That Delta jet was the first step in winging it.
I had a girlfriend named Ana who lived in the nation’s capital. We had met online six months earlier, and she had flown north twice to visit. My treat.
She was 50, tiny, svelte and lovely. A Montessori teacher who spoke English, she also was recently divorced and had a cat and two sons, 16 and 10.
She and I did not last long. Kids and the cat doomed that romance.
On landing that first late night, I caught a cab into the center of Guadalajara, where I had never been before. A hotel reservation awaited me, but due to arriving so late, it was not a good room, right next to the kitchen.
Startled awake at dawn by the sound of clanging pots and pans, I showered and dressed, still stunned from scant sleep.
I downed coffee and chilaquiles for breakfast. And took a stroll.
Two days and many strolls later, another taxi took me to the bus station, and I traveled to the capital of a neighboring state. I had never been there either, but I had found a nice-looking language school via the internet.
I studied like a lunatic for six months, living two months with a family connected to the school and then four months in a barely furnished rented house where I often sat solo on the roof in the evenings and looked at the mountains.
I had always wanted to live in the mountains.
Someone mentioned an old Colonial town 40 minutes higher in this same Sierra, so I took another bus ride. I sat that cool afternoon in the spacious plaza circled by old Spanish architecture and tall trees.
I like this town, I thought.
So a few weeks later, after having found a two-story, furnished rental a short walk from the plaza, I moved to that old pueblo, still winging it.
And I’ve been here ever since. Stumbling through life.
Thirteen great years so far. If I breath another 13 I’ll be 81, and my child bride will be 65, younger than I am now. May it happen.
* * * *
We only spent four days last week in the nation’s nutty capital, but we made another inch of progress toward getting the deed to the condo there.
Better than nuttin´.
It’s now officially paid off, something we knew a couple of years ago when we actually paid it off. Now some lawyer must get involved for us to get our mitts on the deed.
Maybe later this year, and it won’t be cheap.
* * * *
January brings annual bills. When I moved south of the border years back that almost always meant standing in long lines to pay with cash.
That has changed. Now I pay many things online via a credit card, and even those not payable online have been streamlined immensely.
Not only is it easy, it’s almost always cheap. Here’s a rundown so you folks living in the Socialist Nirvana of Obama* can read it and weep.
As your America slides further into fiscal and societal chaos, an inevitable result of utopian, socialist pipe dreams, my Mexico just gets better.
1. Total annual property tax for our three homes: $84.
2. Total annual water bill for the three: $195 and, oddly, $130 of that is for the downtown casita, which sits unoccupied 99 percent of the year. Obviously, usage does not figure into the calculation.
3. Total annual electricity bill for the three: $411. This is based on usage, and the lion’s share, $288, is connected to where we live, the Hacienda.
4. Total propane gas bill for the three: $320. This is based on usage, and 99 percent is connected to the Hacienda.
5. Annual tax on cars has plummeted for many vehicles, and both of ours are included. Total is $82. Paying the car taxes used to be the Mother of all Hassles. Now I find the bills online, print them out, and pay at a bank.
6. The post office box is $24 a year, and the service is great. I’m on a first-name basis with the postmaster, Mario.
To sum it all up, that’s $1,116 a year for property taxes, water, gas and electricity for three homes, plus taxes on two cars, and the post office box. Less than one week’s salary at the Houston Chronicle when I worked there in the ’90s.
When I owned a house in Houston 18 years ago, I paid double that in property tax alone on the single, humble home. God knows what it is now, and Texas is one of the low-tax states.
I enjoy writing these numbers because it puts a smile on my face.
* * * *
* Ain’t redistribution fun?
(Note: I used an exchange rate of $12.5 pesos to one U.S. dollar, which is about what my bank posts these days.)