Doings of November

Downtown yesterday afternoon, walking back to the Honda.

November is delightful here. It’s my favorite month. In another life, above the Rio Bravo, my favorite month was October. But here it’s November because it’s often still raining in October.

I phoned my stone-and-cement man yesterday to get the work started on the yard. I’m planning to eliminate another big chunk of grass, replacing it with stone and cement. There will also be some artistic touches. Alas, he is currently building a house somewhere, but I have through next May to get it done. Rain starts in June.

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Mail from France

This morning I drove downtown to check my PO box, a biweekly chore. I rarely get snail mail, but this morning I did, a handmade greeting card from a woman in France who used to be a coworker on the New Orleans newspaper in the 1970s. As I live in Mexico with a “new” wife, she lives in France with a new husband.

Her card said: The trouble with retirement is you never get a day off.

I find laziness increasing with age, but this morning I hoofed it outside to clean the birdbath, wipe the glass top of the patio table with its web chairs, and water the potted plants on the downstairs terraza. It’s good to have chores. It’s better to actually do them.

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The Honda gets glitchy

The air-conditioning on the Honda committed suicide last week. I took it to my garage yesterday to add more Freon, or whatever they call that gas these days, but sadly it did not need Freon, which means there’s a deeper problem. Monday, we’ll be driving to the nearby state capital where there’s a good AC shop near Costco.

My fingers are crossed. This could get pricey.

We’ve had the Honda for 12 years, and it’s never had a major problem, so we’re ahead of the game. The Honda was nice to do this in November instead of waiting till next April or May, which are the only months you really need AC here, and just in the afternoons.

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Artwork in yarn

November finds my child bride busy too. Her downtown pastry sales have been on hold for two weekends due to the Day of the Dead hubbub, but no grass grows under her butt.

She’s crocheting up a storm. Here is her latest creation, a unicorn. It’s her second unicorn. The first was purchased by a nice lady in Texas via our Etsy website. This unicorn is still not listed there, but it will be.

We’re doing something wild (for us) this afternoon. Eating hamburgers and French fries at a new spot downtown that we’ve yet to try. Eternally striving to stay healthy, hamburgers rarely are placed on our plates, but today will be an exception.

I hope it does not give me the trots.

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More water heaters

We have three functioning water heaters at the Hacienda although we only use two, a solar plus an on-demand version. The solar works great in the afternoon and evening if it’s been a sunny day. On overcast days, it’s easy to switch over to the one that runs on propane.

We have a Dallas couple in the Downtown Casita now, a two-week stay. The townhouse has been mostly vacant since the pandemic hysteria started, so a couple of unexpected problems reared their heads, alas, for the paying tenants. First, the water heater grew balky. I sent a plumber to fix it after two days.

I decided to check the water tank on the roof last Sunday, and it was almost empty because the electronic gizmo that automatically fills it when it reaches a certain level malfunctioned. It was an easy fix for me, but I hope it does not recur. They leave Monday.

Paying tenants should never lack hot water, so I’ve already bought another of the same on-demand heater we have at the Hacienda, and when the tenants depart, the plumber will install it, thus providing two options for future folks.

I am wearying of being a landlord, the hassle, which is why if I like you, you’re invited for a free stay. You might leave a few pesos on the kitchen counter for the maid, the gas and the electricity.

That would be nice. Keep in mind that those things are very inexpensive here.

Day of the Dead

Pigtail girls wait for their tacos on the main plaza yesterday.

The Day of the Dead came and went. The main cemetery night is that between November 1 and 2.

The pandemic hysteria threw a monkey wrench into some aspects of the event, particularly one. The cemetery scene on the island of Janitzio in our big lake is traditionally the main tourist draw. The No. 2 position is held by the cemetery in the nearby town of Tzintzuntzan.

But this year, the community that lives on Janitzio, nervous about covid, said tourists would not be allowed, and since the only way to get there is on a motor launch, this was fairly easy to enforce.

So what happened then? The tourist mob turned toward Tzintzuntzan, creating a traffic jam of spectacular dimensions.

From what I read, some tourists simply debarked from tour buses about halfway there, and continued on foot in the dark. Tzintzuntzan is about 12 miles distant from my mountaintop town.

Here is the humorous part. In order to get to Tzintzuntzan, you have to drive directly by my hardscrabble neighborhood, which has its own cemetery, and our graveyard does Los Muertos in a lovely way. It’s just a short walk from our Hacienda.

So most of the tourists simply drove by here, missing our spectacular cemetery scene, to continue up the highway into a traffic jam.

Actually, there are quite a few villages in the area that do the cemetery event, but Tzintzuntzan has turned the old tradition into a tourist trap. The grave decorations constructed there are over the top, spectacular but phony, in my view.

We spent the night at home watching Netflix before heading to bed. We did not visit our cemetery, and we haven’t for three or four years. Plus, for some reason, my child bride did not build her usual Muertos altar in the living room. Yesterday morning I asked why, and she muttered some reason that made little sense.

I think she just got a tad lazy. It’s her first year of missing it.

The photo at the top was taken across the street from the family coffee shop downtown. I also took the bottom photo. Nothing like paramilitary cops with truck-mounted machine guns to add color — or bullet-riddled bystanders — to any festivity.

Protecting us from the bad guys.

Premature optimism

Dark clouds seen Sunday from the Downtown Casita’s roof.

In yesterday’s post I said it had not rained in a few days, and maybe that meant the monsoon has departed for this year. It’s always risky to say such stuff because the universe will smite you.

It poured last night.

Since we have tenants arriving at the Downtown Casita next weekend, we visited the condo to do some cleaning, primarily washing the enormous skylight over the stairwell. The skylight covers the entire stairwell, and it had not been washed in many months. It’s a nice opportunity to visit the roof and see the spectacular view.

That was late yesterday.

Some of our neighbors have constructed covered patios on their roofs to take advantage of the view and the space. We have not done that. We would if we lived there, but we don’t live there.

This condo, which we bought in 2010 with money I inherited from my mother, has been a mixed bag. We had no intention of renting it when we bought it. It was purchased as an investment, nothing more, but after a couple of years of its just sitting there, all pretty and nice, we decided to rent it to tourists on AirBnB.

That’s become a burden because it all falls on me. The tenants are invariably English speakers, and my bride is not. Plus, I’m more a stickler for details in the host department while she’s more, well, Mexican. The condo has a 100% five-star rating from guests.

And that is on me.

I wonder if it will rain today. It’s gray outside.

Road to Uruapan

Uruapan is a city about 30 miles southwest of here. We hadn’t been there, not downtown at least, in maybe two years due to the Kung Flu hysteria. We rectified that error Saturday.

Heading out in the Honda before noon, we barreled down the autopista, not something I enjoy doing. Decades ago, Mexico’s toll roads were almost universally four lanes, which is how the Goddess wishes it. But some years ago, economic geniuses decided to make new ones with two lanes. Of course, it was a fiscal decision.

The problem is that Mexicans, who drive like lunatics anyway, continued driving on two-lane autopistas as if they were still four lanes. The shoulders now serve as the missing two lanes, or sometimes straddling the center line adds a lane. Around a curve. This makes for interesting drives. Nobody has slowed down.

The autopista between my mountaintop town and Uruapan is one of the newer two-laners, and driving on it is a white-knuckle proposition. We drove down on the autopista, but we returned on the old route that was used before that autopista was constructed.

The advantages of the old route is that it’s free, and it’s a beautiful ride. Autopistas are toll roads, and they can be quite pricy. The main disadvantage of the old route is that you can get caught behind a slow semi for miles because the route is very curvy.

The photo above is the return, and it was taken through the windshield because it was raining.

It’s a beautiful drive that runs from our high town down, down, down to a noticeably different world that is tropical. Banana trees and avocado orchards are plentiful. And so are narcos, unfortunately.

Our destination was two-pronged. The national park that sits in the middle of town, and a hotel restaurant that rests on the edge of that park. I call it the jungle park, because that’s what it looks like. You could be in Ecuador. The hotel is La Mansion del Cupatitzio.

A good-looking babe who sleeps with me strikes a pose in the park.

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About 20 years ago, a then-friend here in my mountaintop town recommended the restaurant in the hotel, specifically the avocado cocktail.

Cocktail!

I say “then-friend” because a couple of years ago, when she discovered I was a Trump fan, she cut ties via an expletive-filled email. Twenty years up in smoke.

We’ve been going to the park and the restaurant for years, and we always get the avocado cocktail combined with some additional vittles. After the park, and after lunch, we hopped into the Honda again and headed home in the rain.

It was good to leave Uruapan because, with some notable exceptions like the jungle park, it’s mostly a butt-ugly city.

First time I’ve ever seen ziplining in the park. Must be new.