I AM ON THE horns of a dilemma. Feel free to chime in.
I’ve been thinking of buying a new car, but I can’t come up with a very good reason to do so other than it would be nice to have a new car. Does that justify the financial outlay? Not really.
The 2009 Honda CR-V we have owned for almost a decade runs great. It’s never given me a lick of serious trouble. Honda makes wonderful cars.
In the last year or so, two large plastic covers have come loose beneath the car. They were easily and cheaply reconnected, but is that a hint of more serious trouble ahead?
I’m concerned about the airbags that have been packed tightly in there somewhere for 10 years. Will they still deploy correctly if needed? Mexicans drive like lunatics, so airbags are wise south of the border. It was the primary reason I bought the Honda in 2009. Our previous Chevrolet Meriva lacked airbags.
There is the matter of the Honda depreciating every year, and a new car increasing in price every year. Would it be cheaper to switch now? Most likely.
The Blue Book value of the Honda currently sits at 125,000 pesos. The price of the car we would buy, a 2018 Kia Soul EX TA, is 332,000 pesos. The difference between those two at today’s exchange rate is a bit over $10,000 in U.S. bucks. I would use dollars from above the Rio Bravo.
The exchange rate is very favorable now due to Trump and AMLO, and may it continue that way at least until January.
I would have to wait till January to make a purchase due to Gringo tax issues. The 2019 Kias would be available then, one supposes. Maybe I can get a deal on a leftover 2018.
What would you do in my spot, and why? Gracias in advance.
WE WENT TO the dentist yesterday, both of us. Actually, it was two dentists. One for her, and another for me.
My child bride was to get, after three months of waiting for the posts to set in her jaw, her four new implants. She ended up getting three. There was some detail with the fourth, and she’ll be returning in about 10 days to get that last one.
While she was doing that for over three hours, I drove about 10 blocks away to a specialist who does root canals. That went well, if longer than usual, two hours in the chair, and then I returned to the other dentist to pick up my better half.
A friend in Arizona told me yesterday that he needs a root canal, and his dentist’s fee will be $2,500. That’s U.S. dollars. My root canal cost $3,200 pesos, which is about $172 in U.S. dollars. This cost difference is astounding.
We have no dental insurance, but we don’t need it. Unfortunately, my friend in Arizona does not have dental insurance either, and he does need it. Just one more example of how life in Mexico is superior to life above the Rio Bravo.
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THE SEASON OF DUST
This morning, like most mornings, I swept the downstairs veranda and wiped off the shelves. All the shelves were dusty, and some harbored bat turds that had dropped from the roof tiles where bats doze during the day.
We’re heading into full-tilt dry season, which means lots of dust, inside and out. The dust inside drives my child bride nuts. We really should hire a maid, but we never do. The minor reason is that we don’t want another ongoing household expense. The major reason is that we don’t want anyone underfoot here.
In the years we’ve lived here, we’ve had two maids. I forget why we fired the first, but we fired the second because she was unreliable. For months after she departed, we noticed things had been stolen, mostly clothing and music CDs. If we ever hire another maid, we will not leave her here by herself, which is another reason not to hire a maid.
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CARS, CARS, CARS
Unlike so many Gringos who make the wise decision to move over the Rio Bravo, I did not bring a car with me. Delta Airlines provided my transportation.
I bought my first car in September 2000. It was a little Chevy Pop, something that was not sold in the United States. It was almost a clone of the Geo Metro, a very nice little ride. Four years later, we bought a 2004 Chevrolet Meriva, another car that’s not sold in the United States. It was made in Brazil and sold in other nations around the world as a Vauxhall, sometimes an Opel. It too was a very nice car.
A bit over four years later, we bought our 2009 Honda CR-V. Aside from some design flaws that only the driver notices, this is a very nice car, and it’s still serving us well.
About four years later, again, we bought my wife’s 2014 Nissan March, and yet again, it’s a car that is not sold in the United States. It is small and sweet.
The Honda is almost a decade old now. It’s been great. However, a large plastic part where the front bumper should be — why do cars no longer have bumpers? — fell off recently in the state capital. No huge issue, and a mechanic reattached it for free.
Is this a harbinger of things to come? Will we be tooling down the autopista through avocado groves and narco hangouts toward the sands of the Pacific when something else falls off or simply stops functioning? It’s a concern.
I don’t know when I’ll buy it, but I have decided on its replacement: the Kia Soul.
It’s smaller than the Honda CR-V, but it’s far roomier than it looks. We went by the dealership in the capital city recently to see if my tall, lanky, aging self could get into the Soul with no problem. It was a piece of cake.
The front seat is incredibly spacious. The back seat not so much, but we never sit in the back seat. The safety ratings are good, and so are customer reviews.
Inexplicably, when I tried to sit in the significantly larger Kia Sportage, I cracked my skull on the top of the door opening. Kia, a South Korean firm, has been making a big splash in Mexico the last couple of years.
When this change will take place is unknown. Currently, the Honda is working fine. I recently bought new floor mats and had it waxed for the first time. Soon, I’ll need four new tires, no small expense. But when a new car is purchased, I’ll become a Soul Man.
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BEEF AND WALKING
I wrote the above this morning before heading out on my daily exercise march around the neighborhood plaza. The butcher shop in the next block, run by another Felipe, was closed due to its being Friday during Lent.
Semana Santa is just a couple of weeks away, so he’ll soon be able to sell again on Fridays. That won’t affect me, however, because I rarely eat beef, being more of a chicken and salad man. It always amuses me that Catholics think God worries about what they eat.
And Jews think God wants guys to cut off the tip of their dingus.
I’m sure he has more important things on his mind, like how to get the Mohammedans to see the light and put down the scimitars.
I WAS 50 years old before I bought a new car. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, so not really a car but a pickup.
Before then I’d always purchased used vehicles and darn few of them too. Not a car guy.
Shortly after marrying my first wife in 1965, I inherited a 1956 Plymouth Savoy from my granny. About three years later, I bought a VW Beetle convertible, used. Now that was fun. But I left it behind when we split in 1971, and I continued sans car.
I had bicycles and motorcycles.
My second wife had a 1975 Toyota when we met in 1976, so that was what we used until about 1985 when we bought another Toyota, used. Later, we bought a third Toyota, used. That was our ride when she dumped me in 1995.
Her current car is a Prius. She votes Democrat.
And that was when I purchased my first-ever new car, er, pickup, which I drove until I moved to Mexico five years later. I sold it in 2000. Most people who move to Mexico bring their cars — and as much gear as they can manage, foolishly — but the pickup would not fit into either of my suitcases.
It was after moving to Mexico in 2000 that I shifted into high gear and began buying new cars. I have purchased four in the past 17 years. All from dealerships, all paid in full, in cash. The last was in late 2013 when we bought my child bride’s 2014 Nissan March, a model that isn’t sold in the United States.
I bought new cars, in direct opposition to the fact that it’s smarter to purchase relatively new used cars, because I did not trust used cars in Mexico. I have since altered my tune, and were I to buy another car it would be a “pre-owned” from a dealership. I still wouldn’t buy one directly from a local.
My first car here (2000) was a Chevy Pop, very much akin to a Geo Metro from the turn of the century. It was a real honey, and we kept it till we bought the Nissan March in 2013. We sold it to a nephew, so it’s still in the family.
The Pop had become my wife’s gym car. It had no AC, no airbags, not even a radio. It had squat aside from reliability. We once drove it from here to Atlanta, barreling down the U.S. interstates with the windows wide open in springtime.
But the Pop ceased to be our main car in 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another vehicle that’s not sold in the United States. It was sold in other parts of the world as an Opel or Vauxhall. It too was a gem, but it had no airbags, was a stick shift, no cruise control, not so basic as the Pop, but eventually I wanted something more suited to an old coot.
So we bought a 2009 Honda CR-V with automatic transmission — the first automatic of my life — A-C, of course, cruise control and airbags front and side. Mexicans drive like lunatics, so airbags are not optional equipment.
The Honda got its 170,000-kilometer service yesterday, and the mechanic informed me that the front shocks needed to be replaced. We’ll do that next week. The cost — parts and labor — will be 7,300 pesos, which is a bit over 400 bucks.
It’s the first repair of any consequence I’ve had to do with the Honda, which is a pretty good car.
Maybe we’ll buy another car one day, depending on how long I keep breathing, but if we do it’ll be a late-model used one from a dealership. I’m thinking Nissan.
Or maybe a motorcycle.
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(Note: Until recently, Gringos living in Mexico could tool around in cars with long-expired U.S. plates, and Mexico looked the other way. But a few years ago, rules were changed, and you’re not supposed to do that anymore. Most don’t.)
(Another note: I was surprised to learn recently that Renaults and Peugeots are not sold in the United States. They’re popular down here, especially Renaults.)
OVER THE PAST month I’ve been embracing some very thrilling ideas.
Dreams that have reached the very edge of realization though the reality has yet to happen and likely will not.
We all have dreams, but what sets these dreams of mine apart is that they were given very serious consideration. One or both might still happen, but likely not.
Without further ado, here they are:
(1) Buy a motorcycle. I’m a biker from way back and even though I sold my last ride around 1990, the siren call remains. Over the past month, research has narrowed my future ride — if the dream were to get off the ground — down to this:
The 2016 Suzuki Boulevard C50, an 800-cc, cruiser-style machine. I think I would look very fine astride it.
Much of motorcycling is about style, of course, and I’ve even investigated that. Were I to buy the bike, I would also order appropriate accoutrements from this place.
They’ve told me they ship to Mexico. I told you that I was looking into this very seriously.
I already have a biker babe here in the house, the most important accoutrement of all.
Given the spectacular exchange rate these days, the motorcycle would cost about $8,000. The Harley Sportster I purchased in 1977 cost $5,000. That the comparable Suzuki is just $3,000 more almost 40 years later is surprising.
(2.)Buy a new car. This is slightly more likely to happen, but just slightly. My current ride is a 2009 Honda CR-V, which I purchased new. I’ve never liked it.
It’s about eight years old now, and has never given me a lick of real trouble. It’s a great car. Its sole defects are some design lunacies that only the driver would notice.
Of course, that is always me.
No matter. If I buy a new car, I’ve narrowed it down to the 2016 Chevrolet Trax.* It would be the fourth new car I’ve purchased since moving to Mexico, if you don’t count the 2014 Nissan March we bought for my child bride 18 months ago.
With the current resale value of the Honda factored in, the Chevrolet would set me back about $8,000, just like the motorcycle. How about that? I have $8,000.
I don’t need a new car, and I probably would perish on the bike, so neither of these dreams is likely to happen.
But you never know.
Magic happens in Mexico.
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* The two cars previous to the Honda were Chevrolets, a Pop (Geo Metro clone) and a Meriva, also available as a German Opel. I loved them both.