Living in a 5X10

Now that we have made the lifestyle changing decision to sell the condo, we had to consider what to do with all the stuff we have in storage. We have had a 10 x 10 storage space for the last year but decided that now we are down-sizing further, we don’t really need it.

We have decided to sell most of our stuff.  A lot has been sent to be sold on consignment and we sold some privately but there are still more personal bits and pieces that have to stay.

Getting rid of stuff can be traumatic but the other side is, that our plan includes an escape clause that says we have enough resources to be able to buy new stuff if we have to. That can be a lot of fun. And besides, it’s only stuff.

Surprisingly, for both of us, this hasn’t been a very difficult experience. Rosalie has always been something of a pack rat and I’m proud to say that she has parted with a lot of stuff I thought we’d be stuck with forever.

The process of moving from a 10 x 10 to  5 x 10 was the hardest part for me. The obvious question of course is, will what we have left, fit in the new location? The only way to check this out is to actually go ahead and do it. We have never been ones to shirk for stepping off the edge so we just went ahead with it.

We wanted our new storage unit to be a little closer to home so we rented a place in Parksville just twenty minutes from the campground. It was cheaper and the whole place is energy self-sufficient. There are solar panels and windmills everywhere.

Our car, actually we call it our little truck, has been amazing both when we moved from the condo to the trailer and now into the smaller storage unit.

We went to the old storage and I, with a look of despair on my face started to sort things out. This for consignment, this for Sally Ann, this for garbage and this to be moved. I, of course, had Rosalie to support me and keep me going; I just wish she wouldn’t kick me so hard.

We opened a lot of the boxes and wondered why we were keeping this stuff in the first place. We took three large carloads to the Sally Ann including a chest of drawers that we should have parted with years ago.

I had built storage shelves from 2 x 2’s, that had to be dismantled and reinstalled in the new unit so we had to empty it before moving it. We moved carloads of stuff and eventually we found that we had moved it all.

Surprisingly, when we had finished we were left with room in the new unit for yet more stuff. I just hope that Rosalie doesn’t see this as she will find ways to fill it to the top.

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Home again

Home at last. This home anyway. We feel as much at home in Mexico as we do here.

When we came back we decided to leave our laptop in storage in Melaque to save space on the flight.

We have an old laptop at the trailer that I planned to use so all was well. Problem was that the old laptop refused to cooperate. It decided to retire permanently, It hicked, it coughed, it died. She is Kaput!

We had to have a computer as we need to do our financing: pay bills etc. Why are we always paying bills: why doesn’t someone give us money for a change,

We had bought a less expensive machine for the last three laptops and they lasted about two years so this time we decided to get a better quality one to last for a while. We drove to Courtenay to find a Best Buy store.

I have always been down on Mac computers because they are so proprietary but I did know that their hardware is the best. My Daughter Lisa is an Apple nut and I give her a hard time about Macs so she will be sitting back and giggling when I say that we have bought a Mac book.

It’s taking a bit of getting used to but I’m managing to sort it out. I’m also finding that they are not as proprietary as they used to be. I can even run Windows on here if I want to. Not that I want to. One of the reasons for not getting a Windows product was because it is becoming so invasive and always updating at an inconvenient time.

We are happy to be back at the campground but have a lot of cleaning up to do after the storm in December. The arbour in the centre of the fence is no more. The top of a white pine tree snapped off, rolled along the fence and wiped it out. We also had some snow problems with the car tent but Julie and Ron sorted those out for us. Thanks, guys.

Some of the damage done. It missed my garlic plants though.

The TV antenna that Peter and I put up last year was totally wrecked. The pole it was mounted on snapped off and I found the antenna in a thousand pieces. So I’m missing the Leafs in the playoffs. We also lost a gutter from the snow load.

The tree hit the table and severely bent two legs but didn’t break the glass.

All is not lost, however: we got Xplornet satellite WiFi install on Thursday. I’m getting so desperate for WiFi I gave up pub day to supervise the installation. So I may get to see a game or two if the Leafs last that long. GO LEAFS!!

I’m writing this seated by the campfire with Rosalie. The rain is beating down, but we are under the gazebo and have wine so we don’t care. After a daily 30 deg C in Melaque, you would think we would be pining to go back. Not so! We enjoy being here in Canada even if it is a lot colder. We love this place, are really enjoying our new lifestyle and looking forward to catching up with our Northern friends.

Scorpion

I was sitting minding my own business just after Rosalie left for bed when I saw what I thought was a gecko but turned out to be a scorpion sauntering across the floor. They look kind of funny. I always imagined them walking with their tails up but this one was flat to the floor. Of all the times we’ve been down here I have never seen one. Rosalie has now seen three.

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Okay! How do I deal with this thing? First, call for Rosalie, it cuts my chance of being stung by fifty percent and I know she’s a lot braver than me; yea right! Well, she did stand behind me and urge me on. I decided to use the old glass and a piece of paper trick so I grabbed a large plastic container and moved in. The fight began.

He wasn’t giving up without a fight. When I finally managed to get the container over the beast I could see his stinger bashing against the side of the container and knew that he was a tad pissed off. Next, I bravely slid a thin plastic cutting board under him. Again with a fight. He was a game little bugger and wouldn’t cooperate at all.

When I finally got him under control I took a closer look at him. They are nifty looking creatures with eight legs, two claws and that nasty little stinger.

We took him outside and I tossed him over the gate to his hard earned freedom. Of course, for the rest of the evening I was nervously looking about for more but fortunately didn’t see any. The next morning I was telling Gerry next door about it and told him I had thrown it over the wall into his patio. Fortunately, he didn’t believe I could be so mean.

Believing that to know your enemy is a good thing, I googled ‘scorpion stings’ and logged into the Mayo Clinic web site. It appears that they are no more dangerous than a nasty wasp sting although far more painful.

All we have to do now is find a name for him. Steve would be good but we already gave that to Peter’s squirrel. We are both somewhat leaning toward ‘Cyrano.’ He doesn’t have a long nose but does have an impressive tail.

Thinking back, I should have thrown him over the back wall from our bedroom window with a tiny parachute and instruction to get that f***ing rooster. That would teach him to wake me up at four am.

The experience was a little unnerving but a least it wasn’t a spider.

 

It’s almost time

Five and a half months have just flown by. Looking back, we did a lot of stuff while we were down here: from horseback riding, trips to PV, eating out and chasing the music, to learning Spanish. It’s been a lot of fun. And then we also had friends and family stay with us or a week or two.

Last weekend being a holiday, there were hundreds of Mexicans from the interior here. The beaches were covered with people having fun. But now they are all gone. We had a drink on the beach yesterday and the whole place seems deserted. There are more stores closed than usual so I think the locals are powering down for the end of the tourist season.

It’s a little strange walking around town. There are very few Nordenoes any more as most have gone home over the past few weeks. Also, we are used to people dropping in as they head uptown, but now, nobody! Gerry and Elaine are still next door and a few other people but that’s about it. We’re starting to feel a bit isolated.

Vic and Suzanne went home on Thursday so the night before we went with them to dinner with friends, Ray and Tere. He is from Ontario and she is Mexican but now has her Canadian citizenship. They also brought her sister Imelda along. They speak English very well and gave us some pointers to help with our Spanish.

We ended up at their home sitting around their pool drinking wine and tequila. We had visited them a few weeks ago and received the grand tour. It’s large and bright because Tere made sure when they built it, that glass blocks were inserted in the concrete ceilings. There is a central courtyard with a large dipping pool and at night it’s lit with fairy lights. It was a good night all around with great company.

Learning a new language has been fun. We have probably doubled our Spanish words and phrases. I can now ask for a beer in four different ways instead of two. I’m very proud of Rosalie though, she doesn’t get stuck very often and when she does we use Google Translate. But it turns out, we can’t totally rely on it.

I came up with my favourite saying “Mi esposa no dice mas” (my wife says no more.) We didn’t think it was quite right but Google Translate said it was, so, good. I used this phrase several times. I did get a few funny looks but mostly I was understood.  It turns out we were right. I was saying, “my wife no says more” After trying a couple of other translator apps I now use the correct way to say it.

There have been a lot of setbacks when learning new words and phrases but we plod on. We have heard things people say, that we thought were wrong, only to find out we were the ones off base. If we do get stuck we ask friendly, English speaking Mexicans for help, who have helped us out many times and seem to love doing it.

This year I was determined to try and use Spanish more, no matter the ensuing embarrassment. The more I use it the more confident I get. I sometimes come up with a Spanish word that has been buried way back in my noggin but then can’t remember what it means.

The problem I have is with understanding when people speak to me in Spanish. They speak very quickly, but I’m noticing that I can pick out more and more words in a conversation now. Numbers still mess with me though. I recently gave a shopkeeper thirty pesos instead of thirteen, he was good enough to give me change, so all was well. Now I have enough money to order two more cervezas in four different ways.

St Patrick’s day

The Mexicans are celebrating yet again. This time for St Patrick’s day. This is in celebration of The St Patrick’s Battalion.  They start at the beginning of the month and continue right through to the 17th.

We started the day before; the 16th. Ron and Julie are here so we arranged to meet up with Pat and Mike for a Pizza in Barra. After Pizza, Mike was feeling a bit under the weather so Pat took him home and arranged to meet us later.

At Lucy’s bar, we had a reservation so we ordered drinks and settled in for great music with Dave Spinks and company. He is really good and I always enjoy listening to him. Who said older folk don’t have fun.

The following videos are not that good. Bad lighting, bad sound and good alcohol were the main causes.

There was a game where we had to take a drink between numbers. We noticed this also included the band. The following video is of a guy from Saskatchewan dancing with Lucy the owner, as well as Dave of course.

Later on, after Pat had returned home, the four of us hopped a taxi to the main square in Melaque. The driver had a rough time getting us there as the roads were crammed with people and vehicles.

Across the square is a ‘churo’ stand. This is a sweet thing similar to a donut and made fresh as we watched. We ordered a bunch of those and then fought our way to the main square.

The place was packed. We could tell by the lack of Nordenos that the season was coming to an end. There were hundreds of Mexicans and their families just hanging out waiting for the fireworks to start. They come to Melaque by the busload. We had warned Ron and Julie to be aware because the fireworks can get a little dangerous.

They started and the fun began. It’s hard to describe as they are not like your basic firework display. These happen mostly at street level and there are sparks going everywhere. Part way through, they set off the skyrockets. These things howled into the sky and burst noisily showering everyone with debris.

Just when we thought it had ended there was a huge boom nearby and more rockets took off. All in all a lot of fun.

The taxi stand was nearby but they couldn’t get out for the crush of people so we started to walk home. As we crossed the square we ran into Vic and Suzanne. We seem to do that a lot. We walked with them until we had to part ways and got home at about midnight. It was a very successful evening. The main event is tonight though so I don’t know what that will be like or even if we’ll go or not. Maybe watch what we can from our roof.

 

P.V.

There was a unique situation where Rosalie and her four sisters were all in Mexico at the same time. The problem was, two were in Puerto Vallarta and three were in Melaque. Further complicating the situation was, that of the two in P.V., one was arriving and twelve hours later the other was leaving. We, however, would overcome.

Brother-in-law Vic arranged to rent a seven-seater van and we started our quest. The van was fine and got us there but it had no rear shocks. There are many, many topes (speed bumps) on the main road to P.V; up to four in each little town we passed through. Most are not well marked and if Vic, who was driving, happened to hit one a bit too hard Gordie and I, who were sitting in the back, tended to head for the ceiling and then return with a spine-crushing thump. There were also road works with unexpected ridges which added to our misery.

Sister-law-Delorie was the one leaving so we spent a day with her in a luxurious apartment overlooking the ocean.

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We sat around the pool, drank wine and generally had a good time. That evening we picked up Marina and her friend Barb and we all went to the Marina for Dinner.

Some of us had been to Victor’s Place Restaurant previously so we knew the food was good and that he dishes out a lot of free booze. In fact, he gave our table two bottles of Tequila as part of the service.

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Victor always greets his visitors personally with “welcome home” even though he hadn’t a clue who we were. Even if we had been there previously he probably wouldn’t have remembered as every time he handed out free drinks he had to have one himself. The thing is he never seemed drunk. He is a very nice man and we would go back again; and not just for the free booze, although that is a strong consideration.

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Delore, Suzanne, Rosalie, Marina and Giselle

Sadly, Delorie had to leave early the next morning. So Vic and I took Suzanne, Marina and her friend Barb to Walmart to get some supplies. We also got their phones hooked up with a Mexican sim card. They got unlimited calling and text in North America plus 2 gigs of data for 50 pesos (about $3.50) for 15 days. We are being ripped off in Canada.

That evening we walked the Malecon and saw some great sights. Firstly, me panicking because we were so intent on the sunset we missed the start of the action. It was cooler then, as we watched the sun go down.

The following morning we pilled into the van and headed back to Melaque and those bone-jarring topes.

Driving and stuff

Rosalie’s sister Giselle and husband Gordie were arriving here on Saturday so we decided to rent a car to pick them up. We asked Suzanne to come along as all three sisters could be together for the ride back from the airport.

The car rental place was in Barra so we hopped on the local “chicken bus” for the trip there. The car cost 600 pesos a day ($41.39) including insurance and taxes.

The car we got wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. It was a micro-mini compact and barely big enough for four people, not five as well as luggage. We decided to try and make the most of it as the two girls and I wanted to go to Manzanillo for supplies at Walmart.

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When we left Walmart with a loaded the car it was apparent that we couldn’t get one more person in, certainly not two with luggage. So, we agreed to take Suzanne and the supplies back to Melaque. After lunch, Rosalie and I headed back to the airport.

After parking the car we went in and expected to wait forty-five minutes for our guests to come through customs and immigration.  To our surprise, they showed up in about twenty minutes. I barely had time to gag my cerveza down. Well, they showed up but their checked bag didn’t. They weren’t amused when I told them this was a good thing, as we didn’t have the room for it anyway. After the required paperwork we took off for home. We are still waiting for their bag but have been assured that it will turn up today.

It was nice having a car so, as we had it for the minimum two days, we went to La Manzanilla the next day for some time at the beach with the rest of the gang. That evening we went for pizza at a local restaurant. This is how they do the pizzas. They were great.

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This was my first experience driving in Mexico so I was a little apprehensive.  However I needn’t have worried. In a lot of ways, it was easier than driving in Canada. For a start, as Rosalie pointed out, the stop signs and speed signs appear to be ‘only a suggestion’ and are basically ignored.

One of the reasons it’s easier here is that everyone is so polite. There are no stop signs at most of the intersections so whoever gets there first goes first and everyone avoids hitting everyone else. No one gets mad, no horns beeping, no angry revving of engines; it’s great! Also when on the highway if someone wants to pass, the slower vehicle in front pulls on to the hard shoulder and lets them by. I passed a cop car on a solid yellow line this way. Well, he did pull over to the shoulder, so I had to.

There are some anomalies though. Most of the major roads through cities have side roads running parallel. If you need to turn left, you have to be in one of these lanes on the right and wait for the left turn signal. It’s a bit confusing at first but you get used to it after a while. It also makes it easy to do U-turn.

All in all, we had a great time and look forward to renting another car soon to do a bit more exploring.