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.

Mise en place

Today’s progress was marked more in the new number of bruises obtained and my level of exhaustion by 2PM than by actual progress at setting up at the house.

At any rate, after several super long days of work, I managed to get today off (but will pay for it tomorrow!). I wanted to bring a couple of my bookcases to the house and another load of kitchen things.

But first, it was bath day for Puppy, the third of a series of baths with a special shampoo to clear up his skin issues. I let him have his breakfast, we played a bit, and then I told him, “Sorry, buddy, it’s bath time.” He cocked his head at me and I repeated what I said. He promptly went to the bath area to wait for me! He was utterly relaxed during his bath, did not go play in the dirt during the 10 minutes the shampoo had to sit, and waited till I’d let him loose from his leash to shake off the rinse water. I didn’t even get wet! He’s had a bath a week (at least) since I got here and while it’s never been a huge production, I’ve still been bathing a very active pit-bull puppy not super keen on getting wet and it’s been work. He’s been so good since we came back from the vet, like our bond has deepened.

His best behaviour continued all morning as I brought the truck into the compound and began to load it since he did not get underfoot. The bookcases were just at the limit of what I could move a short distance on my own and load into the truck without damaging them. I added to the truck two more boxes of kitchen things and my water crock.

Off I went around 10:30, stopping in Chelem for fuel, once again using my new debit card. In town, I stopped at Galerias to empty my Scotiabank account and next door at Costco for a slice of pizza (pretty sure I got yesterday’s leftovers at that hour!).

I then headed to Office Depot as I’d been told they might carry something I needed, but nope. I went across the street to the Super Aki to look for a few things for the house, but came out empty-handed. My detour to the area was not in vain since I was able to get some fresh pita at the Lebanese bakery before going back to my truck. 🙂

My house is very centrally located, but that does not mean it’s super convenient to get to by vehicle because of all the one ways, no left-turn intersections, and divided roads. As a case in point, here are my options to get from Office Depot to my house by vehicle:

And on foot!

It’s about two thirds the distance on foot! At any rate, one stop at Oxxo to top up my cell phone later, I was at the house. I was less than impressed that someone was blocking the only garage door I can use with my truck, but I knew that a non-confrontational conversation with the mechanic next door would solve that.

I then went in and realised that I’m starting to feel really comfortable in the house. It’s slowly becoming mine. I enjoyed my pizza lunch and then got changed to go to work.

The bookcases needed to come in through the service entrance, so I went to open up the doors and gates for that.

I was surprised to find a bunch of what I think are sour oranges on the ground in my service corridor.

I looked up and realised that it is going to rain citrus fruit at my new house!

Best part? I know for sure that tree doesn’t belong to anyone so as soon as I can figure out what the fruit is and the best time to pick it, I can help myself!

When I got to the truck, there were a few guys standing in front of the mechanic’s shop, so I asked them about the truck blocking the garage. One guy said it was actually his, not a repair vehicle, apologised, and said he’d move it straight away. I told him it was fine for today, but by the end of the month, he’d have to find a new parking spot. He said of course, they’re just getting used to having somebody at the house again, and promised to not do it again. We shall see. I know my landlady has talked to the mechanic several times about cars being parked in front of the house and that at this point, in a very worst case scenario, I’m justified calling for a tow truck. At one of my earlier visits, I thought I’d have to do that since I was parked in a parking bay and a car was parked in front of its entrance after I’d arrived. Thankfully, the mechanic was around that day!

At any rate, I then brought one bookcase in and it was awkward, but I managed. I got the second one out of the truck and onto the sidewalk, then went in for water and a breather when I overheard the little boy next door yell, “DAD! The neighbour lady needs help carrying something heavy!” I went back to the street and sure enough, there was my neighbour waiting to help me! I think he and his wife will be good allies. We’ve introduced ourselves already, but I’m unfortunately horrible with names. At any rate, the ice is definitely broken with them. The two couples across the street who also live in gated homes are much less friendly.

Once the bookcases were in, I then thought that I might be able to at least remove the old faucet so I could clean up the gunk under it, if not replace it entirely myself. That would let me start setting up my kitchen. Unfortunately, I ended up having to give up on that because one of the shut-off valves was seized up and I forgot to ask where the water main is for the house (most likely answer is on the roof!).

This handsome fellow supervised my work:

It was only as I came in from taking that picture that I realised that there’s a mop and broom holder outside! So that’s where the maintenance guy left my mop. How logical! 🙂 Notice the super convenient bucket filling station next to the holder!

I cleaned the top part of the buffet and put a few things into it:

My beloved teapot (first thing I ever bought for my first home), two Lipton collectible teacups that came from my dad, and my dad’s serving platter.

Now, the bookcases. I had an epiphany the other night as I was crunching numbers. I have three large, beautiful, and sturdy bookcases, but nowhere near enough books to fill them, plus I have the built-in bookcase in the office. Why not save some cash right now to put towards something more pressing and use the bookcases in the kitchen for the time being? I can always later upgrade to metal shelving.

So the super deep cabinet will likely hold pots and pans, mixing bowls, plasticware, and the like. This bookcase will hold small appliances, plates, glasses, etc.

This one by the fridge will hold food.

I would have liked something closer to the stove, but I’m not sure that that will work with the flow of the room.

I still intend to get a stainless steel table for the middle of the room. I know the kitchen is going to get to get turned around many times until I get it right, but I can’t wait to get started on kitting it out for the first time. 🙂 Oh, and, yes, there are under counter cabinets, but like at my house in Maz, it’s a damp and smelly space under there. I’ll put cleaning products, my bucket, and similar things under there, but not my good kitchen things!

Now, why did I not immediately set up the bookcases with shelves (which I’d brought down on my last trip!)? Because I intend to paint the back of them and I’m waiting for all my furniture to land to paint everything at once. 🙂 I also want to find some non-skid shelf liner, which I know exists here, but which is proving elusive (I’m going to try Walmart on my next trip to town).

It was only on a trip up to my bedroom for what I don’t remember since there’s nothing up there! that I realised that my landlady forgot to have a controller installed for my ceiling fan. I’m going to be needing that fan! I took a picture of the wires so she’d know exactly what I was talking about and sent her a text asking if she could still have this done for me even though I took possession of the house. I also told her a few days that I know I will be at the house. She got back to me right away confirming that she will schedule an electrician for me on one of those days.

By the time all this was done, it was almost three and I needed to meet up with a guy selling a coffee table. As it turned out, he was in Xcumpich, right by Bodega Aurrera, where I wanted to stop on the way back to Chelem. So it made sense to head north earlier than I’d planned.

I managed to get right on top of the map pin he’d Whatsapped me, but was not able to find his address. So I texted him and when he described his house, I burst out laughing since I was standing right in front of it.

I’m not sharing a coffee table picture yet as it’s going to be a Project. It’s super hideous, but for $150 it will be worth seeing if I can do something nice with it. I think it’s going to be the exact right height and size for my living room. If none of my ideas pan out, no biggie. It was just the only coffee table I’ve seen in any condition at a price I was willing to pay! I mean, it’s just something for me to put my feet up on. 🙂

Next stop was Bodega and I continue to suspect that I’ll be shopping there a lot. I really love its bakery — it has doughnuts that would give Tim Horton’s a run for its money and it has this really nice marble cake with chocolate icing for a ridiculous $7 a slice. I’ve had it four times now and have never been disappointed. I also picked up a couple of pieces of fried chicken and some seasoned potato wedges for linner when I got in. I do a lot of exercise on my town run days and have no trouble justifying treats! 🙂

I really need to get a moving date nailed down for the desk because I’m going to want to put at least two coats of paint on it. The way it breaks down into sections, I know I could move it on my own, but it would be four trips, unless I completely dismantle it. So I’m hoping the offer to move it still holds. I’ve checked in twice about that now and am at the point where I don’t feel comfortable asking a third time, so I’m hoping the guys get back to me this week…

I’m going back to town on Wednesday since it’s cleaning day here. I’ll likely bring the third bookcase, but otherwise don’t have much else to bring at this time. There are a few paint stores right by my house, so I’ll go into one and put in an order for paint. I hope that like in the US and Canada, they can colour match since I have some plastic containers that are the exact shade I want. I’m inspiring myself from the house in Hebden Bridge, which used a high gloss robin’s egg blue paint to tie the house together, and will use the colour I picked out as my “neutral,” reserving pink, orange, yellow, and lime green for accessories.

Next project — I really need to find some dressers for my room and the master bath! That will let me start setting up my master suite. I also need to find something to sleep in and what a project/adventure that is going to be…

It’s been a really good day. I’m so happy to be living here.

Wonderful Gifts

I headed to my house this morning. First stop was the DHL office in Xcumpich. You really can’t miss it in the direction I was coming from because there is a huge yellow wall with DHL written on it. I almost missed the entrance into the parking lot, though. My truck really is too big for town and I’m always happy when I find a little shopping plaza like this with widely spaced stalls, lots of room to back up, plenty of parking, and only one way and out, making for easy circulation.

The outlet was neat and well organised, a place I’ll be happy doing business. I told the clerk my tracking number and gave him my ID. He had no trouble finding the package and then I signed for it. Later, I got an email from Amazon confirming that someone by my name had picked up the package…

I then headed home eager to see what gifts my landlady had left for me. When I saw this on my front porch, I almost started crying, I was so grateful:

This was pretty much the last thing I expected to find — a cute little bistro set for my back patio!!!

Now, I don’t need to move the furniture from the other terrace. AND this is something I really hoped I could find at some point. My hosts here have a bistro set and I just love it. I don’t know what it is about sitting up with my feet off the ground, but it’s a different experience than sitting at a regular-height table. I love having my coffee and checking my emails outside on slower mornings and I’ll be able to continue that. So happy. 🙂

Why is there only one chair? Well, now I’m not in a hurry to buy a bar stool! It’s not clear from the picture, but the chairs are pink! 🙂

She also left this little table that while not a necessity is a nice-to-have. I can imagine putting a plant or decorative object on it:

There is one really nice light sconce in the hallway/stairwell area:

I doubt that it is a coincidence that this lamp she also left me matches the sconce perfectly:

Yay for a lamp! Now that I think about it, I imagine I could use that glass table as an end table by my Poang chair and use the lamp for reading. 🙂

So that was the good news when I showed up. The bad news is the internet wasn’t working. After a very frustrating call to technical support, I think I understood that they can’t help me until Monday. I’m not impressed, of course, but I recognise that if I’d been at the house on Thursday or Friday, I could have gotten the ball rolling faster. Anyway, I expected hiccups like these and that’s why I started the process so early.

After dealing with that, I texted the gal selling the shelving to make sure I could still come by and while waiting for a reply I brought in a few boxes (and my Poang chair) from the truck. When she got back to me, it was to say that she was really sorry, but she couldn’t meet me today after all. She’s at the way southern end of Mérida and I really didn’t feel like going out there today, but I want those shelves. I told her that I’m in no hurry, but I really want turquoise ones. If she can hang on to them till Wednesday, they’re as good as sold. She promised that she won’t sell them to anyone else and we made tentative plans to meet up Wednesday…

Then, I decided to make one last pass at the sink. Getting it replaced would be super cheap, but that’s still money I could spend elsewhere and I also really wanted to make an effort and not just throw money at a problem simply because so many things here are so inexpensive. That’s no excuse to be wasteful. Well, I’ve spent some time on DIY forums and come to the realisation that the steel wool I’ve been using is way too abrasive to actually buff the sink. Everyone recommended the green scrubby pads, preferably in the Scotch brand, for buffing.

Boy do I wish I had properly documented the sink’s transformation…

When I first viewed the house, the sink had rust spots and the drainboard was entirely rusty. You couldn’t even see any silver. It was all dark orange. It completely put me off the house, it was so bad.

I don’t have a good shot of it after someone went at it with steel wool prior to my second viewing, but it was quite remarkable that they got the drainboard back to silver:

I scrubbed some more with steel wool and Barkeeper’s friend, finishing with vinegar, but the sink was still augh and the drainboard ew.

And now today, after buffing with with a green Scotchbrite pad and Barkeeper’s friend, a scraper tool I just happened to find in my truck, and then with a soft cloth and vinegar:

Yeah. That’s what I thought too. And it wasn’t even as much elbow grease as you’d think. Now, I just need to wax it to seal it. The taps are still going though!

I decided to set off in search of wax. First stop was the Super Aki a few blocks down. This is a small, but “proper” supermarket. It will be so great to have it right there for staples.

En route, I passed an ice cream vendor in a peddle cart. He had coco or elote (sweet corn). I know I need to try the elote at some point, but I had coco in a sugar cone. What a great treat!

Super Aki didn’t have any wax, but I picked up some lovely pink hangers for my master closet-room and some garbage bags. I then walked up Calle 20, a main thoroughfare, hoping one of the chicken stands would be open that early (almost noon). No luck and no car parts place either. There was one other chicken place sort of on my way home if I essentially wanted to walk around the block, so I decided to check it out and they were open! Half a chicken with rice, coleslaw (!), and tortillas was $50.

I came in and eagerly tucked into my meal. The chicken was amazing. I forgot how good is Mexican charcoal chicken. The rice was a bit bland and the coleslaw not quite to my taste. So good chicken, not great sides. I’ll have to try a few other places. But I definitely got my $50 worth!

After lunch, I decided to go for a walk down Calle 60 to see if I could find a car parts place, but the only possibility was closed. I meandered my way back home through small streets, marvelling at the economic diversity of my neighbourhood, with stunning homes built right by literal shacks.

I then headed out, stopping at Bodega Aurrera for some much needed groceries, before pointing Moya towards Chelem where, exhausted as I was, I could not resist a puppy who greeted me with a toy for us to play. 🙂

It was another good day in Mérida except for one bit of really distressing news that is making me consider reneging on my lease:

Someone in the neighbourhood just got a rooster.

FedEx vs. DHL in Mexico for Amazon Orders

Some months ago, I failed at getting an Amazon delivered order here in Chelem. Actually, the failure was on FedEx’s part. Despite having very clear directions and my phone number, they could not be arsed to get the package to me nor would they agree to let me pick it up, saying their depot isn’t set up for that. I ended up sending the package back to Amazon and Amazon left some generous credits on my account to try again.

One of the items in the order was a Moleskine notebook that I now find myself needing again, having nearly exhausted the notebook I bought locally to make do. With Amazon’s credits, buying the notebook online made tons of sense as it would be fully half what I would have paid had the local bookstore brought it in for me. So I ordered the notebook on Tuesday and paid a ludicrous (as in I can’t believe how cheap it was) $150 for overnight delivery to my house in Mérida since I was planning to be there on Wednesday.

Then, we had an earthquake. Amazon’s depot is northwest of Mexico City, so probably not really impacted by the earthquake in terms of damages, but certainly in terms of telecommunications and roadway access.

Thursday, Amazon emailed to let me know my package had shipped and I was being credited the $150 since I would not get the package until Monday.

So imagine my shock when I got a phone call later Thursday (which I just realised was yesterday — it’s been a couple of long and full days!) from DHL here in Mérida saying they hadn’t been able to deliver my package! I was a bit shocked, needless to say! Shocked that it was here so fast and shocked that they’d called.

I told the man that I would not be at my house until next Wednesday and asked if I could pick up the package since that would be easier for everyone. He said yes and hung up before I could ask him where.

This morning, I checked my tracking number and my package status had changed from failed delivery attempted to “ready to be picked up by client.” Still no address. I thought that they might have left me a little paper at the house, but I wanted to know now where it is because they might be open on Saturday and it might be more convenient to go there first thing tomorrow and rather than going first to the house.

I went to the contact page on the DHL website and was going to call when I saw a chat option. I much prefer chatting to speaking to someone, so I tried that. I put in the package tracking number and asked where I could pick it up. I had to wait about five minutes for someone to respond with an address in a place I can’t even pronounce: Xcumpich.

I put “Xcumpich DHL” into Google Maps and it promptly spitted out a location… between Chedraui and Bodega Aurrera that is open between nine and one tomorrow. Talk about convenient! It’s barely a detour to swing by there on the way to the house tomorrow so I don’t care that I’ll have to go back later in the day to get my groceries.

It’s been quite a journey to get that notebook, but considering that they are 30CAD plus tax in Canada and about 60CAD here in store and that I’m getting it for 10CAD, all the hard work has been worth it! And before anyone asks, yes, it is a special type of notebook. 🙂

I’m glad I planned to go to the house tomorrow — my landlady no longer has keys for it, only for the main person gate from the street, and she just texted me to say that she left me some presents in the parking area, “a small table, a few chairs, and a lamp.” Very curious to see what they are! Considering how nice everything else she’s left me has been, I’m optimistic!

It’s been a couple of really busy days, so I went to La barca tonight for a few beers and a burger (the worst of the three I’ve had and still really good with super thick bacon — yum!). It was the first time I’ve ever had to request ketchup and let me say I did a double take when I uttered the word catsup out loud — it’s “cat soup”!!! That struck me as rather funny.

Sunset down my street this evening (not as pink as in reality):