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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What I Have Learnt from my Dogs

Far from me to think that dogs, and other pets, don’t have their own peculiarities, idiosyncrasies, and at times, even nasty habits (such as eating unidentifiables, or even too easily identifiables). But, given the chance to weigh the negative against the positive, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

Let me describe a day with my girls. The very first thing that they do, if I’m not up yet, is quietly play with each other, as if aware that they should respect my need for silence. But if I’m already awake, their first concern is to say, doggie-style, “Good morning. Isn’t it a wonderful day? We’re so happy to see you”. I’ll admit to sometimes waking up sort of half-way and being a bit of a grouch. They don’t seem to care. Within a few minutes, their happiness is so obvious and contagious that it puts a smile in my heart and on my face. Invariably, the morning routine turns to a head or chest scratch from the grouch to each girl, the small ones and the big one.

They wolf down their food and would go for seconds and even thirds! What a way to show appreciation for the food that I’ve prepared for them. There’s no, “… I don’t like broccoli…”, “…I hate fish…”, “…how come there’s no dessert?” – everything is appreciated. One dog I had, a labrador/shepherd cross whose name was Keesha, would ALWAYS turn her head toward me after first putting her nose to her bowl, as if to say, “…thanks”. She wouldn’t start eating until after she’d had this grateful look.

Since the girls are now one year old, I’ve reduced their eating times to twice a day, morning and supper time. Out of the habit of having a noon meal when they were puppies, comes mid-day, they scratch at the door to come in, expecting a full meal. We’re now in the weaning stage so I’ll hand feed them carrot and apple bites. There’s no whining, no begging, no attitude. Happiness is the order of the day. What’s not to like?

They seem to perceive whenever I’m down and their attitude immediately changes. They come quietly to me, a worried look in their eyes, as if to ask, “… what’s the problem? What can we do to make it all better?” I remember the first family dog we had when my kids were small. My sister is not a dog person and the dog could sense it when she came visiting and simply go out in the yard. One day however, she was terribly upset and began to cry. He immediately came to ask to come in, went to her without trying to attract her attention, and quietly sat at her feet under the table, as if to show compassion. He didn’t budge until she was ready to leave. (I wonder if she’d even been aware of him). This to a person who had always ignored him and would even at times shoo him away! How about us forgiving and showing compassion to even those who diss us, or simply ignore us?

Now, don’t anyone tell me that I’m anthropomorphising. Dogs DO feel. Dogs DO respond to people’s emotions, and could teach us kindness. Regardless how long I’ve been gone, my dogs’ welcome is joy unlimited, tail wagging, even whole body wagging. Mindy seems to have many of the characteristics that Keesha used to have. One time a friend came visiting and seeing Keesha’s enthusiastic whole-body wag exclaimed, “… Good grief! One day of these days, she’ll wag right out of her skin!” Mindy also has a whole body wag and it’s quite heart-warming to be so welcomed.

In short, they have taught me forgiving, kindness, forbearance, appreciation and gratitude, even in the most dire circumstances. But more than anything, they have never failed to show me the kind of love that many of us would have a hard time emulating—unconditional love! That’s why I took to the road years ago. Just so that I could keep my dogs, which I wouldn’t have been allowed to do in an apartment rental. That’s why I kept to the road until I found a lot here in Mexico where I can keep another set of dogs. Simply put, I cannot live without a dog or two. Or three!

This is a “poem” that I read and can never finish without feeling a big lump in my heart and an even larger one in my throat trying to hold back the tears. I hope all you, friends of dogs, like it and recognize what our beloved dogs are really like.


If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you, when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color or politics,
Then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.


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Friday, January 14, 2011

Pooches Update

Both girls have grown, if not in wisdom, certainly in size. The date of birth is approximate. Dona José, owner of the mom and dad, indicated that they were born shortly before Christmas 2009.

Here’s what they look like now. Tina is on the left, Mindy on the right.Floor and dogs 009

Mindy is slightly taller and longer than Tina. Her colouring has more red tones than Tina’s. Also, her markings are pure white on the chest and paws, devoid of the spots that Tina has. They’re obvious on the photo. Tina’s colouring is more golden taking after her dad, a pale gold Lab. This makes for a strange mix with the mom being Boxer. Mindy has the build (long and tall) of the Lab with the more reddish colouring of the boxer.The opposite is true of Tina who takes more after the Boxer mom, shape and size wise. with dad’s colour more marked.

As sisters are often known to be, they differ sharply in character.  Mindy is very vocal and easily excitable. I’m still having a hard time preventing her from jumping on people. I believe in aversive psychology rather than punishment. So I’ve opted for the spray bottle. It works immediately, but unfortunately, Mindy seems to have a hard time remembering the lessons. She’s a very loving dog and a bit on the clownish side.

Tina is much calmer. She’s very observant and appears quite serious. She’s stockier than Mindy and I believe that in the long run, she might be stronger. Time will tell. Tina is the one who left home at two months of age, in the middle of the night. She continues to be quite independent. While at first Mindy kept close to Queenie, her hyper keenness to play seemed to annoy Queenie at times. So Tina moved in, very loving and calm, which seemed to please Queenie more.

They’re both aboutFloor and dogs 010 the length of Queenie’s body, head and tail excluded. I’m sure they’ll never be Queenie’s size, she being a Mastiff. I think that the perspective on the photo may be a tad misleading.

For those who have seen Queenie, it will be obvious that her muzzle has a lot more white hair than a few years ago. She’ll be 8 years old in April.

And here they are, attentive and curious. I think that they’re awfully cute. An unexpected bonus in adopting thFloor and dogs 011em is that Queenie has finally evolved from couch potato to willing participant in doggie play. As a result, she’s slimmed down and her muscle tone is much improved.

Finding high quality kibble is impossible in Tequis. I used to feed Queenie organic dry food with venison as the meat. So I’ve had no choice but to cook their food. I’d noticed that corn is the main ingredient of many dry foods. So I include freshly made corn tortillas. I alternate with rice and potatoes as carbohydrates. I’m sure it beats dry, brittle cereal. I add mixed vegetables and raw meat (or sometimes cooked), fish, eggs once a week as protein, and complete it with soup to provide wetness and make more of a stew. They’re down to two meals a day, morning and night. In the afternoon they get a snack of fruit. When they’ve been particularly good girls, they get doggie cookies and rawhide to provide chewing opportunities.

Their shiny coat is ample proof that this diet agrees with them. Even Queenie’s coat is shinier than ever. Healthy and happy, that they certainly are!

Obedience and wisdom are just around the corner.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Renewal of the FM3 Visa for Querétaro & CURP

Last week I went to Querétaro to renew my FM3 (resident’s visa not seeking employment in Mexico) and marvelled at how easy it had all been. . . until I checked the status of my visa online. So, let me state what I found out was required in the state of Querétaro once I’d made it to the INM office.

The new procedure is quite simple. First, apply online at http://inami.gob.mx/index.php/page/Solicitud_de_Estancia, answer all the questions (bear in mind it’s all in Spanish), after which you will be given a pieza number that must be presented to the INM office. Later on it’s needed to find out online the status of your application.  I had not been able to determine what other documents were required by the state of Querétaro before getting to the INM office, but had prepared copies of all the originals that I presumed might be required. In duplicate, for an overkill!

Of course a valid passport is required. I made a copy of the photo page for the INM, presented the original. All ok.

Once there, I found out that they needed five photos in black and white passport format FROM A STUDIO: front face view 3 – side view 2. No jewellery or glasses should show. Hair must be away from face (no bangs). For the profile photo, the ear must be completely uncovered. It did put a cramp in my style. Thank goodness the side photo was not for publication! I hope…

I had printed my bank statement for the past three months up to the present date showing my income; however my name didn’t show on the statement. So I offered to show my bank card. Bummer, no name was indicated either. Problem. The lovely young woman who was attending to my application went to check with others and finally accepted my statement. I had counted on the fact that my file contained my previous year statement from the same bank with my name on it. Not so, as I found out later.

When I checked online what the status of my application was, I saw that I was required to show myself at the INM office in Querétaro. I figured that the bank statement was in question. So this time I printed the screen that showed the statement with my name on top and listed the past 6 months income. Much better. Since there were other activities on my statement, I highlighted the dates and amounts pertaining to my income as retiree. Finally that was ok.

If there has been any change in the past year, a proof of that change must be presented. In my case, I had moved from the rented casita on Juarez to Santillan on my lot. I brought my water bill in its original form and supplied a photocopy. All ok.

From the Tequisquiapan Presidencia (Town Hall) I had obtained my CURP, a card that I got laminated attesting to my being registered on the Federal Mexico civil registry. All Mexican nationals have a CURP and use it as identification. I made a copy of it and showed the original. I would suggest that anyone living in Mexico get one. Requirements are a valid passport, a current FM3 or FM2, and proof of residence. For the INM, all ok.

That’s pretty much it. The cost was $1294 pesos for which I was given a form to take to a bank for payment. The bank gave me a valid receipt that I brought back to the office together with the photos from the studio. All this can be done on the same day. Had I provided them with an acceptable bank statement, I would have right then and there completed the application. Following this, all that I have to do is check online with the pieza and pin numbers provided when I could go and pick up my new FM3. My now expired FM3 was retrieved and I was given a form attesting that a renewal request was ongoing.

The application deadline is 30 days preceding the expiry date of the current FM3 visa. The new visa is a card with a photo and much less cumbersome than the old FM3 in passport format.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Floor Update

Now that I can see so well with my new glasses, I can finally take photos. The carpet tiles that I had installed a couple of years ago had a black backing somewhat rigid but without adhesive. In the box were little squares with adhesive on both sides. I had absolutely no confidence that these little squares would suffice. On to Home Depot, my very favourite store, for something more substantial.

The gentleman to whom I explained my problem pointed to a tape that looked like a half-finished knitted ladder but, man oh man, was it ever adhesive. It was protected on both sides by waxy paper. I bought what I needed and went to work. It wasn’t particularly easy. At times, I reminded myself of a cartoon or live comedy in which something sticks to the character’s fingers and he keeps trying to get rid of it, shaking the sticky tape from one set of fingers to the other over and over and ends up sticking it to anything other than body parts in frustration. It kept happening and was both annoying and expensive but once, at long last, I had set the carpet tiles down, did they ever stick!

Now for the removing, I had a (dare I say sticky?) problem on my hands. The carpet tiles had solidly adhered to the plywood subfloor. I had no choice but to remove the tiles with some of the black backing still adhering to the subfloor. Here’s what it looked like:

Floor and dogs 002

I tried using various tools to lift the whole gooey stuff and managed to lift about a half-inch per 10 or 15 minutes! That was going to be exhausting. I tried to apply all kinds of liquids from thinner to boiling water, even remover, all without success. Besides, when I could lift the sticky black tape, it came with a portion of the subfloor plywood. One way or another, I would have to even out the subfloor.

Finally I called on Ismael. We went to Construrama, now also a favourite shopping venue, bought a couple of sheets of MDF about half a centimeter thick to cover the whole enchilada. Thicker would have presented a problem opening drawers once the vinyl tiles were added on top. Ismael is a very good stone mason but he so enjoys working with other materials, like wood or paint, that it would be a shame depriving him of his delight working with things other than cement and stones. In no time at all he had covered the floor with the MDF (I love that stuff!) and I never got a chance to take a pic. He seemed eager to get on with the tiles so I let him handle the whole thing. Here’s the result:

Floor and dogs 003

Now it’s a breeze to keep clean and has sensibly reduced the amount of dust in the rig. Decidedly a relief for Tina who seems to have some kind of asthma as a reaction to the dust. For me too. I had other tiles in mind but it would have meant a trip to Querétaro. I had briefly contemplated laminate flooring but vetoed it when I measured by how much it would have elevated the floor.

All’s well that ends well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Catching my Breath and… Oh, for a CAR!

What a week! I needed glasses and a new prescription. So when I had to go to San Juan del Rio a week or so before Christmas, I noticed an optometrist and, since the exam was free, decided on the spot to be tested. My reading glasses were almost unusable they were so scratched. I worked on the computer with MUCH difficulty given the state of my glasses. I had tried bifocals: they’d given me a headache. So I actually use two pairs, one for distance, another for reading and computer work. I had accidentally rolled my computer chair over the distance glasses with devastating results as you can imagine. I needed both glasses.

Test done, I was told to pick up both on December 23rd. A trip to San Juan takes some 20 minutes by car. Public transportation involves a bus to the bus depot in Tequisquiapan, and another one to San Juan. Taking into account waiting times, a trip to San Juan takes about half a day, more if I have to go to more than one store. When I tried on the new reading glasses, I saw letters dancing. Text absolutely illegible. It turned out that the lab had installed the wrong prescription. The optometrist, after a short talk with the lab attendant, decided to send for the prescription to Mexico City. My new glasses would not be ready until after January 6th! I have them now and can finally attend to my blogs. Now that you know, I’m hoping you’ll excuse my tardiness.

Then my FM3 (resident’s visa valid for one year) was to expire some time in February, or so I thought… However, I had forgotten that in fact, I had received my visa in January, February being the deadline for LAST year! There are new rules meant to simplify the visa renewal. And yes, renewal is a breeze. However, I was 2 days away from the deadline. Minor panic. Thankfully, now I could apply online, did, and was given a number to follow on the procedure with a trip to Querétaro. No problem. I would go between Christmas and New Year. A call to Querétaro informed me that the immigration office (INM) would be closed from December 20th to January 3rd. Another think imposed on yours truly. I headed for Querétaro on January 4th. By the way, a trip to Querétaro by car takes about 45 minutes.

Fortunately, the INM receives seniors in priority, which would save me time as I had to get photos taken at a studio and had also to head to a bank to pay the fee. Last year, the whole shebang had required some 3 trips after the initial one! I had checked what the requirements were for renewal and found info from another blogger but for another state.  Each state is given a bit of leeway in their requirements making it impossible to find out in advance what they were for Querétaro. I had called and been told that I would find out at the counter. End of discussion. Well!

Last Tuesday, I left on the 7:30 AM bus to Tequis, connected to the bus to Querétaro, took a taxi to the INM, (which incidentally, is open only until 1 PM), got the info, got my papers checked (all ok), took another taxi to downtown for the photos and the bank, hopped into yet another one to the INM, and made it on time. Later, with a bite to eat and a short shopping session at Walmart for stuff that I can’t find in Tequis, and I was back a few minutes short of 5 PM. A trip by car would have meant doing everything in half the time.

BTW, bus travel in Mexico is pretty fantastic. The Deluxe Class is not available between Tequis and Querétaro, but even in the only one available, there is a movie, the seating is very comfortable and the ride smooth and air conditioned. Also, with my Seniors card, I pay only half the price of the ticket on buses.

But, Oh… for a car! However, given the state of my retiree income, I have the choice between building a house (little) or buying a car (used), but not until I’m done paying for the lot at the end of January. I will admit that contemplating building a house with my limited income would be a pipe dream elsewhere North of the border. So, I am indeed very grateful. I’ll be “vehicular” in the future, near or far.

Because guess what? I’m going for the house!

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

To Readers

I am deeply touched every time I realize that a new reader has joined my blog. Thank you for your interest.

Years ago, someone very dear to my heart had scoffed at my intention to publish a blog. Not very original. . . I was told. So, for a very long time I had repressed this desire out of fear of rejection or scorn or complete lack of interest from anyone who would come across it. Until I realized that even if I could please no one other than myself, I owed it to this life-long desire to write to dare put my little words out there. Regardless of consequences. As you can surmise from this, your interest is extremely rewarding and warms my heart in so many ways. I thank you for it.

From that decision, and through both my blogs I do hope that my testimony will encourage many others to step out of the box and DARE fulfil their heart’s desire. I do acknowledge that both my chosen activities as a solo woman boondocker first, and writing about it and about other interests second, are essentially solitary pursuits. However, I want to state here that, in some strange way, both activities have brought me a measure of closeness to many people out there. I have become aware of dreams and projects and plans of many and have felt myself sharing in those and wishing for their realization. After all, I had done so myself for so many years. A totally unexpected bonus!

Now, about moving to Mexico, I need to share here a concept that I had developed years ago through trial and error. Regardless of where one is born or educated, regardless of where life sometimes brings one to other places or lands, I think that for everyone there is a special spot where one’s body and soul feel totally AT HOME. To feel good in one’s skin, to be authentic to oneself, very little else can bring such ease and contentment. And how can one experience pleasure and happiness without first being at ease and content with how and where one lives? I was once accused of choosing adventure over security, when I had it. Perhaps. But the security that a house and a mortgage provided was somewhat fleeting to me. They were necessary to provide security for a family, period.  Even as a house owner (albeit with the bank) it simply didn’t do it for me alone. I felt ensconced in someone else’s definition of happiness. A house is not always a home while an RV, contrary to some beliefs, can truly be a home. It’s all in the eyes (and heart) of the beholder.

After years of RV’ing, which had brought me much pleasure and contentment, I had a need for a more stationary home, but where?For me, when I finally encountered it, it has been this area where the past and tradition are not impositions but a hallmark of true authenticity. This respect for the past joined with an acceptance of and an adaptation to the new are for me an ideal combination. Here I do experience the greatest ease of living and it has nothing to do with wealth, which incidentally is neither a goal nor a necessity to enjoy life. At least mine. After these many years, and for a while, I’m still boondocking in an older RV. However, I need not feel restricted or condemned to a lifestyle for lack of funds. I gave up the house for the RV. Now, I’m ready to give up the RV for a (modest) house in a place that provides me with decided enjoyment. Here is the extraordinary possibility to end my days in MY home (not yet built, but it doesn’t matter) after years of vagabonding. In short, I found my SPOT! And I’m following MY bliss. . .

To sum it all up, I took to heart Joseph Campbell’s admonition to “Follow Your Bliss”. It has been an exhortation that I always considered wise counsel. Nobody can or should decide or define what will make someone else happy and content. It is a totally unique endeavour that is quite legal as long as it does not involve hurting anyone else. Also, it’s quite normal for it to change with time, and I accepted it. And this, for all of you dear readers, is my heartfelt wish for all who may not yet have experienced it! May you find Your Bliss and live as many years as you wish enjoying it!

Let 2011 be The Year!

New Year Wishes


May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow,

May the soft winds freshen your spirit,

May the sunshine brighten your heart,

May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you,

And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

and a freely translated Spanish wish,

Health, Love, and Wealth

And time to Enjoy them All!


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