Final Friday in Chelem

I didn’t have much work to do today so I got to have a lazy morning. I gave Puppy his bath, took my time with our breakfasts, and then completed the hour or so of work I had by about 11 (although a small non-transcription job came in around five). I then took my desk as apart as I could on my own and texted the movers to make sure we’re on track for tomorrow morning.

Since I had taken out my daily limit the other day to pay rent, I didn’t have enough cash left over to pay the movers. There is a HSBC in Progreso, so I figured I might as well go there today so that the movers don’t have to wait for me to make a bank stop in the morning.

I don’t like driving in Progreso (horrible roads, maze of one ways, traffic, little parking downtown), so I dropped my truck at Bodega Aurrera and walked the 1KM to the bank. I find the walk to be very pleasant, especially since I can stroll through the lovely Parque Independencia.

After making my withdrawal, I remembered that there was an ice cream shop very nearby with real creamy ice cream and that they had Oreo the time I went there. As it turned out, it was one block up from HSBC on the other side of the street. So that was lunch — perk of being a grownup. 🙂

I returned to Bodega to do a bit of shopping. I was hoping to find a dishwashing tub for my kitchen sink. I had a hard time with my dishwashing routine in Maz because I wasn’t used to having only one sink. It was only in Bulgaria that I had my ha ha moment. Dishes were rinsed and placed in a tub and then washed in there once a day or as needed, depending on quantity, leaving the sink free. Bodega had one tub, perfectly sized for a standard kitchen sink (tarja), in a nice thick plastic with handles for a mere $15… and it was turquoise. Easiest purchase I’ve made in a while. 🙂

Next, I grabbed a few groceries and helped some brand new Mexican arrivals from PEI pick out some edible butter. They weren’t shy about being out of their depth and so I helped them with most of the rest of their shopping. At the last minute, I remembered that I’d promised Puppy some eggs, so I grabbed a flat of those.

I got in and backed the truck into the yard so I could load it with almost all the rest of my possessions, including my printer and my computer chair. I also very carefully loaded an amazing gift my Chelem hosts gave me after seeing a picture of my china cabinet. Sneak peak with more details to come after unwrapping, cleaning, sorting, and putting away:

Tomorrow is a Mérida day. I have the movers coming here at 10:00 and am expecting water heater help at noon. I’m then going to go to a nearby used furniture store in the hope of finding an inexpensive dresser so I can start sorting out my clothes. I’ll then come back home to start putting together my office and kitchen.

A job came in for Sunday and I think I’ll stay in Chelem to do it. I can work from the couch or the hosts’ desk area, even if it isn’t ideal. This way, Puppy won’t be alone two days in a row and I’ll be able to finish up my garden and pool chores during work breaks.

Monday, I’ll bring everything but an overnight bag’s worth of stuff to Mérida and continue getting set up. I have a Costco run to do for my hosts and will need to be back in Chelem by 3:30ish, so it won’t be a super full day in Mérida.

Tuesday, my hosts have requested that I stay here until they arrive in mid-afternoon (they are landing in Cancún late morning and arranged for a car to bring them here, about a four-hour drive). So that will give me time to do any final little bits with the garden and get in my last cuddles with Puppy. I do want to get home not too late (before dark) and I’m sure my hosts will be tired anyway and glad to have the place to themselves to unwind a bit.

Everything is coming together well and I don’t feel overwhelmed at all with what needs to be done by Tuesday afternoon.

Of course, there will be tons to do at home from Wednesday morning onwards, but it should all fall into place since I won’t be losing so much time driving back and forth anymore. My desk in particular needs some work (this climate is not kind to particle board) and that will be my Wednesday project so that I can be ready to work Thursday morning.

The last several months have positively flown by. I really hope time stands still for the next little bit so that I can enjoy being in my first home since I left for London last June!


A keystone is something on which everything else depends. I first heard of the concept when it comes to homemaking on a forum I used to belong to. I used to have a hard time keeping a tidy home until I found out my keystones. Now, as long as I can deal with those, the rest comes together.

It was much of the same with setting up my new house. I was having a hard time moving forward until I could get the kitchen set up and I couldn’t do that with the existing sink and faucet. Both were disgustingly crusty and the tap was loose. I bought a new faucet a full month ago, but was only able to get it changed today. That meant that that was it for grunt work in the kitchen and that I could properly clean it and start setting up.

As a point of reference, here’s what the old faucet looked like:

The plumber got the new tap in in record time, but things looked worse when he left:

I would have like to have removed the old tap myself to have plenty of time to clean all the crusty bits under it, but one of the shut off valves was seized so I wasn’t able to do that. It’s really wasn’t pretty!

Well, I got in there with a scraper, steel wool, Bar Keeper’s Friend, and a green scrubby and greatly improved things. It’s still not perfect, but I left paper towels soaked in vinegar over them and that should further loosen things. But even so, I made a real improvement. Behold a sink I would actually want to use!

I then cleaned the counters really well and set up the microwave.

It’s really not a great place for it, but it’s the only three-pronged outlet in the room and was specially wired for it, so I’ll have to live with it there. I went out to Oxxo at one point to get water and to pay my power bill and ended up coming back with a decent ham and cheese croissant that I was able to heat up in the microwave. It worked well!

I can’t believe how much I look forward to spending time at that sink thanks to those windows!

I still don’t have all the storage I went for the kitchen, so for the time being, I set up my plastic table. Eventually, I want a stainless steel island, but I’m glad I waited because I don’t think I would have bought the correct size.

I’ve been pricing stoves and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy a brand new one. I’m always nervous when it comes to gas appliances and would have to hire a professional to install a used stove anyway. So I figured I might as well check the sales and buy from a store that will install for me. I’ve actually seen stoves that meet my strict criteria for less than $5,000 so this could easily be a November purchase for me. In the meantime, it won’t kill me to keep cooking on my hot plate.

I’m glad I turned the fridge on the other day because I’m able to do some tests. I put a bottle of water in it this morning and within less than an hour, it was forming ice! I’ve lowered it a tad and hope that my water will be liquid when I return on Saturday!

Once the plumber was gone, I put another coat of paint on my dressing table (spoiler: it looks amazing) and then did the kitchen cleanup. I then had to head out to run a few errands. I needed to pay the rent, the internet and water bills, and get some food. Rent needed to be paid at HSBC, internet at the Izzi store, and the water bill could be paid at a Comercial Mexicana. So it made sense to go to Gran Plaza as it had all three businesses I needed, plus a food court.

Gran Plaza is always a bit of a nightmare to get to, but I’m starting to learn my way around.

If you go the way Google suggests, you get caught in this spiral where you inch your way to towards Gran Plaza, but have to make a lot of turns and really go out of your way. I figured that if I took Calle 9, I could shoot straight over to Prolongación Paseo de Montejo and then easily get to Gran Plaza with no detours. Worked like a charm!

I did the bank first and learned that I can only take out $7,000 per day when my rent is $9,000. Thankfully, I had other cash! I just had to give the teller my landlord’s name and account number to do a direct deposit. Easy peasy.

I will pay my CFE (power) bill at the bank next time as well because Oxxo charged me $6 to pay it there. I know that’s not much, but fees add up! My power bill for the house being empty was just under $50 (yes, about 3.40CAD!). I can’t wait to see how much it will jump when I’m living there. I’m billed every two months for power.

Next, I went to the Izzi store and just had to give them my account number to pay with cash.

After that, I went up to the food court to buy what ended up being a ginormous “salbute de pavo,” (link goes to a picture) which is a fried masa base topped with shredded seasoned turkey, tomato, pickled onion, lettuce, and avocado. I couldn’t believe the portion for just $21! I have a feeling the stand where I get them won’t be there much longer, which is a real shame since their food is always consistently good. 🙁

Final stop of the day was Comercial Mexicana for a few groceries, a new mop for the cleaner, and to pay my Japay (“high pay” — water) bill. Unfortunately, their machine could not scan the bill, which was delivered to me super crumpled and dirty. So I have to find the actual Japay office to pay there.  The bagger explained to me that it’s near Chedraui, but I really didn’t have time for an extra stop as I had to get back for the cleaner. So I think I’m going to be a couple of days late paying that bill. 🙁 I could not believe how high it was — $249! That is the standing rate for two months with no water used at all. I have a sinking feeling that my water bill is going to be a bigger deal than my power bill…

I don’t think I’m going back to the house until Saturday, which is desk moving day! I’ve advised my clients that I’m basically off from Friday night to next Thursday morning, so I’ll be able to pretty much set up my office. The movers are also going to bring my dressing table upstairs. I measured and it should fit absolutely perfectly where I want to put it!

Also Saturday, my landlady is sending me help to light my water heater (I officially have a water heater curse). While he’s there, the guy is going to check to see how much gas I have, so that could be another bill coming up soon.

There was a bit of miscommunication with the cleaners in Chelem and they are having to come on Monday to prepare the house for the owners’ return, not Tuesday. So I think that I’ll bring the rest of my things on Saturday and keep in Chelem only a few clothes and my computer equipment so that I don’t have to rush Monday morning. That will really just leave me Sunday here in Chelem. I’ll still have to sleep here on Monday night because of Puppy, but I can spend Monday at home getting set up and be there for good by midday/early afternoon Tuesday, as planned.

I can’t wait for the dressing table to make it up to the bathroom so that I can start setting up that room. I need to figure out a fixed home non-travelling lifestyle earring storage solution, so I think I’ll spend part of this evening on Pinterest. 🙂

Current Mood: Teal

One thing you hear constantly about freelancing is about how precarious it is. You can be drowning in work one day and then, boom, nothing for days if not weeks on end.

But there’s an opposite to that that not many people seem to talk about — that when the work is flowing well, you have enormous power over your income. I have been working super long hours all week and refusing to say no to anyone, including taking a job super late job last night that was due this morning. I haven’t made up for my truck expenses, not by far, but I’ve at least been able to ensure that I can get most of the less expensive bits that I’m missing for the house. Not just that, when I got in the truck this morning, I knew for sure that I was going to spend the afternoon doing some painting. That was an enormous boost for my morale.

I finished the job around ten and then spent close to an hour making a few more boxes up and hauling them to the truck, as well as doing chores and playing with Puppy.

I made it to Mérida before noon, to my surprise, and stopped at the bank and then got brunch before going to Home Depot. I hadn’t planned to get my paint there, wanting to get to get to know my local suppliers, but I had to pick up something for the owners of the Chelem house so I figured I might as well kill the proverbial two birds with the same stone.

For the paint colour, I had a very clear idea in my mind of what I wanted and I found it on a Berel paint chip. Berel is a Mexican brand of paint of decent quality (as per reviews I’ve read). There is a Berel store right by my house, so I figured that if I ever needed more, I could go there. I had all the Spanish I needed for the transaction, saying I needed a gallon of glossy (“brillante”) paint for wood furniture. The clerk picked what base I needed and mixed up my paint in record time. It was perfect. I also happened to find the cabinet pull aisle, so, after being surprised by the low prices for several models I liked, I picked out seven of these beauties to replace the existing knobs on my dressing table. I hesitated between this orangey shade and the same ones in silver, but my love of blue and orange won out. I think I made the right choice!

When I got to the house, I unloaded my things and then I decided to see if I could bring the dresser in on my own. I started with the drawers and then discovered that the dresser was super light. Still way too awkward to carry up the stairs on my own, but it was no effort at all to bring it into the living room. It was filthy and I spent quite a bit of time cleaning it and removing stuck on gum (yuck!) and tons of cobwebs. I then sanded it well.

I started my painting with one of the bookcases, though, because I was so curious to see if my vision for what they could be was true. It was!

I didn’t do the others because I need to refine my technique as I got more drips that I expected onto the fixed shelves. I will probably lie the other ones on their back and paint them that way. But what a welcome burst of colour in a drab room!

While I was in the kitchen, I plugged in my fridge. It got super cold in seconds. I don’t think I’m going to regret that purchase! By the way, I saw on the locals classifieds what I am sure is my exact model of fridge in two different ads for $3,000 and $5,000, when I paid $2,000 including delivery! I done good on that one. 🙂

I gave my dresser a first coat and then did a first coat on the coffee table.

As a reminder, this is the before:

And here it is stripped of the disgusting fabric and with one coat of paint:

Not bad, huh? Sure I might eventually want to get something a bit prettier because the coffee table is literally the first thing you see when you come in the door, but that pop of teal against the brown couches will go a long way to making the living room more inviting. I’m not showing the dressing table until it’s done. 🙂

It was four by the time this was all done and I’d had enough for one day. I cleaned up (I look like a Smurf, but I at least got most of it off my hands) and took out the trash. Then, I headed to Chedraui to pick up coffee and a few other sundries. I happened to notice that you can buy chocolate-scented body wash in Mexico that smells good enough to put on an ice cream sundae!

It’s been a good day.

Nearly There

The last few days have been a bit of a blur. I’ve done really well earnings-wise for October and will be able to take the time off I need to make sure the house in Chelem is ready for its owners and that the house in Mérida is ready for her renter. 🙂

Today was a really good day in that I got a bunch of super lucrative rush jobs that took no time at all to complete. So even with all the work on my plate, I still had time to run into Chelem midafternoon to get Puppy some wet food and to test my truck again (it definitely is doing something I don’t like in low gear, but still felt and sounded better than it did coming home on Tuesday). I decided to treat myself for dinner tonight the way I did on Fridays in Maz and got myself some hot dog fixings and beer for dinner. 🙂 Somehow, even with interruptions, I was done by 6:40. Then again, I was at work very early.

The only thing on the calendar for tomorrow are my garden and pool chores and to take Puppy to the vet for a follow-up appointment. That will be a welcome break.

Sunday, I’m going to my house to see if I can line up a plumber to change my kitchen tap so I can really start setting up that room. I got a couple of quotes for moving the desk and liked one company because of the questions they asked, so I’ll be booking them for Wednesday or next Saturday (hopefully Wednesday).

My time here at the beach really is coming to a close. I still have no idea where the summer went — I know I missed a lot, but I had to type. I’m going to try to keep up this pace through the end of the year and then in 2018, I’m going to start working at taking at least one scheduled weekend off a month so I can begin to enjoy all that Mérida has to offer me.

I’ve been feeling really blessed these past few weeks. Blessed to be somewhere that I can handle with aplomb anything life throws at me. Blessed to be in good health. Blessed to be in such good weather. Blessed to have people who care about the little mundane things of my life. Blessed to have gone through what I’ve gone through in the past to give me the certainty that I’m exactly where I need to be.

Today Was a Really Long Day

Today, like Saturday and yesterday, I got up super early so I could get my day’s pressing work done in case I had to go to Mérida to pick up the truck. That didn’t happen yesterday. The mechanic texted me early yesterday afternoon to say that he was having trouble getting the part, but the right one should arrive at five. I called the rental car company to book for another day.

First thing today was one of Puppy’s special baths. He really likes those now! I’m really careful not to shock him with the water and he loves the rub down/massage with the shampoo. If he was a cat, he’d purr during the baths!

The rest of morning was “fun” since the internet was down. I called tech support and caught that there was a problem with the network somewhere between Chelem and Chuburna and they were working on finding the source. I missed about 90% of what the guy said, but caught the important bit that at least I wasn’t alone. Thankfully, TelCel had once again given me free bandwidth so I was able to use that to get done the non-transcription stuff I do in the mornings that needs internet access.

This morning’s message from the mechanic came in quite late. He said that he finally got the right part, but that it was going to be an extra $1,500 to do the job because it was a special order from Autozone. It would turn out that he would advise me that for any future work on Moya, he’s going straight there even if they are more expensive because they have the American parts catalogue. I wasn’t surprised by the extra funds (I always plan about 20% for contingencies), even if I was bummed by it. At least, by this point, a bunch of PayPal transfers had landed so I wasn’t having the cash flow issues I had over the weekend.

By the time he was able to confirm that he could have the truck ready today, it was too late to return the car on time, but I still raced into Mérida so that I could pay only an extra $150 for being an hour late rather than $550 for another day!

Before leaving, I put out half of Puppy’s supper ration. He doesn’t eat unless he’s hungry so I knew he likely wouldn’t touch it until dinner time. I could feed him the balance when I got home.

I made it to Mérida Centro in record time since traffic was very light. I remember walking along the Paseo de Montejo last year, watching cars at the roundabouts, and thinking, “Nope. Ain’t never driving here!” Yet, there I was today, driving downtown like I’d done it a million times before. I’d orientated myself before leaving, so I made it to the rental car company without needing navigation help and with no detours. The car was deemed okay and I was only charged the extra $150 despite the fuel gauge being a bit lower than it should have been. Very fair of them.

One of my favourite restaurants in Mérida, Pita, is right around the corner on the same block and I knew that it wasn’t going to be $150 for my favourite comfort food that was going to bankrupt me at this point. I went in and asked for a table right by the front door because I was hoping that the HP sauce lady would be able to come to me and this way, I could look out for her. That plan worked like a charm and she even gave me an extra $30 for my trouble — that’s a couple of beers! 🙂

Lunch was, of course, awesome. I don’t know if I just haven’t had falafel in so long that my sandwich tasted perfect because I forgot what good falafel tastes like or if they’ve improved their recipe, but dang! Comfort food is a real thing.

After that, I found a Scotiabank ATM and then it was time to finally figure out how to get a bus north from Centro. What I did was I walked south on 60, watching bus after bus that I could have taken drive by me, and essentially walked their route backwards until I found a place where a bus was letting people on. Get this — the bus was on a southbound street. It then basically did a spiral back to Calle 60. If I had not had complete confidence I was on the right bus due to having been here a bit, I would have asked to be let off because it took quite a while before we actually headed north.

I then got off at the wrong Calle 21. No idea how I did that, but I must not have been paying attention to my surroundings! Thankfully, that Calle 21 was less than 1KM from where I would have gotten off so it was a nice leg stretch and I enjoyed the cool breeze.

When I came in at about five, the mechanic said that he was halfway there and that there were probably two hours of work left, taking us to seven. I went into the house and puttered around for a bit, called my mother, and rewatched part of yesterday’s Star Trek episode to see what it will feel like to really relax on one of my couches (very nice!).

It gets dark around 6:40 now, so I got a chance to test all the light switches. Every one of of them worked, but I had a bit of a hard time finding the ones in the kitchen (one was on the wall beside the deep armoire and the other one was evident, but I needed to pull a fan chain first). When the lights came on, I was momentarily blinded! Well, I wanted a bright kitchen and I got it!

The evening was very pleasant and the neighbourhood was quieter than the beach most nights (!). Oh, I could hear some music and there was a guy who passed several times on a pedal cart who honked a lot (need to figure out what he sells because I’ve heard him during the day), but, really, if today was an average evening, I’m going to be very happy in Mérida. I can’t believe that I’m at the two-week countdown!

It was getting really late, probably around eight, by the time the guys were ready for a test drive, but they didn’t get far and told me adjustments needed to be made. By this point, I was starting to think I’d have to implement plan B, home by taxi and back by bus tomorrow, kicking myself for not having kept the car. However, I knew that I was essentially lighting a fire under their butt. If the work carried over to tomorrow, then I’d be in the same place because it’s obvious that the work day starts late.

Still trying to keep busy, I grabbed a pair of scissors I’d remembered to bring to the house (why, I can’t remember now, although I know I had a specific use for them…). I got to work cutting away the awful disgusting faux leather covering the coffee table and was rewarded with this!

It’s very solid. A couple of coats of glossy paint (and maybe even a little wood filler if I can find some) and it will be a perfectly respectable coffee table! Not bad for 10 bucks!

The guys were finally done at nine-ish. The mechanic gave me a heads up that some “odd noises” were to be expected as new parts are broken in, but to let him know if anything is concerning me because his work is guaranteed. He also gave me the bad news that my muffler needs work, but he doesn’t feel that is super pressing besides Moya being a bit louder at acceleration than she should be. If I’m going to keep her for another three years, I need to have the issue dealt with though. So that’s on the list for November. After that, he says I can have him look at the AC. Glad someone has my priorities straight for me!

He showed me the parts he pulled and while they didn’t look terrible, I could see the wear on them. He showed me how the only difference between those parts and the four kits he tried before getting one that worked was the location of the screw holes! Ford!!!

We settled up and then it was time to take her out. Well.. her clutch has been a bit “loose” since I bought her and now it’s “stiff,” sp you would think I’d never driven a stick before. It took three tries, with her conking out each time, before I was able to pull away from the curb! Had quite a laugh about that. By the time I made it onto Calle 60 and dealt with stopping and starting at a red light, I was fine even if it still felt like I was driving a new-to-me vehicle.

Croft commented on Facebook about my driving home in the dark. One of the first things I asked about when I got here in May was if it’s safe to drive back to the beach from Mérida after dark. I asked Mexicans and Canadians with different levels of tolerance to being in Mexico. The answer was an absolute yes. So I wasn’t concerned about that tonight, but I was concerned about my vision. Well, I had zero issues. I barely had any traffic coming towards me (what blinds me) and most of the way was well lit. Plus, I know where all the topes are!

Getting off the highway at my exit, I conceded that I was hearing some noises that I didn’t like and that something felt “off” when I was shifting. I couldn’t articulate any of it in English at this point, so I decided to wait until my next trip into Mérida to better determine what I was feeling and experiencing, then translate it into Spanish, rather than bother the mechanic tonight (I mean, what is he going to do?). Anyway, I got in without incident and I’m actually not concerned about not making it back to Mérida. I don’t think there’s anything majorly wrong, but maybe more adjustments need to be made.

Puppy was so happy to see me! He had zero interest in the other half of his supper and just wanted hugs, cuddles, and to play. I did my best to wear him out before making myself a quick snack of an English muffin with cheese (all I needed for my own late supper thanks to a filling lunch!). It’s now 11:45 and I’m seeing double and while I know there is more I meant to write, that’s all I’ve got in me for today. I bet I’m going to find a lot of typos tomorrow!