Last Run to INM, Hopefully for a Good Long While

I got up early this morning to finish a few small jobs and then hopefully have the rest of the day off (yes, but I have a full queue for the weekend!). By  the time I was done around 10:30, a torrential downpour had eased off, so I decided to go to INM to pick up my new residente temporal card. Since my truck was parked on the street and I was worried about getting caught in another downpour, I decided to drive.

That was a rather meh decision. The truck is so much hotter than is a bus and on the bus, I can do other things than avoid other drivers. Driving in Mérida isn’t hard/stressful, but it’s also not much fun. It was also surprisingly difficult to find parking (last time I parked in that area was to sign my lease and parking wasn’t an issue). I was finally able to ditch the truck just off of Reforma, one street north of INM (map below).

The waiting room was packed, but the queue moved quite quickly. I was finally funnelled to window 5, but told to wait in the main lobby. The second wait was barely worth mentioning. The person at window 5 was the same lady who had done my fingerprints last week and she asked how she could help me. She was surprised that my card was ready and I told her I got notice of that on the 23rd. That seemed to be the magic words because she went from doubtful to promising she’d be right back, which she was. I signed a ton of paperwork and finally was presented with my new card, good through April of 2021! Hard to believe that the next one will be for permanent resident status!

So now, I don’t need to go to INM again for nearly three years unless I need to file a change of address, want to add permission to work (ie. in my case start a business), or have a change in civil status (Prince Charming, you out there?!). What a relief this is! Now, to run up to Progreso to give Aduana a copy and possibly to SAT also for good measure. Although, I am coming up fast to the end of SAT’s “If you get through that period without news from us, your refund is imminent” period… Miracles could happen!

Going home from where I was parked wasn’t super obvious. I thought of turning right at Colón to go grab 60, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to make that left-hand turn. I ended up continuing to Cupules, going left, turn right (northish) on the first major street I crossed, and ended up at Circuito Colonias right in front of Bodega Aurrera and able to continue straight on a street that would, with a few turns, take me straight home. I’m really learning how to navigate here!

(I may have stopped in at Bodega for some fried chicken.)

I got in and realised that Bonita is getting to very loud (yippy) when I arrive. I can’t imagine it bothers the neighbours, but it’s something to be aware of. I don’t think she makes noise when I’m not around — she starts when she hears me. It’s rather lovely to know that someone cares that I’m home. I love her so 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!

Spontaneity for Sanity

There’s a gringa on the garage sale site who lives on the beach who always has great stuff for sale. The few times I’ve posted a wanted ad and gotten a response, it was from her. Sadly, I rarely have time to drive to the beach to buy things she sells. But as I’ve made more purchases, she’s begun to trust that I will buy the item even if it’s only the next time she comes into town. Last week, I saw two things that have been on my kitchen want list for a while and she said she’d be in touch this week as she was coming to Mérida.

Monday, she messaged me to say she was “in town” for a few days. I made tentative plans to go meet her in Centro at about 7PM, but her assurance that there was no rush and that she was even willing to drop off the items made me cancel so I could work an extra couple of hours. Good thing I did because Tuesday wound up being hell and I would not have made my deadlines had I not worked the extra time on Monday.

Today, the mad rush finished around 3:00 and I was done. I’d scheduled tomorrow off so I don’t have to rush home from immigration and I decided to give myself Saturday too. I am exhausted! But I also had ants in my skirt, so I contacted the seller to see if she’d be home this evening. I was told to drop by any time.

The water guys were here early, so at 4:00PM, I realised I was freeeeeee! I dressed for town, hopped on a bus and got off at 55 and 62 to walk the block and a half to Pita for linner. It had poured as I got ready for town, during my bus ride, and it started again as I got into the restaurant. So I hoped it would ease off once I was ready to walk to my meeting!

I ordered a beer to go with my falafel sandwich (but of course) and texted the seller to let her know I was near and giving the rain time to let up a bit. She said that if it didn’t, she’d come meet me.

Even though I really was in no rush, I was having a hard time relaxing. That’s how it is when you’ve been going at it hard. As I finished my meal, the rain continued to beat down so I did something I haven’t done in so long I can’t remember the last time I did it: I ordered another beer.

By the time I’d enjoyed it, it was just shy of 6:00 and the rain had stopped! I headed off into an improbably beautiful evening with a sun shining so brightly that my sunglasses weren’t enough to spare me from the intense glare. I love tropical storms!

I vaguely remembered that if I took Calle 59, I’d pass an HSBC so I took that route rather than what Google suggests.

I wasn’t hard up for cash, but figured it’d be nice to make a withdrawal before I am for one rare time! There was indeed a HSBC, so that worked out quite nicely. 🙂

This sign I passed on the way made me laugh:

Never trust a skinny cook!!!

I made it to my destination and got the pizza stone I’ve wanted for years. Of course, now that I have one I have access to amazing restaurant pizza and little desire to make my own!

And I also got a grater for hard cheese! These are great for, well, grating Parmesan! I’ve been buying decent pre-grated Parmesan at Costco, but now I can get likely more affordable chunks and grate it myself. This style does a much better job on hard cheese than does a traditional hand shredder.

I had thought to Uber home, but the pizza stone wasn’t nearly as heavy as expected, so I schlepped all the way to Parque Santa Ana to grab a bus. Buses weren’t eager to stop tonight and I was getting rather frustrated when one finally stopped for me. It was then a quick trip north to a dog who was very happy to see me. 🙂

So tomorrow, fingerprints at last! Who knows how much longer it will take after that to get my new card, but it’ll be some more movement towards a resolution. I have so much left to deal with after this — a final trip to aduana, a trip to SAT to beg for some progress on my refund, a jaunt to Cancún to deal with my passport… But once all of this is settled, I promised to myself that starting in the fall, I’m going to start saying no to work a bit more often now that I’ll be able to afford it so that I can truly start enjoying my life here. And as a reminder, I was supposed to arrive in Mérida this fall, so I’m still way ahead of where I expected to be at this time.

I leave you with a translation of a poem by Mario Benedetti that was shared on the Mérida es cultura page this morning. You can read the original here. Translate did a decent job, but I’ve cleaned it up slightly. Some lines just do not translate well into English even though they do in French.

Do not give up, you’re still on time

to reach and start again,

accept your shadows,

bury your fears,

release the ballast,

resume the flight.

do not give up that life is that,

continue the trip,

follow your dreams,

unlock time,

run the debris,

and uncover the sky.

Do not give up, please do not give up,

although the cold burns,

Although fear bites,

Even if the sun is hiding,

and the wind is silent,

There is still fire in your soul

There is still life in your dreams.

Because life is yours and yours also desire

because you’ve wanted it and because I love you

Because there is wine and love, it is true.

Because there are not wounds that time cannot heal.

Open doors,

remove the bolts,

abandon the walls that protected you,

Live life and accept the challenge,

recover the laugh,

rehearse a song,

lower your guard and extend your hands

unfold the wings

and try again,

Celebrate life and take back the heavens.

Do not give up, please do not give up,

although the cold burns,

Although fear bites,

Even if the sun goes down and the wind is silent,

There is still fire in your soul,

There is still life in your dreams

Because every day is a new beginning,

Because this is the time and the best time.

Because you are not alone, because I love you.

The Wrong Bus Is the Right Bus

My day started with a surprise visit from an unnamed courier company that delivers Amazon’s packages. My last order was sent in two shipments and I was expecting one item this past Wednesday and one this coming Sunday. This courier company not being FedEx, the Wednesday order arrived Monday and the Sunday order Friday.

I worked a full day and then headed to Gran Plaza in late afternoon to hopefully buy (as in I hoped it would still be there) something I’d been saving up for (as in I took extra jobs at the end of already full days to pay for the item).

I went to the bus stop in front of the college and got on the bus there, for the Francisco de Montejo neighbourhood route. Two blocks in, I realised I’d taken the wrong bus — there are two “Fco. de Montejo” routes, one which goes by Gran Plaza and one that doesn’t. I quickly pulled up the Mérida bus routes site on my phone to get a sense of the route to see if I should cut my losses and get off or if I might get close enough to Gran Plaza to be worth staying on. Absolutely the latter!

To my delight, this bus dropped mye off right by the Chedraui in Xcumpich — I’ve lived here all this time and had no idea I had such a direct bus to that store! And the bus continues on to the Bodega Aurrera in Xcumpich and goes by the DHL office! I can’t believe I only figured this out tonight because I have looked those stores up to see what buses might go near them, but the site search is a bit rough. So this was a great discovery and I got dropped close-ish to Gran Plaza in a pedestrian-friendly area to cross a mess of traffic. What a great mistake!

My destination was Sears to pick up a purse. After being here a few months, I knew what I was looking for in a purse for my Mérida lifestyle. I’d been alternating between my leather tote for when I set off on long walking adventures and the striped purse I picked up last summer. The tote isn’t dressy enough for city life and doesn’t have a closure so I don’t like to go to centro with it. The purse can’t hold much despite its large size and is uncomfortable to carry on long walks. What I needed was a less rugged looking tote bag in a lightweight fabric and a zip top that would look polished enough for trips to government offices while being comfortable to carry on those long walks I enjoy.

I didn’t look hard for such a purse, but when I found it, I knew it was The One. And it wasn’t even that expensive as far as purses go, $900, but I didn’t need-need a new purse, so I decided to save up for it.

In the meantime, when I went to pay my water bill last month, I went to a discount store next door to see what they had for clothes (found a pretty blouse!). They also had purses, but nothing that came close to what I was looking for. As I headed to the checkout, a clerk told me there were more purses on another rack and when I saw this one, I gasped:

It was way too heavy to be my daily bag for long walks, but what a pretty thing to use on trips that I do with public transportation. Of course, the price tag was tears-worthy at $1,200. I put it down and the clerk came to point out an orange tag. “Final price, no returns,” he said. It was only $200!! I pretty much ran to the cash register!

So that’s the purse I’ve been using for a few weeks and it really is pretty, but much, much too heavy and cumbersome for long walks and I can’t really throw small bits of shopping into it the way I can my leather tote.

So $900 saved up, it was time to return to Sears and see if the bag was still there.

It was. And it was 20% off.

So I ended up with both bags for the full price of the tote!

I like that this tote has both the shoulder strap for wearing it cross-body and straps to carry it in my hands. The pink is a bit dark and more reddish than I like (the other purse is my favourite shade of pink), but I love the silver closures and all the pockets. I think I’m going to transfer all my “stuff” into it and use it for a trip to a sushi restaurant for dinner. 😉

(Oh, and the bus trip home was eventful as I learned that I’ve reached the age where teenagers will offer me their seat on the bus!)