The Egg and I

Were it not for eggs the Calypso Couple would be full on vegans. Instead we cheat with a bit of butter (the real stuff not Mexican butter), a smattering of cheese, shoe leather, and chief offender the egg. Eggs are at the top of the list of our infractions. It is not as if we are killing the chickens – we do not partake in that crime.

Our next-door neighbors at our newly acquired casa raise some very healthy looking free range chickens. (More on the new casa soon). These eggs are jumbos. Preventing the lid to be secured on a conventional egg carton – lovely things.

Neighbors Lovely Eggs. Are they not beauties?

And the best part is a dozen cost $1.67 usd Probably half of what they would cost at Whole Foods Stores (if you could get them and certainly not plucked from the chickens nest the day you buy them).

There are several local haunts where I get hot hand-made tortillas with scrambled eggs and a bit of cheese – yum!  Two Comedors or in English dining areas right next to each other on the main highway (200) at the entrance of our Hood. Anita’s and Lili’s Comedors both produce a nice scrambled egg and cheese torta.

Highway 200 Street Side Kitchen Cafe

And Right Next-Door – My favorite Anita’s

A recent discovery even though it has been here all along is the Comedor across the street from Lili’s and Anita’s Comedors, the pirate ship juice and sandwich bar. Yes they fly the pirate flag on their beached boat.

 

There is a pirate’s flag at the top of the mast – really.

Comedor Country juice bar

Reasonably Priced Menu

For 25 pesos they make a terrific large huevo sandwich – The homemade chipolte sauce (or habanero pepper for the daring) tops it off. And for a whopping $1.35 usd What a deal!

Did I mention we are buying Hass avocados for 50 cents U.S. a pound right now. Ah VIVA MEXICO!

Ready to use!

Gotta love it. Stay Tuned!

Suck It Up

One of the hazards of beach living is the scorpion. Last year we had more than 15 during our 6 months here. So far things are a bit slower this year – maybe the more rain days? Or just blind luck.

Our experience has led us to believe these ugly things have no interest in biting humans – they are not aggressive in that way. If you get bit it will probably be because you got your hand or foot too close. For example a person might be gathering clothes out of the hamper and engage one.

Regardless of aggressive qualities these are terrible looking creatures and having been bit once I can attest to a painfully unpleasant experience.

This year we have seen several high up on our walls. We suck them up with the vacuum and leave it out to roast in the sun. There will be those that suggest heartlessness – so be it. I have no mercy for them. I still remember well the mordida. (Photos taken today).

Stay Tuned!

Malibu or Puerto It is Beachy

Sunrise in Puerto

We live a few hundred yards from the same beach and ocean the folks in Malibu, California enjoy – the very same – just at the south end – next stop being Antarctica.

Looking at the real estate market in Malibu, we notice many stars have been trying to unload their multi-million-dollar digs there. Actually they buy and sell Malibu property amongst themselves a lot.

Yes, Malibu beach-and-hill-country getaway for celebs and rich folk up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles is pretty comparable to here in Puerto Escondido. We often comparison shop real-estate values to there.

Cher’s Malibu mansion had been for sale since 2008, when she listed it for $45 million. Then reducing the asking price to $41 million. A couple of years ago Beyonce bought it. I had no idea she made that kind of money even with Jay Z – yikes!

Many star estates are still on the market, and probably will be for some time to come. Especially Leonardo DiCaprio’s pad. He wants $23 million for his three-house beachfront Malibu “compound” (which sounds better than it looks — apart from the beach view). “I bought it from Leo DiCaprio” just doesn’t add enough caché to make it worth $23 million.

Why are the movie stars leaving Malibu?”

Apparently Leo was not happy about the proletariat being allowed on the beach near his casa. The state and local authorities have been aggressively enforcing the general public’s right to frolic on the beaches That does not appeal to many of the rich and famous in the colony. They did not pay tens of millions of dollars to share a beach with a truck driver and his family that drove over from the Valley. I should mention here Mexico has similar laws regarding the general public’s right to use the beach common.

We do live next-door to an exclusive guarded community where many government officials and their families enjoy some pretty secured privacy tight up to the sand. I have mentioned that ex prez Vicente Fox’s daughter is our neighbor – although we have not borrowed a cup of sugar from her as of yet.

Why are the movie stars leaving Malibu?” So we can move on from this.

“… because the state and local authorities have been aggressively enforcing the general public’s right to frolic on the beaches. ”

The beaches of Malibu can be crowded with well over a million people on a hot holiday afternoon. When you consider Malibu has an official full-time population (including the full-time celebrities who are part-time Malibuites) of only about 13,000, that’s a lot of strangers strolling on the strand.

A Malibu Crowd

But that battle over beachfront homeowners’ right to privacy versus the general public’s right to access public property has been ongoing for the better part of a century, so that certainly isn’t the only reason celebs are selling off their Malibu properties.

Here in Puerto the Calypso couple stay out of the fray during holidays. We become home bodies. The crowds dot the beach with assurance they will be gone soon enough. We think the greatness of beach living is worth this inconvenience.

In Malibu up in the hills on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway, there are frequent devastating wildfires in the dry season engulfing mudslides in the wet season. We do not have that in Puerto just the occasional street flooding here and there.

And all over Malibu there are sewage problems because the municipality operates solely on septic tank systems (to discourage large-scale development) instead of a sewage pipe and treatment system.

As well as endless, ongoing problems for individual homeowners, the septic mess has also led to an ocean contamination problem, especially in Malibu Lagoon where Malibu Creek empties out a stew of polluted water. The lagoon has recently been “rehabilitated”  but in the late ’90s, a number of surfers — at least five — died from water-borne diseases they contracted while surfing in the area. Yikes – no pollution deaths here. But we have minor problems in that area.

Speaking of pollution, there is endless sensory pollution along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), where every fast-food chain in the world has outlets crammed in between gas stations and “beach” bars. And, of course, the highway itself is a constant, ceaseless traffic jam.

Other than the occasional convenience store OXXO we do not have that.

But the real reason movie stars are leaving Malibu is because that’s what movie stars do.

They make lots of money entertaining us and then they buy ridiculously priced properties all over the world with that money (often as an “investment”). They visit their properties occasionally — more often in Malibu, because of its proximity to LA, than in Maui or Mauritius — and then they become bored or dissatisfied with the properties or their financial advisers advise them to unload the “investment” or an ex-spouse gets the property (or cash equivalent) in a divorce settlement or whatever.

Puerto Sunset

Puerto Escondido is not included in that. I think there is one famous old Mexican actor housed just down the road from our casa – but no stars about here. And that is OK with us.  After all this is Puerto Escondido (English: “Hidden Port”).  Stay Tuned!

In Case You Did Not Notice

Today the peso is exchanging 18 plus for 1 U.S. dollar – wow! Inflation is happening and in some mysterious ways

Up, Up and Up!

Food portions and demand tipping are being bandied about on the local forum. The Calypso Couple, not restaurant bon vivants by any stretch, have even noticed. Dan’s Deluxe use to serve quite a helping of potatoes with their morning eggs – no more. Down the boardwalk a ways Fish Taco has reduced nearly to half their fish tacos.

“Fish Taco adding service charges to their bills?”

And apparently these eatery entrepreneurs have learned from their suppliers (say Nabisco for example) a reduction in the quantity of ingredients, of course altering the size of a cookie or cracker, is a price increase that may not get noticed. Tuna canned at 170 grams of actual edible volume now declare in small print 140 grams.

‘”teeny-tined” their signature shrimp tacos, from a 4-inch tortilla down to what looks like about 2.5-inches, same price.

We had a total of 3 tacos and two beer. The food was pretty good as usual but the service was barely passable. The bill came to around $190 [pesos] and I left $220 altogether. Later on, I found out that the bill of $190 already included a 10% service charge. Now, in el Norte it is customary to add a service charge on bills for larger parties of say over eight people and I know some of the “higher end” restaurants in town such as Pascale and Espadin also include a service charge in their bills. For a taco joint to start including service charges would be a deterrent for me to go back especially when the service was so-so. I really should be looking at my bills more carefully. Also, since adding a service charge is more an exception than standard practice around here, it may be a good thing for these restaurants to inform the customers of the inclusion.

Considering how fat everyone seems to be getting on both sides of the border –  smaller portions could be a good thing – all still subversive and including a tip (not generous at 10%) within the check is divisive, and  it may even be on the back of the check almost hidden – you may tip twice unbeknownst.

The latest twist, “the suggested tip.” Our local magazine editor reminds, “It’s against Mexican law to add a service charge to the bill, thus it must be presented…as a “suggested tip” that you may choose not to pay.”

So instead of having an option to reward service quality or maybe escape with a low tip running short that time becomes a matter of having to subtract pesos from an already totaled bill – hmm.

The times they are a changing – “Separate checks please!”

Stay Tuned!

Looking Ahead
Going Straight in Mexico

When you are retired you may still experience a bad day now and again. But a bad week. Not supposed to happen! I had a bad week – really bad!

It should be noted stressed just how important a computer is to a well adjusted foreign environment. No matter where you are – there you are – with your computer. It boots you up into friendly skies, albeit virtual, whether you are in Singapore, Houston, New York or Baltimore – you’ve got a friend.

Consider being in a strange land and your trusty laptop or notebook or god forbid your iPhone Six dies. Blue screen. Black screen, Black and blue screen – OMG!

My practice has been to get a new computer every four years. I am passing a little more than two and a half years with my current laptop. It is way too young to be replaced in the scheme of all things Calypso. And it is chock full of my life by this time.

Banking, recipes, books, music, guitar lessons, movies, television shows, mucho personal mail, tax records, immigration filings etc.

OK I do have much of it backed up. But, truly I was not prepared for reassembling my computer life from a host of outboard hard drives – ugh! Not at all. And on what would I rebuild that life? I had visions of making a quick trip to the U.S. as an only option to put my virtual life back together. That is a young man’s sport – not mine.

Who is in control here? I am too old for this!

I wrote about my new digital camera that Ron and Roxanne were so very kind to provide by way of a Seattle address and then mule it and a small digital recorder here to me just after New Years.

In anticipation during the month of December a plan hatched. A plan with dire consequences.  

I began a search for software to edit video including a methodology to mix sound with pictures – I mean I was a star sound mixer in another life – this was going to be a blend of a flash from the past and moving forward into new technology. Oh how there was palpable excitement in the air, consuming much of my December; I was like a kid expecting his first two-wheeler for Christmas.

Confession is Good for the soul heart and other body and mind parts. To keep this short. I installed some virus laden bootleg software to feed the anticipation of the new gear and life project. 

Beach Communication Central had been invaded!

We are talking a vicious viral mired attack. Oh it was ugly dear reader – everything went to black. A six day war; 20 hour work days; staring into a uncooperative, adversarial 32 inch Samsung monitor, that was staring back – black and heartless. I came to the edge of the abyss and made an attempt to reinstall Windows 7. After a couple of those 20 hour days it was looking bad.

Eventually I ignored false screen warnings – shut it all down and finally we righted the ship. It was as if our mast righted itself from a near fatal barrel roll. A respite from the cyber technology that had been sizzling my brain and soul.

It was determined that this was probably retribution from a victimized software developer(s). I read several analysis reports indicating my machine possessed bootleg programs and files. Someone out there was getting all this.They devised a painful payback.

Guilt ridden and exhausted I relented and cleaned every program or file that had not been paid for in full – deleted – purged from my life. I would be determined from this day forward to not go through another nightmare like that. I was going straight!

How guilty are we of possessing stolen software, music, or cheap Mexican DVD’s etc.? You know when you do get hit by these reciprocity seekers that no one will feel sorry for you – you did after all steal their stuff. Right is right.

I could toss out there some massaged logic wrong thinking. Instead I will move on from all this – a better person? Maybe.

I do warn you all that the war is intensifying. The developers are learning more and more ways to invade your precious little devices. You do not own the programs – read the fine print that you always just click right through when you are installing this stuff.

“The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.” —Montaigne

I will have to tell you about the terrific FREE digital video editor program I installed. Did some fun stuff already. Stay Tuned!

Because You Asked

A reader asks, “Is it feasible for a single English speaking N American with virtually no Spanish speaking ability to spend and enjoy extended time (couple months or longer) in Puerto? How easy or difficult would it be to function in a satisfactory manner? Certainly if I were to stay any longer I would desire to get some quality language training. But….. initially????

There are variables in that question that could be complicated when addressed in detail. That disclaimed: Because Puerto is a vacation destination foreigners are better served than in some areas of Mexico. The short answer is I would guess you could function with a level of confidence towards getting around – lodged, fed and entertained.

This is a two edged sword in that when a Mexican National (MN) sees a visitor, many automatically assume they will NOT comprehend what they say – thus Spanglish does not go as far as it might in areas less visited by foreigners.

Many MN will be patient and may even appreciate an awkward effort to communicate in their language – so do not hesitate to make best effort.

Many restaurants and even small markets may be ran by foreigners – again making the vacation destination an easier go of it. Most restaurants offer bi-lingual menus here about.

I have lived here in Mexico for ten plus years. In honesty my Spanish is not much more than first year high school capability. The more common words will collect in the head as time goes on – even for a blockhead with no foreign language skills.

Anita speaks pretty good Spanish with the added advantage of looking Latino (because she is). But most seem to know she is not a MN – even before she speaks. Perhaps green eyes and being taller than most MN hombres is a dead give-away?

There are any number of ways to learn Spanish including computer programs, educational institutions, tutor, intense language study etc. Electronic and printed translators can help. Over the years the translator in Google has continued to improve.  We often use it to find specialty words like “pipe wrench” or “water faucet” etc. It even has an audio reader which can help speak the word(s)

I had to remind Anita when we were discussing this question that we had a lot of trepidation 10 years ago, that time and experience has erased. It is still fresh enough in my mind to know where this reader is coming from. I spent two months by myself early on in Xico, Veracruz. There were frustrations and fears regarding communicating. Of course they all got resolved.

Apparently this reader is on his own – even more trepidation. My advice is GO FOR IT! Mexico is worth it.

An interesting side note is because Anita is Latino and moderately Spanish language capable, when we are together a MN will tend to ignore my speaking efforts and look to Anita for an interpretation. She often suggests they listen again to my statement or question; and they often do and get it.

I am amazed at how I can say something in Spanish that will not be understood. Anita repeats. To my ears sounding exactly as I had said it – yet I was not understood. I still have not figured that out. Anita thinks they tune me out when my broken Spanish hits the air – drives me a little nuts ;-0

I should also point out that as one would expect the more intelligent among them will understand more of your efforts to speak the language. Look to people in positions of authority rather than a bell cap, food server or filling station attendant.

Remember no male MN will admit they do not know direction to…. Be patient, do not panic and remember there are more things different than the language here about – adventure abounds do not miss it. Stay Tuned!

Come On Down

I do not normally do weather reports. The weather for the 6-7 months we are here in Puerto each year is so constant, predictable and wonderful.

Last night  (La Punta station reports 0.60 inches, seasonal total: 0.60 inches.) we had a pretty substantial rain – it too was wonderful, but a first for anytime in January for us over the last 6 or 7 years.

This is earthquake country and we have had one direct hit hurricane in recent times. I guess it is not as benign as I have been thinking.

I do not miss cold weather. We experienced a lot of that up until we started living in Mexico mostly full time – this last 10 years.

The Week Ahead

The sunrises are artist’s palette colorful and the sunsets stop traffic, work and play. This week predictions – mid 80’s for high and high 60’s for lows. What’s not to love!

Stay Tuned!

The Ethics of It All

At the Calypso Beach Cottage we buy a lot of items sold buy the company Truper. Truper stores are ubiquitous in our areas.  Think Sears Corp. They pretty much have it all in things you might find there or Lowes or Home Depot.

We buy so much that our local Truper outlets provide us with our own copy of their semi-annual product catalog. They are quite faithful about producing these catalogs as they are constantly raising prices.

We loved our new power washer back in Xico. We thought we might get one here rather than hauling it back and forth – kind of like owning two kitchenaid mixers or two La Pavoni espresso makers (we have two Kitchenaid mixers, but only one $4000.00 La Pavoni).

The other day we went to the Truper store to perhaps order another pressure washer before the New Year when we expect prices to increase.

We brought our 2nd half of 2015 catalog with the pages marked for the washer and another item. Before I could get the book open to the marked pages another catalog fell across our book.

This was the 2016 first half book. And of course the price had gone up nearly 400 pesos (approx. $24 usd).

I ask why are we referred to a book for 2016? “It is still 2015!”

The sales lady smiled.

I did not.

There was a young clerk there taking this all in. I asked if he had received a pay increase when the new catalog came out. “Oh no Senor.”

“Then you will be getting a raise when the new year occurs in a few days?”

“Oh no Senor.”

So I ask why doesn’t he get a raise? Who gets the additional money for items that are just sitting in warehouses going up in price like personal savings accounts use to.

I explained in my best Spanish that this smacks of the rich getting richer and the poor – well – remaining poor.

The clerk says to me in his best broken English, “That is Mexico.”

I say, “That is the way of the world amigo.

Ultimately GREED will be the undoing of it all.

Have a Happy New Year anyway!

Stay Tuned

Surviving Progress

At the Calypso Beach Cottage minor renovation is happening. We have been slowly (here five years now) replacing wood that trims out our cement casa. Much of the replacement effort is mandatory as wood was worn thin from the inside out being chewed up by bugs. You could literally push your finger clear through the fiber, or lack thereof.

Original Door taken November 2010

The latest victim is the door and frame leading into the laundry room. The room doubles as a safe room for items we want to make secure to the next level for those times we are away; therefore the door must be strong and discouraging to would be home invaders. A flimsy hollow core door will not do – break out the big bucks (pesos) amigos!

Last year we replaced a small pine shelf with drawers with a larger fixture. We had also installed screening and parota wood window frames in that area.  Just off to the right is our Parota screen door which works with a large Dutch door.

So going to parota – a nicer looking and more bug unfriendly wood.

We ordered the door at the beginning of November. Much of what we get from this wood craftsman is special order and designed to fit. Doorways and window openings have no standards in Mexico – at least in areas we hang.

Yesterday morning our door and an installer were delivered on the scene by the craftsman jefe. The installer with the help of his daughter went right to work.

New Door Arrives

Before the door could get in the house Anita spotted a substantial crack running 6 to 8 inches up into the main bracing – ugh!

Crack – Appears like a hammer hit it?

A little background – this is not the first problem we have had with the wood hombre. In fact thinking back every project has had its problems. Price adjustments and corrections have been the resultant solutions. But this as a regular diet is getting unpalatable.

The door did get installed. The wood craftsman will have to return with two chairs and a couple of handmade wood drawer pulls to complete the order. Of course we will then enter into negotiations on the problem.

Father Daughter Installers

Inside View

New Door Installed

This is definitely part of the Mexican Experience. One must be flexible, understanding and only demanding to a point. It may be a matter of lowering one’s expectations as well? Soliciting similar experience and advice from you good readers – what say you?

Stay Tuned

Merry Christmas To Me

At the Calypso Beach Cottage we have a small Christmas tree in a corner of the living room. There is no room for gifts under the tree – too small it is.

Our gift-less little tree

We have not exchanged gifts in many years; at least as many as I have been retired (since 1993). The reason here is we get whatever we want when we want it – a simple truth.

There are times when the acquisition of something coincides with a birthday or Christmas and then it is labeled a gift. Last year our little red scooter arrived near my birthday. Happy birthday to me!  But you get the idea – it is not per se.

Living in Mexico full time does present some challenges relative to acquiring things. Some take paying duty and outrageous shipping charges as simply part of the living in Mexico as an expat experience. I think of shipping and certainly duty fees like paying taxes and insurance – an evil requirement in life.

Also for no apparent reason many common items in the U.S. are only available in Mexico at a substantially higher price. There is irony in that cars, televisions and more are made here in Mexico cost more to buy in Mexico than they do shipped and sold north of the border – where is the sense in that?

Each visit to the United States includes buying things on our lists of want or need this or that. On a few occasions friends have ‘muled’ an item(s) down to us. We have done some of this ourselves. It is often a question of weight and room.

Some years ago we hauled a good sized welder down for a friend. A couple of years ago pots and pans shared our travels to be delivered to my brother-in-law – the one who has moved back to the U.S. lock stock and pots – round trippers.

Our friends and neighbors Ron and Roxanne here in Mexico are on a short trip to Washington State as we speak. They have kindly agreed to bring us a couple very small items (everything less than 2 pounds). So Merry Christmas to us – and to you too perhaps. Huh?

I am finally dipping my toe in the videographer pool. For a couple of years and at least one generation of still camera purchases I have been threatening to move on to moving pictures. These marvels of technology also can now shoot excellent still photos – double duty.

So under the tree sort of speak and just a few days beyond the 25th – well – “Merry Christmas to me!” A flashy Sony video camera and a Tascam digital recorder will become new reporting/history recording tools.

Light and fits in the hand!

Stay Tuned to more of our Mexican adventure. Some of which will be a moving experience.