Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 10 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Bird With a Long Tail

 Buenas tardes.
I think this bird is a squirrel cuckoo. It was in one of our plumeria trees this morning when I came back from my walk. I have attached a link to a professional photo of the squirrel cuckoo (I hope the link works for you) and they certainly look the same to me.  The sun had just crested Loma Guadalupe Hill and as this bird hopped from branch to branch, eating the plumeria blossoms, its wings looked filled with gold.

Note that I said.............EATING the plumeria blossoms. As if I do not have enough on my plate trying to outsmart a gardenia eating iguana, now I have to deal with this???
YES, of course, he is beautiful, absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous, and I was thrilled to see him. BUT I sure hope I don't go out in the morning and see a devoured plumeria tree.
Que le vaya bien!
Linda lou

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Extending our Stay in Mexico: VISA

Going to renew our Visa is stressful. I don't have any pictures of us doing that because I don't need to see us doing it. I know what it was like to do it. I was there and I don't like doing it. I'm not happy having my residency in one person's hands.
So I am looking at the two photos above and feeling very rested. Alamos is so peaceful, unlike the immigration office in Guaymas. Thinking about this post makes my blood pressure kick into high gear, looking at the photos is calming.

We went to Guaymas on Wednesday. I will tell what I can. Everyone has a different story. No two trips could ever possibly be the same.
We left at four thirty am. In the dark, at the PEMEX, for caffeine. Dawn broke on our way down from the mountains. I forgot to brush my hair and no make up. I am not in the best mood.

We need to meet the translator at eight. He has translated our bank statements for the last six months. This is a new requirement from Sonora Immigration and some other states as well, having your statements translated into Spanish. A few of the large Mexico blog sites have been reporting that four months were required in some states, and a few sites even said that the offices in their states were not asking for bank statements. Reports were coming in strong that Guaymas wanted the translations. Senor decided to be safe and asked for six months.  That meant, for us, a total of eighteen pages.

We are early and go to MacDonald's where Senor says stop with the what if's.  I have more caffeine.
Back at Inmigracion we start the process. The translator is late, but the young woman who is helping us smiles at his name. He will be here, I am sure, she says. She has not been nice to us in the past. I form an opinion quickly. I don't like her.

The day before, exactly thirty days prior to our Visa expiration date, I have filled out the application online. This much is simple these days. We are hooked into the computer through last year's application. I only need to type in our identification (NUE) numbers and hello, there I am am. My application pops up, yes, with my name and all of the other information I need. But there are a few things to change. We want to extend our stay, but we have to change the condition of our stay. This is determined by one little number on the back of our Visa. We have been renewing year to year for temporary residency. Our number, 4, tells us that now, under the new Immigration laws of Mexico, we either need to apply for permanent residency or leave the country. By leaving the country we would then have to start our whole Visa yearly temporary residency process over again or come back into the country with tourist Visa's which need to be renewed each six months.

The new rules are causing a little panic. Reports from foreigners across Mexico, who are renewing Visas, changing Visas and applying for Visas are all different. Some immigration offices seem to make their own rules and the rules clearly say they can do that. So in general all this confusion has me up tight. The financial requirements to have permanent Visa's are higher in this state, they are lower in that one, they are not even looking at bank statements in this office, they want six months worth of statements in that office, husband and wife have to have separate accounts in that state, in another state they have to be combined. It is maddening to read about it. We have no real idea what the Guaymas office wants. No idea if we qualify for permanent residency. And maybe today we qualify, but maybe tomorrow we would not. 

I do not give the clerk anything she doesn't ask for. This has gotten me into trouble in the past. She asks for the application. I give both mine and Senor's to her. Current Visa. She checks the change of stay against the number 4 on the back of the Visa. Hmmmm, photos. I give those to Senor who gives them to her. I am building my wall. Passaportes. I give those to Senor, too.
 i need two copies of these passaportes, she will have to go make two copies........ i have those already, i tell senor....... well why didn't you give them to her with the passports, he asks................she didn't ask me for them, i say...............where are your bank statements, she says.............well, i reply, they are with the translator.............. She smiles. I know she is just doing her job.

She prints letters for us to sign. Letters that declare we want to become permanent residents of Mexico.

Personally I am ready to go. I think about the time we were there and an American woman was drinking tecate outside the building, at eight in the morning. I could never do that, but I do think about the caffeine I have had already. I am jumpy.

The translator has arrived. He and Senor step outside and do some business. The girl behind the counter has a big smile for the translator and some business of her own, in rapid Spanish that I don't understand at all. Senor gives her four months of the statements. She flips casually through the pages, says something that sounds to me like no mucho, turns to her boss and asks if she doesn't need more months of statements. The boss says four is okay.

I can barely see her over my wall when she talks about the application fee. A new fee this year. One thousand pesos each, payable at the bank and then we need to return with copies of this and this and this and the receipt for paying the fees.

I am practicing my deep breathing when we leave. The bank does not open for forty five minutes. We go to the pharmacy. Senor gets copies made of all that stuff and I buy some make up and I feel better. I am going to change my attitude.

Back in the office I am determined to be sweet. I smile a lot. She shuffles papers here and there and spends fifteen minutes reviewing all the stuff we have brought back with us. She piles our paperwork into separate folders and sets them in front of her. Then she rests her chin on her raised hands and she looks at us. Is she going to say something? She shuffles papers again. She takes back all the assorted papers she just said she does not need and puts them in the folders and have to go to Hermosillo to pay for your Visa. Then you have to come back here to this office a different day to get fingerprinted. You have to go on your computer and put in these numbers and then a message will tell you when to go to Hermosillo. Then another day you do that again and it will tell you when to come here. She is telling us this in English.

I repeat it back to her. But she changes her mind....... no, do not come to this office, you will go to Hermosillo two times........first to pay for your Visa and to get fingerprinted and then you go back to Hermosillo to pick up your Visa. I repeat that back to her.  She shakes her head yes .I say thank you and  I am fast out the door while Senor signs us out in the little book on the table.

We take the back road over to San Carlos. The drive along the sea is calming. Inside a local store, I wander around aimlessly, looking at tile, tin, silver and glass. We drive over to our favorite taco stall. We smell the salt in the air.

On the way home, I know I have again survived the first step in the renewal process. And that is simply having all the right paperwork accumulated. But what I do not know, is if we will even get the Visa once we go to Hermosillo. I say this to Senor and he says.......stop already with the what if's..............So I take a deep breath and watch the cacti go by.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tomatoes and Roses

 Senor's two tomato plants have been a huge success. One has been producing mad bunches of small sweet baby reds, hundreds and hundreds of them. The other,  the seven foot tall plant seeded from the portal giant of last year, has put out large fat heirlooms that taste like they have been plumped with sugar.

 But now we are going into a fourth week of very little water. It is hard to keep them watered deeply enough and it is beginning to get very, very hot here, so we think these tomatoes are about to shut the door.

 The city brought us a pipa (truck load of water) this afternoon. It will help. Later when the sun goes down, I will water in the yard. It will be the first drink since last Thursday.

 This is a simple problem of simply not being able to catch up. Our problem just seems to be pressure. By the time the water comes uphill to us it is too tired to come out of the pipes.

Today I saw a man on a horse and attached with ropes to the saddle were two large plastic jugs of water. I saw two little kids sitting on the street corner, four water bottles between them. I saw that a tinnaco in the centro district was over flowing with water and it was running into the street. The  street sweeper says everything will change soon. It is a matter of time. We will get through it. And I saw a beautiful yellow climbing rose at the nursery and had to restrain myself. Why was I even at the nursery?
Senor is reading about the droughts through out the world and it makes our little problem seem very small. I am doing some serious thinking about how to save all this rain water that should begin pouring off our roof in a month or so.

Meanwhile, we sit around in the evenings, sucking on tiny tomatoes that in the Navajoa markets, cost almost 40 pesos for a small box. I figure we have eaten hundreds, maybe thousands of pesos worth of tomatoes.
This might just be my last post on our lack of water and maybe I will just defy the problem by getting that sweet smelling yellow rose.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Flower Stealer..............

 I have been noticeably upset around this place. And I have not been quiet about it either. I have accused Senor. I have made suggestions to Humberto. I have annoyed the cat who ran and hid under the bed.
All this over a gardenia plant that I have nurtured and mothered for two years now.

For two weeks this plant has been producing up to ten flowers a day! Beautiful creamy white flowers that fill the air with the sweetest perfume. It is my favorite flower. I love the smell and it reminds me of my child hood.

The flowers have been disappearing almost as quickly as they bloom. It has made me unhappy. Humberto likes to bring me flowers and arranges them in one of the many little containers I have under the portal. I asked him if he was taking off the flowers. He looked at me, shocked. I asked Senor and he said............why in the world would i even think about doing that........... I looked at Cookies and he ran.
 I could find no explanation until Sunday morning when I went outside around five in the morning.

Before I could blink this guy had that flower.

He was back on Monday afternoon. So I picked all of the flowers and put them in little dishes. There are three flowers floating in a dish in the bedroom and the room smells so sweet. There is a dish in the kitchen with four floating flowers.
I had three flowers in a crystal bowl, on the table under the portal and last night while we ate outside the air was filled with the scent of gardenia.

This morning I was up at five for my walk and I stopped at the portal table to smell the gardenias. The little crystal bowl was empty.

now look at the first photo more closely.......... he is just hanging there, waiting for me to leave so he can get that one...................

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Senor's Wiring

 Buenas tardes.

Senor's brain is wired differently. He has a smart button inside there that is always turned on. I know I have one, too, but most of the time I can't find the switch.
While we were on our road trip something happened to our pump. I won't bother you with the undramatic details, but the results ended up being a little more dramatic than I wanted. The pump lingered on after we came back and finally blew up in a little hiss, just quit. It was obvious, even to me.

The whole town is on water rationing and we were out of water anyway, but knew once it came in, that if we did not have a pump to get it to a destination, it would not even matter that the city was giving us water. So, Senor rushed around the little pump house trying to repair the pump and finally after a quick trip to Navajoa for some parts,and a full day of no water, he decided, that we did in fact need to go and buy a new one. He ordered one to be delivered from Navajoa and at the end of day two it still had not come, so he rushed to Navajoa, where he bought one right before the store closed. Still no water incoming from the city, so it was not like we were missing anything. But Senor has a new pump and what do you know, the installation directions are in Portuguese.

Now this is what I am talking about. Does Senor speak Portuguese? Is this a problem for him, i, i will figure it out, he says. So his smart button goes into high gear for six pages of unfamiliar words, descriptions and diagrams.
little pump house

old pump
Early on day three, Senor is working on the new pump and a little water comes trickling in from the city. I am elated, over joyed. It is early,and I am already in the middle of three or four very creative, smart projects. I dump them like a hot potato. There is still nothing in the tinnaco and no pressure to get any water up there. But the palms, who have been crying for water now for five days are relieved when I begin dipping the small white bucket down into the eljibe and running water out to them.  While I do this I leave paint drying on a project and the directions clearly told me to wipe it off after five minutes. I leave out some plasticene and it dries hard as a rock, no longer usable. I accidentally leave my oil cutter upside down and all the oil runs out onto my glass cutting board. Exactly where is my smart button switch.
Noon time of day three, Senor, who must by now speak fluent Portuguese, flips the switch and the new pump is running. Suddenly the city sends us water and I ask if there is a connection. Senor is as mystifyed as I am. We fill the tinnaco a little, enough to take care of a few things inside the casa and let the rest rush like a waterfall into the cistern. Fifteen minutes into it the water stops.  
Senor looks at me and says..............well, i am going to go play bridge. He leaves while I am still standing beside the little pump house, looking at the brand new red pump, willing the city to send more water and thinking about all my unfinished, messed up projects.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Feliz Dia de Madre

Buenoas tardes!
Around Thanksgiving last year I wired a little tin can to the gate. I kept it filled with water and added whatever I could find that was pretty in green or in bloom. Sometime in the new year, not too long after the holidays, I noticed someone else was adding flowers to the can. And this has continued. At least several times a week someone adds a pretty branch of bouganvillea or a spray of pink tufted grasses or a rose. Sometimes a flashy sunflower, a sprig of basil or maybe the orange blooms of a trumpet vine. One day a bright tulip greeted me and I have never seen a tulip anywhere in Alamos. Another day a bright clump of  pink carnations swayed in the breeze coming down from Mt Alamos.

I thought I might get up early this morning for a ride on new old bike and on the way out I would put together a special bouquet for the tin can in celebration of Mexico's Mother's Day, always the tenth of May. And when I looked at the gate this morning look what I found, a beautiful bouquet of pink and red bouganvillea, some lime green field bouganvillea, and spigs from a white flowering and sweet smelling neem tree and other sprigs of greens covered in pale green berries. What a nice start to a beautiful Mother's Day in Alamos!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Everybody's Happy

 Buenas tardes!
Have a look at my glass bird feeder. At first I wanted to call art in the garden, but I decided to toss a few sunflower seeds on the top plate and see what happened. Birds, birds, birds. So it is now just a glass bird feeder. I used a four foot copper pipe and inserted the bottom foot into the ground. Then with silicone I glued on the first plate, waited a day, glued on the upside down glass, and again waited a day, and finally glued on the top plate. I originally planned to go higher with it, but I think I will do that on the next one. I like this one which is eye level when I sit under the portal. This is a good feeder because the big fat doves cannot perch on it, but just about everything else can.

 We came back to our casa four days ago after a road trip to Texas. The trip was full of excitement, lots of scenic back roads were traveled by Senor and myself, through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. And  while in Texas, we spent some very good times with lots of family. Thanks to our son, Ian, who took these great bluebonnet photos.

Back home late Thursday in Alamos, we encountered a few glitches, the first being no water. We knew before we left that we had been on rationing, but while we were gone, it got worse. So on Friday, Humberto hopped on his bike and rode off to track down the city truck whose driver promptly brought us a full load of free water. That gave us a little catch up time, but we were out again by Saturday.

 Then, the catdawg, Cookies, who was supposed to be well, decided to get sick again. The local vet, Luis, has come several times now with the shot needle. Whatever is in the shot has made the cat happier and because whenever we return from a trip, Cookies and Senor are glued at the hip for about a week, it has eased Senor's mind.

 And on our second night back, we were enjoying a couple of nice steaks, right off the grill, when the power went off. Senor worked on it for about three hours and then, exhausted and unable to find the problem, we went to bed in the hot, dark night. The next morning he discovered that someone had flipped off our power switch outside and then flipped it back up into the on position (which is why he had not considered the switch a problem because it was on), but one switch was only partly on. It had jammed. That was fixable. It is a goal one day to get those switches on the inside of the wall.....  

So for those of you who were worried and emailed, all is well. In fact, it is great! I was up at five to hear the eljibe filling and I watered all the plants on both sides of the house, did three days of dishes and two loads of laundry, and we filled both the tinaco and the cistern and all the bird baths.  We had seven straight hours of city water!
We are happy, catdawg is happy, birds are happy........... got water, got electricity, got clean dishes, clean clothes, got shot needle......everybody's happy......................linda lou