Inching My Way Towards Connectivity

I worked time and a half the last two days to be able to take today mostly off to get the internet installed at the new house. It’s been A Day.

I’m in one of my sleeping poorly cycles, so I made sure to put an alarm on for seven morning. Of course, it tore me from the best sleep I’ve enjoyed in ages. *sighs* An hour was just enough time to do a few non-transcription tasks that come in overnight and then finish my preparations for the day ahead of leaving at about eight. I’d already packed the truck with several boxes last night.

By the time I arrived at the house, it was about 8:40. I decided to park, then walk to Oxxo to get a bottle of water and a croissant for breakfast. That wound up being a good plan since the the maintenance guy was there and I was able to get an order from him (just a cold Coke, thanks!).

The next couple of hours were spent hauling in what I’d brought, cleaning the office and cabinets in the living room, and doing a preliminary clean in the kitchen of degreasing the stove area.

My landlady called at one point to say that she was going to stop by with the mailbox key, which I was going to ask her about, and my promised microwave. She is so on top of things!

The window for internet installation was nine to twelve, so I figured that the guys ringing the bell at 11:45 were for me. No, they were there to measure the wall fountain because my landlady wants one.

She came in shortly after them bearing this lovely gift:

This appears to be a very nice basic unit, which is all I want and would have bought for myself. No idea on its wattage, but it’s not like I do a ton of microwave cooking anyway so who cares if it’s not super powerful. I really just want it mostly for reheating things.

What I thought was a microwave cabinet isn’t really because there is a lip that blocks the door. So I thought to put in on shelving I’ll eventually buy. But my landlady told me to put it here on the counter because she had the outlet rewired especially for the microwave. So I will put it there even if it’s not my preferred location by far.

While I’m in the kitchen, here’s the sink that is giving me grief:

It just doesn’t look and feel clean, no matter how much I scrub it. I know I can get both the sink and tap replaced for under 200CAD including labour and that just feels like it would be worth it to me since I will be here for two years. Still mulling it over. The tap is going for sure, but I’ll get a second opinion on the sink.

Before leaving, my landlady made contact with her bank manager for me and very long story short, she concluded that she needs to go with me and will do so next week! I can’t believe how lovely she is! From what I understood of the conversation, she needs to be there as a witness/reference that I’m who I say I am because the manager is going to bend some rules to open an account for me. So no bank account today, but still making progress!

The maintenance man finished his day by painting my back wall. It looks so much better!

I told him I want to bring the furniture from the other terrace to this one and he advised me against doing it because this terrace isn’t as well protected in the rain, floods, and gets dirty with leaves and such. He thinks I will enjoy the other terrace a lot more. But, I told him, the other terrace is a million miles away. I’m really not as likely to use it daily as it’s not convenient to the kitchen. He conceded that I have good points and said that I really can’t know until I live here full-time what will work best for me. I was happy for his advice because that means no surprises!

My landlady’s husband emptied the maid’s room this past weekend and I couldn’t believe the difference.

Here’s one of my own UNPACKED boxes! Once I’m done with the boxes, I will advertise them on the local yard sale site and I know they will go quickly.

Opening the exterior door to the room makes such a difference (my landlady says someone will come by and clean the room!).

I can’t believe I never noticed before that the room has a skylight!

The possibility of my using this room as a den at some point is stronger and stronger, but, for now, it’ll be a storage room.

I cleaned the cabinet in the office and unpacked some stuff onto it temporarily. I decided that my printer will live on it.

After my landlady left, I called the telecom company and got a message saying there was a problem with my appointment and it was rescheduled for Friday afternoon. That was not going to work! I made my way through the phone maze to a live person, marvelling that I can do that now.

I explained to the guy who answered that my appointment for today was confirmed several times, that I made a special trip to be at the house, and that I’d lost a day of work. In stark contrast to what I would have been told by a Canadian telco, the guy was very sympathetic. He apologised and said that they had technical difficulties that put their technicians behind. He offered to call the service team in my area, explain how inconvenienced I am, and that they would make a decision as to whether or not they could squeeze me in at the end of the day. I should expect a call from someone in the next hour or two. At least, that’s what I was pretty sure he was saying since he spoke super fast. As it turned out, I understood him perfectly!

That meant I had time to go out and find some food. I checked in with the maintenance man, we had an interesting gab about where I live in Canada and the role of Catholicism in Mexican culture (not sure how we got there, but, dang, it was very enlightening). He then asked if I had any water to give him. I offered to go to the store around the corner to pick up some and asked if he needed a snack as well. No, his wife was expecting him in about an hour for lunch! I got us both a litre of water, dropped his off, then went out to a main street to find some lunch. The Chinese place I came across was good enough to go there again, but next time, I’m saying no to the fried platano, which was either banana or plantain and incredibly awful. 🙂

It was just past two when the phone rang. It was the internet company saying they’d have guys over by four and to hang tight. Yup, definitely not in Canada anymore… This reminds me of my first winter in Maz when I waited 11 days for internet only to learn that their system had hiccupped and they’d lost my order. Horrified, they sent someone out immediately to get me hooked up. You just don’t get that level of service in Canada because the telcos really don’t care about their customers. That’s what happens when there’s no competition. I don’t expect service to be perfect, but at least treat your customers with respect. Mexican telcos have done more for me in the last three years than Canadian telcos have in twenty years. I mean, what was I doing while I was waiting — using some free TelCel bandwidth they gifted me with to catch up on some personal things!

Two very cute and sweet guys showed up at 3:45! They asked me where I wanted the modem, questioned me about my workflow and where my desk was going to go, and then determined the best place for the modem. They said that the phone has to be plugged into the modem, not a standard phone jack, so the jacks I have in the kitchen are useless. That’s okay. Having the phone in the office makes sense.

They got to work promptly while I went out to get us some water.

When I came back, I found this unexpected item waiting for me:

Am I glad I didn’t go out and buy a cheap phone! They said it comes with the modem. It’s quite a nice unit! I can call the US and Canada with it, so I suspect it will get some use since talking for any length of time on an iPhone is unpleasant.

Now, I wish this story had a happy ending, and it might, but not today. It takes about an hour for the internet service to activate and I could not wait because I really had to get home to give Puppy his supper. But first, I had to stop at the bank, Costco, and gas station, so I was going to be late as it was. Hopefully, I’ll have service when I come back, which will probably be this weekend if I can get away. One of the tech guys gave me his direct number in case I have any issues.

Nearly Spanished out for the day and starting to get a major headache, I headed out into quite a downpour that I thought was going to abate, but which got worse and worse the closer I got to Galerias. I ended up having to practically swim from my truck to the entrance and was soaked by the time I’d made my withdrawal and returned to my truck. Costco wasn’t happening! 🙁 So I really need to go back this weekend if at all possible as I’m almost out of (almond) milk.

At any rate, I pointed the truck north, got gas, and then decided that I was treating myself to a burger for dinner because I was not going to be in the mood to cook, especially since I thought I was having Costco pizza for dinner! So I pulled into the Carl’s Jr. on the highway to Progreso to get a cheeseburger combo to go. I have to say that’s quite a nice chain as far as fast food burgers go. I really don’t want to get into the habit of having a $100 meal on a regular basis, but this was a good call tonight, especially since 6PM is not a good time to be looking for food anyway.

I got in at about 6:15 and was greeted by a dog who was very happy to see me. Since he hadn’t had any treats all day, I quickly scrambled him an egg to go with his kibble and my lateness was forgiven. 🙂

If I go back to the house this weekend, my goal will be to find some inexpensive metal shelving units for my kitchen so I can start setting up that room. I was surprised by how cheap generously sized used units are and I hope I can find some in a colour I like, although I’m open to spray painting some if I need to. I was disappointed to have missed out on some turquoise ones that would have looked incredible! 🙁

It was a good day at the house. It’s starting to feel more like my space even if there is tons of work to be done to get it feeling homey. I was surprised by how much I brought today — my books, odd computer bits that I don’t need, and DVDs — and realised that the biggest job is ahead of me — repacking all my kitchen things! I really don’t want to pack it up too much until the last minute, but there are plenty of things I can bring down, like extra cups and mixing bowls, plus some small appliances and a few of my cast iron pieces. I think that once I get started on the kitchen and bring down my desk and bookcases, the rest will all fall into place.

I have to note also that with the windows open and the ceiling fans going, the house felt very comfortable, even while doing heavy labour!

Well, it’s almost nine and I still have a small job to do (!), so I’d better get cracking. But first, I think I’ve earned a hot chocolate. 🙂

El Grito — and a Contest

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day. Read more about El Grito (the cry) that triggered the Mexican War of Independence. There should be lots of partying tonight, but I’m not going anywhere. It will be easier to joy celebrations when I live in town next year!

Dolores hidalgo

A statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in front of the church in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. (Photo By Paigemorrison at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons)

Unrelated, I was sent a link today to a great contest offering a chance to win a culinary trip for two to Mérida. I’m not affiliated with this context and it is only open to US residents, but I thought some of you might be interested!

Sometimes, You Just Have to Let Things Fall Into Place

I’m all Spanished out, but boy did I have a productive day!

The cleaner arrived around 9:30 and I headed into Mérida with no firm plans other than meeting a seller of a used Lego kit I’d been hoping to find and that they were selling at a bargain price. All work and no play and all that. 🙂

Coming into Mérida, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel well and I finally realised that in the flurry of trying to get my work and chores done before heading out, I’d had coffee, but forgotten to have breakfast! I decided that after my first stop, I would go to Gran Plaza to have some salbutes at that kiosk I went to a while back. But first, Scotiabank for a withdrawal and to hopefully open up an account since I had a lease and a water bill.

Well… the lease wasn’t good enough as it’s only valid in Yucatán and not in Mexico as a whole. The water bill would have needed to be in my name. The rep suggested I’d be best to get internet service and a bill in my name that way, then come back. He said that different companies have different requirements and that I should just go for whomever would take me and then switch later to a different/better service if need be. However, he was surprised that the company I want insisted on my having a bank account and told me to go back and try with a different rep. So there was another reason to go to Gran Plaza as that was the nearest office for Izzi telecom.

I happened to get a parking spot right by the telecom office, so I did that first. I was told that if I wanted service in English, I would have to wait in a line four expats deep, but if I was comfortable in Spanish, then I could be served immediately. I’m starting to understand what it means to be privileged…

This rep didn’t even ask me about a bank account and just signed me up! I had a choice of 20, 30, 50, and 100Mbps service and I decided to go with 50 to start as I can upgrade, but not downgrade as this is a 12-month contract. I know from my time in Chambly that 30 isn’t going to be enough, but I don’t trust that I’ll actually get the 100Mbps at my modem and the cost was significantly more than for 50Mbps service. I had to pay 600 pesos right there to schedule my installation. Well, that was… izzi. Their name can’t be a coincidence, can it? 🙂

The Lego seller still hadn’t called by that point, so I finally went to get food. I was super hungry and knew this would my only real meal of the day so I went with three salbutes, two of turkey and one of relleno negro (which is also turkey). I have to pick out the egg before chomping down. I wonder if my love of relleno negro rather than the grease is the reason why Yucatecán food doesn’t seem to agree with me since I’m likely ingesting more egg than I realise? I’m going to have to see if there’s a pattern between how I feel after eating Yucatecán food without relleno negro and with. The problem could also be the habanero peppers. Who knows. Anyway, a little discomfort is worth all this yumminess. 🙂 I really love the relleno negro, but the turkey ones seem fresher/lighter since they have veggies, including those yummy pickled onions.

As I was finishing up, the seller finally got in touch with me and asked where I was. I told him Gran Plaza and that I could go to where he needed me to go. He said to stay put and that he’d be there shortly! Wow! I spent some time window shopping and also had an ice cream since my lips were on fire (habaneros are more deadly than the serranos and jalapeños more commonly used in Sinaloa!).

The guy eventually showed up, we made our deal, and then I headed to the house. My landlady had warned me that the painter would be doing the façade today so I knew it would not be a good day to haul a bunch of stuff in. I just brought in a bag and a box and then got to work on the sink. After a bit of scrubbing with steel wool and Barkeeper’s Friend, it was looking okay. Not great, but fine. I think a thin coating of wax for protection will make all the difference. I’m still going to get a quote to replace it at the same time as the taps, which, really, are way overdue to be changed.

It was almost two by this point, I had to be back in Chelem for 3:30, and I needed a few groceries, so I headed out to the Bodega Aurrera where I bought the cleaning supplies. There, my phone rang. It was my landlady and she was calling about my visit to Scotiabank this morning…

As it turned out, the guy at Scotiabank had recognised my landlord’s name. My landlord is actually my landlady’s son and he’s out of the country. So the Scotiabank guy called her. For what, I have no idea. Maybe to hopefully get more information so that he could open an account? Well, my landlady, of course, could not do anything in that matter. I apologised that she’d been bothered and told her not to worry about it.

Well, she said that she really didn’t want to get into my business, but it was clear I’m having a hard time with the bank account thing. So her husband called his account manager at an HSBC and the manager said that with him acting as a reference, he will be able to open an account for me using my residency documents. I just have to call to schedule an appointment! Needless to say, she got MANY thanks.

I then did my shopping, which was mostly buying an inordinate amount of cheese. I also wanted Abuelita hot chocolate, something I really enjoy as an evening treat a couple of times a month. They had a nice offer of a free mug with the hot chocolate. The price really was the same as if there was no mug, so even though I didn’t really need another mug, these were too pretty to pass up.

There are several models with Mexican cultural designs. I went with a bird and am seriously tempted to go back and get all the others. 🙂 The hot chocolate keeps for at least a year…

The cashier was the same gal who served me last time and she asked me how the house was going! I couldn’t believe that she’d remembered me! I’ve been to Willy’s here in Chelem I don’t know how many times and no one ever recognises me. We had a chat last time because she’d jokingly asked me what kind of mess I was going to clean up with everything that I bought and I was, of course, bursting to say that I was heading to my new house. So that was very sweet and rather a nice welcome to the neighbourhood.

I headed back to Chelem after, in pouring rain, and the housecleaner was just wrapping up. She was happy to take me up on an offer of a lift home. I will go pick her up tomorrow or Friday so she can come get her ATV.

Then, I had to do a last minute rush job that came in and just as that was almost done, the phone rang. Let me tell you again, I am Spanished out for the day. But it was the internet company confirming my order and letting me know they’re coming tomorrow to install! Um… I asked if I could go for the 20th instead (next Wednesday) since I have a couple of big work days coming up. The guy checked and said yup. So next Wednesday between 9 and noon. Wow. So much faster, easier, and, of course, cheaper than in Canada.

Well, it’s been a Day and I still have an hour of work to do and a hungry dog who knows I came home with eggs to feed… It sure feels good to be moving forward. October 31st is coming up really fast!

Plans Written in Sand

I had some pretty grand plans for today that included making another attempt at opening a bank account and trying to order internet service, as well as taking a load to the house and cleaning the master suite. Good thing I’m flexible.

Before I took off this morning, I had another look at the local classifieds in the hope of finding a fridge that I could have delivered to the house today. That’s the big purchase that will help set the budget for everything else so I really wanted it out of the way. I’ve looked at enough online to know that simple side-by-side fridges (my dream model) are a rare pearl because those with ice makers and/or water dispensers are standard. So I was looking at $4,000+ for a side-by-side. But a decent regular fridge with the freezer on top could be had from anywhere from $800 to $3,000 depending on size, brand, and condition. I would be happy to get a big one with plastic shelves (rather than wire shelves) that runs cold and is clean. I really don’t care much about the appearance, especially since rust is such a part of life here, so cosmetic issues weren’t major.

Well, I spotted a nice looking one for $1,500 that while small had everything else I wanted… and the guy actually texted me right back to say I could come this morning to look at it. So instead of heading to a bank, I ended up somewhere near the airport in a fairly poor neighbourhood where my truck fit right in, but I got a lot of stares when I exited it. That might be because I’d been driving in circles looking for the house. Who knows… 🙂

At any rate, it turns out the guy sells all manner of used appliances. The fridge was fine, but small, and I was happy when he said he had a bigger similar one. That one looked better, not that that was a huge part of my decision, and I really liked the size. Like the little one, it was plugged in so I could see just how cold it was. I asked how much and he said $2,000, which I knew from my research was a fair price. I asked him if he could recommend someone to move it for me and he said, “If you don’t live too far away and you pay the full $2,000, I can deliver it this afternoon.” SOLD! 🙂 We shook on it and I told him I’d text him with directions when I got to the house (having determined that it’s not “too far”).

I headed home (HOME!), which was super easy as I could just take the periférico and exit at Calle 21. I decided to detour to Chedraui to pick up cleaning supplies, but passed a Bodega Aurrera on the way that I knew would have what I wanted. I bought all manner of cleaning supplies and headed for the house.

There, I texted the fridge guy and he said he’d be there in “about” an hour. I changed into my grubbies and set to work.

By the time I’d unloaded my purchases, the suitcases and bins I’d brought from Chelem, and lugged the ladder up to my bedroom, I was already beat since I hadn’t slept well at all last night. At any rate, I got started in my shower with a spray that promised it could handle the mould in my grout. It sure did! I couldn’t believe how well it worked without any scrubbing. I hope I have as much luck dealing with limescale downstairs.

I didn’t do anything else to the bathroom and instead moved to the closet as that’s where I wanted to put the things I’d brought. I put together a bucket of soapy water. In doing so, I discovered that the tap in the kitchen is very loose. That does it; I’m paying for a replacement myself. I think the sink can be salvaged, though.

As expected, the shelf and the top of the cabinets were very dusty, but, to my surprise, the ceiling fan wasn’t, and neither was the one in the bedroom.

I spent about a full hour on the master suite before calling it a day. I changed back into my nicer clothes and went around the corner to a little tienda to get a snack and a cold drink. Minutes after I came back, I heard a honk out front. It was about 90 minutes since fridge guy had texted so I figured that had to be him. It was!

The easiest way to get the fridge to the kitchen was of course through the service door and down the service corridor. The guys rolled it in place and told me to wait a few hours to plug it in. Of course, I’m not plugging it in just yet because why pay power for it? So I just left the doors propped open with some rags to make sure the doors don’t accidentally close.

So here it is!

The only issue with it is that the handle can’t be switched to the other side. But with the layout of the kitchen being what it is, I don’t think that’ll be a huge issue. The fridge is an LG brand and the fact that it was still super cold when it arrived tells me it’s not a cheap model. LG fridges start at about $5,000 here for the smaller size, so I think I did pretty well. I’m very happy with it and don’t feel that I settled the way I would have for the $1,500 one. This is a fridge I’ll be able to live with with for a long time.

It was then time to head to Costco and then back to Chelem to give Puppy his supper. His lordship was on his absolute best behaviour when I got in, greeting me politely, then staying out of the way while I brought in two loads of things. After that, I gave him a treat for being such a good boy and told him to go get his toys while I changed. Sure enough, when I came back out, he was waiting by my door with his rope for tug-of-war and his ball for fetch! By the time I’d worn him out, I was dead on my feet, so I had a swim and then settled in for a chat with my mother.

The house is going to need a lot of work to feel like “home,” but I feel like I took a step in the right direction today. I’ll head back next Wednesday with another load and will hopefully make it to a bank as well!