Sunday, February 22, 2015

Our first Volunteer Effort In Merida



Yesterday Carlos and I experienced our first volunteer day here in Merida. We offered to help at the Artist Studio tour which is a fund raising activity for the Merida English Library, which is more than a library. It also serves as a community center for many, many activities from story hours to happy hours to lectures and music. Our assignment was to volunteer at one of the artists studio during the tour. We would help with crowd control if needed as well as check for wristbands and answer questions. We meet our assigned artist about  days before the event at a 'training' session at the library. At the same time we were able to meet the other volunteers as well as the 19 other artist that were participating.
Our assigned artist, Paul Lorenz, was a charming American somewhere in his 40's (best guess) originally from Chicago, currently living in Puducah, KY and Merida, Yucatan. Trained as an architect his art work is fascinating and compelling. Both Carlos and I felt we had won the assignment lottery and really was looking forward to helping with whatever we could on the day of the tour.
The poster was on the door
 On the day of the tour we arrived at Paul's home and studio just before 10am. The tours would continue until 3pm so we all would have a longish day. Paul had hung the post on the door at the street so the touring folks would know that they had arrived at artist studio #15. He greeted all and chatted about his life and painting as well as answered any question that were asked.
Paul, in the white shirt talking about his art

Carlos waiting for the next group
We did get chances to rest between groups but all in all it seemed to be a very successful day, Carlos and I not only meet a wonderful artist and his family, but had a chance to meet others to. And the art! Oh man if I had more money there were a few that would be hanging on my wall right now!





Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our Sunday Walk


Both Carlos and I like to walk. Whether a vigorous walk or a casual stroll we like them all. Today we decided to explore some parts of Merida I have never been to. We walked down our street Calle 45 and than hooked a left onto Calle 82. We stopped to admire Ochenta Y Dos, a bed and breakfast that is under construction (you can find them on Facebook) than continued our way down to Calle 59 which is one of the main bus street in Merida. From there we entered Centennial Park which is frequented by extended family groups all enjoying their Sunday.







Attached to the park is the small zoo. Although it is a little old fashioned with large fenced areas rather than the natural type we now see in the US, the animals as well as their environment seemed clean. 

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Once we exited the zoo area on the other side of the park we could barely get through the crowd of families with their excited children!




From there it was back down Calle 59, across Santiago Park and to home. Just another beautiful day to take a walk in Merida!
Santiago Park







Monday, January 12, 2015

Tropic Living = Constant Upkeep




House has faded!

We arrived at our house in Merida about 6 weeks ago. We were here for two weeks in April and before that the December holidays for 2013. When we are not here our property manager was having the grounds taken care of monthly as well as having the house cleaned. Our manager would come to the house at least weekly, open it up and turn fans on for several hours. He would also flush all the toilets, run the faucets and generally inspect everything. Anything major and he would check with us on what we wanted to do/ Thankfully not much anything major came up. 
Now that we are here Carlos and I are taking care of many minor issues that are really adding up. Our pocket book is taking a beating and our list of 'things that need to be done' is getting longer and longer.
The first item that needed our attention was our pump that took the water from our cistern to our tinaco on the roof. Burnt out, had to replace it. (approx US 125.00) We added a check valve to the drain of our pool and next thing we know, the pump for the well (which we use to fill the pool and will also use for irrigation when that is installed) is not working and needs a part...luckily it did not burn out! 
We had never had our roof sealed and decided we needed to have that done before our luck ran out and the rainy season was here. We got Armando and his crew to do it for all of the main house and casita roof for about US 2300.00.
Armando also has a crew that paints and he has given us a bid for painting the outside of the house...front and back but not some of the sides as it can't be seen....5300.00 US...now that includes paint and this is a big house, but thats a lot of money! I think we may be getting another bid as this! 



Windows


Right now we have AnyLou our esteemed women owned business of carpentry is redoing some of the doors and windows that are showing quite a bit of water and wind damaged. (Approx US 1500.00) Today her workers came and took one of our front doors off to take to the shop and replaced it with some fiberboard for the short term. They will do each door and window piece by piece until done. This will take several weeks but will keep our house secure and the cats safe!
Now we are also looking to have some of the inside rooms painted. The old part of the house has walls of mamposterior which hold moisture and the paint has that old look about it....thus it's flaking and in some places pretty bad. No prices on that yet....it may have to wait!





Thursday, December 25, 2014

It's been a busy week

Today is Christmas and it seems like we just got here. We've had a pretty busy week and here's a quick recap.
Monday we went to Mayapan with friends Eric and Mary. We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around, enjoying the sights and drinking in the peace of the ruins.




During our afternoon together I was lamenting that I had never seen a corn broom here in the Yucatan and how much I hated the plastic brooms that was used by (almost) everyone. I even went on to say that Carlos needed to get one and add it to our container that we will ship soon. Than on the way into Merida, I happened to glance to a small hardware store on the street and there it was... a corn broom. We all noticed it at the same time and Eric quickly wheeled the car to the curb, Carlos jumped out and now I am the owner I one fabulous corn broom! It was only 75 MXP too. ( about US 5.50)
Later in the day they showed us a magnificent house we had never seen before. It really looked like something Moorish brought over from southern Spain. Just beautiful.



Today was Christmas day. Carlos had coffee this morning with some of his friends that get together every Thursday morning to talk history and politics. I decorated my palm tree for Christmas.
After spending time Skypeing my grand kids and other close relatives we had the wonderful experience of millions of locust swarming across the skies. It first started with Gus, our Maine coon chirping at something in the courtyard. When I went out to see, I found that he had a locust he was playing with. When I looked up I saw hundred of them, than thousands, than I heard people out front of the house and when I went out there I saw millions! So we got to see the locust as well as meet some of our neighbors. A really busy week!




It's only a little after 8 on Christmas night and we are so tired from our week of activity...Carlos is laying on the couch ready to electrocute any mosquitoes that dare to come near him!


and that's the recap!






Monday, December 15, 2014

What's in my pantry...


Grocery shopping here in Merida is a little different from what I am used to back in the USA. Not bad or anything, just different. First of all we try to get most of our fruits and vegetables at the mercado and than get all of the rest in grocery stores, Costco or at last resort Walmarts. We can find typical American products here. Sometimes you can find something once and than it disappears. So the saying among expats is: if you see it, sometimes use it..buy it now 'cause it could be months or more before you see it again! However the expat community has a great grapevine approach in several face book pages that people post what they find and where... and the herd descends on the store and it's gone in no time!


What makes our shopping a little crazy is that Carlos has celiac, an autoimmune condition that makes him intolerant to any type of gluten. It has gotten easier finding gluten free products here.... it's about like it was in the USA 6 years ago. So if we find anything we buy it. Like the pasta above, The main choice here in gluten free is corn based pasta...however it's not our favorite. Whenever we find a brown rice based gluten free pasta we stock up. The same goes for cookies, crackers, and breads.

Sometimes I score big. I've now found half and half at Superama, and yesterday I scored some Italian type type chopped tomatoes in a brand I recognized! Before I could never find broth in a liquid form and now I find it everywhere..


One little thing that I love is some of the packaging here. I love to buy tomato sauce in the little foil type envelopes and the milk in the boxes is great!


Many times when Carlos and I head out to shop we plan on making one, two or even three or more stops at different stores to get what we want. Oh yeah, I also have my muled down from the USA shelf....

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

We are all settling in..


Kiwi,Gus and Persimmon nap on the couch
We've now been in Merida for more than 4 weeks. I've had many people question not only how Carlos and I are settling in, but more importantly how the cats are getting on.
I think it's been a challenge to get the cats used to being here. First off, I can't get their favorite foods here, the wet food available is of the most basic kind. I did bring several weeks worth with us but the supply is quickly dwindling. I've bought all that I can find to try and I think I may have something they will eat.... though I am on the receiving end of a dirty look or two.
This house is designed for indoor/outdoor living and for the first two weeks the cats were contained mostly in the main three rooms of the house.

Now I am letting them out but at night I do not. Two of them have gone across the rooftops to the property next door. Gus, the maine coon got stuck and I had to climb over a fence with the help of a young neighbor (who didn't speak any English) to rescue him. Persimmon went over the rooftop and came back without his collar and tags and let me tell you cat collars are very difficult to find here!
Two days ago my worse fear happened when I found Bleu-Berri soaking wet after a tumble and a swim from the pool! Now I didn't see it happen so I don't know how good of a swimmer he is, but somehow he managed to get out and now he gives it a pretty wide berth!
Bleu after his swim


For the most part of the days the cats are looking for places to nap and they have been busy finding ones that either they feel secure in or an area with a great cross breeze.
Persimmon likes the pantry shelves

Gus still likes the couch

Bleu hides in a cabinet crevasse

Kiwi is a fan of cross breezes and the cool tiles