Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just How Hot Is It?

Well, my trip to the local grocery store was telling. Normally, grocers put their best moving or most profitable products up front in the store--often produce or bakery or lottery tickets. At the supermarket here in La Paz, there were 5 (count 'em FIVE) aisles, both sides, with: soap, talc, deodorant, and shampoo. I was surprised to find one, then go up the next aisle--more, next aisle, even more, etc. So it's not just me that sweats like a pig in La Paz.

Every travel away from home is an interior journey. You learn as much about yourself as the destination itself. And, if you're traveling with another, you learn about them as well. In fact, I recommend that you always travel with someone before marrying them. If you think setting up house together brings out the hidden personality, just try missing your flight in San Jose, or leaving your passport in last night's hotel room. Pandora will open her box widely.

So tonight, it's a different hotel in La Paz, the Hotel Lorimar, a much nicer family place with a pretty covered courtyard where I'm using their wireless computer (WI-FI) connection. The rooms are certainly cleaner than last night's. But thefd is still mold. That comes with the climate, I'm afraid. A gringo sign of the time: down on the corner of this block, on the street facing the sea is a charming little bar & grill. It's called Applebee's. Yep, the very same one founded in Kansas City. You can't keep Americanization from spreading like guacamole on a hamburger bun!

So given my discomfort with the climate....a change in travel plans. I'm going to skip Mazatlan. It's on the coast, too. I'm heading inland tomorrow Guadalajara and then by bus to Guanajuato. Another cheap airplane flight, about $100 or approximately the same as the flight from Guaymas here. I get into Guadalajara around 11:30 a.m. and then have to get to the bus station for the next leg of the trip.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

So Hot, You Could Fry an Egg

What's the temperature here? Oh, somewhere between the high 90's and HELL.
Humid, too....a little bonus.

Well, my daily highlight is that I saw my first of the dreaded Mexican comb-overs:
I was sitting in a little local taco shop having lunch. There was an older gentleman (OK--about my age)--who had the worst dye job. It was like someone had taken a can of flat black spray paint and gone to town (except for the roots). And then the stylistic highlight--he had combed it beginning just above the left ear completely over the top to the ear on the opposite side. God forbid, I thought, that there should be a strong wind. He'd fall over. On his left side.

But I shouldn't be mean. He was doing a favor at the time, helping two ladies at another table who weren't able to unscrew their soda pop bottle tops. Ah, the gallantry of Mexican men.

Back to the weather--Among the Eskimos, they have a way of qualifying the degree of coldness, a way made famous in the name of the 70's rock band, Three Dog Night. On the opposite end of the thermometer, and much further down the latitude rings, in Guaymas, I had a Three Shower Day. I don't know that I've ever sweated so much. Cascades of sweat. Waterfalls dribbling off my forehead. Now I understand the custom of midday siesta. It's just too damn hot to even think about doing ANYTHING. For which reason I wrote this lying butt naked on my bed with the A/C on high and fan aimed at my head (this is not an attractive mental picture, I realize). What the heck, I should try writing in my birthday suit more often! Problem is that the spiral notebook leaves funny little marks on funny little places. Oh well.

Last night's hotel in Guaymas--the San Enrique (Saint Henry) was a palace by comparison to tonight's. My "Let's Go Mexico" travel guide called it "spotless," and it was. But small. Slightly larger than a monk's cell, but hey, I AM practically a monk. Free computer WI-FI, cable TV with CNN in English.....all this for about $29. Such a steal!

Tonight in La Paz, not so much. The room is bigger, has a balcony. But as we say in Missouri, it looks "rode hard, put away wet." Which roughly translates as: seen better days. It's after sundown now and I'm sitting in a Internet cafe, having an iced coffee. I'll go for a walk along the malecon (seaside walk). It should be cooler and pretty. Even so, I'm thinking that these coastal cities may just be out of the beauty pageant. The humidity makes my hair curly! OK, I lied. I'm bald. Remember this is almost November. Imagine the weather in July or August. My taxi driver today described the climate in the summer in one word: HELL.

I finally appreciate the old saying in Arizona, "It's a dry heat." Here, it's NOT. Moist heat is only good for one thing that I know of--cooking tough old cuts of meat. And yes, I can see where you're going with that analogy.

The flight over the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) from Guaymas to La Paz was on a tiny little Cessna Grand Caravan, a 13-seater, kind of like a little wind-up toy. I'm glad no fat people were on the flight....we would have had to use a shoe horn to get them in. Only an hour and a half flight, we could see the Baja peninsula 30 minutes after leaving Guaymas. But La Paz is quite a bit south, so we trailed the Baja coast south for quite a while.

Hasta maƱana.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're Off to See the Wizard....

Dear Diary,
so sorry, I've been away for 2 days. And to catch you up--
On the seventh day Rod rested (not). Actually, I worked my bunnies off Sunday beginning at 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. nonstop. I had left that one last day just to finish packing up the house and cleaning it for my expected new tenants. Well, let me tell ya........

It's the little stuff that takes time. Already the furniture and furnishings were either sold off or put in my storage unit in the carport. I spent a couple of hours sealing grout in the newly tiled second bedroom. There's a fun way to kill a morning! And bagging up clothes, boxing up food in the kitchen to take to Jeanne, emptying the bathroom. But by five o'clock, the thing was done. Nothing, really zero, left in the house. I loaded up the car with my traveling bags for Mexico and a few things to leave at Jeanne's and headed over to her house to spend the night. Our last supper, so to speak, was at a BBQ rib joint. I figured that I won't see too many of those bad boys in Mexico.

And at 5 a.m.--yes, five DOES have an a.m......I never would have guessed--we were up to get ready to go to the bus station. Jeanne drove me down and at 6:45 I was off to the races! A long day, but happily uneventful. It was a luxury coach that made stops only in Nogales for customs and in Hermosillo. After my Sunday penance, I slept a lot.

We pulled into the Guaymas station around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. From there I caught a local bus that took me the 20 minutes over to San Carlos. Actually, I was quite proud of myself for doing that. A cab would have been MUCH more convenient, but schlepping my big duffle, a backpack, and a plastic bag onto the city bus was a tenth the cost.

I spent the night at a not-so-glamorous joint called Totonaka RV park. Yep, sort of the armpit of San Carlos, I'd say. I had a tiny little room in which I had to do battle killing a half dozen or so spiders and mosquitoes before going to bed. And the toilet...kind of a I-Love-Lucy sort of affair. It would have been funny if it was someone ELSE's problem. To put it delicately, the damn thing doesn't flush. You just don't realize how handy flushing is! And every time I went to use the plunger, water squirted out of a crack in the side of the bowl. Yuck! Suppose that all comes with the $25 price tag, huh? Lot's of Canadian RVers here, though. Plenty of Manitoba and Alberta license plates on the big rigs. Heck, winter starts in August in that part of Canada, eh?

This morning I walked along the shore road (they call these "malecon") to the little downtown strip of San Carlos. A Mexican woman was walking in the opposite direction and remarked, "Tan rapido," which means "so fast!" Yep, I've got to get rid of the Chicago walk and dial back down the Type A personality. There's a reason things are slower in the south. Once I've learned that lesson, I'll do much better. Along the walk, I passed an office with the sign: "Hambone Insurance." Now, would you buy insurance from a HAMBONE? And then, even worse (I swear it's true): I passed a little outdoor taco stand whose name was: Restaurante Los Ases." Do you translate that: "The Ases"? Maybe a misspelling? The place smelled bad, anyway.

For the life of me, I can see why gringos come here. There are hardly any services and the beach is rocky. I'm checking out this morning and heading back to least it's a real town and there will be things to see and do.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

One More Day

So I've got just tomorrow, Sunday, before I hit the road.

Today I bought pesos, travelers checks, and the bus ticket to Guaymas. I packed up the kitchen and put all the pots & pans & stuff in my storage room. Didn't get finished with the clothes closet. Saving the best for last, I suppose.

In rummaging around, packing up my home office I came across the transcribed notes from an astrological reading I had done last summer. This is a woman Ann recommended--Carol Banner--who used to live in Chicago and now lives in Utah. She took my date and hour of birth, and over the phone did my chart.

This was done on July 29, 2007--over a year ago. As I re-read through my notes, this paragraph almost knocked me off my chair:

[talking about moving to Mexico]...."I could definitely see you doing that. I could definitely see it coming up at some point within the year. It does look like it gets really active about a year from now, and the thing that's nice about it is you're ging through a particular energy that says 'Right now is the time to consider and get rid of anything in your life that doesn't really suit you or your lifestyle. And by NOVEMBER of 2008, that energy has totally completed. It's finished a 14-year segment of your life. And from that point on you're going into a building phase, a phase you're adding to your world."

November of 2008? I'd say she hit the nail rather squarely on it's head, given that I'm crossing the border of Oct. 27. Just a good guess? Who knows.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Countdown Begins: 2 Days

OK, I made the hotel reservation in San Carlos, Sonora for this coming Monday night. That pretty much means the "I'm Out of Here" part of this blog is damn near here. So, one last thrilling weekend in glitzy Phoenix.....I'm so excited, I peed myself. To celebrate, I'm going to bed at 8:30 tonight.

Tuesday, I had my friend Luis (Some would consider him an "illegal." I consider him a buddy) come over to help with cleaning out my storage shed with the intention of using it in lieu of renting a mini-storage unit. We worked 3 or 4 hours and hauled a surprising number of bags of junk to the dumpster. Stuff like--you know--that little can of Satin Polyurethane Interior mahogany stain that, well, I MIGHT need to use again some day.

And then we pulled up the carpet in the back bedroom. It was the only remaining room in the house with carpet. And it was nasty. We pulled up the tack strips, too. It was a busy morning. When I went to pay Luis for his time, he refused, saying, "No. You are my friend. I want to help you." Like I said, a sweet kid with a great work ethic. I gave him two pairs of shoes from my closet (as if the other 30 pairs will be lonely!) And then I took him to lunch at Ranch Market, a super-Mexican supermarket with food just like his mother makes back home, or so I am told.

There's not much left in the house at this point. The remnants of the estate sale went to St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Store today. All that is left to do is pack up a few boxes of family mementos and put them in the storage shed.

Today, I canceled my phone service, cable TV, and Internet service.

The time draws nigh!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The One Left with the Most Toys Wins

That catch phrase in many ways exemplifies the American Dream: work long and hard for more stuff. I guess I lose, then. Tonight my house is empty. I mean really empty. I'm writing this in the one last chair left, a broken plastic lawn chair. And for a computer table, the ironing board. Necessity is the mother of invention (or at least it's a mother!).

The estate sale company I brought in did a bang-up job and over two days--Friday and Saturday--pretty much cleaned me out. It was worth the 35% commission, I think.
Friday my bedroom set sold. So, last night I slept on the sofa. Today the sofa (along with everything else) sold. So, tonight I get the air mattress. There is something sort of 1973 about that. Suddenly, I'm having flashbacks to those college days. Except even back in those college days I had more STUFF.

The saddest part was when the Boston Terrier Rescue people came to take Dottie. Wow. We had 5 good years together. And she was totally spoiled. I guess that's better than some marriages. The rescue group said she's going to a retired couple out in Sun City. The husband is home all day and the wife only works part time. They've had Boston terriers in the past. She'll have a good home. After she explains to them that she's the queen, that is. She's a very independent and free-spirited little girl. Has to be--she's a woman with a mysterious past. Before I got her at the Mesa dog pound. she'd been loose on the streets. Ahh...loose women! I wish Miss Dottie a very happy life.

And the same for myself, I should add. I feel like things are falling into place serendipitously. During the first hour of the sale the morning--before I left it to the professional company--a lady came through who'd seen the estate sale sign. She also noticed the "For Rent" sign on the front gate. She asked how much we were asking, and I introduced myself as the owner. We haggled a little, and I reduced the rent by $100. She said "deal." Later in the day she brought her husband by to see the place. Looks like she'll sign the contract next week. My fingers are crossed, both sets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

OK, It's Real Now

Tonight I find myself in a very odd position. The people from the estate sale company have come in and put a price tag on virtually every one of my possessions. It's like eating and sleeping in some thrift store. And in three days--by Sunday morning--I won't own ANYTHING. (OK, I'm keeping personal things, family photos, stuff that has some meaning) It's weird being 57 and having no possessions. It's clear to me that for most Americans that's just about unheard of (unless, of course, you're living on the streets).

And how do I feel about that? Good, actually. You'd think I'd be freaked out by seeing my dining room table with a price tag on it, my Mexican pottery collection all laid out and tagged. I'm not. Really, it feels liberating. I feel free. It's like a 10-year-old kid whose just discovered that he doesn't have to do homework ever again and he can stay up 'til midnight on school nights! Whoopee!

On a serious note, I think I've found a place from my doggie. I've been working with the Arizona Boston Terrier Rescue group. They called me this afternoon to tell me they have an older couple who love Bostons and would like to foster Dottie for a while and then adopt her if all works out well. The husband is home all day and the wife only works part time, so they'll have plenty of time to play with their new dog. And Dottie will be happy. She's wouldn't do well in Mexico, what with dogs loose all over the place. She's not really a dog person. More of a Scottsdale girl. Once she's in a new home and has let the people there know that she is the princess, all will be fine.

It's amazing how this has all come together so quickly for me. Had lunch with a couple of friends from my former college this week. It was so nice to spend time with them. Monday, I'm going out for supper with another friend from my last college.
Once all the "stuff" is sold, it will be time to go.

And that's the beginning of the rest of my story.

Friday, October 3, 2008


How did I ever get all of my errands done when I was working Monday through Friday?

Perhaps because this is my first week unemployed, but I've been BUSY! Life comes with a lot of stuff. And I've been working on digging out from that stuff all week: doctor's appointments, taking the car into the shop, changing insurance means changing doctors and transferring files, finding packing supplies, calling friends. The most difficult was my last massage appointment at Massage Envy. Ahhhh! It's been a real treat and a luxury to have a massage every week. Spoiled, I know. But it sure helped with stress. Now I'll have to find a "sobador" in Mexico. The name comes from the verb "to knead." And, yes, they are just as tough as it sounds.

Today I went online and uploaded info and photos of my townhouse onto 3 Web site that deal with rentals. I've got a management company, but they don't seem to be too aggressive. Once a marketing guy, always a marketing guy, I guess. The agent told me no one looks in the newspaper for rentals any more....everything is online. I believe it, since that is the way I focused our ad dollars at the college.

Yesterday, I had two gents stop by to look at buying the piano. They responded to an old Craigslist posting I'd put up (again, Internet advertising....effective). They seemed quite interested. My doggie, Dottie, was so excited to have company, that she jumped up on them and--in the process--scratched both of them. So I had a potential buyer and friend bleeding, dripping blood down both of their forearms. Perhaps not the best sales tool? They said they will have their favorite piano tuner come over and take a closer look. I hope so.

And that brings me to Dottie. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with her. Taking her to Mexico seems less and less like a good solution. Even though she's much better, she's still taking 3 prescriptions for Valley Fever. Don't know that I could get them down there. Also--since I won't be driving down--shipping animals is somewhat limited. Only to a few cities, and only if the temps are not above 75 degrees or below 45 degrees. Then, I'd have to arrange for ground transportation to whatever city I settle in. And my housing may not allow for pets, or have a handy doggie door. All in all, I think she'd do better in a nice dog-loving household her in town. I'm going to pursue the offer my South African painter and his wife made to take her. Or I can also ask the nice retired German lady who was going to babysit her for a month if she'd be interested. She already has one dog, a dachshund, and her baby and Dottie got along well.

Tomorrrow, I've got a special Spanish class at Interlingua in the morning. It's really an advanced conversation group with a set topic. Then in the afternoon, we'll go to my old chorus's concert. And Saturday evening, my regular Spanish group.

I told you I was busy...