18 February, 2024

I’d like to revisit the INAPAM card. I have a post from a few years back when I got mine, but things have changed – and are changing.

There have been reports of residents (permanente and temporal) being turned away from getting an INAPAM card. There have been reports of some offices only issuing them to permanente residents. AND, the location I obtained my card no longer does the processing – so I thought I’d let people know where they need to go.

First, the INAPAM card is government issued to people of 60 or more years of age. It provides many discounts, from travel to drugs, to chicken wings. Each state seems to have agreements with businesses there – so things change when you travel. If you’re in México City and want to use the metro system, you can just show the card to the turnstile guard and they will let you in for free. Many of the long haul buses set aside a few seats for INAPAM card holders, and give them a 50% discount! This really saves on travel. Some people think that using this service takes away from locals who want to use it as well, but I have NEVER seen anyone turned away from using their INAPAM card on a bus. I think the ticket sellers don’t enforce restrictions (if they exist). The card also gets you complimentary entrance to almost all INAH museums and archaeological sites.

Ok. So some people have reported that the requirements for getting the card are different. I suggest you plan on a couple of trips to the office to get a card. The first one to ask what you need to provide, and then the second to give them what they asked for. When I got mine, I needed a couple of ‘infantile’ size photos, a copy of my passport, a copy of my residency card, a utility bill in my name, and I believe a copy of my CURP.

Offices used to be at one of the DIF locations on Constitución, but are now at the Bienestar Social offices on Gabriel Leyva, across from the Escuela Náutica. Here’s a google map link to the correct building – https://www.google.com/maps/….. You can even see a big banner saying they process INAPAM cards!

If anyone tries to get an INAPAM card and has more information about the requirements at our local Mazatlán office, please send me a note so I can update this post!

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2 February, 2024

Today’s episode is a repeat from August, 2021, but a well deserved repost! A few updates have been added as well (including prices). And now … 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 charge me a 10 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 80 pesos. My four come to $280. Add the delivery charge and a tip and I’m out $340 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. [2024 update: Since the original post I have purchased an air fryer. I have added a step of air frying them at 375 f. for 8 minutes. This makes them very toasty, and helps to keep them crunchy as I’m eating them. I’m a big fan of crunchy – if you aren’t, then skip the air fryer, or just put it on reheat for 3 or 4 minutes.]

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. [2024 update: I add a pinch of Méxican oregano to the tomato sauce. Just a little pinch makes a big difference!]

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.

[2024 update: As I said earlier, I now have an air fryer. 375 f. for 8 minutes to get them a crunchy, toasty, golden brown. No need to remove the carnitas. While it’s air frying, I bring the tomato sauce, with a pinch of Méxican oregano, to a simmer. When the torta is done, it goes right in the dish, the sauce gets poured over it, and then I sprinkle some of the onions, and sauce if you’re brave, over that.] 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!

Of some small note, if you visit México City there’s a restaurant very near the main entrance to Chapultapec Park called El Pialadero de Guadalajara that also has excellent tortas ahogadas – and they’ll even give you a plastic glove if you want to get down and skip 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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11 January, 2024

Went on a little walk today. From Centro to Juárez where I browsed the Mercado Miguel Hidalgo. Cut over to Insurgentes and had a nice burger and fries at Restaurante MiYeya. They’re always really nice. This is the first time I’ve had a burger there, and it was pretty good! $174 pesos for the burger, fries, and jamaica. They bring totopos to the table too, so I had a few of those.

The bun had grilled onions baked into the top – it was tasty!

After lunch I popped over to the Soriana. They’re on Insurgents just across the waterway from the restaurant. I needed ginger and a loaf of bread and then ‘found’ a couple more items I desperately needed too!

The clerk at Soriana told me that my ‘rewards’ card needed updating, and pointed to the customer service desk. If you don’t have a card, or it’s been a while since you’ve been in a Soriana, then I recommend you visit the customer service people and get the updated card. Purchases will give you points (that now expire after 12 months) which you can use to get free or discounted items.

Once you have the card, you can register on the website: https://www.soriana.com . The website also has the listing of what items are free/on sale.

12,744 steps so far. I think it’s siesta time! ¡Hasta la proxima!

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7 January, 2024

The new year brings hope, well wishes, and a brighter outlook on life. In Mazatlán it also brings the annual property tax bill (Predial).

There are two ways I know of to pay the property tax bill. First, I saw a ‘Predial’ sign on the window at Jumapam, so I think you can visit the offices just off of Gabriel Leyva in Centro. You’ll have to navigate the big flight of stairs, so if you’re mobility challenged keep this in mind. Second, you can access your account online at: https://servicios.mazatlan.gob.mx/predial/ . You will need to have your ‘Clave Catastral’ handy … it’s a series of six, three number sections. The first starts with ‘011’. Once you’ve entered the number, click the ‘consultar’ button. This will pull up your tax account. I’ve already paid my taxes, and I didn’t pay much attention – I believe it either just displayed the current year’s billing, or I clicked on another button to do it. This is what it looks like:

Now you’ll have options to pay – I believe it’s another button. Install google translate and translate the page if you can’t determine which one to press. When it comes to the credit card payment, they accepted my Charles Schwab debit card – so it doesn’t have to be a Méxican bank.

If all else fails, you can make the trip to the Jumapam offices and take care of it there. There is a 10% deduction for early payments, so pay early to take advantage! It had been applied to my bill automatically.

That web site, https://servicios.mazatlan.gob.mx, is also where I usually pay my Jumapam bill. They’ve been working on the website for a few months now, and I haven’t been able to get to the place to pay – so I just walk to the offices and do it in person. I need the exercise anyway!

Have a prosperous and healthy new year, and don’t forget to pay your property taxes!

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12 December, 2023

El Quelite
Bus to El Quelite

I was thinking that maybe now that I had the bus schedule, I should take the bus to El Quelite and have myself a birthday lunch. So I did.

Prices shown on the previous post have gone up, but the bus I took left almost at 11 am on the dot. It actually left two minutes early, so be sure not to be late!

The details:

  • There’s a bus driver, and a second person who at some point will go through the bus and collect the fares.
  • The bus wasn’t one of the really old rickety ones – it wasn’t new, but it was fairly comfortable and the air conditioning worked!
  • It takes around an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes for the trip. Depends on traffic and how many people get on and off every few kilometers along the way 🙂
  • As of today it was 55 pesos each way.
  • The return bus was at 4:30 pm. The bus had been parked up the street from El Mesón de Los Laureanos for a while, so look for it around 4:15 pm.
  • Same time to get back.

The bus was very easy to use, so please don’t hesitate to take a day trip on your own if you would like. The only downside for me is that I’ve been to El Quelite several times and I had about 2 hours of being parked on a bench in their zócalo.

El Mesón de Los Laureanos:

I always go to El Mesón de Los Laureanos, even though there’s a second place that tour groups go – Los Arrieros (and it looks inviting – maybe next time!). I always get the lengua. It’s really good. I mean incredibly good. Usually I get the lengua roja, but today I went with the verde. Incredible. I ate it all. And I ordered a chorreadita as well, and it was a nice addition (it’s a little tortilla with pork fat and cheese). Prices at El Mesón de Los Laureanos are high – this is definitely a special occasion/destination spot for me. My meal, with a glass of jamaica, came to just under $400 pesos with tip. Remember that I usually eat a 70 peso torta ahogada for lunch, so when I spend $500 pesos on lunch (including the ride) then it needs to be a special occasion! Birthday treat was definitely covered, and I did enjoy the whole day.

Do yourself a favor and add day trips using the ‘local’ buses to your agendas – your tummy will thank you!

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11 December, 2023

I’ve been meaning to get to this post for the past two years. Good intentions don’t mean much until you get your behind to move and actually do something – which happened today.

This is the main bus station in Mazatlán. It’s a big ugly round building that you can spot from just a couple of places – if you know where to look. Buses to far and wide in México can be found here, and a recent remodel of the interior has made it much more inviting than it used to be.

What many people don’t realize, is that there is a second bus station – INSIDE this one, that serves the outlaying cities in the area. La Noria. Villa Union. Concordia. Cosala. And even El Quelite. These are likely the type of buses that your brain will picture a Méxican bus to be, unlike the ‘luxury’ long haul buses. They aren’t pretty. They aren’t comfortable. They often don’t even look like they’re able to make a 20 mile trip. But they’re an option, and an experience, and if you approach them with the right mindset they’re a fun adventure for the day! Study up on the lyrics to the ‘wheels on the bus’ song (in Spanish?) and prepare to shake, rattle, and roll!

To get to this bus station, enter the main station and proceed out the back exit into the main boarding area. Tell the guard (if there is one) that you’re going to the other terminal for a bus to {fill in the blank}. You’ll turn to your right and then follow the sidewalk all the way around until you are almost opposite where you started. There’s a building here – and halfway down is the entrance into the waiting area. No one was stationed under the schedules when I was there – I’m assuming that’s where you’ll pay for your ticket. If no one is there then the driver will likely take payment. Ask if you’re unsure. Google Translate can be your friend here! [Edit: At least with the El Quelite bus, you pay on board. Someone will come down the aisle collecting once you’re on your way].

I also do not have the return schedules – if you take one of these buses you will want to make sure you have a way to get back. If the bus goes someplace, then there will be a return bus – but you may find that the return bus is the next day. Have options. Villa Union, La Noria, El Quelite – these are all close enough that you should be able to call an Uber if you really need to – or take a cab. I would also bet that wherever you go there will be a hotel where you can grab a room for the night (be sure to ask if they have agua caliente!). Most of the locations I’ve mentioned have several departures a day; your best bet would be to take the earliest one and ask the driver when and where to catch the return bus. [Edit: There’s a return bus in El Quelite at 4:30 pm – it’s on the same street that it let you off. Should arrive about 10-15 minutes early and park a little up the street from El Mesón de Los Laureanos].

I give this information because once you’ve paid a tour company for a tour of El Quelite, do you really need to see the rooster farm, bakery, and leather shop (and any jewelry store along the way) again when you just want to have lunch at El Mesón de Los Laureanos? Same for La Noria. Or getting to Villa Union when you want to go to that seafood restaurant everyone talks about. Tours and cabs can get pricy, especially when you just have a single destination in mind – or want to have a self guided tour. So here are the schedules that were current as of today. Prices have gone up since they posted this, so be prepared to pay a little more. [Edit: cost of the trip to El Quelite is $55 pesos each way, at the date of this post]. Have a little fun!

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8 October, 2023

Just a very quick post today for a little gas cylinder news. Mine ran out this morning. I save the receipts so I have their number handy. Gave them a call and they said it’d be between 1 and 2 hours! It usually is between 15 and 30 minutes, but I need the gas and the top ramen cooked just as well in the microwave 🙂

One hour and 15 minutes after the call the delivery guy, Jairo, pulled up. New cylinder in place and he gave me his number and said I could whatsapp him whenever I ran out – and that he’d be here faster than going through the dispatcher. He told me he has a lot of ex-pats who call him directly – so I’m going to give you his number. If you need to have your gas cylinder replaced give Jairo a whatsapp buzz at: Jairo speaks a little English, so I’d think that if you can’t manage to ask for a replacement cylinder in Spanish he can figure your English message out.

And being able to whatsapp him frees me from sitting at the window looking for the truck. Fifteen to thirty minutes isn’t too bad, but seventy-five was a little tedious! Jairo. Whatsapp. Easy peasy.

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3 October, 2023

Well! That was a VERY long vacation, but I’m finally home! I need to make a note to myself that 4 months is just a tad crazy, even if one of those months is in my house in Seattle.

I’m assuming that the snowbirds who own their own place have encountered the same issues I am about to describe from having an extended absence – but for those of you reading this who are just starting your journey, let me expound …

Light bulbs. They’ll pop after sitting so long. Sometimes even the LED fixtures will as well. I have a couple of bulbs to replace, and my main light in the bathroom fried so I have a trip to home depot in my future.

Refrigerator. Mine has issues with the drip tube freezing up, and then water collecting inside the fridge, and eventually to my floor. If you have a frost free freezer chances are that there’s a tube that goes from the freezer to the underside of the unit where there’s an evaporative drip pan. The solution is pretty easy – unplug the fridge for a day and when everything is thawed, run something down the tube to make sure it’s clear. That means the fridge and freezer have to be empty – not always easy! But until I do it I have to put up with dripping in my refrigerator.

Air Conditioner Remote

Air conditioner. My remote for my bedroom mini split decided not to work, and there is only a ‘reset’ button on the unit itself. Thankfully, the reset button turns it on and off – so I can sleep comfortably! A few days and the remote decided it would allow me to turn the air on and off, and set the temp – but I ordered a replacement from Amazon anyway. In the future I’ll try to remember to remove batteries before going on vacation!

Tinaco part 1. Sitting for four months without water movement doesn’t do good things for my tinaco. I’d just started my vacation when my neighbor WhatsApped me telling me that my tinaco was overflowing. At my apartment, overflowing means on the roof to the drain which drains to my apartment level (piso 2), then across the walkway to the other drain which drains to piso 1 where it goes to the middle of the courtyard and down an actual drain. My vecina (neighbor) on piso 1 hates water in the courtyard, even though that’s where rain goes. This was something that I needed to get my property manager to fix asap – thankfully she was able to work wonders and get it done. I do need to stop at the plumbing store and get a replacement float valve though – it’s on my list for when the heat wave breaks!

Tinaco part 2. The tinaco needs to be cleaned after sitting all that time. The water doesn’t even smell good. This is a ‘has to happen soon’ thing. Had I been on top of it, I’d have let my property manager know before I got home … but it slipped my mind. A quick trip to OXXO and I have a garrafón of water for drinking, and only have to deal with stinky water for a couple of days because my property manager squeezes me in! It’s also a good idea to change the water filters at this time – I have one on the roof at the tinaco, and another one in a little unit at the kitchen sink that I use for drinking water.

Little things. I was gone during rainy season. I had my roof sealed last year – I think with a 7 year sealant. Things were good in that department. The issue I had was the day it rained HARD for 8 hours. Water was blown into my apartment from the gaps (that have foam rubber gaskets) around my in-the-wall air conditioner. It got my entertainment center wet and then a puddle on the floor that dried and left an outline. Just means I have to take a black marker to the entertainment center and darken anything that was made light, and scrub the floor. The rain may have fried one of my security cameras – it’s offline and I haven’t looked to find out why yet. I have a backup I can use so I’m good.

I think that’s about it. When I travel I usually turn the water supply to the tinaco off (this time I was trying an automatic timer to water my plants – so I didn’t shut the water off), as well as the gas. Then I unplug everything except for the security cameras & internet connection. Ceiling fans stay on low just to circulate a little air. I pop down to the Jumapam offices and pre-pay my water bill. For the TelMex, Telcel, and CFE bills I have one US credit card that sometimes works, and I put some $$$ in my BBVA Bancomer account for the times it doesn’t. I have México Amazon Prime, and that’s hooked to my OXXO ‘Spin’ account, so I have to make sure that has enough $$$ as well.

I will admit that even in 90 f. heat with high humidity – I’m glad to be home. Sweaty in Mazatlán is not as bad as it may seem.

[the next post will have photos of my adventures]
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27 July, 2023

For those interested in travelling to Istanbul, here are a few photos. I’ve got less than 2 weeks left of my 2 month visit and I’ve seen a lot! I’ll post more photos of the trip when it’s over. Still have Athens, Prague, and Budapest to go!

On a Mazatlán theme, my living room security camera went off the other day as rain was coming in from around my old in-the-wall air conditioner! That must have been some storm to blow it sideways, and at a fairly hefty speed! I need to schedule a reminder for myself to re-seal the unit!

On to the photos, many of which are of the Grand Bazaar . . .

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20 July, 2023

Just a quick update while I’m enjoying the first two months in Istanbul …

Of course almost immediately after arriving I received a WhatsApp message from my neighbor. The float valve in my tinaco stuck, and it wasn’t shutting off the water. Call to my property manager and it’s shut off – but my security cameras haven’t shown me anyone actually fixing it. Hopefully by the time I get back. There’s a big plumbing store across from the cemetery, and I have a new, taller step ladder. I’ve replaced several toilet float valves – I think I could probably handle this one.

Landed in Copenhagen. Saw Tivoli Gardens (an amusement park), and went on a nice walking tour. The tour didn’t go to the statue of the little mermaid, so I found my way there and got a few photos. Prices in Copenhagen are similar to Seattle, but the woman at the counter in the hostel pointed me to a little food court just past the entrance to the amusement park – the offerings there were a little more affordable.

Then flight to Istanbul. I’ve been here almost a month and a half. The weather, on average, has been excellent. A couple of cold days and a couple of very hot days – but mostly in the 80’s f. and sunny. I’ve taken my time, and have now seen everything I had on my ‘must see’ list. I might look into the ‘busphorus tour bus’ (a hop on, hop off bus) to add on any touristy places I’ve missed. Ferries go everywhere and are extremely affordable – so I’ve been riding them about 4 or 5 times a week. There’s even a ferry tour that costs 65 Turkish Lira ($2.42 USD) and travels the length of the Bosphorus Strait. 1.75 hours there, 1.75 hours back, and 2.5 hours at the last stop. Makes for a nice day outing. The exchange rate here has been around 25%! The economy is in turmoil though – prices have gone up everywhere a couple of times.

Next is a week in Athens, then a few days in Prague, and 9 days in Budapest. After that back to Copenhagen for the flight to Los Angeles where I’ll catch the Coast Starlight train to Seattle. After a month of getting my house there ready for another winter alone, I’ll be back home! Whew!

Photos will be added here as soon as my computer in Mazatlán comes back online! I know that I shouldn’t ever say yes to installing updates when I’m accessing remotely, but I did. Usually I have to wait about a week, and then suddenly the computer will be available for me to log into. so stay tuned for a few photos to come!

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