Sunday, August 30, 2020

Deferred Trailer Maintenance?

I always think I am doing a good job of cleaning and maintaining the trailer.  I check the roof, tires, and most of all the solar charging system.  That turned out to not be the case.  If you remember, we went out to Monte Sur a little less than two months ago, everything was in "good working order".  When we got home two days later, I took off one of the LP tanks to use with our Weber for dinner.  I noticed that one of the batteries was kind of drooping down lower than the other.

The two batteries sit on a metal frame down below and behind the LP tanks.  You really can't see them from the front of the hitch.  I got underneath the trailer and the battery frame was completely rusted.  It was crumbling and deteriorated.  

Don't laugh!  Imagine if one of the batteries had fallen through on the road! 

I don't have a welding set or whatever metal workers use and finding someone is not that easy for such a small job.  Everyone wants to erect a steel structure five stories high.  I finally found a guy who had painted our gate.   He had been in the hospital with a heart issue and lost his job.  I tracked him down and he had told me his story.   He was able to find the machine (not a clue what it's called) and he bought the materials.  He removed the old tray, measured here and there and I kept my eye on him as I didn't want to drag this out.  He doesn't wear a mask as he believes he is immune to any disease (he's 27 years old with a heart condition).  

Looks brand new!

He came yesterday in the heat of the afternoon.  I cut the grass at eight o'clock because it's cool and next door the worker always cuts the grass after lunch.  I don't get it so it must just be me.  The work took a couple of hours, plus a lunch break and of course, I told him not to come back until late afternoon.  I didn't want to sit outside and watch him when it is over 100F.  He did a great job as you can tell from the pictures.   He also made a new tray, at his insistence, for the LP tanks and it turned out equally as good. 

I was smart enough to tag all the battery posts and cables so when I put the batteries back it was a breeze and the solar started right up again.  I checked it this morning and they were charging at 13.6.

Some of you know the route from Reynosa to Monterrey or our house.  As you get off the autopista is the Pemex refinery in Cadereyta.  Presidente Dingus came to town to give one of his mañaneras (two-hour morning presentations).  We are fighting to either fix the refinery or shut it down as it is causing major pollution problems and we have the stats to prove it.  What did PD do?  He had the smokestacks shut down the day before so the skies could clear.  An hour after his plane took off to return home, the stacks came back on.  

PD is also a fan of public surveys to help him make his decisions.  The new survey involves corruption by past presidents and whether they should be sued or tried in court.  Well, guess where he is doing the surveys?   They are being done in cities where the majority of voters belong to his party.  This administration is a joke.  

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Mexican Driver's License

It's been three years since I renewed my driver's license and it was due this month (August).  Renewal is a simple process that takes place in the state treasury office (tesoreria).  Each state is different and the smaller the city sometimes the more bureaucratic the process.  In my case, I live in a very modern northern state.   I went to the offices with my soon to expire license in hand.  

With COVID there was quite a line and they made sure people kept the required distance.  This state department is the most sophisticated and technologically advanced I have seen in Mexico and the state of Texas.  They ask you if you have any changes.  If not, they ask if you want to be an organ donor and then snap the camera.  You go to the cashier to pay and ten minutes later (while they have checked for any warrants or tickets) they call you back and hand you your new license.

If you are an ex-pat and you are requesting your first state driver's license you need the following original and copy:

1)  Temporary or permanent resident visa
2)  Proof of domicile; electric, water, gas (we have natural gas networks in some major cities), cable, or telephone
3)  CURP (Clave Unica de Registro de Población)
4)  Money  (a three-year renewal is 675 pesos  

On the license in the picture below is the following information:

1) Name 
2) CURP  (This federal registration number is made up of your initials and birthday)
3) Address
4) Expiration date
5) Driver's license number
6) License class 
7) The state slogan that separates the north from the south "Proud To Be From The North" 

While I was there I saw this promotional sign.  Many people in rural areas never renew their plates.  If they stay in their area or small town everyone knows everyone and they never get a ticket.  Have an accident though, and the other driver has insurance, you'll lose and pay for the accident plus fines.

Now they are offering to fix everything for the sum of 2172 pesos, roughly $100 USD.  It has to have been registered at sometime before 2005, some proof of ownership, and two witnesses.  What a deal to get people legal.  It provides protection for everyone; insurance, accidents, stolen vehicles, etc.

Saturday was a celebration day.  We had our monthly ribeye and one of the best Mexican wines ever.  We have always drunk La Cetto and we were able to visit the winery in Baja California last year on vacation.  Their best wine is Nebbiolo.  This was a very good Cabernet Sauvignon.  Try it sometime.  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Virus In Mexico Has Reached "Catastrophic" Levels

Last night, Mexico surpassed what has been deemed the "catastrophic" level with the COVID virus.  The picture above represents two stadiums with total capacity between them of 61,000 people.  Mexico is only testing those that go to hospitals for treatment.  In other words, after the fact.  The term "catastrophic" was used on June 4, 2020, by our Under Secretary of Health.  He said that we would reach that point at 60,000 deaths. 

Mexico's population is roughly 130 million.  Based on that, we are passing the U.S. level of deaths per population.  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Everything Seems So Temporary Now (It Always Has)

I was standing out on the front porch yesterday morning enjoying the birds singing and having my second cup of coffee.  If you ever stay here or if you have you'll get an early wake-up call with the birds followed by the loud pheasant like chachalacas.  

As I was standing there, I looked around at how nice the yard looks since I have taken over the task.  The rv is nice and shiny, the bamboo surrounding our yard is nice and green, and it did absolutely nothing for me.  I've never been a material person.  In fact, I don't actually feel as though I own anything.  As I said in the title, everything is really temporary.  People come and go and live and die and what they own goes back to the government, a relative who will most likely piss it away or sometimes it just sits there forever.  There are literally millions of places around the world that are abandoned.  Nobody ever claimed them or the government took them but never did anything with them.  As I was growing up I had set a death date of 2070, that would make me 113 years old.  Now I realize that will never happen.  In conclusion, I don't get excited about money, houses, cars, and I've never felt like I need to keep up with anyone.  As an rv Youtuber says, "I do me, you do you" and I like that.  I'm not the forever optimist but that doesn't mean I'm not fun to be around either.

The heat has been doing its wonderful job of making most people in this belt or band of the planet generally miserable.  I hear the same line every day, "be thankful for what you have".  Meh.  I could do with or without but what we do have we earned, it wasn't gifted to us so I think most people are just not very productive and the heat doesn't help at all.  I have to say that I see the roadworkers out there (last week it was 106F) and they just keep plugging along.  I give them credit but it should be like a temporary job, you know, the MacDonald's type for high schoolers or part-time for college kids.  It shouldn't be a career.   But, we don't encourage people to study, just get by for today.

I've been reading about the new millennial group of climate changers who want to save the planet.  They say my generation screwed everything up and that we were selfish not to think about the future and that of the others to come.  Our generation got a very late start on saving the planet and most of us, as I am at the tail end of boomers, didn't have a clue that we were destroying anything.  They thought they were being productive and providing for a great future.  A 17-year-old climate changer said, "the planet had better get busy cleaning up or else".  Well, she hasn't been around the block yet.  As one of my most admired brothers has said, "most of the planet lives in shit" and that's the truth.  Do you really believe that people living on $1 a day could care about pollution much less recycling?  Their only goal is to eat something for that day and they aren't even concerned about tomorrow.  They use public waterways for bathrooms and still do what the British did before indoor plumbing, just chuck it out the window.  You can tell I have been watching documentaries such as; "The Most Dangerous Roads" and "The Most Difficult Way To School", way too much!

Anyway.  We do have some good news (if you've continued to read this far 😃), we received a call from our resort down the road.  They are open and wanted to make sure we bring the rv.  The manager really likes us.  That was a nice thing.  However, it's still too hot to go anywhere around here.  We can travel now within Mexico to some degree but in our case, it has to be a place that has extremely good wifi.  Juan has his online classes at least for now.  We may have news on his second retirement in a month.  In the meantime, we are looking for a place we can drive to, have excellent wifi, and be able to be somewhat close to outdoor activities.  Renting an Airbnb only to sit inside doesn't sound too appealing although it would be a change of pace!

That's where I am at now with my 126th day of internment.   I guess it's better than beating the streets of Dhaka's suburbs.  Be happy, have a rant once in a while, fix a drink, and you'll get over it.  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Summer Heat, School Starts And . . .

This is a picture of our new soccer stadium.  It holds 51,000 people.  The official COVID death count for this morning is 52,006.  This should provide some perspective for people about numbers versus human lives.  

I've kept busy since my last post doing the usual; grass cutting, housekeeping and some laundry.  We desperately need new bed linens as the others have just worn out.  I ordered sheets from a Mexican textile company and we should receive them sometime midweek.

White as snow, I am ordering a float (I don't remember what it's called) to be in the sun 30 minutes a day.  What are they called? Beds?  cots?  Anyway, I could look it up but I'm being lazy.

The pool has been a real lifesaver this week.  Not only high temperatures but the humidity from the hurricane is slowly burning off so it makes late afternoons uncomfortable.  We're still very happy with the work that was done.

I saw the meter reading coming down the road on our security cameras on Tuesday.  I received our electric bill from the CFE yesterday via email.  We used our normal about for this part of the season although we were 29 KWH over permitted usage so it was a bit more.  Our limit is 900 KWH per two month billing period and this one came in at 929 KWH.  Still, overall, pretty darn cheap for power.  It would be interesting to see what you consume in a month during June and July.  Here's ours.  It includes the A/C, well pump, pool filter and all the electric in general.

That's $26 USD per month and we have had the A/C on every day from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. 

Juan starts online classes tomorrow in the mornings only.  Not sure how long this will last but as we are at home it will keep us occupied.  

Thursday, August 6, 2020

It's Been A Crazy Week

The last of our mole almendra (almond mole) we bought in February in San Miguel.  Thanks to the internet and technology we are able to order some more and have it shipped to the house.  It's really good.  Made with fresh pork and vegetable over rice with asparagus. 

For starters, I never reported back about my dentist's visit.  As I said, I went to IMSS which is no charge for cleanings, fillings, and emergency repairs.  It turns out, there was a mild infection under my permanent bridge.  The dentist gave me a prescription for antibiotics, pain killers and hydrogen peroxide (agua oxigenada).  The antibiotics were for five days and a mouth rinse with the peroxide three times a day.   I went back last Wednesday and she said all is well.  I asked about my dental appliances, of which I have many both removal and permanent, as I wondered if they needed changing out.  She's a smart cookie.  She said they all look fine and only get them replaced if you suffer any breaks or pain.  Dentists love to redo what's already been done, they don't make their money from x-rays and cleanings.

Tuesday I went to our U.S. mailbox in Monterrey.  I had ordered some vitamin C from Costco.  Costco Mexico doesn't sell 1000mg 500 capsule vitamin C.  No one else in Mexico does either.  GNC has 1000 mg but it costs four times as much.  No one has been able to tell me why vitamin C is so hard to come by in Mexico including Costco and why they don't carry it.  I parked and went in for my package and when I came out, the VW was dead as a doornail.  I looked up and unbeknownst to me, I had parked right in front of an LTH battery franchise.  Great!  Well not really.  They were closed for COVID.  You can see my car in the window's reflection.

The mailbox office is in the middle of Del Valle, the richest city in Mexico.  I was surrounded by BMWs and Mercedes so I knew no one would want to give me a jump (pasa de corriente).  There is a bank across the parking lot and I saw a guy with an ordinary car and shirt with a SEAT emblem.  He offered to give me a jump.  I drove to the next LTH about three miles down the avenue and got the new battery in less than 10 minutes.  They tried to sell me a supercharged battery with a million-year guarantee for 4260 pesos but I settled on what had been in the car for 2190 with a three-year guarantee.  BTW, if you ever see a car with the hood open, and someone with their hands held midway making fists, they are asking for a jump but probably don't have cables. 

I think the blue light is really cool.  What an inexpensive special effect!

The pool is now back in working order.  The water had turned green from the hurricane and heavy rains.  I had to add a clarifier.  If you are not familiar with how pools work, a clarifier is added to green pool water and filtered for 45 minutes.  After waiting 24 hours, all of the algae settle to the bottom and you vacuum it out.  This green water bypasses the filter and goes down the drain.  In our case, I use it to water the grass.  It has been exactly one week and we have not had to add any water, the water level has remained the same.  That means the replacement of pipes was in order and solved the problem.  

I cleaned out one of our sheds.  I found two pet carriers, a very nice cat basket with cushion, brand new, some medicines that are still good and cat and dog toys.   I am taking them tomorrow to a rescue center in town in hopes they will be a useful donation.   I also joined a pet-sitting FB page.  If I can't have a pet that doesn't mean I can't babysit one!   So I am offering short term pet-sitting here at home should someone have to take a short trip or for ex-pats drive to the border for something which would be convenient as they would pass by here going to Laredo or Reynosa. 

Cut the grass and trimmed so that is all done for the weekend.  I'm off to the town office to see why they haven't cut the grass along the road although I reported it over three weeks ago.  Then to buy pool supplies, chlorine and acid, and a quick trip to Allende to see if the worker has cleared the lot.  We may have a buyer but they want to see it cleared.  

Monday, August 3, 2020

Mexico Goes Back To School (With Caveats)

The big announcement was made today during Presidente Dingus' daily two-hour sermon.  It was a big show with the secretary of education, and the president among others.  His sermon started off with his Monday's business of the day.  

1)  Quien Es Quien in gasoline prices.  The webpage is really a well-laid out website that allows consumers to check "daily" prices of all goods sold in Mexico; food, clothing, hardware, and of course, gasoline.  Not sure why Mr. Sheffield presents this every Monday.  Gas prices have yet to go down and after the oil glut at the beginning of COVID, they have only risen.  Mexicans are not quite yet consumer-oriented and still accustomed to Pemex stations in the sense that the price was always the same so no one pays much attention.

2)  PD always presents a video about the advances of his airport that is actually a military base and how much money he is saving by paying off the contracts from our new airport that was to be built in Texcoco.  We lost billions of dollars on this project but he refuses to not let bygones be bygones.  Because no one would let him into politics, (snakes usually are but this snake had belonged to every party that has ever existed in Mexico, hmm, so I guess he should be called a chameleon) he continues to seek revenge against anything that he considers neo-liberal.  He now has to build a 52 km highway so that people can get from the airport and back from Mexico City, an estimated two-hour one-way trip.

3)  Another video representing his Tren Maya where he claims environmental studies have been conducted and that there will be no ill effects from its construction.  Well, leave it up to government ground feeders to say those things give the green light.  So now, the indigenous people that he is giving fruit tree seedlings to, can peddle their wares without any taxes, along the railroad tracks at each stop and work their way out of poverty.  If you know the Chepe from Chihuahua to the west coast, no indigenous person has ever gotten out of poverty by selling things alongside the train.

So back to school.  It will virtual for all 16 grades or levels.  Three television stations have committed to broadcasting 24/7 class information, class subject related videos, and lectures for older students.  In addition, the radio will broadcast for those that have no internet, no television, and will receive physical materials such as worksheets and books and they will listen and work.  For schools in cities or rural areas with internet, schools will use Moodle or Zoom type programs for real-time classes.  The majority of the population will receive classes with a teacher via internet.  In rural areas, there are teachers who will continue with televised (tele-secundarias) classes and radio.  

The best part is that somehow, the president's cabinet was able to convince him not to have students return to classes.

His new lema (slogan), " I will wear a mask once there is no corruption in Mexico".  He may not live to tell the tale.