Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Answering a Few Questions

My Very Dear Readers:

First, let me thank you for your comments. They mean the world to me. Often I’m asked questions that I now wish to answer. If I’ve forgotten any, don’t hesitate to remind me.


The costs, for the most part, are more than reasonable. As a single person, I was not entitled to subscribe to IMSS, which costs about $350. (more or less) per year per person, and are for those who have family members living here. Coverage is for physician visits, prescriptions, ambulance, hospital care, diagnostic services, and surgery other than elective, etc.

The aim in Mexico is to have ALL residents, Mexican nationals or not, covered for at least the minimum health care possible, i.e. doctors, medicine, and hospitalisation. Ambulance is not covered. With my CURP (official proof of registry of all Mexico residents), my passport, and proof of residence, I was able to subscribe to Seguro Popular (like Medicare), which is FREE. As a resident, I became immediately eligible for care, except for pre-existing conditions.

Last year, when I fell on the tiled bathroom floor from three steps up a ladder, I suffered a concussion and profuse cerebral haemorrhage. I was taken to Dr. Rubio’s clinic, which includes a small hospital, surgery facilities, and more. I was hospitalized immediately, looked after for about 6 hours. Dr. Rubio was ready to relieve pressure on the brain by removing some of the blood with a syringe (the hematoma was about one inch thick and spread all over the upper part in the back of my head). Fortunately, the 3 injections I received and repeated ice packs took care of it all. One of his nurses drove me home on Dr. Rubio’s recommendation. I paid a whopping 600 pesos, about $55. (yes, that would be fifty-five dollars) for all, including the use of a private room! Anyone who had not subscribed to either IMSS or Seguro Popular would have to cover any medical care out of pocket but the rates are eminently reasonable.

I recently had to get a new prescription for my glasses (two sets, one for distance and driving, the other for reading and computer work). The test was free, and since I had my Mexico Seniors card, the second pair was half-price. All together? Less than $200. with simple frames. Designer ones would have been more expensive.

My World in Words

I’m often asked to provide photos. Well, for now, there isn’t much to see. Tequisquiapan DOES get a winter season. This means that most vegetation is in a dormant state and, given the dryness of the climate, quite desiccated and yellow, for the major part. This would also account for my lot being dry dirt at the moment. The amount of fine powdery dirt is so annoying that it requires that I dust every day and sweep twice a day minimum, then wet mop. It is time consuming, even in the small space that I occupy. I want to point out that when I came to Santillan on my way to Oaxaca (or so I thought…) I had spent a little fortune on a small rented house and had used up the meagre savings that I had. Tina suffers from asthma with all this powdery stuff so I must water the whole lot every day, at times twice a day. These conditions will persist for a while as we’re months away from the rainy season. I’ve been one year on my lot, which thankfully I will finish paying this January end, and most likely will be boondocking for another year.

Renting either a house or an apartment is a hit-or-miss kind of affair and I’ve been told by a real estate agent that this goes for all over Mexico. My experience on Juarez led me to want my own living space, even if it took some time, involved some sacrifice, and I’d have to boondock in the meantime. Definitely worth it. Oh… and since I pay materials and labour as I go along, I’ll have no mortgage to pay once I get a finished house.

Like many retirees on a limited fixed income, I have to budget closely. I managed in the year that I’ve been here to pay for the lot, for a water tank, excavation of a hole for the tank and another for a septic one that had to be reinforced with stone work then covered by concrete. I have had a bodega built, a six-foot fence made of cement blocks. a roof made of galvanized sheets to replace my awning that had died a natural death. I have had five fruit trees, a schefflera, 9 bougainvillea two llamarada bushes, a palm tree and 2 palmettos, 2 cypresses, plus 3 bamboo trees planted. Unfortunately, we have had near freezing temps from November to now almost every night. Invigorating for a human, quite deleterious to plants. I think that many will not have survived. Downtown Tequis vegetation has an easier time of it. It is wide open countryside here. I’m just one of five houses, mine the only one on wheels. So there’s no structure or asphalt to retain some of the day’s heat. The sun is brilliantly shining all day long, every day since last October, and at our altitude of over 6000 feet, it does get quite hot. This confirms without any doubt that we sit on an altiplano, or semi-desert plateau. Some delicate vegetation cannot withstand that kind of treatment for months on end. Fortunately, the cost of a llamarada or boungainvillea is $40 pesos, under $4.00!

To think that my limited income has allowed me to do all this, probably a rather unique endeavour, may not be realisable in too many places. The lot was cheap. About $5,300. or $60,000 pesos. There are lots of a similar size, mine is 40ft by 90ft, but in Santillan proper. These can be in a noisy environment with roosters ignoring the time of day and night, barking dogs, sheep and cows making their presence known, music blaring until late at night, etc. Sorry, not for me. A year and a half ago, I was offered a serviced lot in the hills over Tequisquiapan (colonia San Juan) about the size of mine for $3,000. But I didn’t like the neighbourhood… My needs might be modest. It doesn’t mean that I have to accept any kind of environment that would rob me of peaceably enjoying my “home”.

Labour rates are as follows: for Ismael, an excellent stone mason and jack-of-all-trades $250 pesos a day or under $25. a day. His helper charges me $220 pesos a day. They work from 8 am to 5 pm and take an hour for lunch. I usually offer them a coffee with a morning break and a cold beverage with the afternoon break. A gardener usually charges $250. pesos a day. Once I hire a maid, I’ll let everyone know the cost per day when I need the help. Those who work for me get paid on legal holidays. By law, they are entitled to them and I do respect this. However, some expats ignore these labour laws and either let their workers get a free day, but also free of any remuneration, or else have them work for their pay. It puts all of us “gringos” to shame. And it gives Northerners from the “other side” a bad reputation. It is abuse. It is offensive.

About the Lot and Other Potential Opportunities

The reason my lot was so cheap is that it’s ejido land. This type designs public land, similar to Crown land in Canada. Usually, it is not serviced, except for garbage pickup. There is a governing body called ejidatario and only with their granting permission to owners to sell can land be had.

I had to pay a royalty fee to the three settled expat owners who had installed a water main on the road west of my lot. The cost was $3,543 pesos, a tad over $300. This was added to paying the Water Commission $3,300 pesos for the connection and the tap up some 65 yards from my lot. Then, I had to arrange to get the pipe run from the tap to my lot and paid for materials plus labour. I have solar energy with my rig, which is almost enough for me, except for using the washer. So for now, I wash by hand and hang clothes to dry. Within the hour, all is dry. Leaving them on the line longer runs the risk of colours getting considerably lightened by exposure to the strong sun. I was advised to hang clothes inside out to minimize this problem. Because I have no transportation other than public transportation, I cannot avail myself of laundry facilities in Tequis.

I have been queried about the prices of lots. A small serviced lot such as mine, in Santillan proper would cost something between $3,000. and $6,000. There are sizeable lots around here going from $10,000. to a lot more, depending on size. Those around my area are all ejido land and are not serviced. The cost would be sizeably more in Tequis proper.

Why?  To Which I Answer, Why Not!

All this to point out that the eventual construction of a one bedroom house of less than 800 square feet will require more “sacrifices”, probably for at least the year 2011. These are so willingly consented, aware that I am, that at almost 72 years of age, with a fixed minimal income, I can get my own house! I have lived in my own house more years than in rentals. One gets used to it. And I can keep my three dogs. And I get uncontaminated air, and probably the best water in all of Mexico. And quiet. I hope that I live long enough to enjoy it all for many years to come.

Animal Care …plus Groceries and Meat

The dry food that I found here at an affordable price was unsatisfactory. So I cook for my canine friends. Yep, it’s another time consuming activity that I gladly consent. Vegetable are dirt cheap. So is most fruit. For instance a truck comes around announcing oranges for juicing at $20 pesos (under $2.00 dollars!) for 50 oranges. They are not only juicy but very sweet. A veritable nectar. A kilo (2,2 pounds) of beef for the dogs is $70 pesos, or $5.96. That’s $2.71 a pound. Chicken liver with hearts and gizzards are $13 pesos per kilo, or $1.11; that would be $0.53 a pound. A Rosticeria offers a delicious medium size roasted chicken for $46. pesos. At that price, I often forego cooking. Aside from fish it’s the only meat I eat.

What’s not for Everyone… and is Missing

It starts with water and electricity. So far, I’ve made ok with solar. However, after 7 pm, I can’t use my computer or any other contraption working on electricity. To get power to my house, once it is built, I’ll have to buy 3 cement posts, perhaps more, the necessary dooflickies on the transversal bars, plus the bars themselves, and electric wires all the way to my house. A sizable sum. I still have to get prices on those but I’ve been told a post is about $800 dollars a piece. Once I’ve covered all these initial costs, I will have to hook up to a neighbour’s transformer. However, he’s only beginning to build his house so that may take some time. Once I have it, power will cost me around $15. to $20. dollars a month.

Since the nights turned cold, my batteries get discharged faster. I have a digital TV but would still need a service provider like cable or Dish. With the limited power I have left at the end of the day, plus the fact that I have lost complete interest in TV since I haven’t watched for over a year, you could consider that missing. I don’t feel that way. Together with a few other expats, we exchange books. I read a lot at night with candlelight.

Security and Crime in Mexico

Honestly, I have seldom felt more secure. In the border towns where the drug cartels have established a “right of way”, there are risks.   Since I am not a politician, have no money or noticeable valuables, I am not a target. One of the expats of the threesome has quite a wealthy looking and large home. He hired loads of people and let them have the run of the place. Once, when he let it be known that he and his local “congregation” were going away for a weekend, he did get robbed. Everyone agreed it was an inside job. In a local newspaper a few months ago, I saw the photo of a young woman who had shoplifted a cosmetic. Her action was described and she was properly identified. Quite a deterrent, wouldn’t say?

As to driving, I’ll grant that Mexicans drive fast but well, despite allegations to the contrary. I have witnessed one accident thus far on the state highway between Tequis and Ezequiel Montes. A van that slid off the road past the ditch and into a yellow chain-link fence.

I’m told that if anyone here is convicted of a crime and jailed for it, family and friends usually need to help the inmate with food, TV, or other forms of entertainment if the inmate is destitute. The fare is minimal so some go hungry. Prison, jail, or penitentiary are not sinecures. I may sound barbaric, but why overburden taxpayers with the cost of keeping an inmate incarcerated? You commit the crime—make the time and forget about the perks. When I was a foster parent, the father of a child in my care was sent to the penitentiary at the then cost (some 9 or 10 years ago) of $187. a day! I don’t know about you, but I find this OUTRAGEOUS! My good friend Allison sent me what follows a while back and I found it at once delightful and disturbing. Here it is. The title is:

Put Seniors in Jail!

Jails and Nursing Homes
Here's the way it should be:
Let's put the seniors in jail and the criminals in nursing homes.
This would correct two things in one motion:

Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical
treatment, wheel chairs, etc.
They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.
All meals and snacks would be brought to them.
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual
counseling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house
concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.
Simple clothing - i.e., shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be
free, upon request.
There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.
Each senior would have a P.C., T.V., phone and radio in their room at no cost. This one I’m not sure about.
They would receive daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the ACLU would fight for their rights and protection.
The guards would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.

As for the criminals:
They would receive cold food.
They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.
They would have no hope of ever getting out.
"Sounds like justice to me!
For those of you who are yet to qualify !!!
KEEP ON LIVING !!!!!!!! Hope you enjoy it like I did.


I have been advised by other bloggers that I should post every day. Well… unless I have something worthwhile to talk about, I prefer to hold back. Why should I bore people with what I ate at lunch, or what the description and cost are of every little repair job that needs fixing? I assume, rightly or not, that whatever would bore me, probably will bore others. Plus, now that everyone becomes aware of my being able to post only during daytime hours while I have charged batteries from the sun, and that this is added to a long list of chores many of which are frankly b o r i n g… I think everyone will agree that my plate is quite full and excuse me for now. I used to follow a number of blogs. Time wise, I can no longer do it. So I thank all those who have graciously invited me to follow theirs. This pleasure will have to be postponed until I have power available at pressing a button or a switch. Like the Tool Man said, More Power!

If any of you have questions and wish to receive a direct reply, please email me at queenieandme@gmail.com  Through comments, I reply when I can but don’t always know whether a response is required by a published comment to a posted comment of yours.


Bob said...

Thanks for the Info. I've considered Mexico as a final destination myself and the more you know the better.

Anonymous said...

You must have read my mind yesterday morning. I was wishing for just such a post from you. Along with other questions I had before, as I was washing my dishes,I was wondering what activities your day is filled with. Now I know. I would have no problem living as you do. In 1970, in the middle of my senior year of high school, my parents moved us from the big city of Houston to a farm in East Texas. We lived in a tent and slept outside with mosquito net over us as we built the 24 x 24 house ourselves. Even after we moved in there was no running water, no bathroom, no electricity or gas. Water was carried by hand about 100 yards, there was a wood heater, an outhouse and kerosene lamps. At first I thought I had been sent to Siberia, but it turned out to be one of the best times of my life. I learned how little I really needed. The only difference now is that private health insurance was affordable in the United States back then. Thank you for your post.

Custom Search