04 September 2009


I know my observations in the previous entry concerning business hours here were in a sense trite. Since time immemorial when discussing México, Americans have uttered the word mañana and shaken their heads knowingly. All I am trying to convey is that the relaxed attitude toward promptitude here is a different style of living that has much to recommend it. It is not to be demeaned out of hand.

The Americans with their approach that exalts being on time as a virtue right up there with honesty and integrity and rectitude in one's dealings with others may have overdone it a bit. The only reason for this that I can think of is that if everyone accepts promptness as a moral virtue, then business runs more smoothly. And the one thing we learned from that cipher, Calvin Coolidge, is that the business of America is business.

But then again, Americans have nothing on the Germans in this regard. But we are not going to kick around the Germans here. The Germans have been kicked around enough. They were a bit aloof but as a rule quite kind to me as a young man.

Admittedly, again I deal in generalities based on only a little experience limited in time and space. But what is the alternative? To avoid reaching any conclusions at all?

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I have my tangible personal property reduced down to stuff that will all fit in a pickup and small camper trailer. I mention this because I have been busying myself tidying up and rearranging. The fact is that the stuff just fits. I have no room left for one single additional item. I need to get rid of some of this shit, but I am at loss as yet as to were to start the culling process.

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I took off with a bit of padding in the checking account. The only other stash I have must stay stashed for my last income tax returns. So now after a month in Texas and three months in México the padding is gone. I knew this was coming and in truth was prepared for it. I hate being a tightwad [ see May 12], but tightwad I am going to be now. This is just another interesting phase. Just how cheaply can I live here?

The place is cheap. I have met some Americans who have lived here for 20 or 30 years. They all say the same thing. “You should have been here back when there were only twelve us living here. It was so cheap.” That may be so, but it is still pretty cheap. Texas was not.

Here is how I am going to go about this. First, I need to avoid the gasoline station. That is the one day-to-day place that requires large peso notes for a visit. (It is also the one business that always has change.) However, with the completion of the side trip to Real de Catorce, I have had my fill of the road for awhile. The tank is full right now, and the Pemex people and I are going to become strangers.

If I drive less, this will also better allow me to avoid the policia. No more bribes.

Next, I need to get back to the beans and rice [see June 27]. More trips to the market and fewer trips to restaurants, especially the restaurants frequented by Americans. Easily done.

And by the way, I am tired of toting ice. I cannot preserve foodstuffs over any real length of time with it anyway. Continually moving the cooler to keep it in the shade is a pain in the ass. The only thing cold that I am missing is milk for my cornflakes in the morning. This too shall pass. Butter keeps without ice for an amazing length of time before it gets rancid. It just flattens out a bit. As for cheese, one simply needs to purchase smaller hunks and eat them.

Here is the upside. When you get the craves for something cold, you go to the little store a couple of blocks away up by the church, buy a cold liter of something to drink, flavored water or whatever, and sit down just outside in the neighborhood plaza with it. Your enjoyment of a cold drink is increased geometrically when you have not had one for awhile.

I need to avoid paying admissions to any sort of entertainment. There are way too many entertaining things available here that require no admission at all. Hell, I truly enjoyed a free concert last week late at night at The Jardin by a twelve-piece mariachi band complete with violins and horns. Gratis. They were serenading couples who were paying.

Which reminds me. Steve the jazz musician has succumbed to the charms of some French Canadian widow with a house in San Miguel, a house in Montréal, and a cottage in rural Quebec. This is an object lesson.

I need to avoid getting wound around the axle with any woman. What a budget buster that would be for me. There are some voracious older single American women here. Predators. The word on the street is that although there is a goodly number of older single American men here, half of the ones who are not gay cannot get it up. (Older Mexican women pose no threat because of all that makeup. What a mess!)

Much to my surprise, I do not think this will be a problem either, although I knock on wood as I write that. After tentatively testing celibacy for a few months, I find that in the morning celibacy smells a lot like freedom.

I need some luck with regard to equipment breakdowns—everything from the truck down to the laptop. The truck's brakes need some adjustment after pulling the trailer for so many miles and climbing the mountains. There are extraordinary Mexican mechanics here though, many of them working at curbside. This talent is born of necessity. They must keep these chronically overloaded junkers they drive moving. Maybe I will pay a few pesos to one of those guys to adjust the brakes. He may have to use my tools.

I need to avoid getting seriously ill or injured. That has not been a problem for the last 62 years. But you know something? Mexican health care is cheap, too. If you break an arm, you get it set and put in a cast. Then you pull a few pesos out of your pocket and pay for it. The doc may have to use my tools.

And there it is pretty much in a large nutshell. Señor Steve on a tight budget. What a concept! Very exciting.

The only real question in my mind is, what is out there that might blindside me financially?

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After a morning drizzle, the sun has come out. See you later.


Barb said...

This minimalization sounds like it's going to be part of the adventure, Steve.

Candy Minx said...

What Barb said.

Sheila said...

Yes Steve I agree with the others tight budgets, they are part of the adventure. But you are right to be thinking ahead - plan for the worse and be pleasantly surprised.

I was just thinking this afternoon about cold drinks - taking the ice cubes out of the fridge and gulping down a refreshing cold one! Better make the most of it I thought to myself. So I'm with you on the ice front - leave it for other folks to do, and be careful where and when you have ice in drinks. But then cold drinks from the fridge will become a real treat, one of life's little luxuries, like ice cream - I remember sitting on one of the Tuomotous Islands in the South Pacific having hunted down a shop - a real rarity - which sold and had ice cream - I sat there with a large tub, oh dear no spoon - no problem there were chocolate bars in their fridge - so there I sat with my icecream scooping it out with a Cadbury's chocolate bar as makeshift spoon - heaven!

I loved your turn of phrase regarding avoiding entrapment by the female of the species and that "celibacy smells a lot like freedom" - memorable! No offence Steve but I'd have thought those predators would have been after a younger model, a toy boy, especially if the women in question are independently wealthy.

So here's to the single life - I toast you with my iced cola. I hazard a guess that we are both at the time in our lives when we are doing what we want to do, unencumbered by obligations to others. Too often in the past I forewent something I wanted to do, somewhere I wanted to go, either to be with a man or to do something he wanted to do. No more. No man, no kids, just me - not far off freedom either I think.

Take care my pal

Señor Steve said...

I am aware of the ice cube trap already, Sheila, but thank you for the thought.

I am by no means offended by the remark about toy boys. They are here, but their calendars are always full. No room for new clients.