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!

Consumerism
The Shelby Cobra Story

This is the Calypso Couple’s first foray into Puerto Escondido summer. The reports that from mid-May to mid-September Puerto is hot and humid appear accurate. It is hot here right now. My desk temperature gauge reports 82.6 F/28.1 C at 6 AM.

For the last few days the temperature has not been below 80 F/26.67 C in our living room.

Being that we have not been in temperatures below 65 F for many months now, we are acclimated to heat. But it is starting to get a bit uncomfortable; kind of bogging us down – ratcheting down from a pretty slow paced normally.

We never planned to live here full time; recently we have been considering it – including modifying a room in the beach casa that would be sealed and air conditioned. But that is little more than a dream right now. Now we are thinking about heading north perhaps sooner than later.

In the mean time I am reading a book on the benefits of magnesium, playing guitars and taking naps as the constant heat seems to play tricks with my sleeping schedule.

And I am spending a lot of time perusing Craigslist and Ebay, mostly for guitars. We start the U.S. buying spree well before hitting that soil. We already have shipments waiting for us in New Mexico and Las Vegas.

I have it on my mind to perhaps scale down my guitar inventory. Owning less things I think is an older person’s ambition. And a very ambitious undertaking for us, what with four living locations in two countries and three states. If you have been reading along then you know the guitar acquisitions are but a year old – it all started at the beginning of last year’s pre- U.S. buying spree.

Roughly speaking I purchased 9 guitars whence last in Las Vegas with the help of my son and sister-in-law. I also purchased a couple of amplifiers, cables, capos and enough strings to keep my guitars well strung for a few years. I have documented all my purchases on an Excel spread sheet – mostly to justify it to Anita. I am forever promising to sell something in order to justify buying something new – do you do this?

In fairness I have sold three of the guitars up to now – just selling my Martin Backpacker to a lucky soul here in Puerto the other day. So I think I am down to six guitars.

Recently I discovered a Taylor guitar that is touted as a hybrid wherein it is a multi-capable electric and acoustic strumming marvel. I should say in front I am a Taylor Guitar fan generally. In the current madness I have bought two Taylors and sold one.

Simple and Elegant – The Taylor T5z Hybrid

The thing about hybrids – cars withstanding – they usually fall into the jack-of-all-trades, master of none category. Take motorcycles for example. Enduro models are supposed to work both for dirt riding and street riding. They typically do both marginally. This trying to facilitate too many options in the guitar world has me nervous; and yet the prospect of not managing six or more guitars rather suits my current thinking.

Sell three or four of the current inventory of electrics and one of the remaining two acoustics would get me down to two, perhaps maximum three guitars to care and feed.

This would include selling my current go-to Taylor guitar and replacing it with this new Taylor hybrid. Can you feel my pain and confusion here?  More on this soon.

But, speaking of hybrids and consumerism, I have family news. Julian our son just divesting himself from a very expensive Mercedes roadster to a saner Chevrolet Volt – a slick hybrid. Wow were we surprised. Our son has actually turned the corner on owning expensive gas guzzler cars a full 5 years ahead of his father’s example.

Julian’s New Car

We tried to instill wisdom on the advantages of real estate and the disadvantages of expensive car ownership early on in his life. I have a laundry list of expensive cars I purchased into my early thirties. Julian is 24, soon to be 25.

1967 was the last year Carroll Shelby made his famous Shelby Cobra cars; from there on Ford produced his cars.

My 1967 GT500 Shelby Cobra

Summer of ’66 I spent a good part of it on the road with Johnny Rivers touring America and making some serious money. When the new 1967 models started to roll out at the end of the summer of ’66 I had spotted a wondrous British Racing Green fastback GT500 Shelby Cobra in the showroom of Galpin Ford in the San Fernando Valley.

With my jeans stuffed with enough cash to buy said ferocious automobile I marched into Galpin Ford to get my car.

I kicked its tires and ran my hand along its fine lines, finally sitting in the driver’s seat. I grasped the steering wheel with both hands and conviction. At this point you could hear the loud clap of leather soles of big Florsheim shoes stomping across the showroom arriving at the door of the Cobra Mustang breathlessly a salesman demanded I GET OUT OF THE CAR! He was quite off put that this long haired hippie, perhaps even shoeless, I cannot remember, would be anywhere near this fine, expensive driving machine.

Angry at this profiling me as a poor vagrant like hippie I slowly removed myself from the car and left the showroom.

In the parking lot was a Mexican hombre washing cars along the front line of rows and rows of new cars. I approached him explaining I wanted him to sell me that car, pointing to the Shelby in the showroom. You must understand he spoke no English and I no Spanish – but I made my point.

The MEXICAN started to go off and corral a salesman when I grabbed his arm (you could do that in those days) and took him inside asking to speak to the manager.

I had a bunch of the bills from my jeans in hand declaring I wanted to buy that race car over there. I had cash. And furthermore if this employee of Galpin did not receive the sales commission I WOULD NOT BUY THE CAR. No problem the manger assured me. He would see to it that the carwash attendant would receive the substantial commission – more than he would make normally in several months. I could see the fancy dressed sales man out of the corner of my eye watching in amazement.

You can bet he never shooed away another hippie in his sales career. And I received a Christmas card for the next ten years or so from that Mexican carwash attendant and his family.

Stay tuned!

Wave Review

The POWER of Mother Nature was on display. Apparently the huge waves we experienced here in Puerto Escondido, this weekend past, origin was from a storm off the coast of New Zealand. Cruise ships as far north as off the coast of Southern California had to be diverted from these same waves.

Whatever the cause it was a doozy. Sunday morning the Calypso Couple rode our scooter the couple of miles to Zicatela Beach.

Even before we arrived at the southeasterly most entrance to the area we noticed many cars parked along the main highway, Mex 200. Crowds were gathered along the roadway watching the huge waves pummel the beach and beyond.

It was quite a show from up there. When we arrived at the entrance to the main beach area which is about 4 city blocks above the main beach road we were not allowed entrance, stopped by the police. We were told the road was compromised with sheets of water and no vehicles were allowed to pass.

We knew a way down there living here.  We rode back up the highway a half mile or so, eventually arriving at the corner of the main beach drag.  We parked the scooter and walk down to see the waves and the crowds – it was a spectacle.

I TOOK PHOTOS, seen herein as well as a few grabbed from a couple of places on the web. Some of the photos are truly amazing; and yet being there was an added layer of intensity. Feeling those waves crash the earth. Thousands upon thousands of pounds of water crash landing, chewing away sand and streaming water into local restaurants, even across the highway; there were water mark levels on the buildings on the other side of the road. High tide was still to come in the afternoon.

This was a time we appreciated the four blocks distance from ocean’s edge and 60 foot climb required to reach our beach casa. We think we are far enough and high enough back to avoid being swamped any time in the near future – say 50 years or so?

WE HOPE THE RESTAURANTS SURVIVED the water invasion. Being lulled to sleep at night by pounding waves is wonderful.  Life is Good.

Stay Tuned!

BOXING Reaches a New Low

Here locally a new high watermark was reached yesterday at high tide and it is predicted to go yet higher later today. We have been experiencing huge waves on our local beaches. Surfers from all over the world are flying in to catch a ride on thirty-foot plus waves.

THERE ARE PEOPLE in this photo – BIG wave!

Ironically we are hearing many arrived unaccompanied by their surf boards. Apparently in some flights the boards were being brought by another plane-no boards arrived here. You might imagine the frustration of arriving in Puerto Escondido to catch the big ones and not have your surf boards.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a new free air, just stick up an antenna like the days of old, High Definition local television channel; one that was to carry the BIG FIGHT last night. Anita has been using our 32 inch Samsung television as a monitor for her little notebook computer – she gave it up for the good of the game.

The lead-in to the start of the fight was almost as boring as the fight itself. In more technical snafus than missing surf boards there were pay-per-view connection problems that delayed the start of the fight – better it had been cancelled. You can be pretty sure when Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton, new entertainment lows, get more aired time than Robert Di Niro and Denzel Washington THAT SOMETHING IS AMISS.

A BIT OF PERSONAL HISTORY – I am going to be 69 years young in October. I have seen a lot of boxing matches going back to Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson through all the Mohammed Ali fights, Sugar Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, George Foreman etc. I saw Mike Tyson chewing off Evander Holyfield’s ear. This was not my first time to a big dance, although in recent years I had all but given up on the pugilist sport. Like Howard Cosell, God rest his soul, before me I decided athletes beating each other’s brains out should not be encouraged as we all watched THE GREAT ONE, Ali turn into a quivering, speech impaired zombie; and witnessed other atrocities inevitable from getting beaten in and about the head too often.

But this was the fight of the new century to beat all fights. I succumbed to watching it when it was available free on local television. I admit my transgression. But as is often the case with transgressions there are paybacks. To say the fight was boring is giving it much more credit than it deserves. For most of the fight Mayweather was running from the Pacman – just like the game. there was no toe-to-toe combat – oh no!

My personal score card was the same as two of the judges in the unanimous decision; save the fact my winner was Manny Pacquiao rather than Floyd Mayweather. I mean honestly could those judges have been watching the same fight I had watched? Ridiculous decision – unanimous or not.

These two guys each made three figured millions. There was perhaps a billion dollars in betting and virtually everyone went away bored and unbelieving that this was the fight of the century.

We are going to go look at some huge waves roll in and take it easy today after staying up late to watch the fight – pretty sure it will be my last.

Stay Tuned!

3352 usd for the Calypsos
to Fly to Paris

OUCH! That just seems like a lot of U.S. dollars to fly to Paris and back from Mexico City – here I am assuming this is a round-trip fee.

Captured from our screen this morning.

Pretty nice exchange rate can be noted. But two tickets to Paris for Anita and me is out of the question. We will have to enjoy traveling in the Orient with our amigo Steve Cotton (vicariously).

I recall spending an entire summer (about 2.5 months in those days) in Europe, including a couple weeks in Paris, for under 800 usd including round trip airfare. Of course I was a kid and enjoyed the oft staying at hostiles camaraderie.

I am sure there are lesser costing ways to get to Paris and back and then add back from Mexico City – but for now we will concentrate on getting ready to drive back to Xico, Veracruz and on to Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

Still pretty nice weather here in Puerto Escondido  - but it is getting warmer. Currently 82F (26.6 C) at 7 AM.

Stay Tuned!

Let Us Be STUPID NOW

It would appear that the 15 to 1 exchange rate is holding and perhaps has found a new average level. As mentioned previously the fast raising inflation here is certainly softened by the favorable exchange rate. Somehow the Mexicans seem to survive – but then mankind is like that for the most part.

Nine usd dollars out-the-door for a 12 pack for BOTTLED-NO-DEPOSIT Corona beer is certainly better than in the U.S. Groceries are less, gas is more, however with the economy of the scooter we do not feel that pain much – until we start back north. Which will be happening soon. It still can be written that Mexico is a bargain. We do recycle those Corona bottles by the way.

We were scheduled to head back to Xico, Veracruz on Sunday the 26th. We decided to stay perhaps a few weeks more as the hot weather has been mild. We find relief from the 85-86 F [30 C] plus heat of the day at night. Fans are actually wonderful devices – just moving air around works. Humidity totally manageable.

We both woke up one morning here lately suggesting almost in unison that we should stay here longer. It is a hard place to leave.

The thinking is rather than going back to Xico, Veracruz for six weeks or so and then heading to the U.S. we would stay a shorter time in Xico and get an early start on the U.S. visit and then get back as we have projects in Xico – two neglected houses etc.

We always look forward to seeing our neighbors in New Mexico, our family in Las Vegas and perhaps even a meet-up with our son.

In the meantime other than negotiating around stuff strategically located to be packed in the Jetta and wearing the same three or so outfits of clothing everything else remains the same.

We had our first spill on the new scooter the other day. It was rather ugly for a few reasons. First before we left the house Anita told me to not wear sandals. We try and use helmets and have good shoe protection as a standard. But STUPID ME insisted on ignoring the policy as we were out the door.

Leaving our driveway we have a short half block down a rugged dirt road to a right turn attacking another rugged dirt road until solid highway is reached a further half block. At the first turn, there to the right, my right sandal broke and became a flopping impediment – this where I started to place the foot down to stabilize the sandy, rocky turn.

Virtually stopped, but not, we laid down in the dirt. We did have helmets, as noted when my head bounced – but I had some rib crunching bearing the load of the scooter. Anita twister her ankle and we both had a couple of abrasions. The ribs are still quite tender and making for uncomfortable sleeping.

Of course I feel totally stupid for not listening to Anita’s warning – especially making her have to pay the price as well as me. I am 68 years old – but swear I will do better about listening.

So the delay came at a good time because my tender ribs mending before hauling a bunch of stuff to the car, mounting the car carrier and moving stuff about here will be less painful.

The scooter had very little damage – some tell-tale scratches, even those minor. But it has lost it’s virginity. What is it they say, it isn’t whether, rather when your motorcycle will go sideways. I am getting to an age where recovery is slow – but I AM NOT LIKELY TO GIVE UP MY TWO-WHEEL PASSIONS. Just might decide to throw in an extra measure of being careful and not being stupid. This was so preventable as is often not the case with moto travel.

A positive is my time spent working on learning the guitar has increased – although reaching over the body of the Taylor can be a bit painful – the Paul Reed Smith electric is a better fit while the ribs heal.

To our family – we are OK really.

Stay Tuned

Let’s Rock
A Swarm of Earthquakes

Last night at eleven-thirty we had an earthquake. For some reason in my adult life I have been in a lot of earthquakes including a few major ones like the 1971 San Fernando Valley earthquake; probably the most severe in my personal catalog of earth shaking events.

The San Fernando rocker lasted 12 seconds. Most of that 12 seconds I spent chasing around a crib that was bouncing across the entire second floor of my two-story 40 year old Laurel Canyon pad. That one had 64 casualties.

Last nights shaker lasted but a few seconds – but it was a wake-up call.

On the perception of incongruity: Anita and I automatically grabbed each other hands – we were going it together, that was for sure. I debated our situation as to whether we needed to get out of the casa or stay in bed where a wood and thatch roof might land on us easier than dealing with tons of cement between here and the out-of-doors. As is usually the case it all happened so fast the decision was made for us – we rode it out just as we had the day before in the morning when the sound of a blast like explosion preceded a still shorter duration quake; but a real rocker.

Both were real earthquakes, the epicenters just a few miles to the northeast of us in the mountains.

We live in Brisas Zicatela.

Coincidentally yesterday was Earth Day. During the day amongst other things I am reading I leafed past the history section and got on to the current path of destruction being perpetrated by man as noted by Elizabeth Kolbert in her terrific book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. I can tell you the book is a must read.

[Kolbert] grounds her stories in rigorous science and memorable characters past and present, building a case that a mass extinction is underway, whether we want to admit it or not. (Discover Magazine)

One of our more serious weather watchers here in Puerto posted this on the local Forum-

We are in the midst of what is known as an earthquake “swarm,” meaning a series of many earthquakes. Check out this map for a quick look, and read the list of recent earthquakes, to see that almost half (43 of 99 listed) have occurred between Pinotepa and Pochutla: [www2.ssn.unam.mx] The swarm continues, and I don’t know whether it’s good that we’re bleeding off that pent-up energy slowly, or whether it’s a forerunner of something bigger.

Pinotepa and Pochutla are towns to the west and east of us running along the southern most end of Mexico’s coastal highway 200. Both within close proximity of Puerto Escondido.

Reading Kolbert’s book will leave you disturbed and frightened, despite her matter-of-fact tone. Which is exactly how these recent earthquakes have left the Calypso Couple – disturbed and frightened. Get the book. It is anything but overly scientific and slow. Happy belated Earth Day.

Stay Tuned!

Synchronicity

If ever there were an overused cosmic words list it would certainly include Synchronicity. OK no argument from me but listen to this.

Anita and I have been looking at a small apartment building to perhaps buy – oh yeah we need more real estate, but that is another discussion.

We are in the finer points of due diligence. This has been going on for a week or so. Yesterday I downloaded [saved] a lot of photos of the prospective property – reason being we can enlarge them and view at will without waiting for the Internet to work.

Anita and I sat together reviewing the downloaded photos. We noticed in a photo taken in a local restaurant nearby the apartment building; there the two of us were sitting at a table – other than the server we were the only people in the photo – how very odd and quite coincidental. There was the Calypso Couple within the many photos of the potential property.

See couple seated far right

Is this a sign? Is that ever a way to get off the course of good process? We cast off any possibility of some cosmic connection. But….

Did I ever tell you the story about how we discovered a photo of Casa LaPuntaEs taken five years before we bought it? That is right, we discovered a photo of our very beach casa amongst photos we had taken on our first trip to Puerto. I mean a couple very deliberate and specific photos of just this very casa we would purchase 5 years later.  Why would I have taken photos of a single house on a street in Puerto Escondido – which five years later we bought for our own – coincidence – perhaps?

We found this photo taken in 2007 of the casa we bought in 2011.

Our friend Gordy says nothing happens without a reason. Of course he also is sure that George Bush the younger and Dick Chaney were involved in the 911 incidences and he lost a one-hundred dollar bet with me that the world was going to end when the Mayan calendar ended. How could I lose by the way?

These signs could indicate providential influence – but I would not take that to the bank. Especially a Mexican bank.  We recently opened two bank accounts here in Puerto. I am still so confused that I cannot write about it here without further investigation. It appears that rules vary considerably between banks here in Mexico unlike the highly regulated banks in the United States – but more on that soon.  Stay Tuned.

Puerto Escondido Winter

As if I have not been a proponent of you coming to Puerto Escondido in the winter time – they say a picture is worth a thousand words – thus a moving picture must be worth millions adding up all those still photos streamed together.

One of our wonderful beaches

I was gathering a couple videos to entice our neighbors George and Pearl; and my sister-in-law Becky and brother–in-law Don to come here next winter. Perhaps even my sister and Jim.

Thought this might be worth posting. Turn your player up to the HD video quality and watch these two videos taken here in Puerto.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=909313289131888&pnref=story

https://vimeo.com/124621132

Pretty irresistible , no?

Stay Tuned!