Tag Archives: Mexico City

The capital city

BEING A VERY part-time resident of Mexico City, this video snatched my interest.

A recent international study claims the Mexican capital has the worst traffic in the world. I believe it. For years, when we visited from the mountaintop, I drove.

But not anymore. Now it’s 100%  public transportation.

The video, however, has nothing to do with traffic jams. It’s an artist’s take on his monster city.

We’ve been visiting our condo there regularly since 2007 when the last tenants departed, and we’ll be going again next month for a week or so. Send prayers.

What the hey!?

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Just this morning. Circle of hippie women and the green floral frog.

IT RAINED last night, which is against the rules.

Normally, February is clear, blue and cold at night, cool in the day. The last couple of days, however, have escaped the mold. It’s been overcast, cold and very windy.

This morning dawned overcast, but it’s mostly blue before 10 a.m., and the cursed wind has diminished.

Lots on the calendar. We will soon flee our hardscrabble barrio due to Carnival. We’ll go to San Miguel de Allende where, among other things, we’ll visit a friend of mine from high school. She and her husband are spending three months there.

They live in North Carolina.

She’ll be the first high school friend I’ve seen in over 40 years. She’s a retired professor of Chinese something-or-other. She’s very smart, which is why we were friends.

Shortly after returning, we’ll go to Mexico City for our twice-yearly airing of the condo. It’s highly likely that we will actually get our hands on the deed at last.

On returning from Mexico City, we’ll hire a crew to do stuff both here at the Hacienda and at our downtown Casita, mostly maintenance, but we’ll probably remove the grass, and plant stone and concrete in the yard’s semicircle.

yard
Photo from a few years back. We sold that blue Chevy in 2014.

I’ve been wanting to reduce the grass for years. Maybe it will start this year with that semicircle. Depends on the price. But the peso-dollar exchange rate makes me feel rich.

I’ll keep you posted next month because I know you’re on the edge of your seat about this.

In the meantime, I’ve got to walk the plaza now, take a shower, get dressed, drive to an outdoor market, buy veggies for stir-fry, and fix lunch. Pork chops, pasta and that stir-fry.

I’m a very handy hubby.

Beautiful day

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Side dish of orchid* with morning croissants.

VALENTINE’S DAY is one of our anniversaries. It marks the day we began living together, and that was in my child bride’s condo in Mexico City in 2002.

We made it legal a bit more than two months later, a civil ceremony held in the interior patio of her sister’s coffee shop here on the mountaintop.

While February is normally one of the coldest months hereabouts, this year so far is an exception. We have not had one freeze. A bit of frost last month, but that was it.

We aren’t out of the woods, and we can’t see the light at the tunnel’s end, but I detect a candle glow down there.

Just this morning, I finished the culling of dead plants from the yard, stuff nailed by those January frosts. It all rests in a greenish pile in the Garden Patio, and I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Neighbor to haul it away very soon.

My lovely wife seems finally to be recovering from a nasty cold caused by her being phoned at 1 a.m. last Thursday as the wake for our nephew began. Yes, 1 a.m. Who starts a wake at 1 a.m.? Mexicans do. Sometimes.

The wake was held on the street with bonfires outside the nephew’s humble home. It was cold and smoky.

She had not slept the previous night either due to spending it at the nephew’s hospital bedside in the state capital. She was mostly awake for 48 hours. Who wouldn’t get sick?

But today things appear to be returning to normal. It’s a beautiful anniversary day,  air is cool, sky is blue, and we’ll lunch on roasted chicken, beans and rice.

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* Orchid courtesy of the Cotton family who recently visited the mountaintop.

Time to gloat

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Our City Hall. We pay property tax here, the casita water bill too.

IT WOULD NOT be January if I neglected to showcase one of the many great aspects to Mexican life: It’s inexpensive.

January is when many of us pay annual bills like property tax, the post office box, water service, car tax, etc.

The inimitable Steve Cotton wrote this almost obligatory posearlier this month on his website.

Now it’s my turn. I will state prices in U.S. dollars using the current exchange rate of about 21/1.

The post office box: This set us back $16. Mail comes down here slowly, but it arrives. Be patient.

Water: We pay annually at City Hall for the downtown Casita. It was $90.* Here in the hardscrabble outskirts of town where the Hacienda sits, we pay at an office on our local plaza. I usually pay four months in advance. The monthly price for unlimited water is $2.38. The Mexico City condo is about $1.60.

Property tax: We own three homes. I’ll add them together and announce the total of (drum roll) $84. If you need smelling salts, I’ll mail some to you. Be patient.

We pay property tax for the Hacienda and the Downtown Casita, plus the Casita’s water bill at City Hall. See photo. It’s efficient. We were in and out in 15 minutes. I pay the Mexico City condo’s property tax online.

Garbage pickup: Whatever you want to tip the guys.

I suggest 50 cents.

Car tax: We have two cars. Up until a few years ago, this was pretty steep for late-model cars, but then they canceled the tax. I never understood exactly why. Now we just pay for window stickers. The total for the 2009 Honda and the 2014 Nissan was $78. That was last year. It will be about the same this year. We have until March 1 to pay. I do it online.

Bank Trust Deed: I mention this only because Steve Cotton has it on his list. He lives on the sweaty, bug-infested coast, and there are laws about foreigners buying coastal property. He doesn’t own the land where Casa Cotton sits.

We own the land on which our Hacienda sits. There is no bank trust deed to mess with. He paid $522. We paid squat. In fact, the sum of all our payments — property tax, water, trash pickup, etc., on three homes, car taxes  — is about half of Steve’s bank trust deed alone.

Remember those old tour books titled Mexico on $5 a Day? Of course, you can’t do Mexico on $5 a day anymore, but it’s still inexpensive to visit — and to live here too.

* * * *

* This one thing, the Casita water bill, is by far the highest single payment we owe every year.

Note: Steve Cotton and two family members will drive to the mountaintop next week. They’ll stay a week in the Downtown Casita for free. If you’re nice to me, you might be able to stay there free too.

The hissy fits

fitWE MEXICANS love our hissy fits. They rarely resolve anything, but we throw them anyway. Here are three examples:

First: Eight or so years ago, Mexico City switched its electricity provider from some unionized outfit that ran an antiquated system to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, the modern entity that provides light to most of the nation.

The unionized outfit promptly threw a hissy fit. For months, they blockaded the entrance to the CFE high-rise on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. The government ignored them.

These days the entrance is open, and electricity service is immeasurably improved.

Second: Mexico is in the early stages of an “education reform.” In part, this entails competency tests for teachers and they also lose the right to hand off their jobs to relatives on retirement. Unionized teachers promptly threw hissy fits.

The fits happened mostly in the usual suspect, backward states of Michoacán, Chiapas and Oaxaca. Unions blocked roads and highways, and squealed in the streets. The government is giving them lip service, but mostly it’s ignoring them.

Like the improved electricity provider in Mexico City, the education reform will happen.

Third, another reform is the energy sector, which is getting into high gear this year. For a variety of reasons, gas prices have gone up a lot. How did we react? We threw hissy fits, blocking highways, attacking gas stations, looting stores.

People want the old government-subsidized gasoline price. The government will ignore them and, in time, things will be better. Though gas prices likely will be higher.

Our hissy fits normally result in squat, but we throw them anyway. And it’s usually unions having the fits, fighting change, modernization and improvements.

Any ole thing

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BEACH DENIZEN and blogger buddy Steve Cotton recently wrote about the tendency of some Mexico expatriate bloggers to run out of material, letting their blogs lie dormant.

When this happens I think it reflects a lamentable lack of imagination and/or lack of a camera.

Just this morning, while resting on the throne in the upstairs bathroom, I noticed this scene, one I spot daily about that hour. But today it hit me that it’s a bathroom scene rarely seen above the Rio Bravo, so I photographed it.

The upstairs bathroom is colonial tile, floor to ceiling. We have two other spaces that are colonial tile, floor to ceiling.

That would be the downstairs bathroom, which is far larger than this one, and the spacious kitchen.

Making this photo black and white instead of color caused nothing to be lost because the colonial tile is black and white, which was my idea. It was a favorite accent I used when I painted art furniture in a previous life.

The mirror over the sink reflects what’s behind me as I shoot the photo. The light in the mirror is on the ceiling.

So if one runs out of good material to write about, just grab the camera and shoot any ole thing. It’s fun, and then you can blab about it down below … or wherever.

* * * *

To  Mexico City!

Switching gears now, tomorrow my child bride heads off to Mexico City for three nights with a nephew, age 13.

I had planned to go too, but at the last moment I changed my mind, plus they will have more fun without the old codger in tow. It will be the boy’s first visit to the capital.

They will ride the Turibus. They will visit Chapultepec Castle. And they will spend nights at the Casa González just off the spectacular Paseo de la Reforma.

I’ve been in Mexico City a million times. It’s a hassle to get there, and it’s a hassle getting around while you’re there.

It will be the first time in almost 15 years that my wife and I have been separated more than one night.

I’ll be like a bachelor again.

Gray but cool

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NAT KING COLE sings You Made Me Love You on the music machine as I sweep the veranda on this overcast day.

It’s cool, but it’s ever cool in our mornings.

After the brief trip to Mexico City, it’s nice to fall back into a routine, which is a very relaxed one. At least mine is. My child bride doesn’t understand relaxation.

I understand it all too well — and always have.

Check news on internet. Drink coffee, eat bagels — or sometimes croissants like today — chores, shower, dress — and, in the case of my child bride, wrestle with curly long hair forever — and on Sunday go somewhere, do something.

That something today will be a ride down the mountain to the state capital for shopping and eating. Sunday’s a good day to do this because perpetually unsettled socialist “teachers” normally take that day off. No highway obstructions.

With luck the overcast will clear soon, introducing blue skies. As I head to the shower, Julie London has replaced Nat King Cole on the music machine.

Chet Baker’s warming up in the bull pen.

I hear a train in the distance. And I think I spot the sun.

Birth and death

WE WERE IN Mexico City for four days, and a couple of important things happened.

My birthday — I am 69 yet again — and the shocking death of Juan Gabriel. First things first.

People unfamiliar with the Latin world might not know of Juan Gabriel. He was Elvis. He was Frank Sinatra. He was everything. He died, and Mexico went bananas.

Juan Gabriel was a fantastic singer, prolific composer and a stunning showman. I’ve been a fan for decades, far longer than I’ve lived below the Rio Bravo.

Gabriel was also a flaming queen, making his fame ironic in macho Mexico. We forgave him everything.

He came from very humble beginnings and even spent a spell in prison due to — according to him — being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens.

Like Elvis, he started young and handsome, and he ended fat, dissipated-looking and filthy rich. No matter. His talent and heart overshadowed it all. I will miss him.

And the second matter: I keep getting older. I have already racked up six more years than did Juan Gabriel.

Were I to light an accurate birthday cake, we’d have to phone the fire department. Just recently I was sitting on the Jesus Patio when my child bride took this photo.

feliPlease note that my hair remains as coal black as it was when I turned 25 not that long ago.

Our brief jaunt to Mexico City was to air out the apartment and pay a few bills that cannot be paid online.

But it’s sweet to be home at the Hacienda. We returned yesterday.

Trains running again

THE VAGABOND sound of passing trains has returned.

We live just one block from the rail line, so it’s long been a part of our daily lives. But the sound vanished for more than a week till the day before yesterday.

Rail traffic had stopped due to a blockade just up the highway, “teachers” unhappy with a reform of the educational system recently implemented in Mexico.

The unhappy “teachers” had set up an encampment, blocking the rails with rocks and logs.

The economic loss was reportedly vast.

“Teachers” down in Oaxaca and Chiapas have been blocking highways now for weeks, causing economic and other forms of chaos. These are “teacher” unions.

The educational reform, like the energy reform, is something new in Mexico, something good. The energy reform is opening the energy sector to foreign competition. We will have options for gas stations like in the United States.

For decades, there has been just one gas station in Mexico, the government’s omnipresent Pemex.

Left-wingers, of whom we have many in Mexico due to the high percentage of ignoramuses, oppose the energy reform because they oppose choice and the free market.

Plus plenty of xenophobia.

And no group is more left-wing than “teachers” who have a number of unions. They also have their “teacher colleges” where “teachers” are made. These schools are communist indoctrination centers that sport murals of Ché Guevara.

No joke.

“Teachers” in Mexico are the most disruptive element in the nation, constantly causing problems.

What has their Red panties in a twist about the educational reform? A number of things, but my favorites are that they will have to take exams to show competence.

Oh, my goodness! Imagine that.

starAnd they will lose the right to hand their jobs over to a friend or relative when they retire.

The “teachers” are so numerous and have so much support among the lamebrain population that the government is afraid to take action against the protesters. Its tactic often is wait-and-see. This has worked in the past.

And example of this wait-and-see took place a few years ago in Mexico City when electric service was taken from the hands of a union and handed over to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) that runs service outside the capital.

The union went berserk and set up blockades outside the CFE high-rise downtown. After a few months, they wearied and went home. Electric service in Mexico City is run now by CFE, and it’s immeasurably better than before.

Even an old lefty like Franklin D. Roosevelt said unions have no place in the public sector. A union fussing with its private-sector employer is one thing. Interrupting services like police, firemen, education, electricity, etc., is quite different.

It should be illegal.

In the meantime, trains are passing the Hacienda, but how this education reform ends up is yet to be seen. Will we modernize, or we will continue swimming in seas of corruption?

Will the government buckle?

The energy reform is being phased in with more success, and we’re already seeing gas stations in some areas that do not fly the once ubiquitous green colors of Pemex.

There is also a legal reform that will lead to open courts. Left-wingers haven’t tried to block that yet.

They’ve been too busy blocking highways and railroads.

These “progressives.”

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(And meanwhile.)