Friday, August 31, 2007

Arriba grows!

Work is progressing on our upstairs addition, but not always as fast as we want, of course. Everyone who builds or remodels a house in Mexico (Mexican or gringo) has similar experiences: only about half of the workforce shows up on Monday (San Lunes) and some days, the workers don't show up at all (algo paso, or "something happened", i.e. their truck broke down; there is illness in the family; a sister is getting married). The casual pace of life here is part of what attracted us to Mexico; it takes some getting used to, and you must park your sense of time urgency at the border.

When we moved in, we were getting our electricity from a spurious underground "extension cord" that ran from our neighbor around the corner, through the field next door and under the yard to our back door, where there was a breaker box with ONE 10 amp circuit. In two more days, it will have been a year since we moved in....and this week, we finally got our new electricity hooked up! Yes, it has taken that long. We had the house rewired for 220v electricity last year, but the new wiring required a new meter and new account with CFE (the federally-run power company). Getting the new account approved took weeks, but that was just the beginning. The first problem was that we were too far from the nearest connection on our street. After we hired a lawyer, they came to the house twice and measured (over several weeks' time) , and decided that it was within their guidelines after all. Then the CFE installer decided that the standard to hold our line was not strong enough. We had to rebuild it. We did. More months passed. They came and looked. Adjustments were needed; it should be taller. OK. We made it taller. Months passed again. They came back and looked. Some tree limbs would have to be cut. OK. We would cut them immediately. They said they would be back in una hora (one hour). Weeks passed, and they didn't come back. Finally, Jerry flagged down a passing CFE truck and begged them to come and hook us up. It took 35 minutes and a $200 peso propina. ($20 USD tip). Hooray! I can finally use my wonderful Ron Popeil chicken rotisserie!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why we love Mexico #283

Our cat Puff traveled with us here to Mexico and has made the adjustment wonderfully well. Puff is a geriatric kitty, having migrated across the street from her noisy dysfunctional home to live with Jerry about 10 years ago. He estimates that she was 3-5 years old then. Because she looked just like the kitty in Fun with Dick and Jane, he renamed her Puff.

She is a bit aloof and dislikes being held, although she loves to be petted. Last year about this time, we took her to the vet in Vallarta and had her fur trimmed back because of her thick and fluffy coat and the hot and humid summer weather. She didn’t care much for the process, but she was happy with the result.

This year, we took her to one of our most cherished Bucerias resources, Dr. Wencesla Lopez, the veterinarian who practices just down the street and around the corner from us. Uncharacteristically, Puff LOVES him.

Earlier this week, we took her in about 10 in the morning. She hopped willingly into her cat carrier, anticipating a visit to Wencesla (used to take two of us to get her in, and she always drew blood.) When we arrived, she started to purr, and he was happy to see her as well. He took her to the grooming table to begin (yes, he does the grooming himself), and we knew that she was in good hands.

When we returned to pick her up a few hours later, he said, “No, she is sleeping. When she wakes up, I’ll give her a bath.” We could see her snoozing on the grooming table behind him. She lifted her head, gave us a disdainful look, and went back to sleep. We were sure that we would return to find poor Wencesla’s arms cut to ribbons. A bath? You must be kidding!

When we returned later in the day, he crooned to her as he picked her up “C’mon Baby.” She looked and smelled wonderful and there was a spring in her step that was not there earlier in the day. “She loved her bath,” he reported.

The cost for this full day at the Wencesla spa? All that personal attention, schmoozing and nurturing? $150 pesos – less than $15 US dollars.

Is there a Wencesla ANYWHERE in the US? I don’t think so. Another reason to love Mexico.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Arriba! Vista del Mar – and how I ended up cooking tacos for 8 hungry Mexicans

(1) We invited the goats in to mow the lawn for us, but they were more interested in the plumeria and the bamboo! From left, May, Noel, June and Virginia. The handsome old billy goat behind Virginia is Jerry, of course.
(2) The first columns go up for our arriba!
(3) The vista from the roof of our new addition.
(4) A beautful Bucerias sunset viewed from the roof.

We have finally begun working on our upstairs addition, and it should be completed within the next month or so. We’ll have a big bedroom (12’ X 19’), a bathroom with a BATHTUB (hooray!) and a small extra room we’ll use as a little kitchenette (so that we don’t have to go downstairs to make our morning coffee). There will also be a large patio in the front and a stairway to the NEXT level that will hold a private little terraza. From there, we can see actually see the bay, all the way from Yelapa at the south to Punta de Mita at the north. We are very excited!

Yesterday (Sunday) started out cool and quiet after a very dramatic thunderstorm the night before. Lightning crossed the sky from one horizon to the next most of the night, and we lost electricity about nine o’clock in the evening. Gets a little stuffy with no ceiling fans, but the rain cooled things off a bit and we slept fine. Got up the next morning (still no electricity) and cooked a package of our hard-to-find breakfast sausages from the freezer because they were thawing...our friends Cheto and Beto came by and promised to return in the afternoon with our friend German to mix up some cement and get the ceiling poured for the bedroom addition on the main floor. German arrived about five with his three sons and three more friends to help...only took about two hours to haul all that sand, gravel and cement (four BIG bags) to the roof, mix it on the spot and pour it. By that time (still no electricity), more meat from the freezer had thawed and we had LOTS of carne asada tacos for everyone. Almost had to cook by candlelight (thank goodness for the gas stove), but the electricity finally came back on about 7:30 pm. Another beautiful day in Paradise, made perfect by good friends and good food.
I've posted some new pictures on Flickr if you want to see more - three new paintings from a new series I am calling The Faces of Mexico. You can find them at