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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rio Cuchujaqui

 We took a Sunday drive out to the river. The landscape is beautiful, rich and vibrant, very green.
A lot of the river is being navigated to the agricultural communities west of Alamos, so what water is there is barely moving. It is also quite a color contrast, the muddy brown water against the brilliant green surroundings.

Even if the macaws were out we would never have seen them. They are as green as the hillsides.
 Hasta pronto, Linda Lou

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Buzbillion Bees

 So I was minding my own business early this morning, out mowing the lawn at six am. They were sleeping back at 'New Old Jesus' Place', so I was trying to stay away from the back and mowing up the side of the lawn near this tree which I know is inhabited by bees. I must have pushed the mower against the tree.
There suddenly were a buzzbillion bees everywhere. At first I thought they were mayflies, but it's not May. I ran for cover and brought Senor out for a look. The air was unbelievably thick. I went to visit the Bomberos. One of them came back to take a look and said they can remove the bees at night. We have not decided what to do, but they are quiet now, possibly all over in some other yard for the day.

I could keep mowing but you know how it is when you are working on something and get interrupted.
So instead I came inside and started messing with the blog template.
What do you think? It is either this or I am going black. Please give me some comments.

Senor and I are going out to check the Rio Cuchiaqui and look for some military mackaws.
Que le vava bien, Linda Lou

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bags

 I can always count on Senor to be ready to go. His bag is always packed. Usually it slides under the bed.

When we begin to clean the car, which is the first step in the going process, Cookies sits calmly and watches. After about ten minutes he eases into combat mode and sneaks into the brush of the asparagus fern to peer out as the toll booth receipts and the bank receipts from the previous trip come out and go into the garbage. Empty chip bags make him wild and he hunkers down to the ground and slinks his way through the ferns to the elephant ears. Candy wrappers and the empty coke bottles and coffee cups cause him to rush out of the jungle and hide behind the wood under the portal. He can see us but we can't see him. The hose snakes out and he runs to the stable to watch as the windshield gets cleaned. Back to the other end of the car by way of the rock pile and he is behind the fig where he can see the tools under inspection. As the glove compartment door opens he makes a quick roll to his left and he is under the jasmine, taking a moment to swat at a petal as it floats overhead, but then he is on all star alert as the hose finds its way to the back of the dusty car. A speck on the tire is checked and Cookies flies back into the asparagus brush only to be momentarily distracted by a hummingbird.

He knows the routine, he is well aware of the next step.
 He does not like what that represents........... late nights out in the dark, alone................omg, was that a bat.............things that go bump in the night, that frog is bigger than me............... maybe the neighbor will feed me, maybe that thunder or the kids coming down the street on those damned skateboards again.................not again! those ants stole my cricket...................where can I hide today when Humberto comes............can't anybody get that donkey to shut up, I am trying to sleep over here................ I have not slept in a week......I really need a good nights sleep here.............. okay they will be back today and I can go inside and get a good rest...............they have left me here by myself for the rest of my life.

 As I said the bag usually stays under the bed but Senor left it out from our last trip and Cookies anticipated that we were taking another trip.

You can't walk to close to him or he will reach out and snag you with his paw.
That is what he generally does when we return, swipes at us, grabs a wrist and bites, sleeps on top of Senor's head, claws his foot while he is sleeping, wants to be hand fed, whines, wants to be rubbed, whines, wants to be brushed, whines. He is a very angry cat whenever we return home.
He does everything within his capabilities of letting us know he has not appreciated his alone time.

I am always ready to go, but I need time to pack. I'm a girl. I like to be organized. I like to take a lot of stuff.

shoes, shoes, shoes in the blue fish bag

clothes, clothes, clothes in the purple bag

Dictionary, trip information, reading material, glasses in the green bag
 All important documents in the red bag

cameras, batteries, notepads, colored pencils, aqua pencils, assorted makers and papers in the turtle bag.

And I'm not even showing you the bag I take all my personal toiletries in.
I keep all of my bags in the closet. When I am ready to pack, I pull them out and the sheer number of them makes the cat's head spin.

Okay, I am ready to go.
Don't you touch this bag..............................

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mexican Driver's Licenses and Plates

Look at this fireplace! Does that make any sense to you? Not to me and I told Senor about that and he just said.......don't blame about it. That means to not worry or be concerned and especially, don't try and tell him what to do. Probably to some of you builders it makes sense. I am calling it the Dr. Seuss fireplace until it looks normal.

I am going to keep this post short, bajajjaa.
We went to Navajoa yesterday for plates and licenses. It was a nightmare. Definitely at the very top of the Remind me Why I am Here list. Not that there ever was a list of this sort. But a couple of our experiences at the Immigration Store and now yesterday's experience are on it and hopefully that will be it, but well, probably not.

At the Agencia Fiscal, downtown, you get licenses and plates. We were in line and the man accepted our pedimente and other paper work, then told Senor to pull the car into a certain area down on the street and the man at the next window would come and check the VIN.

Next thing we know, a man is there to check the car, but he is odd, kind of jumpy, nervous, trying to talk to us in an English we have never heard before. He tells us we have to get our drivers licenses first and goes ballistic because we do not have our marriage license with us. I will not bore you with all of the details, but he did his best to make us feel very stupid and incompetent, finally told us to meet him in 30 minutes down by the car and deserted us.

I am feeling unhappy after 1 1/2 hours of his attitude and wondering if there is someone else who can help us.  We now know his name is Moses and he comes and goes through the building like a mosquito is chasing him. In one door, out another, he is very busy, doing what, who knows. We meet him and carry on for another 2 hours over this and that. He is running around a little agitated, now and then going off to help other people. Finally he is back with us, and into Hour # Three, we get to the drivers license table. I have been watching the agent there for awhile, laughing and smiling with his other customers and I think, thank goodness, this will be welcome after all this time with Moses. But now this new man is suddenly rude and disrespectful to me. I tell him "buenas tardes" and he says nothing. He will not even look at me, so I am confused. I give him information he asks Moses to tell me he wants, he prints it, asks Moses to ask me if everything is correct. No, the phone is wrong. He rips the paper out of my hands, crumbles it up and throws it on the floor and does the paper work again. He will not look at me, he talks only to Moses. Moses tells me what the man behind the desk says, but his English is not English. I don't understand what he says, but I listen to the man behind the desk. I know what he wants, but he refuses to take any information from me. The man behind the desk sends me to a back room where a nice young girl translates. I tell her I understand what he wants. I just do not understand Moses. She says Moses is okay, just a little weird. Do I know who he is? Well, I know his name is Moses. Moses bursts through the door and waves me back to the license man, whom I am now calling ugly man.

Senor is sent to the back room, with Moses and she translates. She tells him Moses is an independent agent. We will need to pay for his services. Ah, Senor wants to explode. We have been caught up in something we did not see coming.  Senor is afraid to say NO, Moses has ALL of the paperwork. He pays him 300 pesos.

The ugly man behind the desk has taken my photo for my license. If looks could kill............
It is Senor's turn. I am starting to cry and tell him it is all in his hands and I am outta there. Outside I break down. I have never been treated so rudely in this country. It is an experience that will make me appreciate all others. I stand outside and cry. The men look at me and come close. The women look sympathetic and stay far. I try to gain control. A young man in his 20's ask me if he can get me something. I want to hug him and go to his house. Anything, anywhere to get away.

After I compose myself, I look inside where Senor looks miserable with the ugly man behind the desk.

I walk inside to the information counter and I tell the lady behind the counter that the man behind the desk has been my worst experience in Mexico. I tell her how rude he has been. He has been disrespectful. I tell her that Moses has not been much nicer. I go on and on and on, but I am through crying and being treated rudely. After I say some more nasty things about the men, I look at her and is not your esposo is he?  I am feeling very stupid. She is very sympathetic and very sorry and is flushed and shaking her head. She gets up from behind her counter and pats me on the shoulder and walks away.

I am exhausted and leave the building, again, in tears. When I come back in there is a big crowd in the back surrounding Senor and the ugly man. Moses is not in sight. Everyone is talking at once and people sound angry and then, not angry. The ugly man smiles at Senor, takes his fingerprints and picture and gives him his license. At least 4 or 5 people say, gracias, gracias, gracias. Ugly man smiles at Senor. Moses shows up and takes Senor back to the window for car plates, leaves him there and walks over to me and I turn and walk right out of the building.

In 5 minutes, Senor comes out with the plates licenses, we do not look at each other, we do not talk. We get in the car and drive home.

Later Senor says he was sitting with the license man who was ignoring him completely and talking over his head only to Moses. Senor even asked him a question and the man would not acknowledge him at all. Suddenly a group of  people charged in and stood behind and around the desk, and a man who appeared to be in charge asked in both English and Spanish..............IS there A problem here? Senor claims he looked around for me, but I was nowhere to be seen.

Later that evening, back in Alamos, after drinks and a lovely dinner at the home of some wonderful friends who make me laugh, Senor reminded me of some of our trips to the Immigration Store and we were not always met by the kindest of people. But how long have we been here? Five years. How many times have we been met with confrontations? Not even a handful.

It tells me that there are always going to be some people who do not want us here. But it also tells me there are people who do want us here and want to help us.....the twenty something kid who wanted to know if he could get me anything, the lady who sat behind the information desk and did exactly what I would have done if I were in the states working with anyone who was treating a foreigner rudely.

Drivers Licenses? $95 USD each. Good for 4 years.
Car Plates? $110 USD. Good for one year. The year ends in December.
Experience? Well, I would not call it priceless.   

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nationalizing New Old Car

 Buenas tardes. What a great storm we had in the night, beginning around 1:30am and still going at 3:30am. Senor was up at the first drop of rain, covering the couches with plastic and putting away a few exposed items here and there. We got just a little over an inch and the thunder and lightning was spectacular. I stayed in bed and could see and hear all of it just fine, especially since it was so loud that it sounded like it was in the bedroom with me.

I have been negligent in letting you know that on the 3rd of July we did also have a magnificent storm and on that day a lovely lady named Luz Aide had guessed it would storm and it did and the second pair of earrings went to her.

As you may recall, we have been waiting for our Permanent Visa's to be ready in Hermosillo. While waiting we have been in contact with a few customs brokers to permanently import or nationalize the car since Aduana says that is what you are supposed to do if you no longer have temporary residency. This is the procedure where you get Mexican car plates. It is called both nationalizing and importing. We chose the customs broker whom we thought would work best for us and also the one who gave us the best price of  $740, to be paid in USD only, with an additional $60 to be paid in USD only, for Aduana fees. We scanned and emailed our VIN number, the information from the sticker on the car door, a copy of the USA title, and copies of our passports to the broker when we made our choice. We agreed that once our Visa's were ready we would then proceed to the border and meet up with the broker.

Visa's were just the easiest thing we have ever done and the person that helped us could not have been nicer. And this was a first time experience, easy procedure and a nice guy, too. So we were happy and left with our new cards, which are green and have no expiration date. And so, we are finally through with the Visa process for good (unless somebody thinks of something new to do to us).

On our way north we stopped at KM 21 and returned our temporary car permit, which we had received in Empalme and which had expired in 2011. At the Mariposa Truck Route we crossed the border and stayed overnight in Nogales, Arizona. The next morning we drove into downtown, parked at MacDonalds and walked across into Mexico where we went to the customs broker's office. He completed some paper work for us, counted our USD's and sent us and our 'assistant', Edwin, and the paperwork, back across the border and on a two hour trip to as many as 6 or 7 different places to complete the process. I moved to the back seat and Edwin directed us and did most of the talking for us.

Both my name and Senor's name are on our original title and we discovered that only one of our names can be on the pedimente, which is the Mexican document that is issued and attached to our original USA title. Senor was also requested to show Mexican identification and since his Visa was in the car, he showed his Mexican Senior Citizen card and that was sufficient. Among other places, we visited the Mariposa Truck Route Crossing twice, KM 21 and KM 12 and offices at the Centro downtown crossing. The car was inspected and photographs were taken. In the photo above, Senor waits patiently for the inspection and below Edwin gives Senor some instructions on where to go next.
 Below, new old car sits with a pretty new blue sticker on the front windshield. After a brief stop at a Pemex for more gasoline and cookies and pop for Senor and Edwin, we drove back to the downtown area and dropped Edwin off on a very heavily congested street. As I hopped out of the car and ran around to get in the front seat Edwin's parting words were, either, "now you have 15 days to get your plates or after you go to the office the plates will come in 15 days". It was Senor's job to translate that and after he thought about it, he just was not sure.

We went on through the Centro crossing and up to Tucson where we had a nice time spending any extra money we had. If you recall, our bank account was hacked in the USA, early in the Spring and we now have the good habit of keeping all our money in one account and just transferring it to our checking account as we need it and getting that money at the cash machine. On Saturday morning, while making out my shopping list, I asked Senor to transfer several hundred USD dollars so we could pay the hotel and go out for a nice steak dinner that night. Senor tried to transfer money, but realized the bank does not do transfers on the weekend. We tossed all our money in a pile on the hotel bed, $58USD. twenty minutes from hotel check out. An hour and a half from the border. Starving for lunch and we needed gasoline. We packed and checked out of the hotel in a flurry,felt around for our peso stash, put enough gas in the car to make it across the border, and high tailed it out of the USA.
 So, I did not get in all of my shopping, but that is the way things go sometimes, doesn't it..... Since we were getting a late start we stopped in San Carlos where there were no rooms available, stopped in Guaymas, where there were no rooms available and by dark we had made it to Obregon, where we found not only lodging, but a great steak dinner.

On Monday, I went directly to the Palacio to start the process of actually getting the Mexican plates and was told that only Mexican Nacionals can get their plates in Alamos. We were told to go to the Palacio in there is another story I am sure when we go on Friday.

In the meantime, the vigas go up on the game room...Senor is playing bridge....I plan to take a siesta............and there is an 80% chance of rain this afternoon.
Que le vaya bien.
Linda Lou

Monday, July 1, 2013

That's my Story

 Buenas tardes!
 Here are a bunch of photos and quick little captions to show you what the house has been doing. Then I am going to tell you a story.

 First, I want to say the second half of the contest continues on. There was a huge electrical storm last week, but we weren't here. And that's part of the story.

 The West Wing seems to be under constant change. This is how it looks now. The couches have been pushed back to the wall in anticipation of huge rain and wind storms. Cozy, for sure and pink.
 The fireplace continues to grow. It will probably be ready around Christmas for chestnut roasting.

Three gorgeous iron chairs. That's part of the story.

 Nice little spot when the sun is out, easy to shove back for more protection in case of enormous amounts of rain.
 Remember the rubble? gone, gone, gone, but there is a huge pile of it in another section of the yard.
 My new beautiful climbing rose which I hope will one day cover the pump house roof top.
 The rose in the foreground outside the pump house. And our new three ficus trees, which we shall not cut into shapes of rabbits or turtles, they will roam as free as they wish.
 There is that other pile of rubble I mentioned, beyond the cement mixer on the right.
 Pretty jasmine I am trying to train to travel overhead from one column to the other. All an experiment as Senor says it will need to come down when column plastering day comes.
 The portal, as it looks from where the jasmine vines in training are located.
 A look, from the wicker chairs, at the game room, that will hold all of our belongings once the fake kitchen comes down.
 The game room window and the wall with its little niches.
 Inside the game room, looking out to the wicker chairs. Beneath that black plastic is a beautiful piece of wood that was once one of the vigas in the original West Wing.
 The door that leads from the game room back out to the portal.

The fans, installed and working, do wonders on hot, blistering sunny days.

So, there you have it, in pictures. Now let me tell you my story. As I said, there was a storm, but we weren't here; we were in Hermosillo, getting fingerprinted so our VISA paper work can be sent to Mexico City, where apparently the VISA card making machine is kept.

We had not planned to go. We did not even have a car to go in. Our car had been in the transmission shop in  Navajoa for well over a week. They kept saying they would call when it was ready. I was so stir crazy that I was considering getting on the bus and riding it to the border and back. Then one morning I said to Senor............let's just get on the bus and go to Navajoa and see what kind of shape our car is in. We yelled 'salida' to the driver on the outskirts of Navjoa and after making our way through a standing room aisle filled with school kids and clucking chickens, we walked the few blocks to the shop.

New old car was just sitting outside the fence, on a dusty street, covered in dust, looking very lonely. As we got closer we saw what appeared to be youth baseball team slogans written in the dust covering the windows. Senor saw the 'jeffe' and asked him about our car and he said it was all ready. Since this was new old car's return visit to the shop, the 'jeffe' explained, in Spanish, to a confused Senor, what he had done to it and since we had paid a considerable sum the first time only to have the same problem occur again, causing us to return it to the 'jeffe', he said, 'no charge' and Senor certainly understood that Spanish.

We thanked him and got into new old car and immediately realized that it had not exactly been lonely. There were empty ketchup and mustard packets all over the backseat and the left over wrappings from several youth support sports jock straps. It seemed our car had a few adventures without us.

 It started right up and quickly drove us straight home where, on the computer, the VISA store (this, my new word for the Immigration office helps me cope with the stress of going there), indicated that we needed to come to Hermosillo as soon as possible to move forward with the VISA process. We decided to get back into new old car and go. Within the hour we were back in Navajoa and heading north.

Near the town of Vicam, the Yaqui tribe has erected a blockade on the main highway. It has made a huge impact on commerce and tourism. This blockade is over water rights that the Yaquis believe belong to their tribe and not to the government who believe the rights belong to the government. We were prepared for a wait, but we also thought we could probably find a way around it.

When we got to the blockade, a lovely old Yaqui senora pointed us in the direction of a side street, which we followed around town to the other side of the road block. On the way, we encountered at least a dozen other road blocks, very young children holding up ropes, asking for a peso for our passage. This was their dusty dirt road, we were making it even dustier and we gladly paid each rope block a peso. The children smiled, dropped their ropes to allow us to pass as their mother's threw buckets of water in front of us to ease the dust. After this fifteen minute detour we found ourselves on the north of the blockade and continued on.

The VISA store closes at one. We knew we would not make it so we detoured to San Carlos, where we really only like to go for tacos and if we have to stay overnight, the tv at the Tetakawi Hotel. I looked out of our hotel room after taking a break from watching the Food Channel and there were three old iron chairs sitting in the dirt by a tree, all alone. My sister said to me, from far away, get those chairs, get those chairs, girl. So, after a quick talk to the man at the desk about the abandoned trailer park and the chairs, I did just that and we now have three pretty iron chairs, without seats, but pretty nonetheless. Thank you, Kax, for telling me to get those chairs.

At the VISA store, early the next morning, we were told we were both getting Permanent Residence VISAs, which surprised us. That is what we were applying for and we knew that at least one of us would get it, but the horror stories we had been told, suggested that either we did not make enough monthly income to both get that type of residency or the store was just going to flat out say, NO. We confirmed and double confirmed we were both getting that VISA and the person behind the counter double confirmed that there is no expiration date. It is indeed a permanent residence card and we will NEVER need to renew it. That means we will NEVER need to go back to the VISA store. But, then, we have found that when in Mexico, one should NEVER use the word NEVER.

Now on the road again, a trip to the new Lowes in Hermosillo, another dusty side road trip around Vicam, a quick trip to Home Depot and WAL MART and we were home by six.

As we wait for the actual cards to come back to the Hermosillo VISA store from Mexico City we are trying to figure out the best way to nationalize our car. As soon as your residency changes from temporary to permanent, you are no longer allowed to keep a foreign plated car in Mexico. You are no longer allowed to have a temporary import permit (sticker) on your car, in fact, you can't even get issued a temporary car permit at the border. We are attempting to determine the logistics of that and decide what is the best thing to do. I am sure that will be another exciting story to tell.

For now I have to go and clean up the fake kitchen. Earlier I was minding my own business, relaxing out under the West Wing fans, in a wicker chair, when I heard some glass crashing in the kitchen. I rushed inside to find our garbage all over the floor and a few of the herb and spice jars broken among the litter and no sign of Senor on the floor, thank goodness. After a few seconds what I did see was one of the big iguanas, as it jumped from behind a bin on the floor and up onto the table, where it missed its mark and slammed back down to the floor. Senor came to help and we turned up the radio volume, hoping that would drive it out. Then we threw a few paint thinner soaked rags inside the door hoping the smell would drive it out. Then Senor got a stick and while I trapped it on one end, he tried a 'pretend attack' which had no results at all. We decided to leave it alone and hope it would get bored with the contents of the fake kitchen.

I went back and sat under the fans and waited. Before long, all two feet of it sauntered out as if it was leaving a restaurant at noontime and crawled up the wall and over the roof top. I scrambled over and shut the door.

And that's my story.
que le vaya bien! linda lou