6 September, 2021

You might think that keeping the floor clean in a 600 sq ft. apartment would be fairly easy, but it’s not. Regular sweeping aside, when I CLEAN the floor, it involves dusting the day before, then taking everything off of the floor and piling items on the couch, bed, and kitchen counters. Oh, and the couch ‘cushion’ is a large rectangular thing that I take a brush to, make sure all the crumbs are off, and then undo from the frame, swivel it in the other direction, and reattach it.

Once everything is off the floor, I give it a sweep. Then I get the mop bucket, add water, a little bleach, and a little fabuloso. About thirty minutes later I’m done, and if I step carefully I can position myself in a little area by my living room windows that always seems to dry first. Another 15 minutes and I can make my way to the kitchen where I put my computer back together and check my mail. By then the bedroom is dry, so things get put back there – and now the living room is ready to tidy up.

I used to have someone clean it once a month, but she had schedule revisions – and really, I can use the exercise, especially with the whole ‘covid-19 stay at home’ thing. And the $200 pesos I save buys me 2/3 of a pizza from La Rustica.

And so today my floor is clean. In anticipation I ordered a pizza last night, and I am eating it responsibly in order to stick to my diet. And now I can walk around my apartment barefoot again! Woo!

I ventured out last night because my fitbit was telling me that I was severely under my daily step goal. Made my way through town to Monos Bichis, then to Olas Altas via the malecón, and home. Added about 8,000 steps to the day. Still not where I wanted to be, but I was breaking in some new sandals, it was sunset, and I had pizza at home!

Since hurricane Nora went past parts of Mazatlán have had issues with water. Specifically, there was damage to one of the water sources that Jumapam has, and other sources clogged with silt. So they reduced the amount of water they were processing and delivering to the city. They say that they’ve been rotating who gets water to try to be equitable, and that service is going to be restored fully starting tonight and finishing on Friday. I have not run out of water. My tinaco holds three days of water under normal use. If I’m careful I could probably stretch it to 5 days. If I’m REALLY careful, maybe a week. As I said, I haven’t run out – but the water purification store on the corner is doing a hopping business, so at least some people in my neighborhood are having problems. Or perhaps they’re preparing for a potential problem.

At the end of June I stopped at a mariscos restaurant, La Tradición del Chuma, that I’ve passed several times while on my walks. Totally forgot to take a photo of their name, so I didn’t post anything about them then, but I remembered to take a photo yesterday! They’re behind the playground near Monos Bichis, and then up a block on the corner. I ordered the garlic shrimp. Came with rice, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, and the shrimp. Not a large portion, the shrimp were the small ones, and they were very overcooked. And they were pricey. The flavor was good, and the sides were fine, just not something I’d order there again. Frankly, based on what I had I wouldn’t go back unless I had a reason. BUT, I’ll say that I’ve had things at El Changuirongo that were very similar – and I like other things they offer, so this could just be a case of ‘you ordered the wrong thing’.

And on that note I’m going to go rest my back for a couple of hours and then take another walk! My goal weight is in sight, and I want to hit it before I take my next trip (YES! Another trip in the works!).

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31 August, 2021

For the past two months I’ve been watching a friends two perritos. They were lots of fun and it was nice to have company, but they would howl any time I left. Yes, I could hear them from the street. So I didn’t leave unless I had to. I made it two months with only two visits to my lavandaria, and two grocery runs – that’s pretty good!

Then the minute they left, hurricane Nora was on her way. Add a couple of days of constant rain, keeping me inside again.

Today the sun was shining and the birds were singing, so I decided on an adventure! I needed chicken so I hopped on the 20 diciembre Juárez bus and rode to the Juárez mercado. Traffic on Av. Gabriel Leyva is still a nightmare because of construction. Even worse than when I was doing my walks to Juárez, especially after the rain. I saw a Jumapam crew trying to fix something, and one of them was standing in a hole filled up to his neck with water!

I like my chicken guy at the mercado Pino Suarez, but the big polleria in the Juárez mercado just calls to me. So I bought two whole chickens there. They were about 4 lbs each, and the total was $200 pesos (~$10 usd). Not the cheapest chickens in the world, but they were big! And they gave me a lollipop! We’ll see what the chickens taste like when they come out of the instapot!

The neighbors who used to live across from me, and now live below me, have an inflatable pool that their little boy plays in when it’s extra hot. He doesn’t have any pool toys, so after buying the chickens I popped over to the ‘fun stuff’ store across the street and bought him a little inflatable penguin. Not as large as the one I have, but it’s something that’ll fit in the pool.

Then I got the idea I’d walk home. The chickens were pretty cold, so I wasn’t too worried about them. Started on my way and as I was walking I thought perhaps I’d stop at the asaderia, Carnes y Pollos Asadas ‘El Diablito’. They’re at the entrance to Parque Bonfil – pretty hard to miss because this is a busy intersection. They were busy. And near their closing time. And they were doing the chickens to order. I waited anyway. Most of the neighborhood asaderias were charging $150 pesos for two chickens last year, now this one is up to $160. Keep in mind these are little chickens. I could easily eat one as a meal. Not while still staying on my diet, but I could! Easily!

Got the chickens. Ran across the street and grabbed the first bus home. Threw the whole chickens into the instapot, then I had a little lunch from the pollo asado. First, it was still piping hot – the packaging was that good. Second it tasted great! It was worth the wait. Is it better than El Pechugon? No. Not much can beat El Pechugon’s seasonings. Same tiny chickens. It is cheaper by a little. But El Diablito doesn’t have the roasted potatoes that you can get at El Pechugon either. If I lived in the neighborhood I’d definitely frequent them. Note that the photo below is from google maps, so these are the options you can buy – but not the current prices!

El Diablito. At the entrance to Parque Bonfil off Av. Gabriel Leyva.
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20 August, 2021

Evening Walk
It’s darned HOT!

I was able to shower today using just the cold water. Not unusual for a summer day in Mázatlan, but usually I have to wait until 11 am or later – not 8 am! Water from the street goes up a pipe in my stairwell to the tinaco on the roof. Tinaco fills up and the float valve (like your toilet) stops it until I need more. Sun beats down on tinaco and heats everything up. Gotta love science, until you want cold water and there isn’t any!

So that leads me to how I deal with the summer heat in a coastal city in México. Here are a few of the things I do to stay cool …

  1. BRING WATER WITH YOU EVERYWHERE. I can’t stress how important this is. Stay hydrated. Bring a bottle of water with you any time you step out of your door. Then drink it when you feel hot, or when you start sweating. Or just because you haven’t had any for a few minutes. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real possibilities in this climate – be prepared with some water to cool you down.
  2. Get things done in the mornings and evenings. From around 11:30 am until about 4:30 pm, stay inside. If you have to go out make sure you’re going someplace with air conditioning.
  3. Walk on the shady side of the street. Unless you’re out when the sun is directly overhead, one side of the street will have at least a little shade. USE it!
  4. Wear light loose fitting clothes, and a hat. Pretty easy! If it’s really hot, and your hair can take it – get a baseball hat wet and wear it. Evaporative cooling will keep your head a little extra cool. The hat’s going to get wet with sweat anyway!
  5. Go to the beach / Walk the malecón. There is most often a breeze at the beach, but it disappears just a block inland. So take advantage of the beautiful view and walk on the beach or the malecón to your destination. If you’re having a lazy day, just go to the beach! Stone Island is still accessible and businesses are open! Grab a panga and go early so you can get your favorite seat – and then just watch the world go by!
  6. Be places that have air conditioning. If you have to go shopping then pick a store that has air conditioning instead of fans. All the malls do, as well as the supermarkets. Public markets not so much.
  7. Travel. Yep, it’s mainly the coastal cities that make you feel you’re being steamed for some devil’s dinner! Other cities like México City, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, even Durango are perfect places to visit in the summer while the coast is melting. Take the opportunity to see the culture, landmarks, people, and FOOD of other parts of México – and keep cool while you’re doing it!
  8. Surrender. At some point you’re going to realize that taking three showers a day along with changing your clothes is not a viable option. It’s hot. It’s darned hot. I’ve sat and watched mist come up from the ocean, it’s that hot. Accept it and realize you’re going to sweat and nothing will change that until fall comes along. Find clothes and colors that don’t highlight the sweat and just learn to live with it. And don’t be embarrassed being all sweaty in public – because so is everyone else that wasn’t born in this weather!

I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest. It’s cool and drizzly almost year round, which is the primary reason I moved here. And I was prepared – I had been coming down in July every year, so I knew people weren’t exaggerating about the level of heat. And with the exception of just a couple of days when the humidity was SO high that I had trouble catching my breath, I have learned to enjoy the summer weather here. Mazatlán (and Puerto Vallarta too) has a very different ‘feel’ in the summer. Snowbirds and tourists from the north are still up north, so the city is quieter and the tourists that are here are primarily families from interior cities. Mom, dad, kids, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and sometimes even their neighbors – it’s a totally different dynamic. If you haven’t experienced Mazatlán in the summer, put it on the list and do it at least once!

2021.08.20 Weather
Yes, it >does< feel like 109!

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16 August, 2021

Just a short update on the post from 26 July.

Ley Express in Centro did not ask me for proof of vaccination when I went in. Then again, the woman at the door had her back turned and was occupied by something else. Several people entered and exited without her even seeing them. So I can’t definitively state that the policy is not to ask for proof of vaccination/negative covid test, just that they didn’t ask me on my one visit.

Mercado Pino Suarez DID ask me for my card. And they didn’t have a problem with the one from the USA. But the entrance guy only glanced at it, not long enough to see if it was real, nor hard enough to see if it was even mine.

My new neighborhood taqueria isn’t asking, but they reduced the number of tables they set up. I’ve been getting orders to-go though.

Loncheria Zambrano was business as usual for my torta to-go. No questions, just exchanged my money for their torta. I don’t know if they’re asking when you sit in their little dining area. Looks like the same number of tables inside. Perhaps they’re limiting people going in.

Sadly, this is the extent of my wandering since the 2nd when the policy went into effect. I heard that eleven citizens have gone to court and they (the eleven individuals) now don’t have to provide proof when asked. Presumably they do have to present the court documents which seems to me would be more bothersome to carry and explain. And I have not heard of any of the courts here moving that quickly. I read it in one of the newspapers, so hopefully it’s not wrong – just very very quick for the court system here to move that fast.

CDC Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card

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13 August, 2021

Banking in México

One of the more popular questions from ex-pats/immigrants here in Mazatlán (and México) on Facebook and in forums is one of banking. In making things difficult (in theory) for the cartels, México banking regulations also make banking a difficult prospect for those who aren’t citizens. Compounding the banking regulations are the businesses that only accept credit/debit cards issued by Méxican banks for online transactions (edited to clarify). CFE is a shining example. Yes, you can pay your electric bill using several options – but most of them require you be here in México. Yes, you can pop into a CFE office and pre-pay your bill, but they don’t speak English, so be prepared to rely on Google Translate if you don’t speak Spanish! And if you’ve gone back North to take care of something for a couple of months – well, you’re just up the river without a paddle!

México News Daily published an article about using a Fintech account (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/mexicolife/a-branchless-free-mexican-bank-account-for-foreigners/) to get a pre-paid credit card. I’m not sure how or how well this works, so I’m giving the information for its own sake without recommendation.

Intercam has branches in several states and also has decent exchange rates. BUT, their debit card is NOT recognized as coming from a Méxican bank (at least mine isn’t). They are geared towards the English speaking community, AND they will often open an account with just a tourist permit. If you don’t need the Méxican bank card, then they are a decent (my opinion only) option. I have an account with them, but primarily only because they hold my fideicomisso. Of note, they >>do<< have an online system that you can use to recharge your Telcel phone number. It works fairly easily.

Here in Mazatlán I was able to open an account with BBVA Bancomer (the branch near the cathedral) using my residency card, passport, and a utility bill. I may have also needed to provide my drivers license (from the USA), and my CURP. They also made me sign up with a promotion for homeowners insurance that they made me carry for two years (I keep forgetting to cancel it … and using it would require I navigate through a stack of paperwork in Spanish)! So it was a little bit of the ‘one hand washes the other’ kind of deal. I got my bank account in a Méxican bank, and the bank got two years (or more) of money for an insurance plan I haven’t used. I will say that BBVA Bancomer has an EXCELLENT app that generates a digital card number, and then a new CVV code for each online transaction you make. It works. And I even set up a recurring charge to pay my TelMex bill each month. Don’t ask me how I did it … but it’s working!

I’ve heard that other banks have branches that will open an account for non-citizens, you just have to visit them and find one. Ask friends and neighbors how they were able to open an account, and which branch they used.

As far as banking on the other side of the border goes, most of the people I know have an account with Charles Schwab. Charles Schwab refunds ATM fees at the end of each month, and doesn’t seem to mind when all of your transactions come from outside the USA. If you’re from Canada, I’m sorry, but I can’t be of much help, you’ll have to talk to friends!

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8 August, 2021

Today’s episode … how I ‘El Mono’.

Tortas ahogadas are one of those great foods from Jalisco (as is birria). Bolillo roll, carnitas, onion salsa, lime, all swimming in a bath of tomato sauce! I’ve made a couple of posts before about El Mono, but today I thought I’d lead you through the procedure I use when I make my almost-weekly order.

I place my order via WhatsApp. Tacos y Tortas Ahogadas ‘El Mono’s number is +52 669 74 98. They’re closed on Monday’s so don’t order then! I almost always get a response to my whatsapp message within 5 minutes. They speak Spanish, not English – so make sure you use something like Google Translate to cut/paste if you don’t speak Spanish. I usually order four tortas ahogadas de carnitas (pork). They also have a decent birria, tacos, tacos dorados, and other items – check out the menu on their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/elmono.tortasahogadas). They recently started charging a 5 peso delivery fee. I’m not sure if it changes on how far they have to go, so you should ask them what your total is, including delivery. Currently (and for quite a while now) the tortas ahogadas are 50 pesos. My four come to $200. Add the delivery charge and a tip and I’m out $255 pesos. It’s a great deal for four meals. You can always go there in person too!

Tortas Ahogadas de Carnitas

If you’re like me and are ordering ahead you’ll have a little prep to do to get them ready for the fridge/freezer. The tortas arrive packaged as in the photo above. Styrofoam tray, bolillo roll stuffed with carnitas, a bag of demon hot onion relish, a couple of lime wedges, and tomato sauce. You will probably get a plastic spoon – which I find difficult to use so I tell them not to include them.

Step one

Step one: Get your torta ahogada dish ready, remove the outer bag, and the bag from the torta. Place the torta in the dish! Make sure your dish is torta ahogada friendly! You want it to be fairly deep, and small enough that the tomato sauce ‘drowns’ the torta. Mine was a gift, but I think you can find them at either Sharks’ Dean in the Gold Zone, or the place near the corner of Azueta and Zaragoza.

Put the torta in the dish

Step two: Add the onion relish. If you haven’t had it before give it a LITTLE taste!!! I’m pretty sure the sauce around those onions is pureed habanero. It’s HOT. It will definitely get your endorphins flowing. Be forewarned! I usually squeeze the lime over the torta now. ** El Mono says the sauce is from chile de árbol. I don’t know … those are supposed to be the same heat, or a tad more, than the serrano chile and I don’t find serrano’s all that hot. I think they’re not telling me about a secret ingredient!

Step two. Add onion relish

Step three: Add the tomato sauce. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to make sure the bag has been tied securely, flip it so a corner is at the top, snip off the corner with kitchen shears and slowly pour the sauce over the torta.

Step three

The bolillo rolls used are fairly dry and take a few minutes to soak up enough tomato sauce for you to be able to eat it with a spoon. Let your torta ahogada sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then grab a spoon and dig in!

Ready, set, eat!

Now – prepping the other tortas ahogadas for the fridge/freezer. First you’ll want to open each bag and make sure the components are secure. Tighten each knot, and place things upright on the tray. Remove the limes if it’s going in the freezer. Place the tray back in its bag and tie it closed. When I order I eat one when they deliver. I put one in the fridge, and the other two go in the freezer. When I eat the one in the fridge, I replace it with one from the freezer.

To reheat them, I pull out the carnitas from the bolillo roll, crumble them, and put them in a skillet. I add the onion and the tomato sauce, cover, and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. If you’ve frozen it, the tomato sauce will have separated – it’s still good. While it’s reheating I open up the bolillo roll and lay it fairly flat in the serving dish. I eat these open faced as its much easier just to pour everything slowly over the bolillo roll when ready. And it lessens the time I have to wait for the roll to get soggy enough for the spoon!

Tacos y Tortas Ahogadas ‘El Mono’. Closed on Monday’s. Two locations to choose from. Visit their facebook page for more information! https://www.facebook.com/elmono.tortasahogadas

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2 August, 2021

I think I’ve mentioned Rub BBQ before (https://www.facebook.com/RubBbqMexico/), but it’s been a while and lately I’ve been feasting on tacos and tortas … I did make a couple of chamorros last week, but I cooked them in the insta-pot and didn’t smoke them first.

I watch this guys videos from Mazatlán because he goes places I like, or that have the kind of foods I like that I haven’t been to yet. He just posted one from Rub BBQ. It jogged my brain into thinking maybe I need to order from them again soon! They’re a little north of El Cid, but they deliver so I don’t need to make the bus ride!

I like their food, but it had a stronger smoke when they first opened. Now a lot of the smoke flavor is hidden under their BBQ sauce. It’s too bad, because the smoke flavor is really what you’re going for in a restaurant like this. And their food is pricy. Yes – you get a lot for your $25 usd, but I could get ten tortas ahogadas for the same amount. Again though, it’s a specialty restaurant that’s offering something difficult to find, and if you don’t have a smoker or a bbq then this is the only way you’ll be able to satisfy the need! And really, someone else doing the hours of prep can be worth a few extra dollars.

So get out your whatsapp and give them a shout, or if you’re in the neighborhood make a visit. Rub BBQ. Tasty and easy. And they’ll bring it to you. And give this Youtube channel a watch now and again!

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26 July, 2021

Just a quick update. Mazatlán is going to start requiring vaccination cards in shops, restaurants, bars, etc. on 2 August.

Here’s a copy of the post on the Facebook group Mazatlan Rant & Rave:

Covid-19 Restrictions

And here’s a video on Youtube. You can turn closed captioning on, then select translate to English if you need to …

Covid-19 Restrictions

The video suggests that the actual card needs to be shown. I’ll have photos in my phone as well, and will try to use that first so I don’t have to get my card smudged.

Here’s one more document:

May be an image of text
Covid-19 Restrictions

The google translated version of above:

  • As of Monday, August 2, we will require proof of vaccination from anyone who is going to enter a business, entertainment center, restaurant, bar or club.
  • We call on those who have not been able to apply a vaccination, take advantage of the date of lag attention that the vaccination program maintains in Mazatlán.
  • The measure of unrestricted use of face masks and / or protective mask is maintained to leave the house to carry out any activity.
  • It is requested that all young people between 18 and 29 years old go to the UAS sports center, convention center, military hospital and German Evers court to get vaccinated.
  • That all Young People from 18 to 29 Years old register and go to the vaccination center that corresponds to them, for this the hours have been extended from 7 AM to 7 PM.
  • It is important to come on the day of your appointment with your vaccination record in its new version with the integrated QR code, since only this will be valid for your vaccination to be applied.
  • We call on employers or businessmen in general to encourage their workers to go to get vaccinated.
  • That employers or employers who wish to transfer their workers, have access and ease to receive their vaccine at any vaccination center.
  • The municipal covid center continues to offer low-cost tests, by appointment and socioeconomic study.
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17 July, 2021

I have some very evil neighbors! I was looking out my window on Monday, and saw them tying one of those big vinyl signs to the side of their house. The last time a sign went up in my neighborhood, it was outside the apartment below me and advertised treatment for lice. Thankfully THAT one is gone!

The neighbors were putting up a sign for a restaurant called ‘Taqueria Guadalajara’. There’s a facebook page with minimal information (https://www.facebook.com/Tacos-De-Asada-Guadalajara-108458334777181) that says they’re on the outskirts of town. I don’t know if they moved or if they opened a second location. Either way, my diet is in serious trouble!

Here are some photos. The first is from their Facebook page. No price for the Huaraches, so I’m guessing they aren’t doing them here.

Their prices are very decent for the amount of meat you get. I’ve only had the asada (con todo = onion, cilantro, and beans) because they’re always out of lengua by the time I get there. Not even going to try the sesos – no thanks! 🙂 And they gave me a grilled jalapeño and a grilled serrano with my order of three tacos. My to-go order of two tacos just had a serrano – but it was enough! If you’d like to give them a visit, they’re at the corner of Ángel Flores and Francisco Villa (the street Francisco Villa, not the colonia!), facing the Francisco Villa side. I think they open around 7 pm. Their sign says they’re closed on Wednesday, but this week they were open on Wednesday and closed on Thursday so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I cooked some chicken breasts in the insta-pot a few days ago and had 4 cups of gelatin after. Four cups of liquid is what I use for a cup of dry lentils, so that was a no-brainer! I find it takes a little longer to cook lentils in gelatin, so it’s boil for 30 minutes instead of 20. I think tonight’s dinner may just be lentils with shredded chicken! Mmmm! Diet, watch out!

Lentils cooked in chicken gelatin.
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2 July, 2021

When you get to a certain age you think you’ve seen it all. Yesterday I saw something I’ve never seen before! At first I had to blink a couple of times because it didn’t seem real, but it was! And of course I had to look it up on the internet!

A kaleidoscope. That’s what it’s called. A kaleidoscope of butterflies. They weren’t monarchs, but rather the plain white ones I’ve always called cabbage moths. But there were a couple thousand of them. One big ball of fluttering white butterflies, followed by about 20 minutes of stragglers – alone and in small groups.

They all seemed to be headed towards Cabo. Is there a party I’m not invited to? Really, it was both strange and awe inspiring at the same time. No pictures, but here’s one of monarchs I ‘borrowed’ from a website.

It seems that there’s always a Yang to every Yin, and yesterday’s was one of the Youtube vloggers I [used to] follow who said he thinks he has Covid, but is going to get on a bus and travel. What? Even if it’s just a bad cold or the flu, only an irresponsible person gets into a metal tube with dozens of other people when they’re ill. And only someone who has left their intelligence someplace else vlogs about doing it. Good luck to you, but more luck to those who are around you!

Skies this morning in Mazatlán are grey, and it looks like one of those 50/50 kind of days. Rain, or sun. Sun, or rain. If I go on a walk now and it rains, I’ll be soaked by the time I get home. On the other hand, if I wait until the clouds burn off it’ll be too hot to walk! Where’s a beer and a table at Lety’s when you need one? Hmmm, that’s a thought! Nah. Today needs to be an ‘order tortas ahogadas’ day from El Mono, so I need to stay home! Maybe next week?

And in closing I’ll leave you with today’s breakfast. Back on my diet. Veggies are the only consistent foods that are low in calories, so I’m eating a lot of them. Well, potatoes aren’t so low calorie – but hey, sometimes you have to do what you have to do! I am thinking that perhaps a serrano and a jalapeño both were overkill, but I’m enjoying a little morning tingle!

Scrambled eggs with veg.
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