Sunday, September 26, 2010

Im Loosing My Mind... In Mexico

Well, paradise is taking its effect on me slowly and Ive noticed that my mind is starting to go wild. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing and that is exactly what is happening.

Boredom is starting to rear its ugly head and Im getting an itch to get on the move. The only problem is, the van is still in pieces. I had them check and work on all the basic maintinence which God only knows the last time it was done. They changed the breaks, repacked wheel bearings and checked the rear end and whammo we ran into problems. Upon checking the passenger side axle, they noticed it was leaking differential fluid through a faulty bearing. After a closer inspection the axle was also damaged and had been scored significantly from this faulty bearing so they went to Guadalajara for parts. Well the axle that came back was slightly different, maybe for a 1ton van/truck. It will work but they are determined to return my van to close to original as possible, so they are heading back to Guadalajara tomorrow to exchange the axle.

Yesterday I had a cool adventure all day though. I was super bored so I headed over to a friends restaraunt for a beer and chit chat. He has a big yard in the back and was mowing the whole thing with a weed-eater, so I helped with that process and I learned that it is very difficult to mow with a weedeater and make it all level, basically impossible.

The next adventure was a little later in the afternoon. Isidro, the husband of the family Im living with (also my main mechanic, along with his brother Pedro... all brothers of Medardo who I know from Texas) is building a house on the outside of town. The Mexican process at times to is build a little by little, until you can get all the money. Sometimes you will see 3/4 completed houses, missing furnishings and windows... waiting on money to come. Anyways, the project was to pour some concrete for the cistern. His cistern sits down in the ground and we had to pour concrete along the sides to keep it from shifting later.. eventually the sides will be higher than the tank and a lid will be put on to seal everything. So I learned how to mix concrete the hard way, or the Mexican way if you will. We cleared some ground and starting loading sand into the wheelbarrow. 3.5 loads... then we mixed the bag of cement into the sand, constantly  shoveling to get the proper mix.. moving the pile from side to side. Added a ton of water and mixed more... and we had concrete. We made 2 bags worth, so 7 loads of sand... tons of shoveling and moving buckets. It was quite an adventure and I actually liked it. I imaged that I was pouring the concrete for my own little casa here in Mexico, a nice day dream but I quickly put an end to that as it is dangerous for the roaming tribe in which I belong.

Today Im finding that Im getting angry.. angry at stupid things. This is a small town and sometimes I cannot get to the internet cafes because they are closed for random siestas. There is only 1 cafe in town which has the machines and the proper versions of internet explorer to chat and work efficiently on facebook to get messages out and he is closed all the time! Im also getting angry at spanish, I dont want to speak it or understand it. Its a phase I go through when Im down here on long trips and it will pass. I believe it has something to do with my mind just being overloaded with all of this stuff, new culture, false deadlines, spanish, new foods... crap where is the closest bathroom I have 30 seconds. Its been fun... but its starting to feel like a Tom Petty song, Im getting tired of this town. Ready to move on....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vanny, Florencia and all that is Mexico

I got some new about my transmission yesterday afternoon when Pedro returned from neigboring Tlaltenango (sp?) and told me they decided it repair my transmission instead of swapping for a different one. They talked extensively about my trip and what my needs will be so they are putting some extra effort and parts into this one. The cost should be around $700 to $800 for the rebuild and right now they are quoting $150 for labor because I am a friend of the family. I will pay more for labor than this because indeed I am a friend but I want to help them as well. The transmission "might" be done today, but in Mexico that usually means tomorrow. They have a saying in spanish, mañana mañana, or tomorrows tomorrow.

Yesterday I was talking with the owner of the restaraunt and we were talking about my problem of paying for all of the work to the van at once. See I can only withdraw $300usd each day, so I need like 4 days to get all the damn money without going through some complicated scheme of someone sending me money in western union or something. He offered to front me the cash to pay but I declined. Later on he picked me up and drove me 20 minutes to the neighboring town that has a bank/ATM so I could begin the process. There are no banks or ATMs here in Florencia, just a cash society. After we got the money and a package he was waiting for we headed back into Florencia. I met up with Isidro (Medardo´s brother, who Im staying with) and we took a long walk out into the outskirts of town and he showed me his lot and his house that he is bulding for his family. Its a beautiful lot with a great view of the cerro (mountain, like a mesa) in the distance and surrounded by corn fields on all sides.... hidden. They are laying foundations right now and the cistern is already in the ground but the work is only being done as he has the cash, little by little. Thats how Mexico works, pay what you can right now, and we will put it on hold until you have a little more. The USA should take a lesson from this when it comes to homes that apparently no one can afford anymore.

Last night I went back to the restaraunt for some tacos and beers. Normally I eat on the street but here food is so affordable that sitting down and talking with friends is nice and Im choosing that option lately. So I had 4 steak tacos with 2 beers, total price? 50 pesos, or about $4.25usd. On the street, we will call it 30pesos. Joe and I discussed something about Mexico when he was here, you may be poor but you will almost never go hungry. Here food is extreamly important, and lots of it. It is the main focus of the day it seems and Im still trying to get used to that!!!

Well, I better get on back to the van. It was interesting sleeping in it last night with the front up on jackstands! I had a bed in a private room but sometimes when I return home kind of late (10:30 - 11) everyone is asleep and I dont want to wake them walking through the house with my dog etc. Well thats all for now, I will try to do something interesting today to starve off some boredom. Ive been noticing a heavy fact, without a project or work of some type in a man´s life... there is no need to wake up. I gotta find something to do....

Monday, September 20, 2010


Well we came up here for a vacation from a vacation. Joe (the guy that came with me back in 2007) introduced me to another guy at work awhile back and he has been telling us about this little town in the mountains of Zacatecas that he is from. So they decided to take a trip and I decided to meet them here. Ok, now the fun stuff...

We pulled in at around 9:30pm and basically the town was buzzing with people getting ready for the celebrations of Mexico´s bicentennial of the revolution. I witnessed the coolest(dangerous) Mexican fireworks display ever! Then a guy with a mock bull costume that shot freaking rockets and crap chased people around the town square.... I love Mexico. We went back to a bar and had drinks with the whole family and the bar owner. Someone a couple of streets over decided to express his joy with 4 or 5 shots from what sounded like an automatic so that was kind of cool.

The next day we went all around town meeting people with Medardo (the guy who works with Joe). His family is well known around here and so is he and we met all kinds of cool people. That night we had a big party at his uncles ranch and he cooked shrimp and mexican squash and all kinds of good things.We had mariachis playing all night and whole shebang, it was nuts.

The next morning, we headed over to another rancho nearby and had a favorite tradicion of this town. Fresh warm milk from a cow poured into a glass with a type of Nestle Quick or something and then mezcal is added. Rancho Escondido... a decent mezcal. After that we packed up and headed back to his parents house where we were preparing to go on a waterfall hike through the mountains. After 1 hour of beating down a rough road (I rode on the back of a motorcycle!!!) we got to the walking point. Medardo showed us how to get the fruit from the cactus, water from some plants in the trees and other things we could eat if need be. After some walking we came to a big mountain where there was some debate about where the falls actually where and how to get to them. Thats when we started climbing.... and boy did we climb. My dog couldnt make some of the climbs so in the toughest parts I had to carry her and let me tell you, that was some scary crap climbing with no hands and holding a dog. On the other side of the mountain we ran into some cowboys and they told us about the road that ran right around the side lol. Onward!!

We passed some extreamly old ranching houses, all made with brick and trees, still standing. At the waterfalls (2 hours later) we jumped in and enjoyed the fresh cold water. Its a little dry here right now so it wasnt at full potential but there was about 1/4 flowing with a 30ft-40ft drop.... basically a great massage!!!!! We swam for a bit and enjoyed the canyon walls all around us, chica even took a dip before a serious nap. We hiked back to the cars (another 2 hours) and came on home, all of us seriously tired and in desperate need of a nap.

A lot more has happened, like tequila and coke with the vice president of this town in his house, not being able to pay for one single beer or thing if someone is watching. This is the most hospitable place I have ever been to and the Salas family has accepted us like their own sons. For this, I will forever be greatful and have Florencia in my heart. I have already been scoping land and places to rent, and I have a handful of offers of places to park my van and live for free or next to free. There are also several standing offers of horses to the waterfalls next time.

Yesterday when we hit the road to head back, me to monterrey and Joe and Merdardo to USA I noticed the van driving a little funny in the mountains. Three hours later in a small town called MalPaso (bad pass) outside Zacatecas city, I noticed I had no reverse. Neutral is grinding and whining like hell and drive is slipping badddd! So I decided not to risk the 7 hour drive through the desert back to Monterrey. Its a semi arid desert but there is NOTHING. Just ranches. The bill to get towed to Monterrey should there be a problem would have been astronomical. So I returned to Florencia where almost the entire Salas family are mechanics, and good ones (ASE certified and all that jazz). Right now they are removing the transmission and checking out the damage and my options. Hopefully, I can be on the road in a week. I have been offered around 4 places to stay long term for the work and even offered money to help, like I said these are great people. Thats all for now, pictures soon when I get back to my laptop in Monterrey.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Im Here... Monterrey Mexico

The past couple of days have been a total adventure and its great to be back in Mexico.

I left Saturday for Laredo where I was going to meet my friend Adriana. She rode a bus across to meet me so she could help me get back to Monterrey where she lives. Its a huge city, about 2 million people and finding her house was going to be next to impossible so Im very glad she met me.

We crossed the border on sunday morning, at around 10am. I was filled with horrible thoughts of being murdered or shot and the anxiety was just filling in my brain and body. It was heavily taking effect on me and starting to affect my dog as well. We got a little turned around looking for the car permit building (Aduana) and I made an illegal u-turn, which promptly had me pulled over by the police. I was a little nervous about the police because here in this city, a battleground, you do not know who is a friend or foe. He talked with Adriana for a minute about how dangerous the illegal U-turn was but then said "well, we are both Mexicans so I will not write you a ticket. How about some money for some cokes for my friend and I?". I was about to hand him $10usd when I remembered my lesson about being a cheap ass in the wrong moments, so I handed him $200 pesos (about $17usd) and he was happy. He then led me the proper way to the Aduana where we got our permits and got back on the road to Monterrey.

Once here, Adriana had to leave for work as soon as we parked so I just hung out with her mom all day. She is a sweet lady and I quickly had to start remembering all of my spanish becuase she speaks no english. We took a walk to the park in their neighborhood and Chica (my dog) played and pee'd on everything. Back in the house I watched spiderman in english, had some chicken tacos and then went to sleep. I felt great!

Today Adriana woke me up and convinced me to go on an adventure with her. She had to do a favor for her professor she works for so we had to goto the other university across town and get some copies of some newspapers. We took a great city bus that got us there in about 40 minutes and I got to see all of downtown again. The university was nice and the library was very cool. The architecture was all concrete like most buildings in Mexico but the lighting was perfect and it made for a very "cafe" type of feeling.

After leaving the library we took the subway back to downtown! I have never been on a subway before and this was very cool, not to mention cheaaaap! It goes pretty fast and we were in downtown in no time! From there we jumped in a taxi back to her house and now here I am! Im sitting here enjoying the sounds of Xavier Rudd and the cool climate that Monterrey is having today. It is probably 88F today which is a nice break from the high 90's Houston has been having. Im about to take my dog for a walk to the park and I will take some pictures of this nice little neighborhood.

Ahh... I love Mexico. Im glad my fear and anxiety is finally dissapearing and I can enjoy myself.