Watch that step!

This looks insignificant, but it isn’t.

Age at times brings clarity. Things that never occur to you in youth or middle age become crystal clear with your increasing decrepitude.

Take stairs or even single steps, for instance.

When we built the Hacienda in 2002-03, my child bride suggested we do a “sunken” living room. I was neither here nor there about it, so we told the builder to do it without specifying how “sunken” it would be. He took the easy route, thank the Goddess, and sank it just one step, which you see in the above photo.

And then there was the notion of a second floor even though the property is large enough to have expanded a one-story villa all over the place with lots of yard left. A smaller lawn would have been nice because the yard is a constant wedgie in my butt.

I was a nimble 58 when this place was constructed, and now I’m 77. Things change, and my advice to you is that if you’re building a home in which you expect to live out your life, don’t do steps.

They are not a significant problem yet, but they likely will be with time. Let’s look at the one-step up to the dining room, the one you see in the photo above. My catching one foot on it as I step up is fairly common, but I have yet to take a dive.

My child bride, however, due to a damp rubber sandal a few years ago, sailed off that step and ended up in an arm cast for six weeks. When will it be my turn?

And there’s the stairwell to the second floor, a floor that could easily have been avoided, as I mentioned earlier. Climbing it many times a day is good exercise, so there is that. Neither of us has fallen on the stairwell yet, but will we and when?

I read recently that stairwells are a major cause of accidents. And if one or both of us live long enough, it could be an almost unpassable barrier to half of the house. You never think about this stuff when you’re relatively young.

But I’m sure thinking of it now.

The chayote invasion

We have the sex motel on one side and sullen neighbors on the other. There is one good thing about the sullen neighbors, just one. Unlike so many Mexicans, they do not blare music into the heavens at full volume late into the night.

This is very unusual.

Nineteen years in this woebegone barrio, and the neighbors have thrown just one party, and they did it in the afternoon, not the middle of the night. We simply drove downtown till it blew over.

Because our windows were vibrating.

But they are not nice people. As mentioned, they are sullen, the mom, the dad and the two teen boys. It was the boys who broke a huge glass pane above our upstairs terraza some months ago.

We are convinced of that.

The neighbor couple is fond of planting things directly abutting the wall that separates our properties. The wall, by the way, is ours, not theirs. It’s been fruit trees, a nopal tree, etc., and all are trash tossers, much of it falling on our side of the wall for me to pick up.

Now they’ve outdone themselves. For what appears to be a stretch of about 10 miles in length, they’ve planted chayote, which is a form of squash that is versatile and tasty. I love it. But there is a downside. The plant is incredibly invasive. If you’ve traveled in the southeastern United States you’ve likely seen kudzu.

Chayote views kudzu as a role model.

Just yesterday morning, I made my first whack-back — the photo was taken after that cut — whacking the dangling onslaught back to the top of the wall. I then raked up what I’d cut, and heaved it over into their yard. Maybe they’ll get the message. Don’t hold your breath.

At least they don’t host concerts in the middle of the night.

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(Update: The above was written yesterday noonish. As mentioned, I had cut a bunch of the plant that had invaded our side, and I heaved it over the wall into the neighbors’ yard. In the afternoon, I headed downtown for my customary cafe Americano negro on the plaza and a little me time with my friend Kindle.

I returned to the Hacienda after 6 p.m., and this is what I saw. All of the invading plant had been whacked below the ridgeline. My tossing the trash over the wall had its effect. I am surprised but happy.

Clean as a Mexican whistle.

Let’s breathe freely

There has been much dispute since the pandemic began about the efficacy of face masks, even within the medical community. Some doctors say wear it. Others say its help is minimal.

I favor the latter approach. I don’t wear masks. I am not a pandemic denier, and I am not anti-vax. I have been vaccinated, though hesitantly this time due to the rush job.

I fight the pandemic in two ways: First, I wash my hands a bit more frequently. Second, I embrace social distancing, which does not require changing my lifestyle in the slightest.

It appears that if you are ill and cough or sneeze, the mask will help reduce whatever you may fling into your immediate vicinity. The mask helps you protect others. Makes sense.

However, if you are healthy, it does little to block your inhaling Kung Flu because virus droplets are microscopic, passing through most materials and around spaces in your face coverage.

And then there is the weird political aspect to the pandemic. If you are a leftist, you embrace masks. If you are a conservative, you embrace liberty. Do viruses vote?

Thankfully, here in Mexico, mask obsession is minimal. And we have few Karens. But there are places you must wear a mask. One is my wife’s gym, which is quite heavy-handed on the mask issue.

And wearing a mask while exercising, from what I have read, is a lousy idea. Exercising or not, it’s unwise to inhale your lungs’ exhaust.

I recently discovered a solution for her. It’s the unmask. That’s one in the photo. It’s sold by a small American enterprise. You can breathe normally through it. I bought one for her. It arrived this week.

If you want to unmask, buy one. If you enter the code UC20 at checkout, you’ll get a 20% discount. Tell them that Felipe sent you, and you’ll score an additional reduction of 0%.

That’s not a typo. I’m always here to serve, amigos.

Hasta la vista, Andres

On August 29, a friend died. His name was Andy. He often left comments here on The Moon using the name Andres until four or five years ago, when he stopped. I never understood why. We continued to communicate fairly frequently, but via email.

I thought of him as a friend although we only saw each other in person one time when he rode a bus to my mountaintop town, and we sat on the central plaza with cafecitos. I later joined him for lunch before driving him to the bus station to return to Uruapan, the city where he lived for 15 years about 35 miles southwest of here.

That was some years ago too.

Andy and I had lots in common. We were born in the same year. We graduated from high school in the same year. We were in the Air Force at the same time though in distant bases. We both moved to Mexico alone. I came in a plane. He came in his car, which was stolen about a week later. He never bought another one.

Andy didn’t have much money.

We both grew up in Florida. He became a social worker. I almost became a social worker too, surprisingly.

He had serious respiratory issues (COPD) due to chain-smoking for decades. He quashed the habit two years ago, but that was not soon enough because the Kung Flu shoved him over the edge.

A week before he died, he emailed me that he had awakened that morning feeling much better after days of a high fever and that he’d also had trouble breathing. He thought he was on the mend.

I asked if he’d had a covid test, and he said no, but he suspected that was the problem. He said that if he had not quit smoking two years ago, he would probably have died.

In the following week, I emailed him a couple of times on other matters and asking how he was doing. I received no reply. The week after that, I emailed again, and I received a reply from his email but from a Mexican friend who told me Andy had died. He was 76 years old.

—–

Initially, I planned to end this post with a list of Gringos and Canucks I’ve known here, both in person and online, who have died since I moved to Mexico. I started to list them on a sheet of paper, and I was surprised. Were I to include them here with a few words about each, you would be reading nonstop until tomorrow.

Most, of course, were retirees like me. But I stopped working early at age 55, and most did not, so their time in Margaritaville was briefer than mine has been.

One day I’ll be on that list, but someone else will write it.

I hope Andy is doing okay.