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.

Off the Map

I headed to the house today after the cleaner arrived. I’d packed the third bookcase, more bedding and clothes, and some additional kitchen things. Just before I left, my landlady texted to ask when an electrician could come by today and I said between 10:30 and 1:00 since I had an appointment at 2:00 outside of town. The cleaner was a bit late so by the time I got to my house at about 10:40, the electrician was waiting for me!

It took all of five minutes for him to diagnose that there is a problem with the wiring and that this wasn’t going to be a simple controller installation. I had a hard time understanding him since he spoke so fast and with a different accent than I’m used to, so I was shocked by how much I understood of a phone conversation he had. He listed a bunch of materials he was going to need for the job because he’s going to have to tap into the bathroom fan wiring. We made tentative plans for me to return to the house on Friday. If that’s the case, then I won’t go this weekend.

He left and I lugged in what I’d brought with me, then the fun part of my day began.

You see, I had quite an epiphany the other night. You know how sometimes a solution can be staring you right in the face? I don’t have a bed yet, brand new beds are expensive, and I still need a washing machine and a stove as well to be really comfortable in the house. If could postpone just one of those purchases right now, I could get the other two.

Well, I actually dabbled with the idea of buying a hammock in lieu of a bed, thinking I’d be more comfortable in one temperature-wise. That is what the locals have been sleeping in here for ages. But then remembered that I froze overnight in Mérida last winter and we’re already getting cold nights in Chelem so a proper bed would be comfortable for a part of the year at least. I was also leery of the learning curve to sleeping in a hammock since I’m such a poor sleeper. I definitely want to get a hammock at some point as I know I’ll be happy to have one next summer, but that was not the solution to my bed issue at this time.

Since there are two twin beds downstairs, I resigned myself to sleeping down there for a bit, even though I’m desperate to set up my master suite and settle into my proper routine here.

Which is where my epiphany comes in: move one of the beds upstairs for now. How obvious is that?! The beds are just about brand new and very comfy, with a pillowtop! I don’t wiggle around a lot in bed, so a twin is fine for now. By the time I’m going to need to bring the bed back down for a guest, I’ll be in a position to buy myself one.

So I took one of the beds downstairs apart and lugged the pieces upstairs. The mattress did not have handles, so that was the hardest part. I then dressed the bed with my spare set of sheets, one of the blankets I bought in Maz, an extra pillow I brought from Canada, and picked out one of the many small tables available in the house to use as a night table. Finally, two screws on a wall by the window gave me the perfect place to hang one of my paintings.

I will unfortunately likely need better window coverings as I don’t think the room is going to be dark enough so I have to investigate what’s going to be the easiest way to achieve that. Still, bedroom done! Real progress! 🙂

I took a break after that to see if the coffee table I bought a few days ago would work where I needed it to. It’s perfect — exactly the right height and size. Shame that it is covered in a very gross bright red faux leather.

However, as I suspected, it has a solid wood frame. I’m going to remove the faux leather and I’m pretty confident that after a couple coats of paint, the exposed frame will look really nice!

It was getting close to 1:00 by this point and I had to drive out all the way to the bowels of Kanasin, a community just outside the southeastern limits of the periférico:

That arrow at the bottom points to the last thing Google would navigate me to. My actual destination was off the map!

You see, I’d spotted an item on the garage sale site a couple of nights ago that I really wanted and which was still available. I learned quickly that there is more often than not no point in showing interest in an item if you can’t get in your car straight away to go pick it up. People don’t hold things if they can have cash right now because things go really fast. But this was such a lovely piece that I took a chance. The seller agreed to hold it for me until this afternoon, but checked several times that I was sure I was going to buy it because she had other buyers lined up.

The transaction started to make me a little nervous when, after I got through her text speak and appalling spelling and spent some time on Google Maps, I realised she was out of town. I was going to be quite pissed off if I drove all the way out to her and she’d sold the item out from under me. But I woke up to a text from her saying to call her on another number to let her know when I was leaving Mérida this afternoon, so that made me more confident.

The easiest and fastest way to get to her house was to drive back north to the periférico as if I was going to Progreso and then drive all the way around. The periférico is a really good idea, but don’t think it’s anything like a city bypass in Canada and the US. Exits and entrances are rather a mess and poorly indicated — you often have to drive quite a distance on the service roads to get on and off — and there are frequently bad accidents. Definitely not my favourite part of Mérida to drive, but for a situation like today, it was preferable to the shorter route directly across town as I would have spent twice as long baking in my truck!

The lady I was meeting up with told me to call her from a Willy’s supermarket by her house so that she could direct me. But as it turned out, she was in a planned community with well numbered houses and streets, so I found her on my own with no issues! The neighbourhood was quite creepy, with only one road in and then a bunch of identical streets radiating from it.

I was 40 minutes early and the woman having said she really couldn’t be there before 2:00, I drove back to civilisation to have lunch. It was lunchtime, so I had no trouble finding a cocina economica doing rapid business. I ordered “milanesa empanizada,” which is a thin breaded pork cutlet (like schnitzel).

This is what “Mexican food” really looks like, which I think may be a shock to some people.

I had a bowl of very thin black bean soup, spaghetti with tomato sauce, shredded carrots and cabbage (no dressing), cucumbers and tomatoes, rice, and the breaded pork. Not pictured are the tortillas, lime, and chiles I had to ask for that came with everyone else’s meal! The meal was not particularly memorable; tasty and generously portioned, but nothing special. However, at $35 (about 2.30CAD) I could easily justify having something like this several times a week for lunch instead of cooking. Of course, similar meals are a bit more expensive in the big city, but not much more. I had a half portion. The couple next to me had a full portion and ate off the same plate, making very interesting tacos out of their pork and spaghetti!

I thought I’d be rushed for lunch, but the seller texted to say she was running late, so we moved the appointment to 2:30. That would mean I wouldn’t have time to return to the house to drop off my purchase, but as it would turn out, it was bigger than expected and too much to carry on my own.

She finally showed up around 2:40 and helped me load this vanity into my truck:

It’s real a shame that the pink paint job is terrible because I could have totally lived with the colour! But as it is, it will drive me nuts, so it has to be redone. Since this was my housewarming gift from Contessa, it really does need to be painted a glossy teal-y blue-greeny colour anyway. 🙂

I’m really hoping it will fit in my master bath, but it’s a bit longer than I expected so it may not. The idea was to use it to store bath products, jewellery, first aid supplies, etc., and to get a nice basket for the “hole” in the middle to store towels. If it doesn’t work in the bathroom, it will fit nicely in my bedroom and still be able to hold many of those things. Thank you again, Contessa, for the gift as this piece is really a “want” more than a hard need right now and I would have talked myself out of it!

Well, it’s now 5:30 and much as that cold beer in the fridge is calling my name, I really need to go make a serious dent in my work queue. Tomorrow is going to be a monster otherwise!

Chelem Chicken

Amusingly, my work flow went from RED ALERT to wondering if I’m ever going to sleep again in the space of about 12 hours. I’m booked through to the end of next week. Wow!

Since things have been so slow, I’ve been taking it easy and haven’t felt much pressure to go out and run errands. So of course I’ve ended up with just about no food in the house and the nearest restaurants being closed. Therefore, huge work day be damned, I had to run into Chelem today for emergency rations.

I’ve been here, what, five months now? And I have yet to manage to time a trip to Chelem with the sale of chickens. I’m either way too early and they’re not cooked or I’m way too late and if there are any left, I’m concerned about how long they’ve been there because they really don’t look fresh. Today, I was determined to be there around 1PM, a time during which I’ve ascertained there should be cooked and still fresh chickens available.

First, I went to Willy’s to get some cheese as well as food for Puppy. I had cash, but decided to try my new debit card. It worked!  Unlike with Canada’s Interac system, the money is not yet debited from your account. It works more like a credit card, where your available balance changes, but the amount has to post.

I don’t know yet if there is a fee for using the debit card. I’ve had fees for depositing cash into the account and a PayPal transfer so I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m really starting to wonder if I will actually save money having the Mexican account, but regardless, the practicality makes it worth having!

I then went to a chicken stand almost right by Willy’s and, sure enough, there was cooked non-scary chicken left. I asked for the price of half a chicken. The lady sized me up and said, “Half is $55. Whole is $95…” I grinned at her and said I’d take the whole one.

I watched as she bagged it up for me, then added baggies of rice, salsa, and a mushy white thing. When I got the bag, I fished out the white thing and poked it, completely confused as to what it might be. So I asked.

It was mashed potatoes.

I’m still laughing at the look on her face at my question. It says a lot about my diet and my expectations for food here to not have recognised the contents for what they are! Since I was obviously new to the world of mashed potatoes, she slipped a second baggie of them into my bag, saying that I would find them so delicious that I’d need a second one. 🙂

One final stop for water later, I was home (and amused that Puppy was way more interested in the water than the chicken!). I laid out my lunch and tucked in. The chicken was great, of course, and much meatier than other chickens I’ve bought in Mexico. The rice was like the rice I recently has in Mérida and must be the way it’s cooked in Yucatán. I don’t care much for it, to be honest. I didn’t sample her hot sauce, saving it for leftovers since I’d had hot sauce at breakfast and was still feeling it. As for the potatoes, they were very tasty indeed! It’s a rare day that I prefer spuds over rice!

Thanksgiving is on Monday, so I should have at least one leftover meal of the chicken and spuds with gravy, peas, and carrots. 🙂 I’ll miss the cranberry jelly, but I’d have to go into Mérida for that and that’s not happening until at least Saturday. But, hey, at least when I get to Mérida I can actually afford to go pick up a few pieces of furniture and get some paint mixed up! The tides of fortune do ebb and flow… 😀

Autumn Comes Even to Yucatán

I can’t believe I’m down to my last weeks here!

Unfortunately, my house move isn’t going to go as planned/hoped for. After starting off super strong, September (and the past several months!)’s workflow dried up overnight and October is promising to be more of the same. For the first time in ages, I have to take things day by day. Thankfully, I’ve so far been able to pretty much fill all my work days, but I forgot how stressful it is to sit and wait for work to come in!

I have touched base with all my clients to confirm that they’re just slow and that there’s nothing wrong with my performance and was suitably reassured. Usually, I can just enjoy these slow periods and the free time they bring, but finances are super tight, as one can imagine they would be at this setting up a home stage. So this means I’m focused on essentials only right now and have to be prepared to move into the house pretty much as-is. Thankfully, I have everything I need to be comfortable!

I’m again super grateful that I rented a house with so much good furniture. I don’t care that I’ll have to keep cooking on a hot plate for the foreseeable future, not when I have three comfortable places to sit and dine, a proper workstation, a bed (even if it’s in the wrong room), a couch to relax on, and a fridge to keep the beer cold!

A certain someone did send me a housewarming gift (thank you again!) and I am watching the classifieds so I can spend it on either shelving for my kitchen or a storage solution for the master bath! And, of course, I’m still planning to move and paint the desk before the end of the month. 🙂

That’s what’s going on on the new house front. There was some excitement here in Chelem over the weekend in that I had to take Puppy to the vet. He’s thankfully okay and our bond has strengthened since he was such a good boy on his adventure. I sure am going to miss him! It was really gratifying to be able to handle the whole situation in Spanish although it took a few tries before the vet thought to say “Does he have an anti-scratching necklace?” for me to understand that she meant a flea collar!

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year or so pet sitting and I’m glad to have had my only real vet emergency at the end of it or I might never have done this again. Pet owners: empower your pet sitters! It was really reassuring to have permission and funds to do what needed to be done to give Puppy the best care possible. Again, he’s fine and this was not a life or death situation, but it was still not much fun to have to tell a pet owner that their baby is in less than optimum condition!

At any rate, to my surprise, even here in the tropics, it is most definitely autumn. The days are super short — it’s fully dark around 6:45, meaning that I have to do my outdoor chores much earlier in the day and then finish my work quite late to make up for the long lunch — a great way to ease myself into more of a Mexican schedule! It’s also surprisingly chilly in the evening and the pool has been downright cold! I don’t enjoy an after dark before bed swim anymore and it’s even not that nice at 4ish. Today, I swam around 2ish and didn’t last long. Quite surprising!

Here is a photo I took on Saturday evening (last evening in September). In Mexico, there are palm trees at the end of the rainbow….