November is the best month here by far, and this one is no exception. Yesterday, we raised the final of the three canvas curtains that enclose the upstairs terraza during the long months of the rainy season. Raising the curtains lets the loveliness in.
How about that orchid? It was a gift from Steve Cotton when he, his brother and sister-in-law stayed a spell in our Downtown Casita three or four years ago. I forget exactly when. That plant has been in bloom nonstop throughout those years. How is that possible?
The final raising of the curtains has also returned a beautiful view through the window behind my PC of the sunrise over the mountains when I’m sitting at my desk at the proper hour. During the months of the summer rains, I just have a view of brown canvas.
November mornings bring cool air and blue skies.
Return to normal?
Today at noon marks the end to my week of recuperation after my repeated nosebleed episodes. The ENT doctor at Star Medica Hospital who cauterized my schnoz Friday of last week prescribed some blood drug, some nose spray, a week of reduced physical activity and avoidance of nose-blowing. Try that last one sometime, will you? No fun.
Leaving one’s nose totally alone for a week is a challenge, but I hope it paid off.
The home construction directly across the street from the Hacienda — being done almost entirely by one man, the future homeowner — continues to be a source of fascination. I wish I could do that.
I should take a photo while he’s there working, but aiming a camera at him seems a bit tacky, so I’ve never done it except sneakily. He likely would not mind because he appears to be a very amiable sort, and so does his wife who’s there on occasion too.
But this is the progress as of today. I snapped the shots while walking to the little store in the next block to buy cabbage and carrots for the minestrone I’m making for lunch.
The two-story house to the left was completed three or four years ago, but no one has ever lived there. I spotted a couple, the presumed homeowners, standing on the roof once, and I waved, and they waved back. There is an automated light that snaps on every evening, and stays on most of the night to give the appearance of occupancy.
But I know better, and now so do you.
I’m guessing it’s a retirement home, and the couple has yet to retire. Maybe they live in the United States or in a big city elsewhere in Mexico. Lord knows.
I sure as shootin’ would not have knowingly built a retirement home directly abutting railroad tracks, which that house does. Trains rumble through most nights. Well, all nights except when the teacher union or troublesome teacher “students” are not blocking the tracks somewhere. That is not uncommon, alas.
When I arrived on the south side of the Rio Bravo these many years ago, I came with two credit cards, one from Wells Fargo, the other from a bank I now forget. I used the latter in 2003 to make monthly payments automatically for a Sky TV service. Sky almost immediately started to hose me, overcharging the card.
Oddly, the bank would not let me block future charges, so I had to cancel the card, leaving me with just one, the Wells Fargo. A year or two later, when I received a renewal card in the mail from up north, the fraud department wanted me to jump through so many hoops to activate it that I canceled it too. So, no credit card.
I started using a debit card online, which is a dreadful idea. I had two banks at that point, a Mexican account at Banamex, and a U.S. account at Banamex USA in Los Angeles. I finally obtained a Visa card from the Banamex account. It had a very low limit, the peso equivalent of about $150 U.S, so rule out a European splurge.
It was the same sort of starter card they offer campesinos.
My credit card history above the border was stellar, but credit history does not travel across the Rio Bravo. Down here, you start from scratch. Mexico has a credit bureau.
In 2014, due to the nincompoop FATCA legislation from the Obama Administration, Banamex USA closed my account with little warning, leaving me just the Mexican bank account with its almost useless credit card.
I was mad at Banamex in general, so I opened another Mexican account at HSBC only to learn it would not give me a credit card, in part due to my age. You read that right. HSBC is a nightmare bank. Avoid it. And I had canceled the Banamex account.
I then opened an account at BBVA Bancomer to have a fallback. After a wait of about three months, they gave me a Visa credit card with a free additional with my wife’s name on it. I have since requested a second one which also came with a free spouse card, plus the two have digital cards connected. So, all told, I have six Mexican credit cards.
BBVA Bancomer is an excellent bank. It has dropped the Bancomer name, and is just BBVA now. I have also tried out and found wanting accounts at Banco Santander and Banco Azteca. I investigated opening an account once at Banorte, but the woman with whom I was dealing briefly was so surly, I decided against it.
And I dumped the HSBC account. BBVA now serves all my needs nicely.
I have the BBVA app on my Motorola cell, and I check it daily. On two or three occasions, I found fraudulent charges. Since the cards never leave home, I wonder how that’s done. I suspect it’s bank employees. No matter, a phone call to the bank gets the matter resolved, the card in question cancelled, and a replacement rapidly arrives at my door.
Fraudulent charges, quite a lot, appeared on one of my cards just last week. Someone was having a field day purchasing goodies from Mercado Libre. A replacement card is en route. I’m a big fan of BBVA even though I do think it’s bank employees who occasionally buy stuff with my card. Let’s just call them bad apples.
From what I see on internet forums, lots, probably most, Gringos who move to Mexico live here for years without Mexican bank accounts and without Mexican credit cards, relying totally on their accounts up north. This often gets them into binds.
If you’re gonna live in Mexico, you need a Mexican bank and credit cards.
Now let’s turn to politics, always fun.
Have you heard about last week’s revelations in the New York Post that Hunter Biden, in cahoots with his creepy dad, aka The Big Guy, were selling access to the White House when Sleepy Joe was vice president?
Have you read about Facebook and Twitter censoring mentions of the scandal? And how that censoring is blowing up in their partisan faces? If you know little or nothing about these things, that means you get your “news” from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, the Houston Chronicle and others of their ilk in the mainstream media.
MONDAY DAWNED chill, gray and ugly. And in the afternoon, it started to rain, which is blasphemy here in February. Climate change. We should do something!
People wonder about folks who retire to Mexico. They ask, “What do you do all day?” The first thing to remember is that chores take longer here than they do above the border. This was very true years ago, but it’s becoming less so now, due to the internet.
After whole-wheat biscuits covered with honey at 8 a.m., I sat before the H-P All-in-One and loaded the website for the state government, specifically the page dealing with car taxes. Dial in the serial numbers and print out the page you take to the bank to pay.
The fee for each of the cars, 926 pesos or about $50 U.S., was the same even though one is a 2009 model and the other is 2014. Twenty years ago, it was necessary to stand in a long line to pay at a government office. Now you take the printed form and go to the bank. Much easier. The bank also has the sticker for the car window.
But the bank visit was for the afternoon. The morning still required other activities like the exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza. Just as we were heading out afoot at 10, José Sosa drove up. He’s the guy who did lots of painting here a few weeks ago.
Now he’s painting my sister-in-law’s coffee shop downtown, and he wanted to borrow one of my ladders. You’d think a painter would have ladders. He has plenty of other gear, but not the ladder he needed, so off he went with my ladder.
I have lots of ladders.
After the second breakfast at 11 a.m., I entertained myself with YouTube videos, and my child bride knitted. Lunch happened at 2 p.m., as always. We had meat pies she made on Saturday plus minestrone I made last week. Mexico life is thrilling.
Then we killed 90 minutes watching a show on Netflix. At 4 we headed downtown in the two cars. She had to pass by a cousin’s house to pick up rent for our Mexico City condo. The cousin is footing that bill for a nephew attending a university in the capital.
I parked on the plaza and walked to the bank to pay the car taxes only to find the bank closed due to a national holiday I had neglected to notice. We have so many holidays, it’s tough to keep up. They usually entail a long weekend no matter the day on which the holiday falls. The holiday weekend is called a puente, a bridge.
It bridges from the weekend to the holiday, and you get more days off. We embrace reasons not to work.
The puente also caused my Social Security payment not to arrive at the bank. It’ll arrive mañana, I suppose. My car tax errand stymied, I headed to the coffee shop, sat at a sidewalk table, ordered a café Americano negro, pulled my Kindle from my man bag, and tugged a scarf tight around my neck. It was raining, cold and nasty.
There were wool gloves on my hands with the fingertips missing. My child bride knitted the gloves. You must have skin showing to flip pages on the Kindle.
I’m reading a book titled Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, her first novel. It’s very good and, at one point, gave me a chuckle. I knew something Delia did not because I am old, and she is younger. In referring to a school lunch served to one of the characters, she mentioned a “carton of milk.” This was 1952.
There were no cartons of milk in 1952, neither in schools nor delivered at dawn to your front door. Just bottles. Cartons came years later. I miss the bottles.
Tomorrow we’re off to the nearby state capital for our weekly shopping trip, but we’ll have a passenger, our nephew, the kid once known as the Little Vaquero, whom we are taking to an ophthalmologist. He’s not a Little Vaquero anymore. He’ll be 17 next month.
His eyesight is extremely bad and has been for years. His glasses are old, and so are his contacts, which he prefers because he thinks he looks dorky in glasses. His mother’s approach to this situation is: mañana. She does nada. So we’re stepping in.
As I left the coffee shop this afternoon and walked through a light rain to the Honda, I stopped at pastry shop to buy a brownie. It was not as good as my child bride makes — few things are — but it was darn tasty. These were the events of the day.
Now, at almost 7 p.m., it’s still raining and ugly. I blame Greta.