Thursday, November 29, 2018

False Gods

I'm not a very religious person and as the years go by I start to see my own reality.  There are things that are true in religion.  Commandments, which are pretty much truisms in life such as thou shall not kill, steal, covet thy neighbors wife, to name a few.  The commandments are pretty much the same in the Torah as well as the Quran.

Everyone uses the word "bible" today.  There are even bibles for rvers and expats in Mexico as well as other countries.  New bibles appear every day and it's important to be leary of those false gods.  In Mexico, there are unscrupulous people who deal in expats.  They like to offer their services to "help" foreigners who are non-Spanish speakers.

I'm not against anyone providing services for newcomers to Mexico.  What I am against are people who help foreigners by going around the law.  There are areas that are grey and some that are pure black and white.  Here are two of those black areas that many expats take advantage of at the urging of these bible gods.   

One is the UCD license plates.   The plates were originally meant for those in deep rural areas who were considered poor farmers.   Now, you can see Mercedes driving around the streets of places such as San Miguel de Allende with these plates.   What does that really mean? It means that it is illegal and they have a court-ordered stay to avoid having to follow the law.   In essence, these people are avoiding to pay taxes on plates and tag renewal.  They can't go far, however, once they leave the city limits or in some cases, the municipality they are open game and some cases can lose their car.  You don't hear that part though.

The other, which is morally wrong and can be illegal but recommended by some bible thumpers, is the use of Seguro Popular.  It is legal to apply for Seguro Popular as long as you meet the requirements.   The requirements are based on income and any expat, who is here legally, and by that means they have met the financial requirements for temporary or permanent residency, pay $600 dollars U.S. per year.   

Some of these disciples believe it is okay to advise their followers to lie and cheat on their application saying that they are near destitute.  You'd have to be pretty broke, down on your luck, or just plain immoral to use Seguro Popular under those terms which are meant for those who don't have social security and IMSS medical care and are generally in the group listed as "in poverty".  

In the U.S. and Canada,  people would never even begin to think of doing any of these things because they are not moral and also illegal.  There is that saying though, "when in Rome do as the Romans do".  I doubt that was ever meant to apply to illegal activity.   Just because someone jumps off a cliff, does that mean you should too?

I don't brag much about my Catholic upbringing as it is usually associated with child abuse or some other illegal activity that takes advantage of the poor and downtrodden.  

Expats, beware of false gods.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Replaced The Batteries With LTH

This was a three-day weekend for us, celebrating the Mexican Revolution (Not sure how many more years we are going to do that considering it was a complete failure.  This new president will be the final proof in the pudding).

It's been cold and rainy and the weather isn't going to improve anytime soon.  This week it will continue through the first week of December with warm days and 10C at night, little to no rain.  I've done a couple of things to get the rv ready and it really needs some decorating.  I'm not very good at that but it needs pictures.  We have a great small 5 x 7 frame that is raised fabric and light as a feather.  I need to find more.  We have some great pics just like everyone else.

I bought new batteries.  We bought the last set 7 1/2 years ago.  They were actually starting to bulge on the side.   They were Interstate from Costco and served us well.   They still hold a charge and as long as the sun was shining during the day the charge worked well all night long.  

I stopped by CostCo and they no longer carry them.  Sam's was nearby and they don't either anymore.  They carry batteries but not 6V deep cycle.   Battery Master carries the Trojan brand but they wanted 4800 pesos each for the T105.  Sure, why not?  What other choice is there?  So, I took a chance and stopped at a factory LTH battery store.   Yep, they carry 6V deep cycle at 232 amps.   Get this.  The price was half of what the Trojan cost and still carries a 1-year guarantee.   The label reads, "Solar, Golf Cart, Marine".   Sold!   I had to leave a 1000 peso deposit (500 each) for the return of the used batteries (casco or shell).   Then, they said they had made a mistake on the price.  Because I had come to the shop (they do home service, that's their big business), they gave me an additional 10% discount.   Total came to 2500 pesos each or $125.   

I paid the electrico (car electrician) to come and redo the terminals and check the 12V system and install the batteries.  I could have done it but I don't have a soldering iron and a voltmeter.  Worked out well.  He spent about 3 hours total and when completed he charged me 350 pesos.   What a deal.  I'm very happy and everything is working.  

We went to a party Sunday night.  Holidays are not a good time to be driving around late at night especially if you have had a drink or two.  The last two years I have been the designated driver.  This was a big party with people we have known for over 30 years so we drove into town, rented a hotel room nearby and spent the night.   Worked out well and worth every penny.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Cold Is Here and Closer to a Trip.

The cold weather is setting in and I am enjoying it 100%.  I put the electric blanket under the fitted sheet and turned it on low last night.   Love, love, love my electric blankets.  It rained off and on and warmed up today but we will see lows of 1C this week.  I'm a happy camper.  Getting things ready for December and I don't know when or how we will come back home.  

When at home on weekends, I don't venture out much.  Too much traffic, crazy drivers (no comments please) and overall chaos.  I like being here at home except for an occasional grocery shop.   Today was different.  We went to a furniture event at the convention center.  First stop was at a taco stand in town.  Pretty good for a quick trip and to an unknown place although it is originally from Santiago.  

The exhibition was a bust and we were hustled right into it.  It was called Blue Room.  Turns out that Blue Room is a furniture franchise and they had their end of year pieces on sale.  It was fun to get out and mingle.  One of the very young salespersons followed us around.  His last name was German and he said his grandfather came from Germany to Mexico about 35 years ago.  Hmm.  He didn't receive any genes from him.  

On the way home, we stopped at the Tim Horton's near the house.  Imagine, now they are springing up everywhere. I still can't understand why there is one 20 km from the city but it was packed with customers.  Their prices are very reasonable and beat the socks off of Starbucks.   There are now 12 Tim Horton's in the Monterrey area.   A breakfast combo; coffee, sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese along with hash browns, is $3.00.   We didn't buy anything, normally we don't eat at these types of places but the food looked pretty decent.  My five tacos and coffee were the same price.

Good ole Little Bit is getting on in years, going on 19 years now.  He has some stomach issues we have been working with for the last two years and now he has stomach pains.  The doctor says it's just old age.  When he feels the need, he gives out a small scream and we need to tell him to go outside and he does.  We will continue to take care of him until he just can't anymore but he runs, plays and likes to still chase things.  As long as he's happy and mobile, I'll support his once in a while mistakes.  

Gearing up for December the SUV is in good shape.  There were some suspension issues that have been fixed and an annoying clunking sound from the rear end on shape turns.   Well, it went to the shop yesterday where they determined that everything was in good order in the rear end.  The problem was caked on grease, road dirt, and grime.  They steam cleaned and lubricated everything and it seems to have done the trick.  Time will tell though.   They also did an engine cleaning and the total price was 550 pesos or around $26 U.S. and they worked for over 2.5 hours.  Looks good for an SUV that is 13 years old.  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Rest of Ecuador

Typical autopista toll booth, always $1.00

I will have to say that it would be very exciting to rv in Ecuador.  You are free to roam just about anywhere and I would like to think, based on what I have seen now in four trips, that boondocking is more than viable.  Lots of small towns where you can duck into backroads and side streets and maybe with permission find lots of safe and secure options.  The mountains around Quito are truly amazing as is the coastal route.  

My conference was a success with 260 teachers in attendance.  The theme of the event was Social and Emotional Learning including a segment on self-regulation and suppressive expression.  It has taken me a lot of work to develop this workshop; reading, viewing, studying, and attending other SEL conferences over the last two years.  I don't have pictures yet but should have them this week.   Ecuador had a four-day weekend because of Dia de los Muertos, here in Mexico it was only three days.

The U.S. consulate used to be next to my hotel but moved a couple of years ago.  They have a beautiful stone mural on the second floor.  It may be a bit difficult to see but it is well worth clicking to enlarge it.

I may have posted some of these before, my apologies.

Great architecture, old mixed with new.

Like most major cities, things are going vertical and sustainable communities, live, work and play.

The previous U.S. consulate next to my hotel in the background.

I worked on the front end of the trailer today.  I took everything off the front only to discover that the battery tray is complete rotted and rusted.   I have a guy coming on Wednesday to help me redo all the terminals and maybe move the batteries inside.  That means I will be buying two sealed batteries, and adding a transfer switch to make all the outlets live.  

More pictures tomorrow.  

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Getting The Rv Ready

I wouldn't say that the rv has been neglected but it was time to get down to brass tacks and get some repairs done.  The frame and most of the metal parts such as the bumper, jacks, LP gas tank tray, the hitch and the WDH system all needed some cleaning and painting.  

I started with the rear bumper and jacks.  Not at all difficult and actually quite fun to do.  Rust is the enemy on these parts so I took off all the parts, soaked them in a salt and vinegar solutions.  I washed them in soapy water and then after drying gave them a light sanding.

I am using Rustoleum flat on all the parts.  My motivation for this part of the project was Nancy and Doug.  They did this I think over a year ago and I kept saying that I needed to do it.

Another motivation for this project is that it's good to keep busy when you are grieving.  I'm sure most of you know that I lost my brother Steve this week while I was in Ecuador.  I'm still in limbo here but I have lots of support.  Yep, I'm a guy, but we suffer too and we need emotional support.

My brother and SIL were in Cancun.  Being the adventurer, he decided to go scuba diving which he had done many times before.  He had a massive heart attack.  The ambulance arrived within five minutes but he couldn't be revived.  We did as much as we could in terms of helping from a distance and ready to go should my SIL and nephews needed us.  All I can say is, don't rely on the U.S. government.  They didn't lift a finger after several attempts to be in contact.

Fortunately, the hospital personnel were more than kind and one employee who spoke English did the translation for my sister-in-law's police report.  He did a fantastic job and with the paperwork, they were able to take my brother to the funeral home for cremation.   The documents that followed, again no thanks to our friendly U.S. consulate, helped them get the ashes through Mexican customs and into U.S. customs without a hitch.   So if you should decide to pass away while out of the U.S., you're on your own.  As I have always said, KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.

In memory of my brother Steve.  It happened so quickly he may not even know he's gone.  We'll never know.  We had good times in the last 10 years.  We took trips to San Miguel de Allende, Loreto, and time along the coast of Oregon.   I'm sorry he won't be here anymore.