13 March, 2019

First task today was to cut my hair. It wasn’t too long, but was getting annoying. Half hour in the bathroom with my clippers, plus 5 minutes of sweeping, and now I feel much better!

Dedicated the rest of the afternoon to some errands! It was sunny, but really breezy today. It’s been a while since we had rain, so walking down the streets was a hazardous dust-in-my-eyes journey. Stop number one was the bus station for my tickets to Puerto Vallarta. MANY websites in México take debit/credit cards, but only those issued by Méxican banks. I do have a debit card from my Méxican bank, but alas – the websites don’t like it. So I went on the website and copied all the pertinent information so the clerk at the bus window wouldn’t have to go through a lot of google translate with me (THEY pull it up on their computers)! Put on my tennis shoes and started the hike to the station. Google Maps says it’s 2 miles. Did the second half of the walk down the malecón, watching the waves and listening to the surf.

Pretty easy process, and I did ask for (and received, one way at least) the 10% discount they offer for online purchases since I would have done it that way if I could have. Didn’t ask for the 50% INAPAM discount because I know they would have wanted to see the card – that I don’t have yet (see previous post).

TAP tickets Mazatlán to Puerto Vallarta and back

Made my way back to the malecón. Decided not to use one of the publicly available bikes because I really needed the walk, and wanted to enjoy the ocean a little more. Turned down Aquiles Serdán (ok, I went one past and had to back track) and then made a pit stop at Las Changueras – Mazatlán’s “Shrimp Ladies”. Picked up a pound of 16/20 shrimp for 110 pesos (about $5.70) for tonight’s dinner, then on to the next stop.

Shrimp and pasta dinner.
Shrimp and Pasta dinner.

The Mercado Pino Suarez is just a few blocks past the shrimp ladies, and I didn’t have any chicken in the fridge! I also needed some horchata after the walk – my 10,000 steps fitbit fireworks had gone off around the shrimp ladies. So I stopped at my favorite jugo/agua place on the corner of the mercado. There was an older couple there (older than ME? Yep, they exist!) speaking English, trying to decide on what to get, and trying to ask the gals running the stand what flavors they had to chose from. The girls don’t speak a lot of English, so I butted in (it WAS a cruise ship day – I just wasn’t doing a volunteer shift) and offered assistance. After I talked them into getting some horchata, we had a little chat, and then I pointed them back to the landmark they were using to get their bearings (you can see the church steeples from a lot of places, but the opposite side of the mercado isn’t one of them).

Something has happened to my chicken kids. They haven’t been in the mercado for a couple of weeks now. All their signs are still up, but I think they’re gone. Could just be because the floors are still torn up from the renovations in the mercado, but I doubt it. So, I’ve been going to the place next to them. My property manager recommends them, and their chicken breast, like the kids chicken breasts, don’t have little bits of bone that need to be washed off. I’d gone to another vendor that has that issue, and am lazy enough to not appreciate the extra prep while getting my dinner ready.

Hair cut. Bus tickets. Pound of shrimp. Kilo of chicken breasts. Horchata. A little more than 4 miles of walking. Tired feet! Time for a siesta, then back to marathoning my Netflix shows! I’m thinking maybe I’ll go to La Isla de la Piedra tomorrow. We’ll see if I wake up early enough.

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12 March, 2019

Another delay in the saga of getting temporary residency in México! I didn’t plan on things happening quickly – things rarely do in México, and it’s even rarer that they do for me!

On 27 February I had my fingerprinting session at immigration. After pushing my digits firmly onto the paper, I was told to come back in 10 days for my residency card. So my head automatically added a few days to that. 10 days would be 9 March, which was a Saturday (they’re closed on Saturdays), so I thought that perhaps going in on Monday the 11th might suffice. Hahahahahaha (or in México, jajajajajaja)!!! Second in line Monday at 9:00 am, to find that the person who creates the cards (apparently they’re done here, which is different from other locations) is on vacation. Of course she is!

The desk clerk, whom I smile at as I secretly wish that hoards of hormigas will invade her home, tells me to call on Friday to see if I should come in. Gives me a number and an extension and says that yes, they will be able to speak English. We will see. I am not going to hold my breath – but both my INAPAM (senior discount) and Seguro Popular (medical insurance) enrollments require that I have the residency card in hand. I was hoping to use the INAPAM discount on my upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta (50% off on bus trips), but I’m going to get the tickets without it to be safe. Seguro Popular is being reformed and rolled into the other medical insurance available in México – and won’t cover pre-existing conditions any longer. I don’t think it’s happened in Sinaloa yet, but waiting isn’t the best of ideas. If I can get enrolled, I’ll have at least 3 years of coverage before I have to enroll in whatever flavor of insurance is available then.

So, saga on hold. Tomorrow I will run to the bus station for tickets. Friday I will call immigration. Maybe by the time I get back from Puerto Vallarta the card will be ready!

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10 March, 2019

Last night I took the big step! I used WhatsApp to get a pizza delivered! Woo!!!

Sometimes I just don’t want to walk 15 minutes to get dinner, then haul the leftovers home. But talking to someone on the phone here throws me into a language coma. I think I am relying on body language a great deal when I converse in Spanish. With just the phone, my “I can get by” Spanish suddenly becomes “Huh? What?”.

WhatsApp is a very popular messaging app in México. Many of the restaurants monitor it for their delivery orders. Seems like a win-win for everyone, especially the Spanish-deficient like me!

If you follow the Mazatlán FaceBook groups you’ll see there’s an ongoing debate on the best place for pizza. And by best, I mean something that reminds people of what they get in the USA/Canada. While Rin-Rin does a brisk business with the locals, it is México’s version of Little Caesars. Not that it’s bad, well – ok, it’s bad. I’d still eat it if it was sitting in front of me. Via Condotti is the spot I go to when I do feel like walking 15 minutes. They have a nice selection and they do the dishes. Piccola Roma is good when I’m already out and in their area. On the FB groups, many people agree that La Rustica has an excellent pie. They deliver, AND they use WhatsApp!

So, last night I Google Translated my order, cut and copied into WhatsApp and cut/copied the response back into Google Translate so I made sure I knew I needed to be waiting in 45 minutes. I asked them to please send me a message when they left (they’re about 3 minutes away by scooter, enough time for me to run downstairs), but it didn’t happen. I did go down to the street at the 40 minute mark, just to be sure things went smoothly, and I’m glad I did. A lot of places don’t want to deliver to places with an ‘interior’ address (my apartment is behind a door at the street, and there’s no doorbell/intercom), so I just plan on meeting drivers at the street.

Pizza was spot on, speaking of the delivery time. I had ordered the thin ‘gourmet’ crust, and it was appropriately thin and crunchy. Toppings were all present, but the distribution needed a little work (some slices were just cheese, while others were piled with toppings). Flavor was excellent – both hot, and then again today cold for breakfast! The one thing that @La Rusticaneeds to do differently is to update their website. They list combination packages that come with spaghetti, calzones, wings, salads, etc., but I don’t see any of these items listed for sale separately. I would have ordered wings if I’d seen them at a good price. Just sayin’.

So now I’m not a WhatsApp newbie … This might be an excellent way for me to try new places while throwing my budget to the wind 🙂

Pizza from La Rústica
Pizza from La Rústica

***UPDATE: Three times now La Rustica has not responded to WhatsApp messages. The first time I tried to call them, but no one answered either of their numbers. The second time I got through, and was able to navigate the language barrier, barely. Third time I just gave up and have written them off of my list for now. El Burro Gordo delivers and the gentleman answering the phone will accommodate by speaking English. And Via Condotti delivers through UberEats.

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6 March, 2019

My laundry had been taken hostage! Last Thursday I took my laundry to my favorite (and closest) lavandaria. When it had been weighed, and I was given the receipt, the owner told me to come back the next day at 1:00 pm to pick it up. Then she said something I didn’t understand. I did catch ‘miércoles’ in there but that was it. I told her I didn’t understand, and she just said to come back tomorrow at 1:00 pm. Ok! Will do! Until Friday, when I took what I expected to be a short little nap, and turned out to be longer. Ok, that’s fine. I’ll pick up the laundry next Monday.

Nope. Closed. I had walked past Saturday as well, on my way elsewhere, and noted that they were closed. Hmmm. ¿Miércoles? ¿Verdad? Yesterday (Tuesday) was a Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteer shift, so on my way home I walked past them – just in case. Nope. Closed. I’m guessing that they used Carnaval as a good excuse to take a short vacation. So, finally – today (Miércoles) the doors were open and my closet is now stocked back up! Lavandaria Denisse – I love you, and I will never put a nap ahead of you again! Well, I’ll try!

Lavandaria Denisse
(from Google Maps)

That didn’t get me 10,000 steps for the day, so I grabbed the backpack and headed out to do my walk along Paseo del Centenario. It was one of those, “I need one beer” days, so instead of following Paseo del Centenario down to the ocean, I went further up the hill to La Marea. Imagine my surprise when one of my tequila train companions was there as well! Said our hellos, and met one of her friends that is staying here 2 months this year. After the Carnaval festivities La Marea was out of both my Negra Modelo and my second choice Bohemia Oscura. That forced me to have a michelada con clamato. Sad, sad me! Michelada and a hamburguesa de camarón, and I was set for the walk home! 11,500 steps!

Hamburguesa de camarón
(not today’s photo, substitute a michelada for the negra modelo and it could be!)
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5 March, 2019

I’ve been getting hungry for tortillas lately. I’m going to admit that they aren’t usually my favorite food, especially the corn variety. It’s part texture and part remembrances of trying to eat cardboard as a child. And tortillas in the USA always fall apart, so if you’re eating tacos you wind up with a handful of taco filling. Just a lot of fuss for something that doesn’t quite do the job.

Tortillas in México are different. They’re thicker, so they don’t fall apart as easily. They still remind me of the taste of cardboard, but I will admit, when fresh, warm, and rolled up properly, they do get the job done.

So when I was shopping at the mercado the other day, I saw a vendor with bags of the little taco sized tortillas. I bought one and thought that I’d stir it up and make tacos one night this week. Until I opened the bag. These are the strangest little tortillas I’ve seen! They’re twice as thick as the typical (Méxican) ones and don’t bend much, even when heated. I’m thinking I’m going to have to use them for enchiladas, to fry for tostadas, or to thicken soup/sauce. Weird.

After my Mazatlán Tourist Aide Volunteer shift today (lots of people asking lots of questions!) I decided to stop in the neighborhood carne asada joint (Abraham Carne Asada) and get a package #1. This includes 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of grilled beef, a pint of rice or beans (with or without pork) or macaroni, a grilled onion, several grilled jalapenos, salsas, and …. tortillas! They’re up to $210 pesos now (about $10.75 usd), but it gives me around 3 meals so I’m staying within my budget 🙂 Plus, it’s darned tasty – even when wrapped in cardboard flavored tortillas! Craving satisfied!

Abraham Carne Asada Paqueta #1
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4 March, 2019

I’m biting the bullet and cancelling my T-Mobile account. While roaming in México using T-Mobile has been an excellent experience overall, they only let you do it for 60 days before the nasty, “You’re using your phone out of the country too much. Go home or we’ll cut you off” messages start. At 90 days they cut you off. Don’t believe the uninformed customer service reps that tell you everything will be all right. They won’t. I asked two customer service reps if they had a “vacation” plan where I could keep my number, but not make calls – answer was no.

I have a Vonage line and I schelp the box with me when I travel, so the number I grew up with will still reach me – 61+ years and counting so if you run across it in an old address book don’t throw it away! You can still call me at that number! I have a TelMex number that comes with my internet, and I also have a Telcel SIM card in my cell phone. At less than 1/2 the price of T-Mobile. So mobile data and calls are still do-able. The only problem is that I have the T-Mobile number linked to so many things – and some of those things send me text messages for verification purposes. So I did a little research, and found that I could port my T-Mobile number to my Google Voice account, and then set it to send me an email of any text messages that come in. $20 one time fee to port and a $0 monthly charge. I can live with that. And it’ll replace my old google voice number that I don’t ever use, but get spam calls from Georgia on frequently.

Process to port required that I know the PIN/PASSCODE for my T-Mobile account. Their help page pointed me to a location – that didn’t display it. So I had to call customer service and have them reset it for me over the phone. Google is telling me the port is now in progress, and is estimated to be completed by 8:56 tomorrow morning. I’m fairly certain these things are automated, so it just boggles my brain that it wouldn’t be able to happen in a few minutes. Whatever, I’m in México with beaches just a few minutes walk away. I can wait a day or two.

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3 March, 2019

Neighborhood update: Two of the three apartments in the building across from me are now vacant. I’m sure they’re pretty cheap to rent, so if you’re thinking of an extended stay living in a working class neighborhood of a beautiful beach town I can talk to the remaining tenant and get some info! Take the third floor though, the second floor apartment has a broken window 🙂

Speaking of neighbors … my vecina right next door (Lupita) and I chatted the other day. She speaks no English, and my Spanish is still pretty much limited to feeding my tummy, so it’s always interesting when we talk 🙂 She was telling me that she has two daughters living with her, and that one is an English teacher for grade school kids, and the other works the cruise ships (9 months at sea, 3 months home). As we were talking, they came home – so I finally got to meet them! They had some work done to their side of the roof – it looks like tiles on the floor. They told me that they won’t have to re-seal the roof every year to prevent rain damage! I’m going to look into it as it looks pretty and is much easier to maintain.

My neighbors next to Lupita have moved. No more screaming/crying 8 year old! I will miss them as the father spoke flawless English and was fun to talk to. I’ve seen him gabbing with the ladies at the tortilleria up the street, so I’ll have to stop and chat with him next time I see him there. They were also the ones that would blast show tunes in English occasionally and freak my s**t out (wait, who’s playing Sweeny Todd songs???)! I haven’t figured out how many are in that apartment now – I see a couple often, but then I’ll see kids and more adults. I’ll have to pay closer attention 🙂

As far as I’m aware, Lupita owns her apartment, Amelia and her husband (2nd floor) own their apartment, and the kid under me rents from his grandfather who owns it. The other two apartments are rented out by their owners (the grandfather?). Makes it fairly stable around here, and Amelia has warmed up to me enough to say buenas tardes back to me when I greet her!

Oscar, the previous owner of my apartment, who was living in his house 4 homes up the street, has moved! This is my really sad time as he was the go-to person for telling me things about the neighborhood and my apartment. He told me that the noise was just too much for him. Being on a major bus line (with buses that don’t believe in functioning mufflers) aside, a little cantina opened up across the street from him, and he said the people behind him were really loud at all hours too. The cantina people don’t bother me, as they’re far enough up the street that I don’t hear them. Really, the bus traffic is my major source of noise, and once you get used to it you really don’t notice it at all.

Lots of changes in the neighborhood! Life marches on and everything is still good when you’re warm, fed, and on a beach!

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3 March, 2019

I’m not sure where México gets their fireworks, but the USA needs to tap into that supplier! A couple of years (decades?) ago, Seattle had two fireworks displays. You could position yourself in a few key locations and experience them both, and I used to think the shows were spectacular. Until I came to México.

Last night, the cars of those going to watch the show were parked all the way down to MY apartment! I’m a 15 minute walk away – and that’s 15 power-walking minutes! Both sides of my street were lined with cars, and there were no more spots to be had. Loco!

I again did the ‘lean out the living room window’ thing, and again the displays were readily visible. Not nearly what the following video will show you, but enough to receive some enjoyment without having to jostle my way to a better vantage point. And then I just have to wait a couple of hours and I can watch the whole thing on a nice video 🙂

One item of note. Many of our four legged friends are not as pleased with the displays as am I. Please don’t leave these family members alone while you attend the events. They need some tlc during, and perhaps a few treats afterwards.

Here’s a video of the Naval Combat Fireworks (Combate Naval) display last night. Tonight will be the Inaugural Parade (Primer Desfile de Carnaval) – Not sure if I want to brave the masses to see it in person!


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1 March, 2019

I’ve been waiting to post until my residency had been processed, but there are at least another 10 days, so here’s a little catch-up post

Last week I had three tacos dorados con birria y queso at El Mono. Several hours later the fun began. I really don’t want to give up on them because the birria is usually really good there. I had a little case of food poisoning late in December when I couldn’t keep from eating my ceviche before it was ready – so twice in three months left my abdomen tied in knots for a few days. Both times when it started (and for the duration) all I could taste was red onion. So perhaps there’s a possibility that I’m developing a slight intolerance. Unfortunately I guess a little experimentation will tell! The tacos dorados were fairly greasy as well – which never bodes well for me.

This last Monday the Mazatlan Tourist Aide Volunteers had a little get together at the Aquarium (https://www.facebook.com/mazmessenger/videos/2080873105339023/). The Mayor, Director of Tourism, US and Canadian Consuls were there, and recognized several of the long time volunteers, as well as the group of us. They even let us into the sea lion show, and some of the local restaurants put out a nice spread to feed us! I can now say I’ve tasted Rin Rin pizza! I think if I ordered it with extra sauce it would remind me of Little Caesars. When we were done I decided that I needed a few more steps on the fitbit, so I walked home (night pics follow).

Today was another visit to La Isla de la Piedra! And it turned out to be one of the more memorable trips as the fog rolled in and changed the whole vibe. Made it pretty chilly as well! I told some of the vendors they needed to sell sweaters! I tried something new for lunch – yes, at Restaurante Lety’s. Pescado al Cilantro. It was quite tasty, and I even ate the cream sauce! So far no lactose reactions! I probably helped my good karma by sharing with one of the beach cats. He decided he would even lick some of the sauce off my knife when offered 🙂

Alas, the sun finally came out, the beach got busy with tourists, and it was time to run back home for a nap!

I’m supposed to have my residence card a week from Monday, so expect a post of the process at that time. Until then, enjoy some shots of Mazatlán, Stone Island, and even the main suspect in my last ‘lunch tired to kill me’ incident!

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17 February, 2019

I couldn’t wait. I downloaded the VBike México app to my phone (http://www.vbike.mx/) and signed up for the one year option. $499 pesos, or roughly $20 usd. This gives you unlimited use of the bike system.

On my last visit to Soriana I’d forgotten to buy a power strip. The laptop I’m using has a failing fan, and is a good 10 years old. Loading programs, and even web pages, requires playing a lengthy waiting game and I really want a desktop so I can while away my retirement playing World of Warcraft. Anyway, if I put the desktop (temporarily) in the kitchen, I need one more outlet – hence the need of a strip of power (play WoW, talk like WoW).

Took a power walk down Aquiles Serdan; past the mercado; past the shrimp ladies; and ending at the malecon near the fishermen’s monument. The first bike station is just North of that by about a block. Picked a bike, put the seat at the right height, ran the app and selected “unlock bike”, then pointed the camera at the QR code on the bike. A couple of seconds later, zip/crunch – and the lock opened!

Get on the bike and wobble a few yards until I notice that the front tire is very skinny, and very inflated. I haven’t been on a bike for a few years, so balance needs to be worked on a little. Five minutes into the ride and I’m also noticing that I’m riding into a headwind, as well as using leg muscles that muscles used for walking don’t even say hi to! Ok. I ride to the next station and it’s getting harder – and I’m using the easiest of the three gears on the bike! One more station, 8 minutes and 1.6 kilometers of riding, and I’m done! I *did* make it a hefty portion of the malecon though, so I’m happy.

Place the bike in the designated area, flip the lock on, and end my ride in the app! Woo!!! Pretty easy!!! Then I’m approached by a gentleman with a very strong (Scottish?) accent, asking for help unlocking a bike. Run him through the process and get him on his way then I continue on my walk to Soriana.

Six minutes later, run into him again as he’s putting his bike in a station and ending the ride (ha, I beat him by two minutes!). There’s another person having trouble – their app seems to be stuck so I can’t help further. Today was a cruise ship day and I didn’t work a shift – so I consider assisting two people with bikes to be my contribution 🙂

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. Had a salad and a buffalo chicken burger at SUPER SALADS, the salad place on the street level of Soriana, then shop, pay, walk to the bus, stop at the fruteria to buy some veggies (don’t shop in the afternoon – all the good stuff is gone). Gave the bagger 10 pesos when the veggies only cost 13, then listened to her discuss with the cashier how crazy I am. There were times that I didn’t tip them because I wasn’t sure if they were like the grocery baggers or not. Yes, they are – they work for tips. So I’m being a little generous for the next few times to make up for it. Plus, I got her to put the items in my reusable bag and not give me yet another plastic one – kudos to her for understanding my broken Spanish 🙂

Now I’m going to watch a few episodes of something and decide if a nap might be in order! ¡Adios!

VBike Station (photo from Mazatlan Post)

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