Friday, June 30, 2006

A Good Day's Work!

Buying a used vehicle in Mexico (or anywhere, for that matter) is a perilous business, and we would not have attempted it without the help of our friend Salvador. We started out by asking Salvador to look through the local equivalent of "Nickel Ads" called "Mano a Mano". He found the perfect vehicle for us: a 2003 Nissan double cab pickup. We wanted a vehicle that we could haul a few things in for our house, but that we could also use for transportation when people visit us from home. The man selling it (Jesus Gerrard Treviro Rodriguez) did not speak much English, so Salvador made the call for us and went to look at the truck on his way home from work - it happened to be in the same little village where he lives - about 20 miles from Vallarta - Valle de Banderas. He reported back the next day - it was perfect! Only 32K kilometers and amazingly well-maintained. We went to look at it and agreed - and it was a beautiful shade of azul/blue. Now - how to pay for it? Jesus did not have a bank account, so we could not write him a check. With Salvador interpreting, we agreed that we could do an international wire transfer to the Ford dealer where he is buying his new truck. We went to Banamex, the large Mexican bank where the Ford dealer has an account and had the money wired from our US credit union to Banamex. That took three days!

Then, we had to register it and transfer the title. That was the work plan for today and it took ALL day. We needed passports, FM3s and a current water bill (we used Salvador's - that was discussed at length with the officials and deemed OK, because we don't yet have one in our name). Because we want to register the truck in Nayarit (the state where Bucerias is located), we went to the government offices in Mezcales. Salvador and Jesus went with us (thank goodness) and we went one place to make copies (an open roadside stand with a long extension cord and a big Xerox machine - they also sold pastries and sodas.) Then we went another place two towns away in San Juan de Albeo to have the car inspected to make sure it wasn't stolen (the policia). Then we went to the registrar in San Juan and filed all the papers. They filled out the registration forms for us on an old manual typewriter (no computers). Then we went to yet another place to get the new license plates. In between, Jesus and Salvador went yet another place (across the street), but we never figured out what it was.

End result? WE GOT IT and we are legal. Thanks to some very patient and helpful people. Once again, we were treated with courtesy and respect at every turn.

So I have also included a picture of the truck parked outside our condo building in Vallarta. As a bonus, you get a pictorial example of the unique Mexican electrical system!

This Sunday, we will take both families out to dinner at Adriano's, a wonderful oceanfront seafood restaurant in Bucerias to thank them for all their help. We will hear about the Rodriguez family's upcoming trip to Colorado to visit their son - Jesus is a biology teacher and we have had great fun trying to communicate with each other. We are looking forward to it and will post some pictures to the blog.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Our "stuff" has arrived!

Here are the three hardworking and friendly men who brought our shipment from Guadalajara to the storage unit north of Puerto Vallarta this afternoon. They did a great job and also have a fine sense of humor. It was a very HOT day (muy calor!). Every single item was accounted for, and we have unpacked the most fragile items with no evidence of damage. There was not room in the storage unit for one more box, so we figured it very closely. The driver gave me a copy of the customs documents that made little sense to me, but it made us very glad that we entrusted this complicated task to people who knew what they were doing. The company, UNIGROUP Worldwide, was represented by Mayflower in the US and Seymi in Mexico. They did a great job and stayed in touch with us frequently to let us know what was happening. (If anyone wants contact info, send me a private email.)

Jerry and I were REALLY glad to get some additional hot weather clothes that we couldn't fit in our suitcases. At this time of year in Vallarta, long pants (even capris) are out of the question. Am I ever glad to have several new pairs of shorts! Another example of the many kindnesses we continue to encounter - while we were waiting for the truck in the hot sun, the security guard brought us a big ice-cold bottle of water - oh, it tasted good. He also brought me a comnfortable chair to sit in the shade. All in all, a great day in Mexico.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We have been having a great time looking for property to buy, and have driven a rental car as far south as Mismaloya and as far north as San Pancho (about 20-30 miles either side of Puerto Vallarta). We have become smitten with the little town of Bucerias, which is only about 10 miles north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. Close to the city we love, but with the peaceful advantages of a small town of 6,000 population. Many foreigners live there, not just Americans and Canadians, but from all over the world. And they are not all retired - many work and live there and own small businesses. Like the German woman and her husband who own Carnes del Mundo - a wonderful butcher shop that sells all kinds of sausages and deli meats. We have found a house (a bit of a fixer-upper) that we like very much and we will probably make an offer this week. Here is a picture - we love the round front of the house with nine little windows!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

FINALLY we have internet access!

It took almost three weeks, but the cable company tech arrived today and installed our wireless internet. Hooray! The original appointment was for May 22, and we have waited (sometimes not so patiently) every day since. It was worth the wait.

Our little Casa Luna is very comfortable. Situated in Old Town Vallarta, we are only 75 yards from the beach, and even closer to our favorite restaurant, El Dorado, where we love to go drink a margarita, eat a HUGE shrimp cocktail and watch the sunset. (see picture).

The cats have settled in very well and stay close to home after a skirmish with a neighborhood alley cat the first week. They seem to be enjoying the warm weather and like sleeping on the cool tile floors.

We had an email from the moving company today (mostly in Spanish, so navigating it was a challenge) and our shipment of household goods has arrived at the border. We will hear from them again next week to see how successfully the shipment has cleared. We are crossing our fingers for a green light.

Puerto Vallarta is a world away from Portland, Oregon. I'm not sure we anticipated how different it would be, but so far we have not regretted our move. Learning Spanish better is now our top priority - getting along from day to day requires it. More later.