IT’S GONE three consecutive days without rain here, and that’s mighty odd in mid-September. Has the rainy season ended early this year? I rather doubt it.
Most afternoons, after doing lunch at home, I go downtown to enjoy a nice café Americano negro with my Kindle while simultaneously admiring the beautiful babes who walk by. My child bride goes to, but she drives the Nissan because she does different things and comes home later than I do.
It’s not ecological. But I don’t care.
And I usually have my camera. Yesterday I spotted something I’d never noticed before in all the years I’ve walked by the same spot. The mountain in the mist behind the buildings in the top photo. How could I have overlooked that?
On arriving home later, getting out of the Honda, I shot the two photos below for no better reason than the scenes caught my eye, especially the wildly flowering aloe vera bush.
It does this every year. Lasts for a couple of months.
And the final photo shows my white roses. I generally roll my eyeballs at people who post flower photos on blogs because if you want to see flower photos, just do an internet image search, and there are thousands. Take your pick.
No matter. Here they are anyway.
I was inexplicably in a dark mood when I returned home, so maybe I subconsciously thought that snapping the flowers would boost my humor. I don’t think it worked.
I WAS 50 years old before I bought a new car. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, so not really a car but a pickup.
Before then I’d always purchased used vehicles and darn few of them too. Not a car guy.
Shortly after marrying my first wife in 1965, I inherited a 1956 Plymouth Savoy from my granny. About three years later, I bought a VW Beetle convertible, used. Now that was fun. But I left it behind when we split in 1971, and I continued sans car.
I had bicycles and motorcycles.
My second wife had a 1975 Toyota when we met in 1976, so that was what we used until about 1985 when we bought another Toyota, used. Later, we bought a third Toyota, used. That was our ride when she dumped me in 1995.
Her current car is a Prius. She votes Democrat.
And that was when I purchased my first-ever new car, er, pickup, which I drove until I moved to Mexico five years later. I sold it in 2000. Most people who move to Mexico bring their cars — and as much gear as they can manage, foolishly — but the pickup would not fit into either of my suitcases.
It was after moving to Mexico in 2000 that I shifted into high gear and began buying new cars. I have purchased four in the past 17 years. All from dealerships, all paid in full, in cash. The last was in late 2013 when we bought my child bride’s 2014 Nissan March, a model that isn’t sold in the United States.
I bought new cars, in direct opposition to the fact that it’s smarter to purchase relatively new used cars, because I did not trust used cars in Mexico. I have since altered my tune, and were I to buy another car it would be a “pre-owned” from a dealership. I still wouldn’t buy one directly from a local.
My first car here (2000) was a Chevy Pop, very much akin to a Geo Metro from the turn of the century. It was a real honey, and we kept it till we bought the Nissan March in 2013. We sold it to a nephew, so it’s still in the family.
The Pop had become my wife’s gym car. It had no AC, no airbags, not even a radio. It had squat aside from reliability. We once drove it from here to Atlanta, barreling down the U.S. interstates with the windows wide open in springtime.
But the Pop ceased to be our main car in 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another vehicle that’s not sold in the United States. It was sold in other parts of the world as an Opel or Vauxhall. It too was a gem, but it had no airbags, was a stick shift, no cruise control, not so basic as the Pop, but eventually I wanted something more suited to an old coot.
So we bought a 2009 Honda CR-V with automatic transmission — the first automatic of my life — A-C, of course, cruise control and airbags front and side. Mexicans drive like lunatics, so airbags are not optional equipment.
The Honda got its 170,000-kilometer service yesterday, and the mechanic informed me that the front shocks needed to be replaced. We’ll do that next week. The cost — parts and labor — will be 7,300 pesos, which is a bit over 400 bucks.
It’s the first repair of any consequence I’ve had to do with the Honda, which is a pretty good car.
Maybe we’ll buy another car one day, depending on how long I keep breathing, but if we do it’ll be a late-model used one from a dealership. I’m thinking Nissan.
Or maybe a motorcycle.
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(Note: Until recently, Gringos living in Mexico could tool around in cars with long-expired U.S. plates, and Mexico looked the other way. But a few years ago, rules were changed, and you’re not supposed to do that anymore. Most don’t.)
(Another note: I was surprised to learn recently that Renaults and Peugeots are not sold in the United States. They’re popular down here, especially Renaults.)
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.
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* 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.