Sunday, March 28, 2010

Surprises

What do you think happens if you put the stopper in the kitchen sink when the tap has a drip, then leave the place unattended for a few weeks, or maybe months? Yep, I had some squeegeeing to do after I picked up the key and got inside the gate at our new Merida house for the first time this morning. Doesn't seem like the tiles are damaged from the flooding, but we'll see how it looks after I purchase some cleaning supplies and get down to work on it tomorrow. Score one for tile floors. Back home this would have caused thousands of dollars of damage to carpets, wood floors, subflooring and whatever was below.
Anyway, things improved after that. Neighbors introduced themselves on their way past. Maggie came by with information on getting the big tree cut back and new locks, and helped sort through the mysteries of the status of the electrical and water accounts, and the property taxes, and how much cleaning and maintenance is needed on a house that's soon to be covered in construction dust. It's good to know there are straightforward answers to these types of challenges.
After that, several hours of reading and lazing around, avoiding the afternoon heat (I think I'm finally getting the hang of this) and an evening stroll to take in the scene in the Plaza Grande: great live music, the street full of people dancing in the languid tropical way, old men elegant in crisp white guayabera shirts and dress pants, lots of kids, everyone appearing to be enjoying themselves and each other's company, and the obligatory cheese-filled Marquesita, my new favourite street snack.
Not a bad way to live, I think.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Made it to Merida in record time (for us)

So it took 12 hours from boarding in Victoria to arriving at the Merida ADO bus depot today. Not bad, though pretty tiring. I wanted to see how hard it is to get here without an overnight layover in some city where you don't really want to be, like Mexico City or Cancun. It is definitely worth it to just get right off the plane and on the bus, though I will need to figure out the airport-to-bus-depot shuttle scheme a bit better. In one of those funny coincidences I shared the combi ride with a couple who also happened to be from Vancouver Island; a lovely nurse and a veterinarian who have spent the last week exploring Mayan ruins and other Yucatan sights. 
In Centro tonight the streets are busy with people walking around and looking relaxed. There's subdued jazz and pleasant chatter drifting over from a restaurant behind the Hotel del Peregrino where I'm staying. A nice vibe to come back to.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We have a house. Now what?

Got the email while sitting in my evening class, saying the purchase of our Merida house is completed. Lucky I'd paid for the house insurance the day before.

What we've got is a cool, though slightly dilapidated, colonial house in a fascinating city in the tropics, for the price of a proper kitchen renovation here in Victoria (which we still need, unfortunately). I know there are a lot of expenses yet to come, but so far the arrangement agrees with my bargain-hunting, thrift-store-shopping, curb-scavenging soul.
Here at home it's the time of pink snow. The peach and plum tree blossoms are falling and drifting at the curb and along the sidewalks. I wonder what the season will be like in the Yucatan - according to the dialogue on Yolisto it sounds like the weather has been fairly unpredictable and weird. It's been so busy here, there hasn't been much time for arranging useful things to do while I'm in Merida next week, but at least I'll have a set of keys and the ability to come and go. Maybe I'll buy a bottle of vinegar and spend a whole day cleaning the mineral deposits off the kitchen taps, or hack back the 10-foot tall weeds in the back. Or just hang a hammock and read.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Almost there

That's what our realtor says: We're almost there. Friday is the tentative closing day for the purchase of our house. In less than three weeks I'll be there, a short trip, to do....something or other. Get the electricity turned on? Arrange for someone to manage the property in our absence? Get some help with renovation plans? Try to refrain from buying anything to put in the house that isn't a light fixture or a fan? I see school's out the week I'm there. Will anything be open during Semana Santa (which appears to be dos semanas in practice)? 
It all seems surreal, and there's little time to plan because it's a hectic time here at home with work and classes and kids' trips and complications from dental surgery (our daughter's, not mine).
Here in Victoria it's suddenly cold, after weeks of balmy weather that seemed to coax everything into brilliant bloom. On Sunday it rained, making the chartreuse new growth and billows of pink plum blossoms and heather look especially luminous against the watery grey background. It's not the time of year when you think I've got to get out of here. But I'm still looking forward to getting back to Merida for a few days at least.
It is 25 years since we first set out to make a home in Mexico. It was a plan that didn't hold together long. The 1985 earthquake in Mexico City was more than a jolt of harsh reality. Everything after it was, for me, overlaid with a sense of threat. Even without the complications of a natural disaster, we had moved with no real sense of what it would be like to live in Mexico, or any foreign country. There was a young person's lack of realism about the challenges. I wanted to be a foreign correspondent in Latin America like The Globe and Mail's Oakland Ross. Not quite the same thing as writing about the peso exchange rates for a 22,000-circulation ex-pat rag in Mexico City,  for the equivalent of $7USD a day. We were snowbacks, working on a tourist visa.
It's different this time.We're better informed and more realistic, thanks to bloggers and friends and fabulous online resources. Others have blazed the path and shared their learning. I think we're ready?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Putting our money where my mouth is

Feeling light-headed today. Could be because I went to the credit union and transferred a sum about the size of a very small down payment on a Victoria house, to pay in full the cost of our Merida casita. I'm told the sale could be finalized by the end of the week.