A Couple of Good Nights

After a big work day on Saturday, I decided to give myself Sunday morning completely off. I don’t know if that’s what did the trick, but I actually managed to sleep more than 8.5 hours straight! I’ve been averaging 5.5 hours a night straight since I moved in, then falling back asleep for another 1.5 to 2 hours. Needless to say, I was feeling perkier yesterday morning than I have in a while!

I decided that instead of making coffee, I would walk to Oxxo to get one of theirs with hazelnut creamer, as well as a ham and cheese croissant. I came in, heated up my sandwich and prepared some fruit, then lingered over breakfast and watched an episode of a TV show on Netflix. Having been sufficiently lazy, I decided to see if the laundromat was open as I was beyond out of clean clothes.

The laundromat was open and so loud that it was really hard to communicate that I wanted to use a machine. The gals finally figured it out and set me up. I was confused as they wouldn’t take my money and instead fed tokens into my machine. I felt so awkward that I decided to just stand there and wait for my clothes to wash rather than go home for 20 minutes or so (the laundromat is only a short block from me). Finally, their industrial dryer finished up and the place got almost quiet. One of the ladies asked me some questions and the ice finally got broken! We had a really nice chat and they asked me questions about travelling to Canada that really makes me want to finish the post I’ve been working on for ages about Canada as a travel destination.

At the end, they rung me up on a cash register and gave me a proper receipt. So at least now I know the procedure. But I’m hoping to have a washer of my own before I get so desperate again for laundry. I know it’s only $21 a load to wash only (or $65 to have it done for you), but after 20 years of mostly laundromats and hand washing, having my own washing machine isn’t a luxury I’m willing to pass on.

I came in and set out everything to dry. Dresses and tees went on hangers to hang from the racks in the laundry drying area next to the tinaco and unmentionables went on the little rack I bought at Costco. I actually prefer this to a proper clothesline since I don’t have to deal with clothespins. I can just sweep the little things into my basket to take upstairs and everything already on hangers can go straight into the closet.

The laundry was done by  noon and then I got my work done. Late afternoon, I went out to pick up a few groceries at Super Aki, grateful to have a basic supermarket only 700m from home! I’ve sadly given up on my fridge — it’s now not cold enough after freezing everything! — so I’m shopping daily and eating out until I can replace it. 🙁 At least the freezer is good! I’ve been looking at used fridges and I’m almost convinced I’ll be able to get my money back or just about even with it being problematic. I am also considering contacting the guy who sold it to me to see if we could work out a deal on a trade since he repairs fridges, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m really disappointed as it is a very nice fridge and I doubt I’ll be able to find anything as good for about that price. Anyway…

I slept pretty well again last night, but woke up after only 6.5 hours of sleep so I was glad that I managed to doze off again. It promised to be a busy Monday, so I got to work right away.

While waiting for my second coffee of the morning to be ready, I very carefully moved the painted shelves to the kitchen. They are still very tacky and so I don’t dare put anything on them, but it’s nice to have them in place. Looks good!

On my lunch break, I did the same with the cart:

I’ve officially had enough of that turquoise so I’m going to transfer the rest of the paint to a glass jar to have it on hand for touch-ups and am moving on to another colour. 🙂

I had made a mental note to go find a placemat or something to use as a food preparation surface when I remembered that I bought four flexible cutting boards recently and only have two in rotation! Not only does the orange one look great against the blue, it is the perfect width!

Late afternoon as I was finishing up work, my landlady called to give me a rooster update. You might want to empty your bladder before continuing with reading this. She informed me that while, yes, there are definitely a few roosters up the street that she told the owners to get rid of because we are living in the city and there are by-laws and the owners promised they are eating chicken as fast as they can, these roosters were not the source of my woes.

The source of my woes is that the neighbour right next to me decided to use an obnoxious rooster crow as his alarm clock and he likes the snooze button.

While, yes, I have been bothered by genuine roosters since I moved in, the most bothersome one that was waking me every morning was an alarm clock. I have to laugh!

It was then time for me to make my landlady laugh by telling her about my water shortage adventure the other night. There I was in the shower and absolutely covered in soap when the water just stopped. I should have known I as going to have problems because the water pressure hadn’t been great in the days prior, but I didn’t put two and two together. Anyway, there I was covered in soap and the only water in the house was about half a garrafón of drinking water. With drinking water being so expensive here, I sure wasn’t going to rinse off in it!

Let me pause here in my story to explain how the water system is at my house. It is a fairly common system in Mexico. City water fills a tank (tinaco) at ground level. For some people, that tank is underground (cisterna). The pressure of the city water connection pushes the water in the ground-level reservoir to a rooftop tinaco, which then supplies the house with water, gravity providing water pressure. In Mérida at least, the water is potable until it enters your ground-level reservoir. If your water system is closed and you occasionally run bleach through it, then you have potable water in the house. That’s the case here — I can clean my teeth and wash veggies with the tap water. It tastes pretty bad, though, so like most people, I buy my drinking water. If I owned the house, I’d have a filter at the kitchen tap to make the water taste better, but I don’t so I’ll stick to the jugs.

So there I was that night without water fumbling around my yard looking for the switches that would turn on the exterior lights where my ground-level tinaco is located. When I did that, I was able to get to the tinaco, open the lid, and see that the tinaco was full. Okay, so I had water (I did have a momentary flash of concern that the water company had failed to process my payment last month!). The roof-level tinaco is so far away that I figured that it would need help to fill. Ah, yes, I found a pump! But there was no switch or button to turn the pump on.

I pondered this for a moment and like in a TV show, I had a flashback to a moment some weeks ago when I tried a switch on a wall in front of the washing machine room and it caused a racket I couldn’t identify. Flipped that switch, went back to the tinaco, and it was already almost a full quarter empty! I let the pump run until I stopped noticing a change in the water level, about two-thirds empty, turned off the pump, and went back to the shower. Success — I had water, albeit super cold! The next day, the ground-level tinaco was full again.

And that’s how I learned that once I get a washing machine, I should get in the habit of turning on the tinaco pump when I got to the laundry room. In the meantime, I made a note to do so every few weeks! By the way, the tinacos do not over fill because they have a float in them, like a toilet tank, that stops water inflow when a a certain level is reached.

After we hung up, I quickly finished my work so I could start on dinner. While that was in process, I decided that the cart didn’t feel nearly as tacky as did the shelving unit (likely because it is made of a more porous material). So I took a chance and set it up! It felt great to get out of the way that huge table that wasn’t doing much for me and instead start to get a sense of how the room will be when it is fully kitted out.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do with the middle and bottom shelves as I’m not married to the idea of using them for putting other small appliances. Time will tell. 🙂

Even with a pretty bare larder, I put together a super nice dinner. I softened an onion, then cooked it and pasta in homemade chicken broth, adding near the end good butter, the juice of one lemon, cracked black pepper, and sweet frozen peas (the La Huerta brand of peas is so good it should have them listed as a controlled substance). It was a shame I didn’t have any Parmesan to finish off the dish, but it came out very nicely for what I was working with.

I’ve been here three weeks now and can’t believe how quickly I took to the house. I can imagine things will only improve as I start to bring in the bits I’m missing to fully settle in a routine!

Custom Kitchen Cart

I’m starting to get unpleasantly cynical and suspicious in my advancing age as the effects of society in general are starting to rub off on me. There are so many people in my life, some of whom I love very much, who are very much in the frame of mind that anything that sounds too good to be true is too good to be true or who have the mindset that everyone is out to scam them. I try to have faith in people and the odd time that I am scammed, I remind myself that it was more of a failing on their part to have not been trustworthy than on my part to have trusted.

So…

As I’m spending more and more time in my kitchen, I’m figuring out what I need for storage based on how I cook. For one thing, there is a problem with outlets being in very awkward spaces. Just to do something as simple as make coffee has me having to reach around the microwave to plug in the kettle. I determined that what I needed was a cart on wheels on which to put all the things that I might want to plug in, with the top being my breakfast and snack centre, complete with toast, kettle, phin, coffee and tea canisters, etc.

I would want the cart parked for use by this outlet, but I wouldn’t want it nearly as deep or long as the plastic table because I will eventually have a stove. Also, I’d want it counter height (90cm/35in) as a table is way too low to work at.

I was worried that by the time I get a stove and an island, the cart would be in the way, so I wanted to be able to park it in this nook:

Needless to say, I couldn’t find anything available commercially at any price. I did come close with a cart I found that was the right height, but it was very shallow and narrow, with only one shelf and wire metal baskets underneath.

While browsing Facebook Marketplace on Tuesday, I saw a cart marketed for the storage of cosmetics and thought that something like that, but bigger, would work for me. I clicked on the link and got to a page for a woodworking shop that seemed to have nice things. So I contacted them with a picture of the cosmetics cart and explained that I wanted something similar, but 90cm tall by 35cm deep by 75 to 100cm wide and with shelves instead of boxes .

They almost immediately replied with a quote of only $700 and they could deliver on Friday. So I asked how I could order it. Of course, all I had to go on was that page, so I had no idea if this company was legit or not. For ordering, I was told I could come to their workshop and pay $400 in cash or I could deposit that $400 to their debit card at an Oxxo. The debit card was in a name that matched the Facebook page and I thought why would a scammer give me their banking information and address? So I went ahead and made the deposit through Oxxo and the company reverified my order. I thought all was good.

Wednesday evening (the following day) is when things got weird. They messaged to ask if I still wanted the cart. I replied that I’d made the deposit and provided a picture of the receipt. I then got asked a few things that made me think that I wasn’t speaking with the same person, but he insisted he was. Then, I got told the last thing you want to be told when you suspect you might be in the process of being scammed, “Don’t worry. We’re honest people.” Hmm…

So I was surprised this morning, Friday, at nine, when I was messaged again to ask when I could pick up the cart! I was provided an address in a residential neighbourhood in south Mérida near the airport. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I haven’t had that happen a lot in my life, but I knew that I wasn’t comfortable going out there as things stood. I was going to ask my neighbour to go with me when I had a DUH moment.

I messaged the shop to send me a picture of the cart. If they could provide one, then, obviously, I wasn’t being lured into some sort of trap. The picture came immediately and there was no doubt it was my order. I let out a sigh of relief (and a giggle of happiness because I liked what I saw in the picture!) and immediately headed out.

It was a very long drive through centro, but I knew that I could come home via the periférico, which would be twice the distance, but half the time.

I found the address without any problems. By the time I got out of my truck, there was a guy standing outside the curb with my cart! I examined it and couldn’t stop smiling as I took in all the details. It was better than perfect. Exactly what I wanted, but with unexpected actual craftsmanship. My gamble had paid off. I was pleased that I’d listened to my gut and made sure I was safe, but also that I ignored the voices in my head telling me I’d just wasted $400.

So here it is! 🙂

If you click the picture, it will embiggen and you can see more details!

The way the legs were done, the whole thing is 40cm deep so it doesn’t fit perfectly into the nook, but the door still opens fully so I’m happy to have the extra depth.

Look at the corners of the shelves and the routing along the edges!

The wheels are very good quality and the shelves are thick, solid, and double reinforced. This cart is going to serve me very well! I asked for it unfinished because I have turquoise paint to use up. 🙂 With how long paint takes to dry here, I probably won’t get to use the cart for a full two weeks, but it will be worth the wait!

Eep, I’d better get back to work so that I can hopefully get a first coat of paint on the cart and maybe the shelving unit too tonight!

I Got a Letter Today!

The Mexican postal system Correos de Mexico is terrible. It is slow and unreliable. I once mailed my best friend a letter from Mazatlán and it never arrived. So when she told me that she mailed me a letter to Mérida on October 5th, let’s just say that I wasn’t holding my breath about ever seeing it.

A month and 10 days later, I went out to look for mail, something I do almost daily because 9 times out of 10, mail ends up wedged into a door grill or slipped under a garage door instead of in my mailbox. But today, there was something in my mailbox:

I teared up as I clutched the precious gift to my chest. I could not believe that it had reached me!

(I was amused by the purple stamp on it, “remember that November 12 is mail carriers day,” when the letter arrived four days after it!)

As always, Bast’s letter had a funny sticker on the flap, this one related to the sticker that she put on the letter that took just 10 days to reach me in Bulgaria:

Now, I’m feeling motivated to find a post office here and to try again to send her a letter. My limited experience so far with Correos de Mexico really gives me a sense of what it would have been like to send mail in ancient times!

It’s been a pretty good day. I had my best night of sleep here so far, which meant I got a bit of a late start. But I still met all my deadlines and work wouldn’t stop pouring in. I remain eternally grateful for that. Cashflow this month is tough, but I think that things really will be better starting in December.

Late afternoon, a couple came by to pick up all the moving boxes I had stored in the maid’s room. In a less humid climate, I would have broken them up and stored them for use in a few years, but they would have likely been mouldy, smelly, and possibly even too damp to use by that point. Better to let someone else use them while they are still in good shape. So now, what to do with that room? Hmm…

After, I paused to make a really nice dinner that included the packet of butter chicken sauce my hosts in Chelem brought back for me. What a treat! I had to go back to work after, but it was nice to stop to make a full dinner and then eat on my pretty china.

I hope I’m going to start catching up on sleep as I’m too exhausted in the evenings to go enjoy all the wonderful free stuff going on in Mérida, like movies, concerts, and dance shows. I have to keep telling myself that things are likely not going to slow down until January, but that after that, I’ll still have 21 months (at least) left to enjoy all that Mérida has to offer. I just need to get over this last hump — and remember that I’m here a year earlier than I thought I would be after spending 10 months in Europe. Of course, things are going to be tight. At least, business is very good and my house is very comfortable! So really, I have no complaints. 🙂

Cocooning

I seem to have lost a day…

I cannot for the life of me remember what I did on Friday besides do an inordinate amount of typing. Perhaps that was all. I do remember that as the time crept to 7PM, I discovered that one of my Saturday jobs was so easy I still had energy to do it, which would reduce my Saturday work load, which would reduce my Sunday work load, which would reduce my Monday work load…

So I decided to order a pizza from a place that left a flyer in my mail box. $100 plus a $10 tip got me a surprisingly good humongous pizza (and by that, I mean I got FOUR meals out of it!) with three toppings. In the hour that I would have stopped to make dinner, I was able to do the easy job, finishing literally as the doorbell rang.

So now, I’ve found a good cheap pizza place nearby. 🙂 Sometimes, I want more American-style pizza (think Domino’s, Costco’s or little Caesar’s), but sometimes the cheaper Mexican style is fine. This one’s crust was particularly good, even if the cheese wasn’t quite right, and they sliced the onions the way I like them.

Saturday, I was up stupidly early for some reason and got a mountain of work done before noon. I was just done after that. There were so many things I could have done with my day, but I wasn’t going anywhere or in the mood for chores. I broke out the LEGOs and a series on Netflix and wiled away a very rainy afternoon enjoying not having the pressures of maintaining someone else’s home for the first time in a long time.

Today was another heavy work day, but there were things to do. I managed to get the truck out mid-morning (my automatic garage door opener is giving me grief) to go around the block to the Extra (Circle K in the US) to get two 5 gallons of water since I still haven’t figured out home delivery yet. One block closer and I would have walked them home. If delivery doesn’t get figured out soon, I need to find myself a dolly or something because getting the truck in and out of the parking bay and the doors open and shut took about twice as long as the actual purchase of the water!

Around 1PM, I headed out to the sushi restaurant I recently discovered to try their Sunday buffet. It was decent and good value, but I’ll stick to à la carte from now on. I really must be starting to develop Mexican sushi tastebuds because I found their smoked salmon and cream cheese roll quite good!

Then, I went to Superama to see what treasures I could find. It’s really not a place to buy your basics available at any Mexican supermarket, but it is a great place to find good quality butter and imported veggies and cheeses. I had to laugh as I was looking at the cheese when a lady asked if I wanted to try a sample. I ended up buying a nice hunk of Port Salut for a fraction of what I would have paid in Canada. What a treat that will be!

Going through the small home goods section, I found a lightbulb I thought might fit my bedroom lamp (kept forgetting to look for one!) and I also found, to my immense surprise, something I expected to have to hunt for, a two-prong to three-prong adapter:

Even more surprising, it was only $21 for a pack of three!

These will let me plug my three-prong power bars into the house’s myriad of two-prong outlets.

I contacted APC/Schneider Electric, the manufacturer of my UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to ask them about using their equipment in my high voltage power situation. They really came through with their reply. Based on the info I gave them about the new outlet and how it is grounded, they say that the UPS and its surge protection will still work despite my getting the “building wiring fault” warning light. So I should absolutely keep using it and should favour it for plugging in any of my electronics. I can use the other outlets in the house, for example to plug in an iPad charger overnight or a TV, but the high voltage may damage things over time. So I’m best off to only plug in when I need to. I don’t have an expensive TV or stereo, so now I know I don’t have to worry about the high voltage.

I was pleased when the kid at the cash asked me if I wanted to make a withdrawal with my purchase. I forgot to go to HSBC before going to the sushi restaurant and figured that if I needed cash this week, I could just walk to the bank then, not remembering that cash withdrawals are available at some stores. So the kid saved me some time.

My shopping done, I called my second Uber. It’s pretty funny how it’s almost twice as far to get home from Superama by car as it is to walk, but I wasn’t going to walk since I had heavy things like wine in my bag. The trip only cost me $30, so it was well worth it. I think calling Uber will eventually start to feel part of my routine instead of something still a bit dark and mysterious. I don’t know how much fuel I would have spent driving Moya to the restaurant and then Superama and back, but I do know for sure it would have been more than 2CAD! Plus, I didn’t have to worry about getting her in and out of the garage or parking, I got some exercise walking over there, and I got to enjoy the AC in the Uber car!

When I got in, I tested my lightbulb and, yay, it worked! It’s also similar to the bulbs in the ceiling so now I know what I need to buy to replace the ones that don’t work. Poco a poco… 🙂

Then, extra work came in and I had to get cracking or having a 15-hour day tomorrow. I really need to do at least another now and it’s 8:30. Zzz…. I’m so tired but, thankfully, I’m slowly starting to sleep longer stretches here and might be able to get back on track to solid nights. Hopefully!

I’m approaching the two-week mark of being here and still can’t believe how easily I took to the house. It does help that I had access to it for two months, but still, there has been almost no adaptation period and even with all that I still want to do with it, it’s already home.