New Handyman

(Post 76 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

With the house, I sort of inherited a handyman that the landlady trusts. He does the air-conditioning maintenance and small plumbing tasks and electrical things as well. Unfortunately, he has become less and less reliable and he never even bothered to show up the last time that I had an electrical job for him.

This afternoon I messaged the landlady about the plumbing “emergency” I described in my previous post, and she gave me two other referrals for plumbers. I contacted both of them and one got back to me very quickly. The other one ended up calling me about an hour later, but I didn’t need his services anymore.

The plumber, Don Wilbert and I went back and forth on WhatsApp. Based on the photo I sent him, he advised me that it was a big job. That to do it right, you would have to take out most of the wall to get to the guts of the plumbing. I was all ready for him to say that. I don’t use that tap, so I suggested that we just add a stopper, and he said that was a good idea if I could live with that. I sure could and my landlady said that at this point it’s my house, to a point, so it was my decision, plus I was paying!

Don Wilbert arrived at 4 p.m. on the dot, as promised. He had brought the part he needed, so it was a very quick job for him and his helper. I was a little low on cash, but I hadn’t made a run out to Walmart to get more because I figured there was no way that job was going to cost me more than 600 pesos. It ended up being $450, but I only had a $500 bill, so I let him have the extra.

The two of them cleaned up completely, going so far as to ask me for a broom and a dustpan. So I knew that I wanted to keep his number in my phone. He gave me a business card to show me all the services he offers. Like a lot of plumbers, he does electrical and air-conditioning work as well. So I booked him for next week to install a light fixture in my kitchen above my sink! When he comes back I am also going to get a quote for service on my bedroom air conditioner as I’m getting a mouldy odour coming out of it. I cleaned the filter, but that didn’t help.

I know I am in this house at least one more year, so I’m really glad to have a reliable handyman in my contacts again!

Building Codes Aren’t a Bad Thing

(Post 75 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

Homes in Mexico have few water shut-off valves. So this resulted in the entire rooftop tinaco (water tank) emptying by the time I got hold of a plumber. I also have no water to the house until the plumber can resolve the issue (I don’t use this tap, so I’m going with the cheapest option of adding a stopper and plate over the opening). I do have water at an exterior tap that is in-line between the where the city water enters and the ground-level tinaco, so at least I’m not entirely without water until resolution. Always appreciate reminders that building codes exist for a reason and to be mindful of that when I renovate or even build my first home here!

(I have intentionally turned off comments to the blog. Feel free to email me.)

I Couldn’t Have Better Timed Adopting a Dog

(Post 74 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

I had no idea when I adopted Bonita two and a half years ago that we had come into each other’s life at the exact perfect moment. I needed a presence to keep me company and rooted in Mérida for a few years; she needed a home and creature comforts in her old age. It’s crazy how I had just started to get the travel bug again and was trying to sort out dogsitters when the pandemic hit. As things stand, I suspect I’ll be staying close to home for the rest of her life, which is what my anxious girl needs. We’ve grown so close since lockdown started, finding each other in a way that we had difficulty doing so in our first two years together. My being home all day every single day really gave her the routine and security she needs. She’ll always be an anxious dog wary of strangers but she knows for sure now that I’m her human and that she has a home, of which she is fiercely protective (it took a long time for her to find her voice, but now she’s not shy about using it!).

I don’t know how she knows it, but I’m no sooner up and about in my room upstairs in the mornings that I hear her barking up at my bedroom window. She’s had a night alone and is eager to see me. Our reunion is the best part of the day, when she is most playful and affectionate. If it rained overnight and she got wet and/or muddy, she gets a bath or at least a toweling down, the latter of which she adores.

Ours is a quiet, simple routine. She’s an old girl now (going on 15!) and while she often passes as much younger to those who have just met her, she has the energy of an old dog. By late morning, she’s happy to slumber at my feet or by my side on the couch, depending on what I’m working on. She likes one meal a day, and preferably at the same time as me. She’s developed a taste for cheese, homemade chicken broth, pork gristle, and cooked carrots, but will literally spit out fruit. Her favourite treats are jerky sticks that she can happily spend an hour chewing to pieces. Due to her immune system being weak and there being a lot of feral dogs in the neighbourhood, we don’t often venture out, but when we do, she knows we’re going to her Uncle Jan’s house, something we started doing again a few months ago. She loves going there and feels safe.

Here are some pictures from her lockdown so far, uploaded as WordPress decided they would be, so not in chronological order.

This was today. It was a cold wet day and it was funny to see her timidly head outside to pee and then race back to the warm cosy couch by me!

Cheeky grin!

She doesn’t snuggle a lot, so close contact like this makes my heart go boom.

We had some roof work done over the summer. Her sad expression at her view being blocked is pretty funny. She loves supervising workers!

She will sometimes extend her rear paw like that as an invitation to massage it.

Post bath. She loves snuggling up in a towel!

Snoring and farting. LOL!

Very rare snuggles!

The look of love!

Guard dog mode activated! This was HILARIOUS. My neighbour was working on his roof. She’d periodically run outside to our shared wall and bark up at him to stay on his side of it!

Happy to be visiting!

She’s shyer with Jan at home, but friendly at his house.

She even lets him pet her when she’s visiting.

She was snuffling and “running” in her sleep. I feel privileged that she trusts me enough to fall asleep so profoundly in my presence.

This is her leash for around the house, so I probably had workers. She was happy for a distraction.

When she stares at me like this, she slow blinks a message of “I love you” just like a cat does.

Enjoying her favourite treat! Her teeth had been bothering her for a bit, but it got sorted out.

I was shocked when sharing a picture of her with my professional association resulted in this post by another related professional association that follows their Twitter!

B and Dodger. Because she lived with so many cats and dogs, Bonita isn’t particularly bothered by animal strangers.

Sound asleep!

She’s just so cute. 🙂

These are different, chewier, treats. This one took her DAYS to finish.

She’s so goofy sometimes. Doesn’t she look like a walrus here?

I managed to get a picture of a rare time that she slipped her paw under my hand. She even curls it around to hold it.

Ah, another ritual. When dinner’s done and the kitchen is cleaned and I’ve shut down the office for the night and I’ve finally sat on the couch to watch a little TV, she has to give me a bath. I swear she’s a cat in disguise!

More rare snuggles

How can you not feel seen by such a stare?

Thank goodness she’s not a slobbery dog!

She LOVES ear scritches.

Awww.

I think he found the right spot!

This was during the heavy rain from Hurricane Zeta. Doesn’t look too bothered, does she?

I had a hard time imagining myself with a dog-friendly lifestyle and I can’t imagine it happening again. This was the right dog at the right time and I am so blessed to have her.

First Taste of the “Old Normal”

(Post 73 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

Bast said I should post a picture of my treasure haul from yesterday, so here it comes. But first, a little background.

Areas of high tourist transit, whether it be a snowbird destination like Mexico or a summer destination like the Yukon, are great places for locals to score high quality used goods at bargain prices. The short-termers, especially those with deep pockets, buy things for the time they are there and then discard them when they move on. March-April is the time in Mérida to buy used things like appliances, mattresses, and household goods in pristine condition and to expat standards of quality as snowbirds leave. I’ve seen a 20,000 peso refrigerator bought at Costco and used for four months sold for less than half that, and that wasn’t an oddity.

Of course, this year, the snowbird repatriation was a rather panicked affair. Folks took their first opportunity to go and did not do the careful preparations they normally would have. There was very much a sense of an evacuation.

Not everyone left. Some folks, even on tourist visas, realised that it was best to make their stand here. Others simply got stuck. It’s only now, as some countries are opening up and Mexico is being added to safe lists (waves to Switzerland!), that some of these tourists are leaving. So yesterday, I scored a haul of fantastic things, all but one of which had been on my “I really want that, but not at full price” list for a while, all from a Southeast Asia-based American nomad who got stuck here but is finally free to head off to his next destination in the Balkans six months later than planned.

My haul included:

– A set of Rubbermaid producer savers. I’ve had many people tell me these would work wonders for my problems with things like carrots going bad in my fridge, but at nearly 900 pesos for three plastic containers, I wasn’t willing to experiment.

– A 4-quart Pyrex baking dish (have duck eggs, 00 flour, and a pasta maker, lasagna is an inevitability)

– A silicon roasting rack. I’d never heard of such a thing, but I can think of uses for it and it was included in the total price regardless.

-A silicon springform pan. Now, this was a gift, pure and simple. I was supposed to get the three items above for an agreed-upon price, but he offered at arrival to throw this in. I’ve wanted a springform pan for ages, but couldn’t justify the cost for the one or two times a year I make a cheesecake!

The total value of these items on Amazon Mexico is about 2,500 pesos. I got it all for 600 pesos.

The seller’s location was just within walking distance of L’épicure gourmet boutique when hauling all those items, so I then hoofed it there to pick up the aforementioned eggs and flour. What a great hump day excursion. I hadn’t been that far in centro (Mejorada area) since probably last year!

Bonus Bonita pic for Bast. 🙂

Another Significant Commercial Improvement to My Neighbourhood!

(Post 72 of 233. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr!)

As expected, having the Walmart so close has been a game-changer for me. Sunday night, I wanted to make crêpes with my last egg. But I only had a little bit of almond milk left. I didn’t have to make the choice between having a delicious dinner or having milk for my coffee in the morning. I made dinner, then I took 26 minutes to pop out to Walmart and get the almond milk and some dog food.

But even more exciting than that, I now finally have a proper little produce store right around the corner from me! I’ve been trying not to get too excited, but she seems to have a steady schedule and to always have quality products and expanding based on client requests. I cannot believe how much I have missed being able to get my fresh produce daily like this. It’s almost like back when I was in Mazatlan and I had a veggie truck coming every day. The shop is about two minutes from me. So I’m there and back in under 10 minutes. It takes me longer than that to walk to the Chuburná market.

This morning, I wanted a tomato sandwich for breakfast! So I went and got tomatoes. She also had these beautiful guava that I wish you could smell. So I will also have those with breakfast as a nice treat. Her zucchini was perfect, so I now have a veggie stirfry planned for tonight. Today, I noticed that she added lettuce. She is very busy, so I can’t be the only person in my immediate area who is thrilled that she opened up. We’ve had a little veggie stand on that corner for a while, but it was very limited and not the best quality. All of her products are very fresh.

My neighbour the mechanic mentioned to me the other day that he sees me more now than he ever did even before lockdown. Funny how being able to do my errands so close to home so easily has really changed my routine. Things are opening up here. There are a lot fewer cases and we have had days with no deaths. It’s time to start going out a little bit. I’m still not going to be doing anything like going to a restaurant or anything that’s not strictly for survival. But I am comfortable with doing a little bit of my own shopping again instead of getting everything delivered. Getting fresh air and exercise off the treadmill has been good for morale!