Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spring maintenance

We had planned on changing the color of the fachada of our house on our trip to Mérida in late April and had arranged for the painter to come early on in our visit. We had also asked our property manager to have the pool drained and the sarro (buildup of minerals) scrubbed away. The price for painting the facade was 1600.00MX, or about 112.00US. This is, literally, a tenth or less of what we would pay for the same amount of painting here at home. I figured the pool cleaning would not be much either, even though scrubbing a quite large concrete pool in the hot sun is work. I was not wrong. The cost was 1700.00MX ($119.00) and included in that price was some woodwork cleaning inside the house by the wife of the contractor.

I have been told that the mini-split A/C units should be cleaned and serviced at least once a year to keep them operating efficiently. We have seven units, one in each room. The cost 2450.00MX ($172.00 or about $25.00 per unit). In February, one of the units needed a part replaced ($2200.00MX or $154.00).
We've about decided that if other units breakdown, with the exception of the two bedrooms and the studio where our computers will be located, we will remove them and patch the walls. This is an expense that we will want to avoid once living on retirement income.

I suppose the point of this post is to just say that, even though the labor costs in Mérida are quite low (sometimes embarrassingly low), all these little maintenance costs add up. Pool pumps, filters, fountain pumps, water softener systems, water purifiers, tenacos -all require maintenance with some degree of regularity. In January, a tenant complained that the dishwasher wasn't working properly. It had to be removed, taken away and cleaned to remove all the mineral deposits (875.00MX or $61.00). Dishwashers are nice if you entertain frequently (we don't), so if after we move down and it fails, out it could possibly go -one less appliance to drain the costly electricity and break down. Besides, they don't sell automatic dish washing detergent in our local grocery store. Time to experience the Zen of hand washing our dishes.

With all expenses for the month, including management fees, weekly housecleaning, once a week pool maintenance, bi-weekly gardener to keep the small garden (literally) hacked down to manageable levels, salt, chlorine, gas, phone and internet, April was an expensive month -over $1200.00. Thankfully, every month is not that bad. Owning a home in another country, with the cost of airfare to Mérida now over $800.00, can be challenging. It's still  worth all the expense and I don't regret a thing, but I do want to hurry up and move.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Yucatán jungle

I ran across this You Tube video posted by JCVdude and thought "now that would be a nice excursion for our next trip - the jungles of the Mayan Riviera. Beautiful. However, I'm not sure I would want to get this close to one of these cats.

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Mérida

The new color
(no longer guacamole)
The first seven days in our house were terrific. We met up with Susan and TJ and enjoyed a great dinner at Rescoldo's, found a painting we loved at SoHo Galleries  as well as great conversation with Adele and Nick, had the facade of Lechuzas painted, and made an excursion to Uxmal and the haciendas Ochil and Yaxcopoil. Things took a quick turnaround when Alan re-injured a three week old back sprain. It's ironic that we walked all over the Centro and climbed around the ruins at Uxmal with no problem and then, while processing some photos in his iPad, he hopped off a counter stool and bam! With Naprosyn and ice packs, we thought that it would be better by morning. The spasms were quite severe for a while but eased off over a couple of days. On May 1, the holiday, I took a taxi out to Walmart and got an over-the-counter muscle relaxant that seemed to help a bit. I posted on Mexican Amigos for the name of a chiropractor and several people responded with Dr. Danny DeGraff's number but I was unable to get an answer over the last two days.  I suppose his office was closed for an extended holiday.

Getting ready to leave on May 3rd, we called United and requested a wheelchair at the airport. Even though Alan could take small steps by this time, we felt it would be easier and more comfortable if I wheeled him through the crowded terminals. As it turned out, the use of a wheelchair can make things a whole lot easier. People get out of your way and we got first boarding (right after first class, of course).
Interestingly, when I wheeled him into the United Air Club in Houston's IAH, the gentleman at the desk jumped up and asked if he could help us, as if we were lost and in the wrong place. I guess no one that is disabled joins the Air Club. After several questions that gave the impression that he was doubtful we belonged there, I pulled out the credit card that one gets as a member and suggested that if he checked the computer he would find that we were, indeed, members. Imagine!

It made a huge difference being in that space for the more than two hour layover. It was quiet, had comfortable chairs, tasty snacks and good coffee. Under these circumstances, the price of admission to this "exclusive" club was worth every cent. Although most of the people there looked just like us - tired travelers dressed quite casually- we were the only couple with one member in a wheelchair.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sights along the way to Uxmal

View from the hilltop
Our half day excursion to Uxmal began shortly before 1:00 PM last Thursday. Our driver, Jorge, arrived a bit late because his pick up ticket said Calle 47, not 47-A. Directions to our one-block-long street seem to confuse taxi drivers and others. I always try to tell them to take Calle 49 to Calle 64, turn right and then the first left. Speaking our address in español is a mouthful. It goes something like this: Buenos dias/tardes or buenas noches, por favor, Calle cuarenta y siete-A, quinientos dos-G, entre sesenta y cuatro y sesenta y seis. I've managed to learn to speak this fairly rapidly, but I'm beginning to think that my Virginia accent either confuses or amuses the drivers.

Jorge explained that the Ruta Puuc  (Puuc means hills) is so named because this area has some of the few hills in Yucatán. On the way to Uxmal we stopped briefly at a Maya rest stop (of sorts). On our next trip we will, hopefully, visit a few of the pueblos.

Another hilltop view
"Owl" House   - baños 5 pesos