Thrust once again on death’s bucking bronco

This is not our first rodeo.

A niece died in a house fire at the age of 9; a brother-in-law of colon cancer in his 50’s; our son at the age of 19 (15 years ago) in an accident; a 58 year old brother of a heart attack last year; my father at a relatively healthy 81 in 2011.  Even though we have some experience with the path and know some of the steps, it is not an easy one.  The backbone of death’s horse that is bucking us does not get any softer.

My brother, 13 months my senior and retired one year earlier than I is dying of melanoma.  He saw a dermatologist every year, but there was no outward sign – no mole.  It is stage 4 and progressing rapidly, apparently, now in his lungs his liver and his lymphatic system.  We are likely off to the Atlanta next week, contingent on a conversation with his wife tomorrow after she consults with hospice folks.

John, of Viva Veracruz, recently lost a sister.  I was unable to respond.  I feel a bit bad about that.  To all of us who have lost friends and siblings and relatives at a premature age – we need to keep breathing and living.  Those are our tasks.

As Bob Gibson used to say “shitfuckpiss.”

The formatting on this ee cummings poem may not hold in this post, but it speaks to me today

Buffalo Bill ‘s
                     who used to
                     ride a watersmooth-silver stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
he was a handsome man
                                                            and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

International Finance, aka Buying a Car

We have been here for 3 1/2 months now and will have a car by the end of the week – it seems.  This has been a journey and an introduction to doing business here.  We are going to buy a Toyota Avanza and put a deposit down on the car in mid-April – there was a 10,000 peso discount available during the month of April (about  4.9%) and we paid a 15,000 deposit to lock in the discounted price even if the actual delivery did not happen until May.

Attempt 1 – Debit card route

I worked with our financial institution in the US to get permission to do a one time large purchase with our debit card.  They okayed the purchase and I thought I was home free.  I did not realize that the car dealer’s bank also had to approve the charge.  They did not.

Attempt 2 – Funds transfer

Up to this point we had been living fine using our ATM cards.  We have an account through our brokerage that refunds all ATM fees and we were feeling pretty good about that.  However, needing over 200,000 pesos for the car would have taken awhile, so…

We set up a currency exchange account with a Intercam, a firm that friends here have used for some time to transfer funds from the US for living expenses and for larger things, such as home purchase and renovation.  We also opened a savings account with their bank, InterBanco.  We could do a domestic wire transfer from our financial institution to Intercam’s account in a US bank – far easier than an international wire transfer in that it could all be done online.  The only hitch was that there was a limit as to how large an individual transfer could be during the first couple of weeks.  No problem, we moved the money in three transfers over a three day period.

It had been possible to transfer funds by writing a check on a US account and taking it into the local office, but our representative told us they will no longer be able to do that as of June – blaming Mexico (Mexico City) for that.

Intercam then moves the money from their US bank to Mexico on the same day that it gets transferred to the US bank.  I provide our local Intercam representative with the confirmation of the wire transfer and the Fed unique transaction number, known as the Fed reference number.  Once it is received, I provide instructions on what I want done with the funds.  I have a couple of weeks to exchange it to pesos if I want to guess that the exchange rate is going to change in my favor.  I had the transfer done immediately and the funds placed into our local savings account.  So far so good.

Getting the plates, paying the taxes and getting insurance

The dealership is taking care of getting the plates and paying the first year’s tenecia (tax).  I paid them the money, provided them with the documents they needed to do that on my behalf and waited a day.  I received a call last night – apparently they were told that since I drive on a on a US license I have to pay the full tax.  If I had a Yucatán state driver’s license I would pay a lower amount.  By this time I am just like “tell me how much it is and I will pay it.” (turns out it is an additional $310 US).  That should happen today.  I will get the local driver’s license sometime this year and maybe get the discounted rate next year.

Today I will also pick up a check at Intercam to pay the remaining balance on the car.  We are scheduled to take delivery on Thursday.  In fact, the sales agent just called me and gave me the amount of additional tenencia they will need and confirmed that the plates would be there and we could take delivery of the car tomorrow afternoon.

We bought insurance through a local agent, Julieta Morales, who speaks good English and comes highly recommend by many in the expat community.  Full coverage, including 27 days of car rental coverage in case of an accident.  Proof of coverage was required in order to get the plates issued.

Success is at hand

It seems this is pretty sure now but, if any other roadblocks appear, I will certainly inform all of you.

All this means we will soon be taking some day trips around the Peninsula, driving to shop instead of taking a bus or cab and schlepping groceries home (all those wine bottles get heavy), and expanding the availability of restaurants beyond those in walking distance – all good things

Road Trip: Tulum

On Friday we got the maid started at home and headed for Tulum to meet friends for the weekend. I had communicated with Shirlee and Carole on a Playa del Carmen discussion forum for years and we were headed down to meet them and to have a beach day with friends who live in Playa and other friends who were down from the States.

We have stayed on the beach road (Boca Paila) several time. This was our first time to stay in the pueblo, which is several kilometers from the beach. It was a totally different and nice vibe and we will stay there again, at the Posada del Luna Sur.  The food was outstanding.  We ate Friday night at an Argentinian steak house and had wonderful arrachera and Argentina style chorizo.  The next night we ate the best tacos al pastor I have had in 11 years of traveling to Mexico – 4 of us filled ourselves for 123 pesos and the cost of a six-pack.

Drove back home today. Our new rental is feeling like home more than the short-term rental did, in part due to Kathy’s decorating with items we shipped down from the US and her own decorator and “designy” touches.

Here are some photos of the trip.  We hung out the Hip Hotel beach club on Saturday

P1080323 P1080328 P1080329 P1080330The crew:

P1080336Hotel grounds

P1080350 P1080351 P1080353

Move to a long-term rental and other things

The move to the long-term rental

We have been busy.  In late April we moved from our three month rental in the Mejorada area to a long-term rental in Santiago.  Both houses have features we like(d), but this one is proving to be superb!  Three bedrooms, three baths (two full, two half) and lots of windows giving us good ventilation.  Fortunately the owner of the previous house let us know she would not extend the lease longer term before we unpacked most of our boxes from the States, so preparing for the move was relatively easy.

We hired Francisco Gamboa, recommended by Debi Kuhn to do the move.  He came by one evening with his wife to give us an estimate and the next day he showed up with two helpers and his small pickup truck and got to work.  Very industrious fellow.  By noon we were moved, all three pickup truck loads.  Over the next week we finished up and now we are slowly unpacking and deciding where to store things.  I will do another post later with photos of the house and grounds.

We have a one-year lease that we can renew.  The new house is two blocks from the Mérida English Library and three blocks from Parque Santiago and its mercado.

Money exchange and car purchase

We have been in the process of setting up and exchange and savings account with Intercam and InterBanco.  On Monday we will go in and sign the documents.  At that time we should be able to work with our financial agency in the States to transfer enough money to finish buying a car.  We have selected a new Toyota Avanza and have put down a deposit on it, enough to secure the April discount into May.  Hopefully it will all get done next week, but we’ll see.  We are going to meet friends in Tulum next weekend and if we do not have the car we’ll rent one for the weekend.

It seems that setting all this up has become more complicated over the years, due in part to regulations intended to make money laundering more difficult.  I am in favor of that, but…..

Residency status

Kathy’s residente temporal card was issued so we are both good as legal residents for a year.  Our cards can be renewed for three additional years.  At that time we will be eligible for residente permanente status.  We used Yucatán Expatriate Services to facilitate the process and, based on our experience with their excellent service and reasonable cost, can highly recommend them.

The weather

It gets hot here, real hot.  Last week we had several days of temperatures of 100 degrees or higher, topping out at 104 ( that is 38 and 40 degrees for all of you who use global standards for temperatures).  The past several days we have had some rain and more moderate highs, and we are forecast to have three days with highs in the 80’s before a warm up starts on Tuesday.  The lows are forecast to remain in the low 70’s, which makes for more comfortable sleeping with fans.

I have informally adopted a 100 degree rule.  When it gets that hot, I set the AC in the bedroom at 84 degrees before we go to bed.  Otherwise fans work well most of the day.  This is the acclimation phase for us and we are getting accustomed to sweating as a regular feature of daily life.

That is it for now.  With life settling down a bit, with the start-up sequence to life in Mérida coming towards a conclusion, my posts are likely to become less newsy and, perhaps, deal more with matters of daily life here.