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 ÂĄQuĂ© 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!

Weekend Pleasures

Friday night, I went to La 21 for a quick dinner. I decided to try a “gringa,” which was described to me as the closest a taco can get to Gringo tastes while keeping its self-respect (LOL and you know you’re considered a local when…). I decided to try one. It was a wheat tortilla topped with cheese and then the meat I’d requested, which, of course, was al pastor, so I had pineapple as well. It was perfectly fine, but I prefer corn tortillas for the lightly grilled tortilla application. I don’t inherently have a problem with wheat tortillas, but I prefer to reserve them for other types of dishes where the tortilla is lightly fried, bathed in enchilada sauce, wrapped around Tex-Mex burrito fillings, or probably my favourite of all, slathered with peanut butter and strawberry jam. 🙂

Saturday morning started very lazily. I woke up around 6:30 and took a few minutes to catch up on the royal wedding on my iPad before going back to sleep until 9:00. I then spent an hour with Bonita catching up on emails before deciding that I really need to go “do something.” I could find nothing interesting on today (and made a note that if there are things to do, they usually occur Sunday). So I did a few chores, then dressed and hopped on the bus to pick up a few things at the Slow Food market.

I’ve been taking the bus a lot now that it is so hot out during the bulk of the day. I end up doing more with my days and get a heck of a lot more exercise than if I burn myself out literally and figuratively walking to my destinations. During the winter and evening hours, my radius is easily 5-6KM one way, but in the heat of the day, 2KM is my absolute limit. So that’s why I didn’t walk to Slow Food even though I had time. Plus, with the bus only being 0.50CAD round trip, it’s definitely not breaking the bank.

At the market, I started with some tacos for a late breakfast. I tried something new, “tinga,” which is pulled chicken in a sauce that can best be described as a smoky and spicy BBQ sauce. It was very good and since the tacos had rice and beans, two was an ample meal. I enjoyed a strawberry-watermelon agua fresca with it!

My only purchases were a loaf of apple-raisin bread I hadn’t remembered being so pricy ($120!!!), five lentil patties with a container of non-spicy pico de gallo ($50), and a package of pepper bacon ($80). I’d bought the maple bacon last time so pepper sounded like a nice change and the price was very fair for the quantity and quality.

The gal selling the bread is the gal who sold me my skirt and sandals (which I happened to be wearing) recently. It was nice to see a familiar face. She asked how I eat the bread (Plain? Jam?). She pulled a face when I said butter and I was quick to say, “European butter!” You definitely don’t want to spoil that lovely bread with what passes for butter in Mexico! She asked me what brand I buy (Lurpak), where (Superama), and how much ($50-$60 for a package, which she thought sounded quite inexpensive compared to what she would have expected). As a backup, I mentioned Lyncott, which is also the only provider of real cream here and slightly cheaper. But Lurpak is the best!

The lentil cakes seller had me try a few other things she had for sale, but I refused to sample her banana or plantain cakes. I am just not a banana or plantain person. Her lentil cakes are so good — I need to find a recipe to make something like that for myself as they are such a quick and easy lunch! The pico de gallo that came with them was new from last time and the perfect side. Pico de gallo is as rare in YucatĂĄn as it is common in Sinaloa and a condiment I really miss. It was only later in the day, as I was spooning the rather soggy sauce onto a couple of lentil cakes, that I realised that pico de gallo does keep and that I should make myself a batch every week!

From Slow Food, I wanted to check out Pacsadeli, a luxury food and bulk restaurant supplier that is the expats’ go-to location for rarer foodstuffs. I’m on the hunt for sweet pickle relish, which has been AWOL for months, if I can trust the expat food hunt forum. Since it’s something Mexicans might put in their tuna salad, I wonder if it might be a seasonal product or tied to a holiday. I’ve struck out at all the places where I’ve seen it in the past, including where I bought my last bottle — the Oxxo a few blocks from me!

It was a quick walk to Pacsadeli and I was surprised to see where it was, on a street I walked many times when I was here scouting in 2016 and super near my old apartment (see the red X). I must have passed it dozens of times in ’16.

The store was much smaller than I expected, but held many treasures. Alas, no sweet pickle relish. Prices were much better than I would have thought and I picked up three things. One was a huge package of wide rice stick noodles — I haven’t found that size of noodle, just skinny ones, in supermarkets. Another was a large container of Lyncott whipping cream — my sources for it have been out for ages and Pacsadeli was selling the large size for barely more than the price of the small one in supermarkets. Cream lasts for ages, so I’ll be able to use it up. In fact, for dinner tonight, I just had strawberries with whipped cream. 🙂 I don’t have an electric mixer, but my hand blend has a whisk attachment that did the trick!

The last thing that caught my eye was in a locked cabinet, a bottle of balsamic vinegar. I’ve seen some in supermarkets, but always very, very expensively priced and I’ve kept putting off the purchase even if I really miss this pantry stable. This was a large bottle for less than $90. Slight hiccup: they couldn’t find the key to open the cabinet! I was going to tell them to leave it when I realised that they needed to find that key at some point so why not that point be me?! I wasn’t in a hurry so I just waited until the key turned up.

I hadn’t seen a price for my noodles and was surprised when my total bill was less $200 — the noodles were only $44. I’ll definitely be going back to Pacsadeli to get Asian items. I can find them much more closely (Soriana hĂ­per, formerly Mega Balcones, has almost everything I could want, but the prices are higher).

It was then time to go home since I had things to put in the fridge, but I decided to walk up Paseo de Montejo to grab an iced coffee at Starbucks first. There was a lot of excitement there as their fake bill detector was declaring all $100 bills fake! I knew it had to be a machine problem and didn’t stress out over it.

I was home around noon and hung out with Bonita for a few hours. As three rolled around, I decided to check the cinema schedule as I wanted to see Deadpool 2 (saw the first one here in 2016!). The next English showing was at 3:40, so I headed straight out so I’d have time to enjoy an ice cream first. My timing was perfect and I was in my comfy recliner wrapped in a throw at exactly 3:40. That cinema has spoiled me for life. 🙂

Even though the cinema is quite close to me (1.6KM) and I had two hours in AC between my walks, I was still quite cooked by the time I got in and had no desire to go out again. Bonita got her supper and then I made a very indulgent meal I’d only let myself have after a day with so much walking — pasta with bacon, cream, Parmesan, kale, and lemon!

Unfortunately, I got to bed super late, so today was rather a write-off in that it took me until about 3PM to get serious about working. I did the absolute bare minimum I needed to do to accommodate my blood test in the morning, but, hey, it got done!

I don’t know if two days off in a row is ever going to become a norm for me again, but this mini break did me a world of good. I anticipate that my next time off will be a proper mini break for my run into CancĂșn!

And with that, off to bed, but, first, here’s a gratuitous my dog is sooooo cute picture!

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 taquerĂ­a. I need to find something fun to do tomorrow — can’t just sit at home all day and squander a precious day off!