Friday, February 28, 2020

Long Weekend In SMA - A Place With Great Views

When we were in SMA over the holidays we met a very nice couple who have four furkids.  They invited us to stay at their house for a long weekend.  We drove down on Tuesday late in the afternoon and spent the night at Las Palmas.  We didn't bring the rv but it was fun remembering our trips and stops in Matehuala at this famous hotel.

Up early on Wednesday, we wanted to arrive around noon and we almost did.  The cold front had come through Tuesday night and in the morning it was cold, windy and wet.  The drive took a bit longer than I had anticipated because of several accidents with semis and the rain and wet roads.

We made one stop at the Paradero San Luis which is located at the toll booth as you enter San Luis Potosi.  A hot coffee and torta to go and off we went.  Because our friends live on the north side of SMA we took the first exit off of Hwy 57 to Dolores Hidalgo.  Doing that we arrived just before 1 p.m.

As you can see, we will have a relaxing weekend here.  The views are incredible not to mention the sunsets.  We can see the lake in SMA, Atotonilco and the edge of Dolores Hidalgo.  

It was a bit hazy yesterday but you can see the lake in the picture below.  

We're up pretty high so you really get a good view of the valley.

Friends from Canada are here also and we hope to see them as well as having an early dinner with our friend Barbara.  We will return home on Wednesday in the morning.  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

New Addition To The RV

There wasn't much reaction to my last "satirical" post.  Too bad, it was a good glimpse of what is happening here in Mexico.  As you may have heard, "feminicides", a term not quite yet in the English dictionary, has become a hot topic here in Mexico.  Too many women and young girls being killed by men out of anger, passion, deceit, and sexual abuse.  Mexico will be having a national work stoppage day on March 9th in protest.  Our new government has decided that, because the problem is so big now in Mexico, that we should not separate feminicides from homicides and they should all be lumped together ignoring the real issue at hand.

On to the subject line.  Yep, things are returning to the way they were during our dark period 12 years ago, that is part of the new socialist regime taking place in Mexico.  Dark as it may seem, I am getting restless being here at home.  We have decided that the school calendar will allow us many three-day weekends, a two-week Spring break and then summer vacation.  Time to take the rv out and go somewhere.  The situation is much different when you have Mexican plates and a Mexican on board but we have decided to take the risk.

We purchased an upgrade item for the rv which I am sure you will be pleased to see 😀  It is a Thetford porcelain toilet purchased on sale from Amazon.  I got tired of having, to us a nice travel trailer, and a cheap plastic toilet that wobbles no matter what we did to tighten it, and it was a bitch to clean.  Now it's just like at home and our knees won't be in our chins.  I'm sure you're all thrilled and excited for us.
In the bedroom, we also have a lack of outlets.  On Amazon, I found a cheap and inexpensive lamp that fits perfectly on the narrow nightstand on one side of the bed.  Not only is it a shaded lamp but also has several USB ports but also two 110 outlets.  That works great for us.

Our travel trailer is officially 12 years old although we bought i new ten years ago.  I can't believe we have had it for that many years and we've managed to keep it in pretty good shape.  

We have one more house sit in SMA for a week.  We leave Tuesday afternoon and will take the week to relax.  The house is quite a ways out of town and up in the hills so I doubt we will leave the area but maybe once for a dinner with our friend Barbara.

Spring break we are considering going to Ecuador for 12 days, flying into Quito and then touring our way to the coast to Guayaquil and flying home from there.  But, we had so much fun last year in West Texas I would like to take the rv there.  Semana Santa in Mexico is a logistical and quite noisy nightmare.  But lets see. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Major Loco And The Case Of The Unwanted Flying Machine

You'll have to read between the lines but if you are abreast of the news in my land you'll know what I'm talking about.  I've decided to present this as the Flying Machine to avoid any issues as social media is now being scrutinized.  

In not too far off lands in North America lives Major Loco.  Major Loco inherited a tremendous flying machine that he despised, hated, and wanted to rid his land of.  For him, it represented everything capitalist and liberal.  He was determined to rid his land of the flying machine but found it very difficult.  From the start, he attempted to sell this flying machine but to no avail.

You see, this flying machine was purchased from one of the major worldwide manufacturers.  It was the behemoth of the skies.  It was meant for previous and future majors who thought it useful to demonstrate the power of the economy, provide space for 200 reporters and dignitaries, and included conference rooms and even a master bedroom.  It sounds very much like other flying machines from other nearby lands and they are useful in cases of attacks on their lands as well as visiting far off lands and showing the prowess and power of the land in question.

What Major Loco hadn't counted on was the simple fact that no one would want to buy a tremendous flying machine that is filled with security electronics, spying devices, and furnishings that wouldn't be to another land's liking.  So, the flying machine has sat in a giant aerodrome for over a year and a half.  The unforeseen consequences of not selling the flying machine are that it has a cost.  The flying machine is on a 20-year lease program, is less than six years into the program, and has depreciated greatly like most flying machines.  Then there has been the cost of storing the flying machine in the aerodrome, maintenance and keeping it shiny and dirt-free.  Imagine, it costs millions.

Major Loco has gone loco over this flying machine to the point that since it isn't wanted, he has decided to sell sweepstakes tickets at a small price to the general public.  But Major Loco recently informed those in his kingdom that the winner or winners will not actually receive the flying machine.  They will be paid a stipend of the supposed $150 million U.S., approx $1 million U.S. for the 10 winners.  The rest, well we really don't know what will be done with it or what will happen to the tremendous flying machine. We think it will be used to pay off the lease and then the major's air squadrons will maintain it until something better comes along.  Also, this last week, Major Loco invited some of his land's wealthiest people who provide millions of jobs to a meeting to "talk about the economy".  Well to those wealthy people's surprise, they were forced to sign documents promising to buy thousands of these tickets. 

Oh, the mind of a socialist major who just happens to be loco.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Mexican Utility Payments and More - How And Where To Pay

I read quite a bit about the difficulty ex-pats have in paying bills.  I write this as one comment send, "we live in the land of maybe".  It took offense to that statement.  I realize that not everyone is going to be a Spanish speaker.  As I have said, people live here for many different reasons and some feel just fine to stay with their own kind.  Although I have to say that I see many lonely women in and around San Miguel de Allende just as an example.  I also noticed that in Cuenca, Ecuador which is also another big ex-pat community.  They could learn some Spanish and meet a nice muchacho  :)

 Most of the issue with doing just about anything in Mexico is that if you don’t speak the language you have to kind of fuddle your way through things until you sort them out.  I have heard many people say, “well I have lived here for years and never knew that”.  Read the newspaper, listen to the news on the television or the internet.  Use an online translator and read ex-pat newspapers. 

So how do you pay bills in Mexico?  First off, there are very few countries with a decent mail delivery system and the same goes for Mexico.  We get our mail regularly but it only includes two bills; the phone and our membership dues payment at the resort south of our house. 

The most common things one has to pay are utilities and cable.  Telmex, CFE (electric), gas, be it filling a cylinder at home or in some major Mexican cities that have a natural gas network, cable, and internet.   The good thing about bills today is that mail doesn’t matter much anymore.  Even the CFE who delivers bills is slowly getting out of the business.   Everything is online these days including property taxes, Mexican car insurance, credit cards, etc.  I was shocked when my little brother recently told me that he still writes checks.  Egads! 

The CFE has cajeros or machines where you can pay your bill.  Some even had card readers to pay via debit or credit.  You can scan the bar code or enter your service number which is on any bill you may have or your contract.  The cajero accepts both bills and coins and returns change.  You can also pay at the counter.

Telmex has offices all over Mexico and again, you only need your phone number with the area and an ID in some cities.  This is good also if you just have the Infinitum internet and not the landline.

If you are a Mexican resident, temporary or permanent, you can also open a Mexican bank account.  Someone told me recently that another person had told this person that Mexican banks weren’t safe.  Wow, all Mexican banks have a counterpart in either Europe or the U.S. We even have investments in Mexican banks. We have used Banorte for over 30 years and never an issue. Banorte is associated with the International Bank of Laredo.  You can have an account there in IB of L and do transfers back and forth.
Your online account has a page for paying the most popular companies.  Banorte has a list of over 50 that includes all of the payments above and then some.  Speaking of banking, most Mexican banks are now going to mobile apps and you can pay with your phone in many places.  We saw the new readers at Mega and Soriana in SMA, as an example.  You just tap your phone and scan it with the QR code.

Then you have the famous OXXO convenience stores.  They accept all types of payments, bank transfers, deposits, credit card payments, school tuition, and then some for a small price of 10 pesos.  You can send money from one store to another in less than 30 minutes if someone you know needs cash.

After that comes banks.  Any bank will, whether you are a customer or not, allow you to pay any of your bills for a small fee of again, 10 pesos.  If it is not a utility bill, there will be a list of banks on the bottom of your payment slip with the corresponding bar codes for the bank to use.  We even pay our property taxes and car tags at the bank, online bank or at the OXXO.

When we are traveling in Mexico, we can pay the essentials at any branch of the utility company.  When we travel outside Mexico we then use our Mexican online banking.  We even make a payment transfer weekly to the gardener online as well.

Well, that’s that unless someone who reads this would like to add something I may have forgotten.  You can always send me an email and I will be glad to answer any questions.

BTW, we celebrate 35 years of blissful togetherness today.  Wow, how time flies.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Short Look Inside An IMSS Hospital

It's taken weeks to get over the virus I had.  We are both still existing with a mild cough on occasions.  It comes and goes.  Some people are reporting four to six weeks of cough after the end of the cold virus.  

IMSS 33 Monterrey

Yesterday we went to an IMSS hospital to visit a friend who is in pretty bad shape.  Diabetes, kidney failure, deep depression, and probably not going to make it.   His kids are all there taking shifts staying at the hospital.  He needs a catheter put in to help cleanse his kidneys but they have to wait until Tuesday.  No surgeries scheduled on weekends at this hospital.  Sad, isn't it?  But that is socialized medicine in Mexico.  

This particular hospital is located in downtown Monterrey and when we were there five years ago it was a dump.  With a new director, it has undergone some modifications and clean up.  There is still so much bureaucracy that some people would think it's still a dump.  Little things like extremely dirty windows, tape residue on the walls, windows and glass doors where notices were hung but never thoroughly cleaned, areas requiring simple paint touch-ups, etc.    

I didn't take a picture inside the room.  There are three other patients and the room is clean and has its own bathroom.   Our friend has all the latest technology including a defibrillator, monitors, oxygen and constant visits from staff with medications, meals, and checkups.  

This is the area for doctors' visits for those that were or will be admitted to the hospital.  It's quiet on the weekend as outpatient care goes to local clinics.

Only so many visitors are allowed at any bed.  You need to have a pass and after your visit, you come back here to the waiting room and give the pass to the next friend or relative.

You'll find signs like these all over the hospital reminding visitors to keep their hands washed with soap and water or using gel.  The bathrooms in the waiting area are in good condition and clean.

There are security cameras throughout the hospital so I was a bit uncomfortable taking pictures but did capture this orderly taking a patient back to his room after x-rays. 

I'm still not sure I would want to be a patient there, but until I'm 65 and have Medicare, there really isn't much choice unless I am willing to pay out of pocket.  I will do that with my angiogram later this month.