The plague year

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This is not how it is.

THINGS ARE moving along relatively peacefully in my end of the world, plague-wise. Four cases of Kung Flu have been reported in our state just recently, the first ones. All four people had returned recently from Europe.

There are many advantages to living in Mexico. One is that stores still have merchandise. This morning I drove down the mountainside early to the nearby capital city to visit Costco and Chedraui, which is a Walmart-like Mexican chain. I arrived at both just after they opened because they open at different hours.

Few people were waiting at either door. I rapidly passed through both well-stocked stores, paid, hopped into the Honda and headed home. There was plenty of T-P in both places. I bought a few more rolls just in case.

Meanwhile, I see photos of supermarkets above the border stripped bare.

The reaction down here between Gringos and Mexicans is quite a contrast too. The Gringos are hunkering down in their houses, quivering in their Crocs. The Mexican reaction is far calmer. The Gringo- and Canuck-infested pueblo of Ajijic is almost a ghost town, I hear. Probably San Miguel de Allende is too.

Yesterday we ate in one of our favorite restaurants downtown, Casa del Naranjo. We were the first customers to arrive at the traditional 2 p.m. Mexican lunch hour, but by the time we left about 45 minutes later, there were about 12 other diners, all Mexicans.

No one was quivering in their boots. Jollity prevailed.

The waiters wore face masks and gloves, and the restaurant gave customers a 20 percent discount on paying with cash, which I did. I’m a cash man, as are most Mexicans. There was a big bottle of disinfectant gel at the register.

Later we walked across the plaza to my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. No one there was wearing face masks or gloves, and there was no hand gel. It was business as usual.

I had a nice café Americano negro.

Looking at this year’s plague I see engaging elements.

  1. Political. The U.S. news media, mostly an arm of the Democrat Party, are going wild. That affects the media in other nations and even the conservative U.S. media. Sad. I do not know to what extent, but to some degree their aim is to torpedo Trump. This is causing grievous economic damage.
  2. Hysteria. Do you remember the 2009-10 swine flu epidemic in the United States? Likely not. There were 60 million cases and over 12,000 fatalities. In contrast, the Kung Flu has killed to date about 500 Americans out of about 41,000 cases. Sure, it will get worse, but that much worse? Ninety-five percent of cases are mild.

And how will it end? Here is an interesting look by a prominent physician familiar with the situation. He outlines various possibilities.

We’re eating at home today, chicken and rice. Later we’ll head downtown for the customary sit on the plaza. Then we’ll come home and wash our hands.

Resurrection of loveliness

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Blue skies beyond the fan palm and cacti this morning.

THE SUNSHINE and blue skies are back!

We’ve just endured three days of misery, a combination of cold and wet. Rain that just would not stop, but it’s gone now. It shouldn’t be raining in February in the first place.

The Goddess was distracted. Perhaps she found a good-looking god.

A few years ago, it rained for 10 days straight one winter, so three days is a step in the right direction. Cold outside is one thing for a home with no heating system, but adding nonstop rain ratchets up the misery immeasurably.

But this morning dawned clear, blue and chilly. There is hope, reason to go on breathing. After biscuits, honey and hot café, I swept the downstairs terraza, opened the big umbrella on the yard patio and noticed that the birdbath was overflowing with rainwater.

Birds are singing. The Thursday market on the neighborhood plaza will be open, so I need to walk down there for avocados and celery. ¡Hasta luego!

Events of the day

MONDAY DAWNED chill, gray and ugly. And in the afternoon, it started to rain, which is blasphemy here in February. Climate change. We should do something!

People wonder about folks who retire to Mexico. They ask, “What do you do all day?” The first thing to remember is that chores take longer here than they do above the border. This was very true years ago, but it’s becoming less so now, due to the internet.

After whole-wheat biscuits covered with honey at 8 a.m., I sat before the H-P All-in-One and loaded the website for the state government, specifically the page dealing with car taxes. Dial in the serial numbers and print out the page you take to the bank to pay.

The fee for each of the cars, 926 pesos or about $50 U.S., was the same even though one is a 2009 model and the other is 2014. Twenty years ago, it was necessary to stand in a long line to pay at a government office. Now you take the printed form and go to the bank. Much easier. The bank also has the sticker for the car window.

But the bank visit was for the afternoon. The morning still required other activities like the exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza. Just as we were heading out afoot at 10, José Sosa drove up. He’s the guy who did lots of painting here a few weeks ago.

Now he’s painting my sister-in-law’s coffee shop downtown, and he wanted to borrow one of my ladders. You’d think a painter would have ladders. He has plenty of other gear, but not the ladder he needed, so off he went with my ladder.

I have lots of ladders.

After the second breakfast at 11 a.m., I entertained myself with YouTube videos, and my child bride knitted. Lunch happened at 2 p.m., as always. We had meat pies she made on Saturday plus minestrone I made last week. Mexico life is thrilling.

Then we killed 90 minutes watching a show on Netflix. At 4 we headed downtown in the two cars. She had to pass by a cousin’s house to pick up rent for our Mexico City condo. The cousin is footing that bill for a nephew attending a university in the capital.

I parked on the plaza and walked to the bank to pay the car taxes only to find the bank closed due to a national holiday I had neglected to notice. We have so many holidays, it’s tough to keep up. They usually entail a long weekend no matter the day on which the holiday falls. The holiday weekend is called a puente, a bridge.

It bridges from the weekend to the holiday, and you get more days off. We embrace reasons not to work.

The puente also caused my Social Security payment not to arrive at the bank. It’ll arrive mañana, I suppose. My car tax errand stymied, I headed to the coffee shop, sat at a sidewalk table, ordered a café Americano negro, pulled my Kindle from my man bag, and tugged a scarf tight around my neck. It was raining, cold and nasty.

There were wool gloves on my hands with the fingertips missing. My child bride knitted the gloves. You must have skin showing to flip pages on the Kindle.

crawdadI’m reading a book titled Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, her first novel. It’s very good and, at one point, gave me a chuckle. I knew something Delia did not because I am old, and she is younger. In referring to a school lunch served to one of the characters, she mentioned a “carton of milk.” This was 1952.

There were no cartons of milk in 1952, neither in schools nor delivered at dawn to your front door. Just bottles. Cartons came years later. I miss the bottles.

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Tomorrow we’re off to the nearby state capital for our weekly shopping trip, but we’ll have a passenger, our nephew, the kid once known as the Little Vaquero, whom we are taking to an ophthalmologist. He’s not a Little Vaquero anymore. He’ll be 17 next month.

His eyesight is extremely bad and has been for years. His glasses are old, and so are his contacts, which he prefers because he thinks he looks dorky in glasses. His mother’s approach to this situation is: mañana. She does nada. So we’re stepping in.

—-

As I left the coffee shop this afternoon and walked through a light rain to the Honda, I stopped at pastry shop to buy a brownie. It was not as good as my child bride makes — few things are — but it was darn tasty. These were the events of the day.

Now, at almost 7 p.m., it’s still raining and ugly. I blame Greta.

The window treatment

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The “Before” shot.

WE HAVE THIS window, you see, from the dining room out to the garden. It provides a nice view in the morning while we’re enjoying biscuits, honey and café Americano negro.

But for some reason it’s the window that attracts far more rain in the monsoon months and sun in the sunny months than any other window. Both elements play havoc with the wood, which we must refinish with an unholy frequency.

A refinishing was done just a few weeks ago during other paint work.

Plus, there are a few weeks of the year when the sun sits just so in the morning sky, aiming its rays directly into my eyes while I’m trying to enjoy those biscuits and honey at the dining room table. It forces me to sit in odd positions, seeking comfort.

For years, I’ve been saying: Something must be done.

At last, I have done it.

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Nico does his magic.

The man known as Nico, who custom made and installed the canvas curtains around the upstairs terraza last spring, came to the rescue. We now have an awning.

Didn’t cost much either. Should have done this years ago.

finish
The “After” shot.

It looks quite spiffy, I think, and will go a long way to protect the wood from rain and rays all year, plus my eyes during those certain months at breakfast.

Speaking of changes, I have also installed a new photo in the website header, replacing the ancient church that’s held that spot of honor for quite a spell. I took this new photo myself downtown yesterday, a mural in an interior patio.

The entire photo does not fit in the header. To see it all in lovely color, click here.

I am fond of skulls. Bones in general. They remind me of mortality.