Viva New Mexico

We are off to the second leg of our U.S. Tour 2015 – heading to Capitan, New Mexico.

The Calypso Couple had a great time with their in-laws and seeing their son. Now they move east to New Mexico and a different time zone (Pacific Daylight to Mountain Daylight) to reunite with George and Pearl – oh boy!

See you all down the road

Little Loaded Jetta!

Happy Trails! Stay Tuned!

 

Standing at the Edge

The four of us, my sister and brother in-laws and we Calypsos, were late to the party. When the sounds became overpowering we finally ventured out of doors to watch the fireworks Saturday night. The noise was interrupting a comedy on the ‘big screen’ in the living room.

The in-laws pad is out on the northerly end of Las Vegas where the general altitude rises slightly above that of anything south of it. The four of us caught a few of the firework shows finales as we scanned the perimeter from an excellent viewing point.

While certainly late, we were still entertained by so many venues, public and private, launching colorful rockets skyward. The weather was perfect for such an activity, perhaps mid to high 80’s and a clear view that included a few offerings from mother-nature herself. See the photo:

 

This Photo approximates our viewing point July 4th, 2015 Las Vegas

We hold no illusions of “this GREAT Country”. Indeed it is pretty messed up from our vantage point. But the colorful displays, the thought of the huge amount of dollars spent to provide this entertainment here in Las Vegas, in the country for that matter, is compelling. It is apparent from the experience that there are a lot of good, red blooded Americans here in Las Vegas. And that’s OK.

Stay Tuned!

Not Cool

One of the great advantages of living in Mexico is automotive repair fees. So where does our car decide to breakdown? Right here in Las Vegas! Grrrr.

And you talk about gambling and odds here in Vegas, there is no greater gamble than the cost of said car repairs.

It is hard to understand HOW there could be such a disparity in estimates.

There are some repairs that one might wait to have done south of the border, but air conditioning in July in Las Vegas is not one of them.

Even the shadiest of automotive repair places seems like a little slice of heaven when they promise cool air. It is so hot that the liquid in your eye sockets dry out. Spit will evaporate before it hits the ground – I do not exaggerate.

I am not stupid, even a little mechanical actually. I know what an a/c compressor looks like and I understand the complexities of removing it and replacing it etc. Before leaving the house I researched our problem using Google – a real leg up on the robber/mechanics I can tell you. I even heard on YouTube the exact noise our 2008 Jetta is emanating beyond the norm, “click, click, click at the pace of the revolutions of the engine – more rpms, more clicks. Turn off the air – no more clicks. Seems simple enough.

We all know anything to do with air condition is expensive. But I know for a fact I can get a new compressor and all the accessory parts for two-hundred and fifty bucks. So when I hear an estimate of twenty-two hundred dollars and change I was taken aback – way back.

Truthfully we are not sure the car is worth that.

Now we have been pretty lucky up to now with this car. We just put its first replacement battery in a couple days before leaving Mexico. Never having had a problem, one starts amortizing the estimate over the years we have owned the precious little gem. Twenty-two hundred divided by seven years – hmmm roughly $26 per month for a/c up to now.

However one tries to rationalize this we have to get air – cannot drive 2600 miles back home without air – not in the middle of summer. So we consider buying parts and tackling the job. I do not have the equipment to capture cooling gas – a problem.

I would have to borrow my very finicky brother-in-laws tools (he knows when something has been disturbed in his garage) – and it is BIG and separate from the house. He had it built to work on his many collectible vehicles – Not quite Jay Leno’s garage – but you get the idea. Oil leaks not welcome; or brother-in-laws with foreign cars (retired U.S. Air Force he is, and very pro American).

So let’s put that on the back burner and get a few more quotes. To make this painful essay as short as possible, we eventually settled on a rebuilding manufacturer who would install a brand new a/c system for just under a grand. A lot of seeds but substantially less than the fancy uptown shop operated by the nicest people with the biggest smiles and cleanest showroom. One has to wonder how estimates can be substantially more than double from another. Obviously that gleaming establishment at the top of the estimate heap requires some grandiose funding.

Later today we should be back to basking in cool air whilst the out of doors is warm enough to bake bread. Frying eggs on the sidewalk – child’s play. As it is our little chili pepper Mexican Jetta’s AC system was the little train that just could barely make us comfortable when it is 111 F. Looking forward to a cool July Fourth weekend – and the same for you. Stay Tuned!

Such Sweet Sorrow

There are so many things to write about – every day. That written, I have not been writing much lately. Perhaps my biggest failing is not staying on topic. I have a reputation for changing topics and multiple topics within one Blog entry – that is OK, I think?

If you have been reading along you know we are currently in the United States – far away from home even though we are neighbors – distant neighbors; I know we are far away from home. Being in the States always rocks our boat – the glaring differences between the neighbors of the United States and Mexico is never more apparent than when we are here.

We do not often talk about failure; and that is perhaps the wrong word? What I mean is those that have made the permanent move to Mexico only to return to their former lives. Obviously when that happens we all want to know what happened.

My own brother-in-law and his girlfriend did exactly that. They moved to Mexico – lock, stock and barrel; in what we deemed a rather rash move. It turned out to be exactly that and in about a year and a half experiment they hightailed it back to the United States. Something I still do not understand; and they are my relatives.

Yesterday we discovered that a couple we know via this Mexican adventure we are in have decided to head back to the U.S.

Debi and Tom moved from Colorado Springs, just up the road from our rancho there, to Merida, Mexico almost side-by-side to us. Our moves were parallel and timed almost exactly the same. We chose different parts of Mexico, but other than that it was all very similar. We had a Blog and Debi also had one – both were even before the moves about ten years ago.

In a recent Blog entry Debi wrote:

“Living in a foreign country is not got the faint hearted, you need a level of toughness, especially if you don’t speak the language.   My Spanish is ok, it gets us through most things, but it sometimes gets me, and us in to trouble because I think I understand what is going on, but then really don’t, and sometimes it gets used to blame me for misunderstandings that are not my misunderstanding at all but someone else ineptitude, or laziness…. we’ve decided to return to the USofA, I’d have gone anywhere, as long as Tom could speak the language.  So with our limited choices, we choose the USofA. We intend to be out of Mexico by years end.”

Quite a shock! Debi explains she will give more reasoning insights as this story unfolds. I wonder if it will be any clearer than our continued questions as to what happen with my brother-in-law. Such a move certainly occurs from a complex set of rationalizations.

You can join me in monitoring her tale here at her Blog.

It is really hot here in Las Vegas right now – triple digit temperatures (in Fahrenheit) are a daily occurrence with no end in sight. Thankfully my sister-in-law and her husband have a comfortable casa. We have been buying and selling (more of the former) and taking care of some business. Soon we will head back towards home with a stop in Capitan, New Mexico where we have a small casita and great neighbors George and Pearl. We always look forward to reconnecting with them.

Biggest concern at the moment is whether we will get all the stuff in the car – always a challenge and it gets even bigger at the next stop. You will have to stay tune for that and for the continuing story of Debi and Tom. We do not even know where they intend to live in the United States – just someplace where they speak English is the only hint.

Stay Tuned!

Wooden Ships and Other Considerations

This morning at dawn I ran across a live David Crosby concert played last night at the Paramount in Charlottesville, VA.

Now David and I encountered one another way back in the days when I was sometimes running with Fred Neil and Vince Martin (The latter who I remain in contact with after all these years – the former is dead).

In Crosby’s Wikipedia bio it reads “He [Fred Neil] taught me that everything was music, Crosby says.” And damned if that isn’t my testimony as well. I won’t belabor the issue of my history with Crosby just to say it is there.

Honestly watching and listening with earphones that old guy this morning early before anyone was up nearly brought tears to my eyes – you see in spite of Crosby’s wild life history he is at an age where most of the shields have been laid down, still available – not put to rest – but laid down and that just gives us all a little window into a very complex, erudite and still evolving man.

These days any guitar performance catches my attention with my recent rebirth in the guitar world. Monday I caught James Taylor on the Plaza in New York playing his signature Olson guitar(s) – truly fine instruments, but if I had enough dough for one of those I would surely spend it on a Lowden.

David Crosby is playing several McAlister guitars – also one of those rarified handmade instruments. They are almost as lovely to watch as they are to listen to. Noted a couple of Martin’s on stage as well.

Crosby is a man whose pipes are worn down, but we don’t care he still has something to say. His vocal instrument is now a Stradivarius. Perhaps you will enjoy it as much as I did? Take a listen to this 73 year old guy who is an important part of rock n roll history.

https://screen.yahoo.com/david-crosby-live-concert-130000179.html

Enjoy!

Stay Tuned!

Lost Vegas

The Calypso Couple is at rest this fine Sunday morning in Las Vegas – we are not lost, really! Just slow to report on current events. Here you have it:

A recent visit to Whole Foods in Las Vegas is always a treat.  What a grocery store! The prices – yikes. For example tilapia is being sold for $24 usd per kilo. Tilapia is a poor man’s fish in Oaxaca where it sells for 50 pesos (about 3.33 usd a kilo) in fillets off the boat.

The prices at Whole Foods may cause you to lose your appetite. But you cannot help but be entertained. It is one fancy market.

A dizzying selection in every direction!

Last night, Saturday Night, the four  of us (Calypsos plus sister and brother-in-law) headed over to the Cannery Casino and Galaxy Theater to see the new Jurassic Park/World movie. We noted John Mayall was the headliner (81 year old John Mayall).

4-Tickets ordered online were a whopping $62.00 – ouch. Once there a drink and popcorn will run you nearly $20 bucks; beers were $9.50 but there was a dollar off sale for the month of June.

The theater is pretty remarkable. Electric recliners that you melt into gave you an at home feeling. At least until the entire theater vibrates from the special effect seating many rows in front of us. We got enough  of the vibrations to feel being rattled around in your seat was not for us.

We fitted on the 3D glasses at the appropriate time (after watching a half an hour of commercials).

This 21st Century movie house was pretty impressive. The movie – another story. Unimpressed would be a one word review and pretty much covers it for me. Perhaps being overwhelmed by the ambiance of the theater; well the movie just did not keep up. We missed Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Richard Attenborough from the first Jurassic Park movie. The cast of the current offering were on the line of the acting abilities of Laura Dern (recall her continuous open mouth astonished look-ugh).

The theater gets a 9 and the film a 2.

In other news here in the FIRST WORLD: we are buying and selling (you do not want to know), eating lots of veggie dogs (unavailable in Mexico) and watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup happening in Canada. Mexico is not turning in good performances – we then have turned to watching the U.S. ladies who have a better shot at victory. This coming week golf’s U.S. Open coming at us from Chambers Bay Golf Course near Seattle. That is what we are up to.  And by the way it is going to be 108 F (42.2 C) here tomorrow. Life is Good – Stay Tuned!

Home Economics

Even while here in Las Vegas, Nevada we watch the dance of the peso to dollar exchange rate back home in Mexico. Currently you can get more pesos for a dollar than I have seen in the last 10 years. And here we are out of the country.

June 6th, 2015 dollar to peso exchange rate

Thoughts of what we could be buying in Mexico. The price might have been a little high before. This new purchase power dances through my head.

I had been considering buying another new scooter to have in Xico – but the price increased substantially in December of last year – just two months after we bought a new scooter in Puerto Escondido – luck was with us.

Would 16 pesos to the dollar spur me on to buying that new scooter in Veracruz?

I might have ordered two more chairs for our beach house or gone down to the Adoquin and bought a couple more folk-art masks. I know pesos in my pocket would be burning to be spent.

Putting it in perspective: If one is living on $2,000 usd a month south of the border (yes it can be done – even for less) then getting 16 pesos to the dollar instead of 15 amounts to having an extra 2000 pesos or $125 usd – not enough to make us run out and buy a fourth house in Mexico – but it is a bit like getting a small raise.

Another way to look at it is a year ago it was about 12 pesos exchanged for a U.S. dollar. It is now nearly a 33 percent increase in the exchange rate – substantial.

OK it hasn’t hit 16 pesos yet and we must add that .2 pesos or more is collected in the exchange; in other words the exchange rate would have to go to 16.2 per dollar to actually realize 16 pesos for each dollar exchanged.

Leaving the confusing details we simply see right now the peso losing value against the dollar at an all-time high in the last decade. We worry some for our Mexican friends and neighbors whose incomes have not kept up with these increases. Tomorrow is Election Day in Mexico.  We seldom hear about the exchange rate and how it might affect the average Mexican. We think it is not major on their radar.  I mean we don’t wake up thinking about how the yen to the dollar affects our lives here in the United States – but of course it all does.

A more real-life concern is our maturing U.S. CD’s that will collect 17 percent less interest than 5 years ago. A real bite in our monthly income stream.

It is a beautiful Saturday morning here in Las Vegas. Anita will go with her sister to the Air Force commissary this morning to get a great deal on maple syrup and more. I will play my new guitar and wait for the third day of the Memorial Golf Tournament to be on the tube. Later Anita and I will run across town to buy a couple wall towel hangers for our beach casita. In other words all this complicated math will be set aside for real life issues.  Stay Tuned!

What Stays In Vegas

What stays in Las Vegas is the Calypso Couple. We are back on U.S. soil. We made pretty quick work of getting out of Mexico and arriving here: we left Sunday morning at 7 AM and arrived here in Las Vegas on Tuesday 5 PM. It was a trouble free drive.

Usually takes a day or two to settle in; lots of mail to read and catching up with Anita’s sister and her husband who are our gracious hosts for time here in LV.

We have already been to the thrift store once. I have fired up a new four terabyte hard drive and spent a couple of hours with my new Taylor T5X guitar.  It is always like Christmas when we first arrive. More stuff!

Of course it is hot – triple figures kind of dry heat. But Las Vegas-ites live with air conditioners as a matter of survival. Down in Mexico we tend to wrestle with the climates. Here they modify and work around them.

The biggest noticeable change from last year’s visit, so far, is the gas prices. Gas is about 40 percent cheaper than in Mexico – remarkable.

I am sitting down to finally start reading Manana  Forever by Jorge Castaneda. Next week is the U.S. Open golf tournament.

We roll the dice and live large in Las Vegas – Stay Tuned for more adventures!

Pulling Up Stakes

Being organized is more than a skill. I am convinced it is an inherited trait. My wife got the gene.

I am just an accompaniment to the process of packing it up – believe me.

I am the one that reasons out departure and arrival times – little else. I drive the car. But the real driving force of it all is mi esposa.

Going on a trip evolves for us. Gradually a stack of stuff builds in a corner or corners; that stuff goes.

This trip is more complex because we are going to spend time in two places: Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. and then Capitan, New Mexico. We have family in one location and roots in the other.

 Being residents of Mexico for foreigners like us is sort of like living on the Space Station. We return to earth once a year for supplies, then back to our cozy, lofty living South of the Border. We like it that way.

The trip is long and arduous. I am pretty sure Anita looks forward to it because if you are a planner and organized, challenging that skill set is exciting. Truly an adventure.

For me these days the trips seem to come closer together; closer than ever. It seems as if we are arriving only to start working on where we will be next – what with four houses to care for. Houses thousands of miles apart – one of which we have not seen in a year and a half – and time will be added to that until we return to Xico in a couple of months.

We have staked our claims in rather obscure locations. Capitan, New Mexico; Xico, Veracruz and Puerto Escondido (the Hidden Port) are not on anyone’s ten best places to live list. And we like it that way.

And the beat goes on. I will write you next from on the road to Las Vegas –

Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher….

Talk to you soon from there. Stay Tuned!

Let the Buyer Beware

We are back in Xico. The good news is the weather has been grand. The last two previous years were 24 hour rain and gloom for months on end. That’s it.  There is no bad news.

Well OK, there is this:

It took quite a while to find a new internet source. We found Megacable again.  It is a love/hate relationship – but 10 mb connections are satisfying.

A Taylor T5z and a Taylor T5x

Since we last talked I bought two guitars – one from Craig’s List and one from Ebay. Both of those methods of shopping are steeped in vipers – I mean it. Most of the Ebay sellers are hustlers and most of Craig’s List marketers are just plain whackos – and rude! But, damn if I do not keep diving back into those black pools.

Because Craig’s list is free to list – there are many just putting stuff out there thinking why not – it’s free! I swear there are people listing items just to entice you – they probably do not even possess the item. The adage ‘If it’s too good to be true’…. Is SO TRUE.

Recall I bought a slew of guitars, a collection, the last time I was north of the border. I coveted and gloated about all my new guitars and accessories (three digital tuners!) I did not go into the details of those many transactions – very complicated and some very convoluted. But I mentioned guitars and posted a few pretty pictures.

Here is a shopping tip for Ebay – Excellent Condition is in the eye of the seller! I really had no idea “In Excellent Condition” was so subjective. It seems to be especially so in the guitar market. Within Ebay I was high bidder on a terrific Taylor guitar the other day. A guitar in perfect condition. Except when it arrived at my sister-in-law’s in Las Vegas it mysteriously had some pretty nasty scuffing on the bottom bout between two strap buttons.  It clearly looked like a strap or a strap connection had disconnected and created a scratched path as it shuttled by the bottom of the guitar. The shipping container and the padded guitar case gave no indication of the possibility of roughing up the ax. All things pointed to this as a preexisting condition.

So then it begins: I start questioning and finally complain that I have been deceived and worse.  At a few points it got ugly, it usually does – there are no winners in these situations – generally.

I am here in Mexico. My poor sister-in-law is afraid to open any box on my behalf; after all she does not even get the satisfaction of maybe feasting her eyes on a new toy – no it is just, “My brother-in-law is at it again.” And in fairness she is always helpful, and gracious with her time. And she always possesses  a  commensurate spirit during my frustrations.

No one’s Paypal account has had more kickbacks than mine I think. People are forever having to give back money – or else! Even though there really is no “or else.” This guitar purchase was no exception: a heatedly bargained $225.00 was refunded to my account for aforementioned scratches. This was not a cigar box guitar as you might gather from the refund amount. I still feel taken – and don’t even let me start to describe the Neanderthal that was selling that fine instrument. Proof positive you do not have to have a brain to have enough money to buy expensive toys.

Then our beloved Microwave/convection oven is on the blink (in the convection mode). The BIG BOX that dominates our small cocina has such great sentimental value. Anita helped me buy it more than 30 years ago. We were just friends then. I a rather helpless bachelor, she came to my rescue to get a proper kitchen up and running. It would be several years before we were in love – friendship is a grand way to start a 30 years love affair. We may resurrect the oven yet.

But, then the washing machine! Man if there is one item that is a have-to-have – it is a washing machine. Ours broke after eight years of good service. Getting things repaired here in Mexico is a crap shoot at best. Qualified “MayTag” like repair people are pretty much non-existent here below the Rio Grande. We kept trying to get a load to start thinking maybe it will repair itself or get over its problem kind of like magic. Do you do that? Clearly something is broken and no wishful thinking is going to put Humpty back together again – but we hope on.

We started to ask around the Hood for repair people – prospects were dim.

So I have this electric screwdriver thing…I had already flash-lighted the entire machine from every possible pose – there was no sock stuck somewhere – nothing amiss. But I decided to go for it – take the back off and look in otherwise hidden places.  I am pretty handy. But washing machine repairs were low on my skills curriculum vitae.

But as luck would have it, with Anita balancing the machine on edge while I peaked behind the panel – there it was! A tube was hanging in mid-air; not connected to anything. Close by was a bare, lonely looking tube shaft. I pushed the tube back on and drew in breaths of optimism – could we get that lucky?

It worked! I can officially add appliance repairman to my CV.

We are really happy to have our faithful Ecological LG clothes washer amongst the working. Good weather, great location and clean clothes – Life is Good!

Stay Tuned!