Mexican walkabout

I opened our front gate for perspective on the location of the two storefronts under construction. Directly across the street.

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It was a lovely midday, and I had no pressing chores, so I decided to walk a bit, shoot some photos, all within two blocks of the Hacienda, for your edification.

This is the butcher shop just a few steps beyond the storefront construction on the same side of the street. The butcher is a young man, also named Felipe. We exchange greetings every morning as I head out on my morning exercise walk to the nearby plaza.

And here is the plaza. City workers just yesterday cut the grass, which was very high due to the daily rains. Interestingly, a few years ago nine of those tall trees were completely uprooted during a massive storm. I think a tornado touched down, though no one reported that. No one saw it because everyone was hunkering down inside.

It was a very, very big blow.

Returning toward the Hacienda via the back, parallel street, I passed this house. Now that is orange. And here below, shot from the next corner, is the block behind the Hacienda.

Believe it or not, that street is cobblestoned, but there’s so much dirt that’s been allowed to collect that it looks like what it originally was, Dirt Street or, during the rainy season, Mud Street, usually.

It’s a dead end. At the distant right, the orange-and-yellow, two-story edifice, is the sex motel, the rear entrance, no pun intended. Just before that, on the same side, is the back of the Hacienda. We have a rear door to this street, but it’s very rarely used.

From that same corner above, look 90 degrees to the right, and this, below, is what you see. Not too far up there is the railroad track where trains travel frequently, night and day, but we’ve long become accustomed to the noise.

Walking up that way and turning left at the first corner, you’ll see the butcher shop on your right and a bit farther the storefront construction. Then, looking left and walking into the Hacienda grounds, there is this ivy, which has been growing like mad the last few weeks, even grasping that archway. I hope it doesn’t make a nuisance of itself.

It won’t if it knows what’s good for itself. I own clippers.

“Pase ud” means come on in. But phone first.

A summer deluge

Video was shot yesterday afternoon.

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Those canvas curtains come down in early June when the monsoon season starts, and they roll up in November, which is about when the world dries up in those parts.

This is our third summer under the new terraza roof which included those canvas curtains to avoid as much rainwater during the daily downpours as possible. We left one side open because we didn’t want to be totally enclosed for five or six months a year. If the rain blows from that direction, we just have to deal with it.

The clear section in the curtains was entirely transparent until a hailstorm last year blew one of them out, shredding it entirely. The sun damage after only one year had rotted it significantly. We called Nico, the guy who sold and installed the curtains, and he replaced those center sections with tougher material, which is not transparent, but it still lets light in.

Our fingers are crossed that this will hold up longer, especially since Nico, it appears, was one of the many business casualties of the Kung Flu hysteria. His establishment downtown has been gone for months. However, there is a good chance he now operates out of his home. I have his phone number.

Spring is for sprucing up

José walks atop glass. The dark area is covered with shade cloth.

I wait till April and May each year to do repairs. It’s the height of the dry season, and outside renovations don’t run the risk of getting soaked. Quite a few have been done already, mostly at the Downtown Casita where painting, plumbing and electrical occurred.

Yesterday, one of my guys, José, did some minor exterior painting here at the Hacienda, and then he climbed atop the roof of the upstairs terraza with a pressure washer to remove a year’s accumulation of gunk. The interesting aspect is that the roof is glass. He treads lightly and tries to stay atop the steel beams.

Old faithful.

My focus now turns to the water heater, which is about 16 years old. We started out with an identical heater 18 years ago, but it failed after two years and was replaced for free because it was still under warranty. It’s a big sucker, and has always worked great.

It has a nonstop pilot light, however, and it sits quite near the propane tank, which concerns me a bit. Plus, I would like to spend less on gas. I tried to reduce gas costs years ago by installing first one solar water heater, then another. Neither were worth warm spit, so I’m turning to another solution, one of those on-demand heaters.

But I’ve had bad luck with those too. We installed one in the Mexico City condo, and it’s been quite temperamental. We installed another in the Downtown Casita some years back because the little cheap traditional heater the home came with worked poorly. The new on-demand heater was no better, so I installed a large, traditional heater, which works great.

Avera.

We also have an on-demand heater in my child bride’s pastry kitchen. It’s never failed us in seven years.

I’m going to buy an Avera instantaneous heater, probably the model that costs 3,199 pesos. It has great reviews on the Avera website, and I’ll also keep the old heater online. I can switch from one to the other. Another option is a modulating model. Anyone have experience with those?

Homeownership, never an idle moment.

Walls and weight

This is Miguel Jr. He’s 13 years old. Yep, child labor.

A crack developed in an upstairs wall recently, stemming from an array of glass bricks we had installed about 16 years ago in a space that originally had wooden windows like the one you see to the left in this photo. There was a serious problem with rain because the windows are badly made, so we removed the most vulnerable window and installed glass bricks.

No problem until a crack in the wall appeared recently. This is not rare in this type of construction. It happened in the stairwell many years ago, and I just spackled it over and painted. No sweat. But since this was happening in an exterior wall and jutting out from the glass bricks, I called my main man, Miguel. That’s his son in the photo, Miguel Jr.

While Papa Miguel was downstairs working on something else, some talavera tile that had worked loose, he assigned the preliminary toil to his son who is 13, and he did a fine job. Dad did the finish work, and all was completed in half a day.

They left the work unpainted because I wanted them gone as soon as possible, and I told Miguel I would do the painting, and I will. Lord knows when.


The fat boy

In the late 1970s, I weighed 225 pounds. I was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and maybe I still am (doubtful), but the poundage was evenly distributed, so I really did not look fat, just very large and imposing. A black beard added to the menacing effect.

Around 1980, I knocked off about 55 pounds simply by eating better and doing regular, relatively light exercise, and I’ve been around 170 pounds ever since, 40 years. It wasn’t that difficult. Tip: Diets do not work.

Something odd happened recently. I put on some weight around the waist. I attribute it to age. My body is settling a bit. I admit, however, that I’ve become a bit careless with what I eat. No major deal except for one thing. I went from 34-waist jeans to 35-waist. Well, there is a second thing. For some irrational reason, finding 35-waist pants is almost impossible. The sizes leap from 34 to 36, and 36 is too loose.

I bought two pair of new jeans — I only wear jeans — with 36 waistlines, but they tend to slip south. The belt saves me. I recall that I once wore Dockers khakis in Houston, and Dockers were available with 35-inch waists. Don’t see those available now, however, but I prefer jeans anyway.

On Amazon Mexico, I found Wranglers jeans with 35-inch waists. A pair is winging its way to the mountaintop as I write this. If that works, I’ll order a couple more. Three pair should be enough.

Plus I have the two droopy 36s.

Meanwhile, my child bride made apple pie this week for the first time ever. Yesterday, I bought vanilla ice cream at the supermarket. After lunch today, we heated two slices, put vanilla ice cream on top. It was the first time I’d eaten apple pie with vanilla ice cream in about three decades.

It was lovely.

And around 5 p.m., I was downtown, sitting at a sidewalk table with an agua de fresa, which translates to strawberry water, but that fails to convey how good it is. I included a photo. Yes, the expanded waistline is due to age, nothing else.

I curse the years.