Saturday, May 26, 2007

5/26/2007 History of a Pool!

Hi there! I hope that you are well and happy!

Let’s talk pools! In espanol es piscine. The dictionary says it's "a small body of still water". Ever since I was a kid I have always associated it with that lovely contained body of cool water that someone else had in their back yard. A splashing, cannon balling rampage that was soooooo much fun. The place I never wanted to leave when I was told that we had to go. In addition it was always associated with a gathering of friends, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, smiles and laughs. So as we all did when we were kids with the things we really liked but couldn’t have then we say that “if I ever get the chance I’m gonna’ have on of those”! I have always liked the water and obviously the reason why I became a scuba diver. As Debi and I like to say, “if some is good, then mo’ is better”! So becoming one with the water seemd like a great idea and it was.
Fast forward 45 years and guess what! LOL! We’re moving to Mexico and there are lots-o-pools there! So having a pool became a want, a need, a must! To that end I set aside the proceeds from the sale of my wine collection. (That heart breaking subject will be fodder for another story at a later time!) So now loaded with pool money and looking for houses in Merida the pool was a driving force in regards to the size of the property. The pool didn’t have to be humongous but I did want to be able to dive in without having to pull up short before hitting the other end! Those of you that still remember me know that stretched out I take up about eight feet in length. So calculating that with the speed of the glide thru the water after the dive, multiplied by the force of the dive, divided by the density of the water, yadda, yadda, yadda. So after doing the detailed calcs (yeah, right) I arrived at “I’ll know it when I see it”! LOL!
We were fortunate in that the place we found already had a pool. Good fortune or misfortune……..the jury is still out! The pool existed at 14’ x 29’ with a max depth at 7.5’ and no filtration system. The pool was a priority but getting the house livable trumped the pool. As the work proceeded on the house it got to a point when the pool remodel could be started. The pool workers started by checking the level of the pool border/walkway. They found that the NE corner was lower that the other three. I thought that that was a good sign! They demolished the border/walkway to install the new piping for the filtration system and when they re-poured the border/walkway they made sure it was level. The existing steps were not what we wanted and they were demolished. The depth was deeper than I wanted so as the remodel was going on I had the workers toss the concrete/rock debris in the pool. It got rid of a lot of debris and we didn’t have to pay to have it hauled away. Double bonus! After the debris was said to be sufficient by the pool guys they poured a new floor and steps. So joyously I filled the pool, it leaked, it took five weeks to find the leak, it was repaired and I filled the pool again. Everything worked well and it was very nice. I enjoyed getting up, making coffee, taking my coffee and my water test kit and walking out to the pool and checking the chems. It was nice to have it while Joe and Suzanne were here even though the weather was a bit chilly at times for pooling! LOL!
Then as reported in the last posting the tile color deleima which took some time had to be dealt with. So now the tile is almost done. Salvador said that it would be done today Saturday the 26th. It will not be. But that’s ok. As you can see I have an alternate source of coolness and sometimes it's just too relaxing! But such is life while one must wait for his pool! LOL!
One thing that usually takes a while to comprehend is that the culture here in regards to time lines and disappointment. Time lines mean nothing! Nada! It’s best just to view or think of what someone tells you in regards to when something will be done or when they’ll show up as optimism. This is a very optimistic culture. They do not want to disappoint you so in most cases they will tell you what they think you’ll want to hear. Similar to stopping and asking for directions, which Debi refuses to do any more. If you ask someone how to get to a certain place and they don’t know they’ll give you directions. Yes, that’s right, rather than disappointing you by saying they don’t know they’ll send you on your way pleased in the knowledge that they helped you. Of course not all do this but the majority will. So when a worker leaves for the day and you ask when he’ll be coming the next day and he says 8 AM, it’s a guideline. It will usually mean that he’ll get there sometime in the morning. But of course he may not show up at all. Adjusting to that has been hard, especially for me. I get in to that “my time is valuable” thinking and it is important to me but me only. If the worker is coming the next day and we decide to go to the market and he shows up to work it’s fine, he doesn’t have a problem with it. He’ll either hang around or leave and come back later or just show up a day or two later. No one gets upset. Now I don’t know if this process is good with the corporate world here but I have only been exposed to the everyday construction, cleaning, and gardener type people. Oh and very few of them are without a cell phone but they never call you to let you know that they are going to be late, not coming, etc. So the “laid back” lifestyle is exactly that but carried further than one might think. This fact is the reason why most people will set out to try and accomplish only one thing on any given day. There are so many things that can affect what you want to get done that if you try to do more then you are probably setting your self up for disappointment. Now after you’ve been here a while and get a better lay of the land things get somewhat easier but more importantly understandable! LOL!
Kind of got off the subject of the pool but all things are relevant! So here is the most recent picture of the pool for your viewing pleasure!
Here also is the most recent picture of the orchid we have blooming right now. We have a total of ten orchids right now. We are learning more about them as we go but the climate here makes it pretty darn easy to keep them happy!

The rear of the house has gone thru a few changes and getting it painted will probably be one of the next things in the future to have done. But in the mean time I keep talking about the jardin so I guess I should show you a photo of it. Debi has been steadily working away and she is doing an amazing job with it. Except for the iguanas it would be perfection but there always has to be some one or something messing with the order of things! You'd think that they were here first or something and we are just planting things for them to snack on!

Well, we are looking forward to having the pool completed. Not only because it will be nice to cool off in it but it will mean that there are no more workers coming every morning! We have had someone showing up every morning except Sundays for way too long. It will be nice to have the mornings and the house to ourselves for a change. A worker in the house or outside the house creates restrictions and removes our ability to go some where together except on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. We'll be getting into what will be normal living here in Merida!

I hope that you find my ramblings and pics at least entertaining! I enjoy sharing what we are doing here.

Until next time take care and keep in touch!


Saturday, May 12, 2007

5/11/2007 Update

We have not done an update for a long time. So we figured that we would do our best to bring you all up to date in regards to where we are with our new life.

We are well and adjusting more and more every day. My Spanish education has not progressed very much due to the remodel. Yes that’s partly true but some of it is just laziness along with the fact that I always seem to get by. Of course as Debi told you I would, I use her as a crutch more often than not. Debi is doing extremely well with it but she doesn’t think so. Everyone is impressed with her abilities and they say she has a great accent. The accent that someone has makes a great deal of difference in how well the people can understand what you are saying.

The house is done as far as the contractor/architect are concerned. We are in great shape with the exception of the pool. A while back we might have told you that it had a leak and it took five weeks to find it. After that we filled it and used it for about a month. We had scheduled to have the pool walls and floor tiled and so it started only to find that there was a problem with the batch numbers for the tile. After a few tries at getting it right and having to tear out half of what was installed the people doing it decided that the tile would have to be sent back to the supplier and new tile with all the same run numbers would have to be used. So that took a little over three weeks and the tiling should resume this coming week. In the meantime we did purchase a temporary pool to tide us over till work is completed on the 'real' pool. The house has turned out very much to our liking and we are pleased. We using our newfound knowledge and some folks we came across along the way can handle the items left to be accomplished. Now that we have had the chance to learn the ways and lay of the land we feel that we’ll be able to get things done with out the architect/contractor folks! We are visitor friendly in case you’re inclined to mosey down South!
Debi has been transforming the back forty into a recognizable garden area. With what she started with it is truly a miracle. Now that things are shaping up the iguanas that were around before and dropping by have decided to make it their home and we are now the proud parents of about 20 iguanas. Of course the trouble with that fact is that they need to eat and they seem to like everything that we plant with the exception of a couple of plants. So we have another learning curve to go through! LOL! Of course we have been told that iguana is yet another food source that tastes like chicken!

Well, here is some info and a few costs in regards to the house for those of you that might be interested. We paid our property taxes about a month ago, $24.00. Milk is $1.00 per liter and there are 3.79 liters to a gallon. Trash service is three times a week and it costs $1.70 per month. Water and electric are billed every two months. A normal water bill runs about $15.00. FYI: They cannot turn off your water for lack of payment. We can’t tell you about electric yet because we’ve only gotten one bill so far so it’s not a fair representation. However, it was $100.00 for two months. Electricity is the most expensive utility here. We just renewed the insurance on our home for $587.00 for coverage of $150K. There is a 10% deductible on just about everything. Most people do not carry insurance since everything is made mostly of concrete. This area is not in an earthquake zone, they never had a tornado and the only thing that can burn for the most part is your furniture and clothing. Oh, and the garden during the dry season, LOL! Yes the house is insured for hurricanes. A fideicomiso is the document that allows non-Mexican citizens to have property within 50 miles of the shore. It is a 50 year lease that is yours in perpetuity and is renewable each year by paying a fee. That fee is what I look at being more in line with the taxes in the US and it was presently paid at $450.00. It does increase a little each year they say. We’ll keep you posted. After five years we can apply for Mexican citizenship and then we would have dual citizenships. Once you obtain Mexican citizenship then you no longer need to pay the fideicomiso fee. Health insurance is a lot different than the states. There is no coverage for dental or eye. Those items are strictly out of pocket. We both just went to the dentist for the first time. The check up, cleaning, and panoramic x-rays were $65.00 each. Fillings are $50.00 each. We have not been to an eye doctor but have been told that the check ups are relatively inexpensive but the cost of the frames and lenses is high. A friend had to pay $450.00 for his glasses and lenses and no, they were not designer frames nor an unusual prescription lens. So to our optometrist back in CO that said glasses would be a lot less her we say “bull”. We just paid $1,610.00 for our health ins coverage for a year. It covers just about everything but it is not an HMO or PPO etc. There is a $400.00 deductible on each occurrence and then above that there is a 10% co-insurance fee. We are covered when we travel to other countries in case of an accident. Once you are capable of being transported they will transport you back to MX so you can finish being treated here. We can come to the US to be treated for any major illness but there is a $50,000.00 cap and a10% co-pay. As we have stated before we have top rate hospitals and doctors here in Merida. We have seen the medical care here in action on a couple of our friends and it was exactly top notch! Gasoline is about $2.65 a gallon. Debi feels that food overall is less here than in CO. Finding the herbs and spices that she is used to cooking with is very hard and in many cases they do not exist in this country. Eating out certainly is less here than anywhere in the US. That’s not saying that you can’t go out and spend a bundle if you want to but in general it’s less. They are hard pressed for a great steak. It seems that the best US type meat is in CostCo….go figure. However the beef farmers in MX have already grasped the idea that their herds need to be feed grain for at least the last month or so of their lives in order to soften up the texture of the meat. People that we have met that have been her for decades say that years ago you could hardly chew the beef. It was more like rubber bands. So they have come in the right direction. As a matter of fact there are some of the local small markets that cater to gringos that seem to have grasped the idea and many are touting their meat. So who knows maybe there will be good steaks on the bar-be soon! Yum, yum! Electronics are still outrageous. Shoes in our sizes and then with arch support are almost non-existent. One thing for sure is that we are painfully aware of the lack of diversity in all things that the US has that MX does not and will not.

We have been meeting all sorts of different and interesting people from different countries with very varied backgrounds. The diversity is amazing! So far the people we have met all seem to lean a little to one side or the other. Of course so do we! LOL! But most are not to far off the scale, not real strange, just different and very adventurous. Yes there are few that have fallen off the edge of the universe and reality seems to be on a totally different plain but hey, they are everywhere aren’t they? Yes they are! LOL! If my memory serves me correct there is one leading the US right now! LOL! Sorry, couldn’t help myself! LOL!

Debi follows more news than I. She can read some Spanish so she gets the local paper once in a while. Big news items she tells me about sometimes but I’m like an ostrich, what I can’t see or hear can’t hurt me. We have cable TV but just the lower tier so we get four or five stations with ingles and for an extra $1.00 per month we get CNN. However, just about every time we turn it on there is some event going on like sports, or an expose on the fashion industry so we rarely turn it to that station. We get about three programs that we used to watch back in CO. However, our favorites are not on the lower tier. It may become something that we’ll investigate later but for now the remodel has taken most of our time and since that is almost over we hope to have travel take up a lot of our time. We hope to get a dive trip in soon!

Merida is still holding its reputation as one of the safest cities in MX. We walk most times and have never felt threatened or leery on any street or at any time of day or night.

I don’t mind driving here but many gringos can’t stand it. It’s a bit too aggressive for most. That along with there being no rules that are actively enforced. Road signs, speed limits, and such are treated as guidelines. What best suits your needs at the time is what you go by. Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and can be a brand new Mercedes or a car made up of six or seven different vehicle parts. No air control or monitoring program! LOL! Lights of any kind on a vehicle are nice but not necessary. Total awareness when you’re on the roads is a must.

In regards to our houses back in CO we have just listed all three of them with a real estate agent and hope that someone buys all three. Yeah, right, like that will happen! LOL! One at a time will be just fine with us.

We have started growing many plants in pots and in the jardin. Orchids are a new thing for us and we like them. We have native orchids and they have much smaller blooms than the imported ones. We have purchased many cement and terracotta pots of numerous sizes. Once we get the greenery stuff done in the back it should look great.

Our health is good. Because we are very active and sometimes do too much in the jardin we get sore muscles and such but that is it for the bad stuff. I think that my vision is getting worse but I can still see what shelf the cerveca is on in the frig so I’m not ready to panic yet! LOL!

That’s a good overall summary of what is happening with us up to now.

Please take care of yourselves and we hope that good health and happiness ride with you wherever you go!

Tom & Debi
May 11, 2007