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New Construction

There is a lot of new construction going on in Melaque and some of it is close to where we are. Right next door they are building a large construction with lots of concrete posts and supports. We’ve watched construction taking place here before and they build whole hotels with one cement mixer. This one though is different, no cement mixer.

new construction

That’s a lot of concrete

We walk by the guys working on it daily and they always say Buenos Dias and give us a smile as we go by. We also frequently hear one of them doing a real load Yehaa! just to pass the time. As the evening winds down and it starts to cool, the hard work really begins. They mix the concrete by hand and scoop it into 5-gallon pails. Then one of a string of guys picks it up effortlessly and puts it on his shoulder to take it to wherever it’s needed. They do this for several hours until the sun goes down.new construction

Our local gang of chickens seems intimidated by all this activity and stay out of the way, otherwise, they rule the place.

We hear the sound of their shovels scrapping most of the day (the guys not the chickens) as they also make a mix of cement for the brickwork.

The other day a truck drove by with a load of rocks. We have no clue what they are for but it was dumped right in the middle of the road. Within minutes the guys were clearing a path for vehicles to get by. They load the rocks onto a wheelbarrow and they just disappear somewhere.new construction

These guys are always laughing and joking. They also appreciate the few females that go by. I’ve mixed cement by hand many times and it is really hard work so I can empathize with these guys.nw construction

I thought that if ever I built a house down here I would import a cement mixer. I think though that the guys would just laugh and continue doing it by hand.

Yesterday we had a short but spectacular thunderstorm. It cooled the place down and it’s been very comfortable ever since. Lows about 20 C, highs about 27 C.

 

Melaque Rain

We were sitting watching a movie last night when it began to rain. It was a polite rain as Rosalie likes to call it. During the night and into the morning though it became a decidedly rude rain.

When we got up it was raining on and off and then it started to pour down. Now it was an angry rain. We opened up the balcony door and enjoyed the sight and sound of it. It was hard to believe the amount of water coming from the roof. I thought for a moment that the water tank had overflowed again.Rain

We had to walk into town for essential supplies (I ran out of wine) so we waited for a break. As a precaution, we took an umbrella for one of us and a hooded coat for the other. As we were nearing the store a Mexican couple started to talk to us in good English. We found out that they were visiting from the interior and had previously lived in the USA. We chatted with them for a while and continued with our quest. Such is the friendliness of Mexico.

As we left the store it started to rain again. It was only light so we didn’t worry too much. It got heavier as we headed home but as I was carrying two boxes of wine I couldn’t hold an umbrella as well. I didn’t much care as the rain was warm and I would have gotten just as wet if it was hot and I was sweating.

It may be a bit awkward later today as we have to go and look at a duplex we may want to rent for next year. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk so we may get a little damp.

Our Spanish is progressing. I’m starting to put together whole sentences with a little help from Rosalie. I can order a cervaza five different ways now. Rosalie, on the other hand, can have whole conversations. I stand back and try to pick up as much as I can. Speaking it is one thing but understanding when someone else speaks is a whole different ballgame.

Rosalie has taught me some key-words and they have helped a lot especially as they can be used in three different ways. I sometimes find that I learn a new word and immediately forget it only to have it pop into my head a few days later. The secret, of course, is to use Spanish as often as possible. I try to order all my meals in Spanish even if the waiter speaks English. So the conversations we have are often Spanish on our side and English on theirs. I’ve had some strange meals though.

It’s starting to look like winter here. The temperature today was only 20 C. Brrrr, chilly!

Water Tanks and Wallet

We were sitting around early yesterday morning doing what we do best. Nothing! when Rosalie asked me if there was supposed to be water gushing out of the drain pipe from the roof. Oh no! Here we go again.

I thought the hot water tank had burst so I rushed up to the rook to turn the water off. But the water was coming from the cistern on the top roof. It started to ease off but we sent a message to Alejandro anyway. Later that day he and another guy showed up and found that the float valve that regulates the water level had stuck. They fixed it in about five minutes and left. In the meantime, our roof was flooded.

wallet

The cistern on the upper roof

Later that evening, we were meeting friends for dinner and as we were leaving I noticed that I didn’t have my wallet. Panic! We searched everywhere. Earlier we had been to the local Oxxo store for supplies and I had it then. We had come straight home so it couldn’t have been stolen. I think I dropped it between the store and home. 

There was nothing we could do right away so we went for dinner. When we got back I got on to MasterCard and canceled my card. There was little of value in the wallet as I like to travel light. Maybe 600 pesos and about $60 CDN. It also had my drivers license and citizenship card.

We went to the Turista Policia but nobody had turned it in. We went back to Oxxo and the first thing the guy there wanted to know was my name. He had found a wallet but it wasn’t mine. He was keeping it in his safe until the owner turned up. We were told to check in on a regular basis as it may show up.

As we were uptown getting more money from the Banamex, I bought a new wallet from Carlos. He was concerned about me losing my wallet but happy to sell me a new one.

Fortunately, we had made photocopies of all our documents so I at least have a tentative way of identifying myself. Also, I still have my passport.

What a day. But that’s Mexico. Oh! and I still have to tell Alejandro about the wonky light switch in the bedroom as well as the faulty light in Rosalie’s bathroom.

New Phone

So, we got a new phone and I’m sure it was coincidence, but as Rosalie was calling lyn in Canada the fridge blew up. Okay, so this needs some explaining.

We went to pick up a new phone. We selected a little retro number which gave us unlimited calling in Mexico., 230 free minutes to Canada and the US of A. and a little data. All for about $30 including the phone. So far so good. We got outside the store and tried to test it out. The screen was small and all directions were in Spanish. We were standing around looking lost and foolish when the guy in the store offered to help. He went into settings, which me, the great techy expert, should have done, and changed the setting to English.

new phone

Now I try to make a call. I called Mike and Fay who we know have a Mexican cell phone. It rings but no answer. Every time I make a call after this it wants to call mike and fay. I actually called them ten times. By now I was getting frustrated and decided to give up and go to the Telcel store later to sort it out.

A little later the new phone rings and I answer.  It’s Fay. She had heard all the calls but like us had no clue how to use their phone and answered in desperation. Not wanting to waste the call we made arrangements to meet up with them for a trip to La Manzanilla later this week.

The problem I was having was that I could make a call from my contacts list but didn’t know how to call otherwise. While all this was taking place Rosalie and I were sitting on the beach knocking back cevazas. I finally realised that all I had to do was dial without looking for an app. My, how we’ve progressed. 

Later that evening as Rosalie was on the phone to Lyn and I was watching the Leafs win yet another game, I saw a lot of flames from behind the fridge. At first, I thought it was some Christmas lights from outside. Then I saw the smoke. I heroicly rushed over and removed what was left of the plug. (the breaker had already blown so it wasn’t that big of a deal). Then we called Alejandro.

He arrived within twenty minutes and proclaimed that the cord for the fridge was dead. We already figured that as the three prong plug now only had one lonely prong.

The next morning he showed up with an “electrician” who fixed the plug and so far all is well.

Social Mayhem

Social Media, or Social Mayhem, as I like to call it, is here to stay, so I thought I’d better get on board. I have a Facebook account but it kind of ends there. I only use it to post my blogs and to view all the cutesy animal pictures. Having very little knowledge how to use it, I don’t see what the fuss is about.

When I was a computer technician I got a lot of hardware questions. Nowadays it seems as though I’m getting more questions about the apps that run on our machines, rather than the machines themselves.

I got myself a Twitter account (@Paddington98) only to find that I had two previous accounts that I hadn’t used. I must have gotten frustrated trying to figure out what I was doing. So I stuck them in the back of my mind and just let them fade away. Like most of my memories.

If that nice Mr. Trump can figure out how to use Twitter then so can I. Although he probably has someone to push the buttons for him. Rosalie won’t do that for me. It’s like me trying to play my guitar: my fingers are in one place and the notes are in another.

Besides Facebook and Twitter, there are all kinds of Social Mayhem apps out there: Linkedin, Tumblr, Path, Snapchat, Google+ as well as all the hookup apps available. I know nothing of these, seriously! Texting is also a way to communicate. For some people, as a sideline, to smash their car up. Texting takes a long time compared to a phone call. Also, you can say so much more on the phone.

 When I get a text I mostly phone back, enough of these tiny keyboards! 

It seems to me that we are reverting to slower methods. At this rate, we’ll soon be writing letters again.

Years ago we took our phones off the wall and put them in our pockets. Shortly we won’t be needing them either, well not as a phone anyway. We’ll be hanging them on the wall and using them as televisions. Phones will be permanently embedded in our ear. All we have to do to text is give it a quick scratch. 

Technology is handy of course. While Rosalie was walking El Camino we communicated with Facebook Messenger. We were able to talk and video. The video wasn’t very good because of the poor WiFi service but all else worked really well and it cost us nothing.

We decided to get a SIM card for one of our phones while we are down here in Mexico. We went to two Telcel stores but both of them said our phones were locked. I’m pretty sure that they aren’t as Rosalie’s came from a different carrier and we had no problem getting onto Koodo. 

After reading an article on Tomzap we decided it would be easier to buy a local phone and use it. So we’ll see how that goes.

Up on the Roof

We are fortunate that we have a roof patio that we can use. We access the roof by a spiral staircase  We sat up there a few night ago under a beautiful full moon. The landlord bought some new loungers for us to relax on so that’s what we did. We were reading our books, sipping wine and contemplating our future as residents of Melaque.  roof

  There was a family having dinner a few houses up from us. They pull tables and chairs out into the street and eat there. Probably because it’s cooler outside. Earlier they were waving at us as I took some photos of the local scenery.  As the sun went down we could hear the sounds of their kids playing street soccer.roof

We could see a few Christmas decorations. We hear dogs barking, a few car horns and always in the background the crashing of the waves on the beach. Once in a while, we hear a  Mexican singing. They do a lot of that here.roof

For some reason, we get fewer mosquitoes when the sun goes down. I think they are mostly gone for the year as the temperature has dipped to about 22 C. Also the sounds of the local chickens that run around the street had died down for the night. The roosters will be back bright and early in the morning.

roof

There isn’t much on the roof yet but we like it anyway.

There is always the sound of traffic. Maybe a motorbike or Tuc-Tuc, some beaten up old wreck rattling over a hole in the road or a new SUV. Earlier there was an ambulance rushing by with as sirens and lights blazing, A rarity in these parts. Also, we still hear the sound of firecrackers as this is after all the season to be jolly. It also makes the dogs even more excited and their voices get loader.

The noise is different during the day. Then we hear the sounds of the mobile vendors: The Global Gas guy, the many water delivery trucks, cars with speakers on the roof selling goodness-knows-what, and the ice cream vendors. The construction noises die down as it gets darker too. There is no clocking off time and the guys work into the evening.

Eventually, Rosalie went to bed and I was left by myself. It was dark so I had to type by touch. We do have a light up there but we choose not to turn it on most of the time. We don’t need it as we read our books on our phones or tablets. Music is everywhere.  I’m surprised that most of the music is Mexican and not North American crap, although we do hear some of that.

Eventually, I have to cave in and go to bed too, only to get up in the morning and start another day in this wonderful place. It’s such a hard life.

A Typical Day.

What do we do when we are down here? What is a typical day like? Boy, you guys are nosey.

Okay, here it is.

We usually get up fairly early, about 7 am. We tend to go to bed early as we have no cable and can only read for so long. Most of the morning is dedicated to doing very little. Rosalie reads her book while I catch up with the latest world and hockey news.

We sometimes wander into town in the afternoon for supplies or take our laundry to the Lavanderia where it is washed, folded and returned within a few hours for a small fee. The most we have paid so far is $140 pesos but it was a big load with towels and sheets as well as our undies.

We decide whether to go out for dinner in the evening or eat in. After dinner, we get back to our books or maybe a movie. I got four movies from the market for 100 pesos they were all 2017 and in English. If there is a hockey game on I watch that while Rosalie reads.

Today was a little different though. Mike and Pat picked us up and took us to an early morning coffee shop, the “Cowpuchino”

typical day

The Cowpuchino

We pulled in and stepped to the counter to place our order. The ingredients included instant coffee, chocolate, sugar and a shot of some sort of alcohol, maybe tequila (92% proof). But the best bit was yet to come. Next, we had to find the milk cow. We handed over our cups and the cow was milked right into it. As Mike said “You won’t find that at Starbucks”. Rosalie and I were both a little hesitant but took a sip of the warm liquid and found that it was delicious. Maybe Timmy’s should buy a cow. I’m sure it would be a big hit.

typical day

Our coffee being prepared.

While we were drinking our morning coffee we were observing all the things going on around us. The locals (we were the only none Mexicans there) were sitting on benches and obviously having a great time. I think most were already half drunk. 

typical day

Our new buddies.

The milk cows were taking turns giving up their product. It was like a production line, as one finished the next one was waiting to take over. They seemed to know when their turn came and lined up like little kids. Their heads were stuck in a bin full of green bananas while being milked and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

There was also a herd of goats wandering around. At one point some of them decided to wander across the highway and had to be chased down by one of the guys. The animals were like misbehaved children and were continually being scolded by their keepers.

There was a dog licking the inside of the used plastic cups. She was probably smashed by 9 am also. I know I was half looped.

When we finished there we drove into town and had breakfast. After breakfast, Mike and Pat took us back to our place and we wondered what the afternoon was going to bring.

 

A State of Mind.

Living in Melaque is all a state of mind. You either love it or hate it. It’s all about attitude. If you expect things to be near perfect, just like home, then it’s not for you.

We moved to our new location and a few things were not quite right. We had no WiFi to start off with. That was soon sorted out and it now works great. Then we found that we had no hot water. After a few cold showers, which you need with the humidity down here at this time of year, all was resolved. However, we only get hot water in the bathrooms, not the kitchen. We had to make up our own beds but that was fine.

We had no dish towels so had to run out and buy some as well as several other small things that we needed. Our favorite place to shop is the Plastico Store. You can buy most things like wine glasses for a few pesos. However, we could only buy white wine glasses, so how are we supposed to drink red wine? See, it’s not all easy.

There are lots of chickens running around our place. We also have a Mexican version of Alan. He (or she) is an iguana who likes to sun himself (or herself) just below our balcony, we call him Aldo. We don’t see him a lot so he’s less demanding that Alan.

state of mind

Aldo

The guy sent to repair stuff for us is Alejandro. He’s quite young and I think Rosalie has found her new pool guy.

It’s still a bit noisy at night as it seems to be the habit to let off very load firecrackers (bombs) at all hours. Mike told us that at 6 am the priest lets a very loud one off to summon the faithful to early mass. Sure enough, at 6 am this morning we heard a huge bang, followed shortly by another one. We just rolled over and went back to sleep.

The big yellow hotel up the road has had a few loud parties. Mexicans like to yell a lot but they are far enough away not to bother us. It’s way better than the boom boxes we had to put up with at Laguna del Tule.

state of mind

The party hotel.

The upside of this, of course, is that we are in a beautiful country where the weather is near perfect, the people are awesome and everything is so inexpensive. We have the freedom to go where we please and do what we want. There’s a vibe about the place that we really like and this is the place we want to spend our winters. We even had our own party with Lyn and four other friends last Saturday night. 

 

 

Cocodrilo Wrestling

We took a trip to La Manzanilla as we wanted to see the cocodrilo sanctuary again and try to give Lyn a scare. We had been putting it off as last time we went the taxi cost about $50. After speaking to a couple of the old timers we learned that now it was only 150 pesos each way, about $10. 

We got a taxi and made the 16 km ride up the coast. The driver dropped us right at the beach and we arranged for him to pick us up later in the afternoon. This being Mexico we had no idea if he would come back or not.

It just so happened that we were dropped right at Pedro’s restaurant. It was lunch time so we found a table with shade and Pedro got us some cevazas as we waited for our lunch. 

After lunch, we took a walk to the cocodrilo sanctuary. There isn’t a lot to see but what there is is worth seeing. We paid our 30 pesos each and followed the boardwalk. This is a structure designed so that you walk over the swamp. At the beginning of the walk, every time we looked down we saw a huge cocodrilo.

Later on, they become scarcer and the walkway led to a bridge crossing a river. This was a suspension bridge and the ladies had a bit of a time crossing. Me jumping up and down didn’t help either. Rosalie has a theory that at a certain time each day, they feed the crocs by dropping the bridge and whatever tourists are on it are croc food. Cheap and efficient, I like that.

The walkway led to the hatchery. This where they insisted I wrestle a cocodrilo. Fortunately, I was able to prevail without losing too many fingers. Lyn tried it too and also survived. Rosalie wouldn’t go near it, especially when I told her the croc’s skin was soft and dry, you know, just like a snake.

cocdrillo

Me wrestling a cocodrilo

Later, we went back to Pedro’s and ordered me a ‘ron y coca’ while the ladies went wadding in the surf. Why get wet when you can sit drink rum and coke?

Earlier, when we were eating our lunch we discovered a sauce called Tamarindo. We like it so much we asked Pedro about it. He said that you can buy it in the stores but his is much better and that he would sell us some. He originally wanted 40 pesos but only had half a bottle so we got away with 20 pesos. It’s a sweet sauce with a very mild kick something like sweet pepper sauce. Very, very nice.

The taxi was supposed to arrive at three so we gathered up our bits and pieces and went looking for it. Three o’clock came and he hadn’t arrived so we decided to give him until 3:15 and then get another cab. About 3:10 he showed up, all smiles knowing he hadn’t lost a fare. These longer haul fares are a big deal for the local drivers as most of the day they sit in the town square waiting for customers. When they do get one it’s usually a local run and they only make 40 pesos.

Laguna del Tule

Well, it hasn’t been the best visit to Mexico so far. We are staying at the Laguna del Tule as we have done many times before. It used to be a fairly quiet place to stay. Now though, it seems to have turned into a party place. Or perhaps it’s the time of year.

The boom boxes started one morning and were so loud that we left and went into town. It was fairly quiet when we came back but as I was sitting peacefully reading, some kids walked by our unit and turned their boom box up to full blast. I sorted them out rapidly and they turned it down to a more reasonable level. It kept creeping up but then would suddenly turn down. I think Mum may have been on hand.

That evening the noise started up again this time with older kids. I walked over and politely asked them to turn it down. They turned it right off, so after a while, I went and said it was okay to play the music but at a lower volume. One of the kids gave me a bit of a hard time and left it turned off.

At about 10 o’clock the noise started again. Over the next hour, the noise became louder and louder accompanied by terrible, load singing. Now I was mad but not wanting a confrontation I went to the office to complain. They sent a young guy over and the noise decreased. By 12.30 the noise was so bad again that I hopped out of bed and paid another trip to the office. This time the noise stopped for good.

We like Mexican music but not as loud as that all day long and especially not late at night. There are several festivals coming up in a week or two so we were seriously considering a change of hotel.

As it happens we are looking for another place for six months next year. We were walking into town a few days ago and took a shortcut that we hadn’t taken so far this year. As we passed one casa, a guy asked us if we knew of anyone who wanted to rent a place. Ooh! Coincidence or fate?

Laguna del Tule

Our new home. We are on the top floor.

We checked it out and liked it a lot. He said we could take it right away until he learned we would only be here until 13th Jan. He said he had someone else interested so we decided to wait him out and see what happened.

In the meantime, we heard about another place for next year so we went for a look. It was beautiful. It’s not finished yet but we could already see how great it would be. It has granite counter tops, A/C, a pool and retractable awning. It’s smaller than the other place and we don’t know yet how much the rent would be, but it’s a good backup. Also, the owner is actually from Nanaimo and was born in my part of England. 

Later on, we got an email from the first guy Ruben, so we negotiated with him for this year anyway, and paid him a deposit. We moved in on 1st December but managed to take some of our stuff over earlier. It’s less expensive, quieter and closer to town than where we are so we are quite excited about the whole thing.

Laguna del Tule

Inside our new digs.

We now have a couple of choices for next year. so now we can relax a little and start to enjoy.

When we checked out of Laguna del Tule we presented two receipts for 1,000 pesos each, one for 2016 and one for 2017 that we had put down as deposits. At the time these were for about $100 USD each. Laguna refused to accept the older one as it was more than a year old. I was just a little peeved about this. Just a warning to those who leave deposits for rooms there.

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