Anniversary and bills

BirdwingsThirteen years ago last week I packed two suitcases, one medium, the other huge, and stepped into an airliner in Atlanta to fly far south. I had scant plans.

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.

odds__endsBetter 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.)

12 thoughts on “Anniversary and bills”

  1. First of all, I hate that you write this annual reminder of how fast each page of the decade calendar whips by, mysteriously subtracting sand in my cherished hourglass of life.

    And, man, you were making very decent bucks if you were making 1,100 bucks a week as a desk jockey catching the homophones of less-paid, entry-level scribes,(at least with WGA memories of what scale was.)

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    1. Tancho: I am very time-conscious. This includes people’s ages, anniversaries and all manner of other such stuff.

      I caught more than homophones (had to look that one up), and I did it for all writers on the paper and incoming wire services, not just entry-level scribes. It was easy money. That’s for sure.

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      1. Wire services, I almost forgot about that source. I love the sound of the machines. In fact, we used to play a tape of it in the background during my newscasts at the radio stations.

        No one nowadays would know what that noise was. I was around as they removed the big black machines to the newer smaller gray ones, which no longer had that sound of authority to them.

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  2. Leaving all that was familiar for a land that was foreign to you required a lot of guts. And look at the doors that have opened to you for your efforts. Bravo, señor!

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    1. Actually, Francisco, senor is not right either. It’s señor that you’re looking for. The ñ is actually an additional letter in Spanish that does not exist in English. You need a Spanish keyboard, which I imagine you do not have, so I forgive you for calling me a senior. And a senor too.

      In any event, I corrected it in your first comment. Feedback, of course, is appreciated no matter what I’m called. Well, within reason.

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  3. “Stumbling through life,” I think, describes your life (you stumbled in many different forms) prior to Mexico. Don’t know how your life now could be much better (as you have described so well in prior writings) — unless you got rid of the Honda from Hell.

    Congratulations on your wonderful life SOB!

    Our electricity and gas exceed your threesome by 50%, and we are only in town 4 months a year, but we do bring a crowd with us. Maybe the fountain pump burns a lot juice or the cleaning lady rents it out while we are gone. My NOB gas and electric bill THIS month is $550 — 1800 sq. ft., no pool and just two of us in a temperate climate. We won’t be paying that bill too much longer.

    Both Obama elections will always remind me of different milestones in my life. Each for a different reason. I’ll tell you about that sometime.

    Homophones! Learn something every day at this site!

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    1. Patzman: I vote for the option that your maid is renting the place out in your absence.

      As for the Honda from Hell, it’s yours for a great price.

      As for Obama’s elections — don’t get me going.

      Thanks for the congrats. I am having a great time.

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  4. Your comments on your life as it is today fill me with happiness for you. After apparent challenges in life, you have evident success with making a nest with a life partner and a beautiful house that is a home filled with amor.

    Your success inspires me that perhaps a better future is possible.

    On the other hand, after 60 plus years, my life has been akin to the below quote from Gatsby.

    “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”

    For now I need to continue to work out from the financial obligations I have, forgive myself for real and perceived past errors, and hope for the future, beating on, hopefully into the future and not the past.

    And when I need inspiration I will read your blog.

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    1. What a very nice comment, Enrique. I really appreciate it.

      You did not ask for advice, but I’ll give it anyway: Don’t think or plan too much. Go to the edge of the cliff and step off. You will land in clover. And it will surprise you.

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