Days For Dreaming About the Taco Faery

I didn’t do much yesterday since I was in work mode, including having a long client meeting via Skype at 3:30.

At about 5:00, I went out to my neighbourhood’s “downtown” to see what was open around that time — very little! I did see that our central market is under construction/renovation so it should be a much more pleasant place to shop than the one in Centro. It looks quite large too.

I popped into the Super Aki to see if anything would look good for dinner. I picked up a couple of potatoes, onions, and carrots, then went to the meat counter. The butcher was putting out pork “milanesa” (very thin filets very popular in Yucatecan cuisine) that looked very fresh so I asked for two, which came to 17 pesos. Add in my veggies and dinner and lunch for today cost me about 2CAD total! I forgot how much cheaper it can be to shop at the little neighbourhood stores!

I came in, made dinner, scrubbed the kitchen down (something that needs to be done at least once daily due to bugs and mould from the humid climate — living here is making me a much better housekeeper!), and then crashed hard. I actually hadn’t sleep too badly the night before, definitely my best night since I got here, but the lack of sleep has been catching up with me!

Today is more of the same since I have a really big project due in the morning. Early afternoon, a lady came by to pick up those curtains I wasn’t able to return. I only lost 60 pesos, or 4CAD. I can live with that!

I then did some chores to help digest my lunch, including washing some washcloths and unmentionables. My laundry room is amazing… Sure, it’s not pretty, but…

…I have a built-in scrub board!

I don’t know how I lived all those years of washing laundry by hand without having such a thing!

I washed the clothes in my big blue plastic tub, scrubbed on the board, rinsed under the tap, wrung out, and then placed on my clothes drying rack outside.

Before I bring in a washing machine, I want to do a big scrub of that room as it’s only been surface cleaned and then it will be a room I will be happy to spend time in. It’s incredible how few houses I’ve been in in the last few years have space to really work on your laundry, especially scrub out stains. I can’t wait to get myself a few bars of Zote soap (a great stain remover) and to finally be able again to do laundry properly!

Before I got back to work, I had my first tea break since I moved in! Use the good stuff daily, okay? Don’t let it just gather dust waiting for “some day.”

By 6:00, I knew I was in over my head with my current hearing transcription and it was going to be a LATE night. I took a deep breath and called the nearby taco joint to order for delivery an “order” of al pastor meat, which they claimed is enough for about five tacos. I had no trouble placing the order (I’m starting to sense a theme — will the wonder that I’m comfortable using the phone now ever wear off?!)  and hung up feeling hopeful that the taco faery would find me.

Thirty minutes later she (actually he…) did! I had to laugh at the squinty look the delivery guy gave me when he handed me $20 of the $30 owed for change from my $100 note. I had fully intended to give him $10 and was glad for the confirmation that that was a fair tip. My total with tip and delivery (actually not sure if there’s a surcharge for that) was $80, which is just over 5CAD!

They had heeded my request for all the toppings, even including fresh pineapple, but there were none of the salsas and limes I’d asked for. I was bummed for a second before remembering that I have tons of limes and my two favourite salsas (green and avocado) on hand at all times! I am having such a hard time adapting to the local culture… 😀

I had this left over after I’d eaten four tacos (six tortillas between them)!

That will be an amazing breakfast and possibly lunch tomorrow. 🙂

Now, back to that hearing. Why, why, why do these folks not think to rustle their paper away from the microphone?!

Cultural Norms

My first Monday wasn’t productive work-wise, but I got some other things done. I really need a solid night of sleep. 🙁

The propane delivery folks came by in the early afternoon and were super efficient! I bought $700 worth — about 60L. I doubt that even made a dent in the capacity of the tank, but I didn’t have a few thousand pesos to drop on this today! I’m always amazed by how not scared of heights Mexicans are and how much they trust their ladders! I’m sad that I was so surprised that half of the two-person team was female.

I may have walked backwards into a ginormous cactus to take this picture and still be picking spines out of my arms and shoulders.

Tank partially filled, I was given a proper electronic bill printed from the back of the truck and which I paid in cash. Then, I had no trouble lighting the water heater (it really does help to have propane…). After letting the water run a bit, I had hot water in the bathrooms, but not in the kitchen. My landlady says she never used hot water in the kitchen and checked with her husband, only to confirm that the kitchen is not plumbed for hot water.

This isn’t shocking because I learned in Maz that it’s the cultural norm here to wash dishes in cold water and that it is just as hygienic. I did that in Maz, but never really got used to it. I’ll keep using my kettle for the time being, but, who knows, maybe in a few months I’ll be in a mood to following the plumbing and see if I can determine the complexity of getting hot water to the kitchen…

The rooster situation has reached a crisis point as there are more and it sounds like several neighbours now have them. I was woken for a solid hour last night listening to headache-inducing concerto and am at my breaking point.

I can just see some lurkers going, “Oh, look at the stupid expat not able to adapt to life in Mexico.” Well, roosters on rural Isla were one thing. Roosters in the city are another. My landlady completely agrees with me that they are unacceptable and has assured me that I am not being an intolerant expat. Proof? Mérida has bylaws against roosters in the city. If the roosters aren’t gone in a few days, she’s going to town hall!

The city noises, especially the constant music playing, don’t bother me at all. The neighbours had a party Friday night and their music just became white noise that lulled me to sleep. Soon as the roosters are dealt with, I’ll be able to sleep well here. Right now, it’s about on par with the zeds I was getting in Chelem, which are just enough to function, but not enough to perform at peak efficiency. Hopefully, this will get sorted because work is picking up again!

Sunday Evening In Centro

I thought I had three easy jobs to do today, but they took forever. I couldn’t believe it was 3:00 by the time I could go do something fun! Much as I am keen to start exploring my neighbourhood, there was a craft and book fair at Plaza Grande downtown that I wanted to check out and which I knew was going on until late so it didn’t matter if I was heading out as many things were closing. I decided to take the bus to Walmart to return my useless curtains and then walk from there.

A bus was slow to come since it’s Sunday, but I finally headed south. The Walmart associate was very friendly and kind, but informed me that I couldn’t return the curtains since they were on the liquidation rack — something that was not marked! 🙁 I figured I could probably sell them on the garage sale site, but now I had to lug them around. Dang!

Off I went down Paseo de Montejo, the part of Mérida I discovered when I was here last February and which made me fall in love with this city. I love strolling down this boulevard!

This ad made me think of me:

My house: Haven. My home: the world.

Need to check out this Korean place at some point since it’s a cuisine I’m not familiar with. There is enough of a Korean population here that this is likely decent.

There was a really lovely exhibit showing off Canada as a remarkable travel destination (although I had to laugh that most of the photos showed off cold Canada!).

This is what they used to represent SK?! LOL

CN Tower in Toronto!

Palais des congrès, Montreal:

Ottawa Tulip Festival:

Every province and territory was represented, showing the diversity of the immense country that Canada is. Nicely done campaign!

I had the northern streets of Centro all to myself. What a lovely evening for a stroll — so cool and quiet.

Things got busier as I went further south on Calle 56. I stopped at an ice cream shop that I will never go to again for three reasons. 1) They have “pastel” ice cream, which is vanilla full of chunks of super chocolately cake that is even better than cookies and cream; 2) Their “chico” (small) is my idea of “extra grande;” 3) It was only $20. 😀 Yes, it was wonderful. 🙂

I made it as far south as the Lucas de Galvez Mercado. Oh, that area of Mérida — the market and the streets around it — is nasty. It still reeks of urine and is absolutely filthy. The mercado was closing, but enough was open to remind me that I really have little interest in shopping there for pleasure and that I can’t wait to see what our little market here in Chuburná de Hidalgo is like. Add the Maz mercado as another thing I miss from that city.

I cut across to Calle 60 and came up to Plaza Grande, where the party was in full swing, super “bassy” music and all.

I wandered around in a bit of a spiral, hoping to find a few skirts (the ones I came across were too flimsy), and then focused on books.

I picked up these three books of Yucatecan, Sinaloan, and Mayan legends for only $50!

And these beauties for $120:

I have a very similar pair in blue that are round with a daisy and which I picked up in Mazatlán. I adore them, but they don’t go with many of my clothes. I’ll wear these more often. Bonus, they’ll remind me of three cities I love — Mérida where I bought them, and Amsterdam and Ottawa for their tulips!

I was pretty tired by that point and the music was getting to me, so I headed behind the cathedral, where a bus that I could take was picking up passengers. After a brief wait, we were on our way. It was a terrifying ride and I was sure that we were going to get in an accident. The woman sitting next to me repeatedly making the sign of the cross and muttering Psalm 23 did not inspire confidence. I finally asked to be let off quite a bit earlier than I needed to be, but decided I had sufficiently tested fate!

(Oh, look at that, I just very likely sold the curtains for a tiny bit less than I paid for them — yay!)

Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind, although I don’t have tons of work to do. I’m expecting a gas delivery, so it will be a home day unless they are here early. I still have work to do in the kitchen before I can call stage one of setting up the house done and that will be a priority so that I can start easing into a routine.

The house is feeling really comfortable. Parts are still quite a bit echoey, but it really doesn’t feel as huge as I expected it to. The bit that startles me the most for some odd reason is the upstairs landing, which is really another room. But I’m not anywhere near ready to set up my painting studio yet since I have other financial priorities. When I’m ready, though, it will be an amazing place to create.

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.

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.