Another Mexico Shopping Tip

A very common business in Mexico is reselling of quality used American goods bought in bales or pallets. These goods can be resold here for a tidy profit while still offering good value to the buyer. These are the people you see having “garage sales” in front of their houses. Frequent posters on garage sale sites are also usually running this type of business.

These folks are a great ally for people like me who prefer to buy good quality used things for a number of reasons, including a better price, finding unique things not available in stores, and doing my bit for the environment. This is because these sellers see a lot of merchandise, more than you can sort through at a thrift shop or scrolling through online ads. I’ve learned to put feelers out with them and then let them find that rare pearl for me.

Just recently, someone posted a genuine leather tote bag on the local garage sale site. I asked if the colour was true as it appeared to be a nice pink, but the seller said it was red. Well, she got back to me a few weeks later to see if I’d be interested in a not as nice but very inexpensive real leather tote in a coraly-pink that she had grabbed for me “just in case.” I snatched it up!

Now, we come to tonight. I’ve got a doggie and housesitter incoming soon and I still don’t have a complete set of decent linens for the guest room — I have sheets but no nice blankets to go with them. I saw an ad the other day for a yellow and orange duvet cover with pillow shams that I thought would be nice and asked about the fabric composition. A lot of linens here have polyester, which makes no sense in this climate. Unfortunately, this set had polyester.

The seller said she’d keep an eye out for a 100% cotton set and I told her size doesn’t matter but I’d prefer matrimonial (full) or larger. I have twin beds right now but don’t want to end up with a bunch of teeny sheets and things when I move — you can just tuck the excess under the mattress. 🙂

Well, tonight she texted me a photo of 100% cotton duvet cover and shams.

The other side of the sham is turquoise and the other side of the duvet is navy. So you basically get two sets for the price of one!

I said I was interested and could perhaps pick up tomorrow. She asked where I live as we could possibly meet part-way. I don’t know who responded faster with the laugh-crying emoji when we discovered she’s practically my rear neighbour! She was on her way out, so she swung by my place and dropped the lot off.

Good quality linens are surprisingly expensive in Mexico. A set like this could have easily set me back $1,000 or more. The $350 I paid is an absolute bargain. and I gasped when I saw the colour as it works with other colours in the house, especially the master suite with its mostly turquoise bathroom. In fact, I’m tempted to keep the set for myself, it’s just that nice. 🙂

Neighbourly Respect

I was surprised to finish work super early yesterday, and even after taking on several extra jobs. I decided to make a Costco run as I was about out of almond milk. Costco is one of the few places where it really makes more sense to take the truck than to bus and Uber since I come back with so many large heavy things.

When I signed the lease, the landlady warned me that the mechanic next door often has so many cars that he has to park them along both sides of the street and that she had a zero tolerance policy for any of his cars parked along the front of the house. If I wanted, she could give me the number for the towing service she uses.

Well, I only have one vehicle and I don’t have guests, so insisting on keeping the street in front of the house clear seemed petty to me. I figured out what parking bay is most easily accessible with my truck and then I went to talk to the mechanic. I told him that as long as that bay door was clear, I wasn’t going to complain about cars in front of the house.

So this scene is super common in front of my house:

Yeah, it’s a huge pain to get the truck out when there’s so many other vehicles around (especially when parked on both sides of the street) because the angles of entry and exit aren’t forgiving, but I have enough room and I’ve never had a moment where I wanted to take the truck out and the middle bay was blocked. In fact, I was walking home the other night and someone was in the process of parking in front of that bay. The driver jumped out and said that he’d only be there a few minutes as he knew he had to keep that bay door clear. He would find another spot for the night. Well, I had no plans to go out with the truck in the near future so I said it was fine if he stayed this one time, and the vehicle was gone by the morning.

It’s little concessions like these that buy peace with neighbours and make it that the very odd time that the mechanic is making so much noise that I can’t hear anything even with the doors and windows shut, I’m comfortable strolling next door to ask how long he thinks he might be without sounding like a harpy.

So at any rate, off I went to Costco yesterday and boy did I make the trip worthwhile. I picked up several things that are better off bought in bulk that I haven’t been able to afford to buy in bulk. Most of the items on my list were on sale as well, so my timing was very good. My only real splurge was for some Asian dumplings I’ve been wanting to try forever, but which are very expensive. Not only were they on sale yesterday, they were being offered as a sample. So I knew I’d get my money’s worth at the sale price, but was reassured that I was smart not to pay full price.

My membership is up at the end of the month and my renewal was automatically tacked onto my purchase even though, in theory, I had another week to renew (I didn’t mind — one less line to stand in!). So this was one of my biggest Costco runs ever. On top of all the discounts I got on sales items, I got an almost $75 (5CAD) discount for paying with my debit card (would have also applied to cash. Those discounts really add up!

Of course, I stopped at the food court on the way out to grab a slice of al pastor pizza for a late dinner. 🙂 I like my pizza at room temperature so by the time I got home after a huge storm, having to take quite the detour as Calle 60 was not moving, greeted Bonita, unpacked everything, filled the fridge, fed Bonita, cuddled with Bonita, and finally sat down to eat, the pizza was at the perfect temperature. 🙂

Oh, and I don’t know if this is a “thing” at other Costcos, but in Mérida, attendants with giant umbrellas will escort you from the store to your vehicle in inclement weather. I rather felt like royalty. 🙂

Getting the truck back into the parking bay is tiring work and I wasn’t up for it once everything was done last night (plus it was dark), so I left it parked on the street as I’ll need to go pay my bills in the next few days and do a supermarket run. Then, she’ll probably be put away for close to two months — I really don’t take her out much!

Weekend Pleasures

Friday night, I went to La 21 for a quick dinner. I decided to try a “gringa,” which was described to me as the closest a taco can get to Gringo tastes while keeping its self-respect (LOL and you know you’re considered a local when…). I decided to try one. It was a wheat tortilla topped with cheese and then the meat I’d requested, which, of course, was al pastor, so I had pineapple as well. It was perfectly fine, but I prefer corn tortillas for the lightly grilled tortilla application. I don’t inherently have a problem with wheat tortillas, but I prefer to reserve them for other types of dishes where the tortilla is lightly fried, bathed in enchilada sauce, wrapped around Tex-Mex burrito fillings, or probably my favourite of all, slathered with peanut butter and strawberry jam. 🙂

Saturday morning started very lazily. I woke up around 6:30 and took a few minutes to catch up on the royal wedding on my iPad before going back to sleep until 9:00. I then spent an hour with Bonita catching up on emails before deciding that I really need to go “do something.” I could find nothing interesting on today (and made a note that if there are things to do, they usually occur Sunday). So I did a few chores, then dressed and hopped on the bus to pick up a few things at the Slow Food market.

I’ve been taking the bus a lot now that it is so hot out during the bulk of the day. I end up doing more with my days and get a heck of a lot more exercise than if I burn myself out literally and figuratively walking to my destinations. During the winter and evening hours, my radius is easily 5-6KM one way, but in the heat of the day, 2KM is my absolute limit. So that’s why I didn’t walk to Slow Food even though I had time. Plus, with the bus only being 0.50CAD round trip, it’s definitely not breaking the bank.

At the market, I started with some tacos for a late breakfast. I tried something new, “tinga,” which is pulled chicken in a sauce that can best be described as a smoky and spicy BBQ sauce. It was very good and since the tacos had rice and beans, two was an ample meal. I enjoyed a strawberry-watermelon agua fresca with it!

My only purchases were a loaf of apple-raisin bread I hadn’t remembered being so pricy ($120!!!), five lentil patties with a container of non-spicy pico de gallo ($50), and a package of pepper bacon ($80). I’d bought the maple bacon last time so pepper sounded like a nice change and the price was very fair for the quantity and quality.

The gal selling the bread is the gal who sold me my skirt and sandals (which I happened to be wearing) recently. It was nice to see a familiar face. She asked how I eat the bread (Plain? Jam?). She pulled a face when I said butter and I was quick to say, “European butter!” You definitely don’t want to spoil that lovely bread with what passes for butter in Mexico! She asked me what brand I buy (Lurpak), where (Superama), and how much ($50-$60 for a package, which she thought sounded quite inexpensive compared to what she would have expected). As a backup, I mentioned Lyncott, which is also the only provider of real cream here and slightly cheaper. But Lurpak is the best!

The lentil cakes seller had me try a few other things she had for sale, but I refused to sample her banana or plantain cakes. I am just not a banana or plantain person. Her lentil cakes are so good — I need to find a recipe to make something like that for myself as they are such a quick and easy lunch! The pico de gallo that came with them was new from last time and the perfect side. Pico de gallo is as rare in Yucatán as it is common in Sinaloa and a condiment I really miss. It was only later in the day, as I was spooning the rather soggy sauce onto a couple of lentil cakes, that I realised that pico de gallo does keep and that I should make myself a batch every week!

From Slow Food, I wanted to check out Pacsadeli, a luxury food and bulk restaurant supplier that is the expats’ go-to location for rarer foodstuffs. I’m on the hunt for sweet pickle relish, which has been AWOL for months, if I can trust the expat food hunt forum. Since it’s something Mexicans might put in their tuna salad, I wonder if it might be a seasonal product or tied to a holiday. I’ve struck out at all the places where I’ve seen it in the past, including where I bought my last bottle — the Oxxo a few blocks from me!

It was a quick walk to Pacsadeli and I was surprised to see where it was, on a street I walked many times when I was here scouting in 2016 and super near my old apartment (see the red X). I must have passed it dozens of times in ’16.

The store was much smaller than I expected, but held many treasures. Alas, no sweet pickle relish. Prices were much better than I would have thought and I picked up three things. One was a huge package of wide rice stick noodles — I haven’t found that size of noodle, just skinny ones, in supermarkets. Another was a large container of Lyncott whipping cream — my sources for it have been out for ages and Pacsadeli was selling the large size for barely more than the price of the small one in supermarkets. Cream lasts for ages, so I’ll be able to use it up. In fact, for dinner tonight, I just had strawberries with whipped cream. 🙂 I don’t have an electric mixer, but my hand blend has a whisk attachment that did the trick!

The last thing that caught my eye was in a locked cabinet, a bottle of balsamic vinegar. I’ve seen some in supermarkets, but always very, very expensively priced and I’ve kept putting off the purchase even if I really miss this pantry stable. This was a large bottle for less than $90. Slight hiccup: they couldn’t find the key to open the cabinet! I was going to tell them to leave it when I realised that they needed to find that key at some point so why not that point be me?! I wasn’t in a hurry so I just waited until the key turned up.

I hadn’t seen a price for my noodles and was surprised when my total bill was less $200 — the noodles were only $44. I’ll definitely be going back to Pacsadeli to get Asian items. I can find them much more closely (Soriana híper, formerly Mega Balcones, has almost everything I could want, but the prices are higher).

It was then time to go home since I had things to put in the fridge, but I decided to walk up Paseo de Montejo to grab an iced coffee at Starbucks first. There was a lot of excitement there as their fake bill detector was declaring all $100 bills fake! I knew it had to be a machine problem and didn’t stress out over it.

I was home around noon and hung out with Bonita for a few hours. As three rolled around, I decided to check the cinema schedule as I wanted to see Deadpool 2 (saw the first one here in 2016!). The next English showing was at 3:40, so I headed straight out so I’d have time to enjoy an ice cream first. My timing was perfect and I was in my comfy recliner wrapped in a throw at exactly 3:40. That cinema has spoiled me for life. 🙂

Even though the cinema is quite close to me (1.6KM) and I had two hours in AC between my walks, I was still quite cooked by the time I got in and had no desire to go out again. Bonita got her supper and then I made a very indulgent meal I’d only let myself have after a day with so much walking — pasta with bacon, cream, Parmesan, kale, and lemon!

Unfortunately, I got to bed super late, so today was rather a write-off in that it took me until about 3PM to get serious about working. I did the absolute bare minimum I needed to do to accommodate my blood test in the morning, but, hey, it got done!

I don’t know if two days off in a row is ever going to become a norm for me again, but this mini break did me a world of good. I anticipate that my next time off will be a proper mini break for my run into Cancún!

And with that, off to bed, but, first, here’s a gratuitous my dog is sooooo cute picture!