexican neighbour were easy to follow. No one was there, so I called out and an elderly woman came out. I asked for the mechanic, she called for him, and then she started chatting. Now, it’s harder to understand older uneducated people and kids using a lot of slang, but I still followed what she was saying. Then, the mechanic came out and I explained what was going on. Now, here’s the thing. I’d only come in with one three new words, the verb dejar that I’ve been practicing and which was useful for saying I just wanted to leave the truck for him to look at whenever he could, the verb girar (to turn), and the noun cojinetes (bearings, as in I think that’s what’s wrong). That’s all I needed.

It’s hard to describe how I felt as I went into the garage, but there just wasn’t that knot in my stomach I’d get at the start of my Mexican adventures when I’d pace back and forth outside of a business going over all the possible ways the conversations could go so I could be ready for them. I don’t do that anymore. I’m at the point where I’ve finally accepted that I’m fluent.

Do I ever fall flat on my face and have failures in communication? All the time. Are they the end of the world? No. I go back over the exchange and look up words I didn’t understand or was missing. Because I’m not needing to pick up a lot at a time, I’m not overwhelmed and often the new words stick, especially if I make an effort to use them. I was dismayed today that I almost forgot about dejar, but when I finally blurted it out, the verb was mine and officially part of my vocabulary, as is girar. I’m not sure I’ll need cojinetes often enough for it to roll off the tongue, though. 🙂

Whether I’m scanning ingredients on a can of something at the grocery store, skimming a trashy magazine at the grocery store, chasing down the guy in a truck with a loudspeaker blasting that he has watermelon, stopping a tortilla deliverer to see if he could come deliver to my house periodically (sadly, no), or taking a funny quiz on Buzzfeed, everyday Spanish has become comfortable. Now, that I’m this point, I need to stop thinking of watching Spanish movies and TV shows or reading Spanish book as “homework” and just start doing it regularly without making a fuss about it. And then, when I finally move to the city in the fall, I really need to start socialising with Mexicans. I’m already doing research on courses I could take, everything from painting to Mayan history, that could get me out of the house and meeting people beyond my immediate neighbours.

So at any rate, the mechanic said he’d look at Moya first thing tomorrow and message me what’s wrong and the cost. Hopefully, it’ll be no worse and ideally better than the brake job I had done (which was over $4,000, or about 300CAD at the time) and I’ll find myself with a trustworthy vehicle again. After I left her, I went into a shop around the corner to get a bottle of cold water for the nearly 3KM walk home, and set off. Well, just as I passed the limits of the town proper, a van screeched to a stop ahead of me. It contained three expat ladies who are basically immediate neighbours! What timing!

That worked out well because it started to storm shortly after I got in. We lost power for a bit and I discovered that the skylights in my suite leak. I spent some time on Skype with the hosts talking about that and some plumbing problems I’m having that I troubleshooted on and off well into the evening.

Somehow with all of that, I got through a mountain of work today and still managed to finish early enough to watch another movie. It’s no wonder I’m sleeping so well considering how worn out I am by bedtime! 🙂

I’m trying to take it easy this weekend and possibly go to Mérida for a day on public transportation, but that’s proving more difficult than expected. There are buses that stop very near my house, but they tend to be full and I could wait for hours to get a seat on one, with the same thing in reverse. I might make more sense to wait until I’ve got Moya running again. Thankfully, there’s enough going on here that I don’t feel too claustrophobic yet. 🙂

And with that, ¡Buenas noches, queridos lectores!