Last Year was just 5 Minutes ago, or: Mexican Yip Yips

Even if some people will hate me even more for saying this, I claim that time specifications of any kind should be considered redundant in Mexican Spanish, hence could be deleted from the dictionary. Let me explain:

Everybody knows that the Mexican “mañana” can actually mean anything from “tomorrow” to “never”. I also learned that there is a difference between “en un rato” and “en un ratito” which may be translated into “in a while” and “in a bit”. At first, when someone told me “I’ll be there en un rato” I expected that someone to show up within the next hour. But in fact, “un rato” is not much different from “mañana” as it can mean “in a few hours” or “never”, whereas “un ratito” seems to mean at least “today”.

Well, time is relative anyway, isn’t it? I was reminded of that today when a friend of mine announced she’d swing by for breakfast for all of a sudden I remembered that our doorbell is broken so she had to call me upon arrival for me to open the door. You would think a broken doorbell could easily be fixed when in fact, I’ve been waiting for those repair guys for 5 minutes now.

It all started when we moved in here in October and I quickly discovered that our doorbell wasn’t working. So I talked to our property management and they promised to send handyman R. over. He came en un rato which in this case meant the next day and uninstalled the interphone unit. He then said he needed to go and buy a missing tool in a shop that’s just down the street, so he’d be back in half an hour.

At 9 pm I sensed that R. probably wouldn’t show up again. Yes, sometimes I am a bit slow. 2 days later I decided to phone the office again, maybe there had been a misunderstanding of some sort. The lady told me to stay in for she would send him over again. En un rato.

To cut a long story short, he showed up a few days and many phone calls later, installed a new interphone and as that didn’t work either, he shrugged his shoulders and told me the system was faulty in the entire building. Nothing that could be done about it. We both sighed, and to me that was the end of the story.

However, a few weeks later I got an angry text from the lady at the property management company asking me why I wouldn’t open the door. As I was driving on the highway at that time, I called her a little later and explained to her I was out. Bummer. Apparently, some other handyman had decided to stop by and take a closer look at the matter. We made a new appointment for the following day which I didn’t take too seriously, but sure enough at 7pm somebody knocked on my door. 2 guys entered, examined the interphone and told me that it was the wrong device, that we were the only apartment having this problem, and could I please hand them the old unit. When I informed them that R. had taken that one, they deliberated for quite a while, very much to my delight bearing a striking resemblance to the Sesame Street “yip yip” Martians. Finally, one of the yip yips told me to stay put, they’d be back in 5 minutes.

Well, I am waiting. Boy, those are the longest 5 minutes of my life!

 

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Happy New-ish Year!

Happy New Year, Everyone! I was very determined to write something funny and witty to kick off the new (blogging) year, but humhum, I’ve got nothing. There was a an idea, some thought for just that kind of post, but it’s gone. I am getting old. And no, I did not suffer from a hangover this year.

I know, you probably think that I put on my dancing shoes and went to some glamorous party, and I wished I could say I did. But then I called my good friend Liz and asked her about her plans, and she told me she had decided to stay in, toast to her family (not sure, though, whether William and Kate stayed in, too. Have to ask her next time.) – and she said that anything else would be very un-Queenly. Well, if the Queen stays in, so can I.

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As you can see, we were clearly having a ball.

So my Mini Mexican and I put on our fancy party sombreros, took some silly pictures, and when MM went to bed at 7, I poured myself a glass of champagne as I thought that it must be midnight SOMEWHERE, ate about 4 pounds of pasta al gorgonzola, and since there was nobody except the Gilmore Girls to hang out with until midnight, I cuddled up next to MM at 10 pm and thought I would just sleep through midnight.

However, the infernal noise from a nearby beach club kept us awake until 4 am, even the bed was shaking from the beats, and when I got up at 6 (MM says holidays are overrated) I even felt hung over solely from lack of sleep. And still full from all the pasta.

We then went for our first walk in 2014 which I had been looking forward to as I was certain streets would be deserted and I might greet the new year on an empty beach. Well, not quite. I bumped into a few last, very drunk party people (or rather: they bumped into me. Literally.), and then the large queues outside some breakfast restaurants reminded me of how hungry one gets on the morning of a hangover.

So, ok, the new year didn’t start quite as expected, but there are so many days more to come. And as every year, I keep thinking about all those people who enter a new year with fresh hope, somehow everyone thinks that things might turn around just because the calendar shows us a new year – and then nothing changes. Or things do change, just not the way we had hoped for. I found that 2013 had been a year of change for many people. We had a lot of weddings, a lot of babies or beginning pregnancies in 2013, but also quite a few of my friends were diagnosed with serious illnesses. Some have recovered, some are still fighting the battle. For us, 2013 was wonderful as it marked the birth of our little MM, and for 2014 we are hoping it might be time to move someplace else again. We are getting a wee bit itchy…

Even though the year isn’t as fresh anymore (January is half gone already!) since well, as always, my post has been dozing in the “Draft” corner for quite some time, I would still like to wish you a very happy 2014, and I do hope that your dreams and hopes might come true!

Merry Christmas from Playa!

Today I took a little walk to capture a few Christmas impressions. Have a look!

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This Christmas tree is standing in our stylish new mall “Alegria”.

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This tree is in front of our Palacio Municipal. The nativity scene includes a horse and an elephant!

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These statues made from sand are really impressive and a total tourist attraction down at the ferry terminal.

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Wishing you a wonderful Christmas wherever you are!

Hemhem… Hullo!

In case you missed me – I am still here! But oh well, probably you haven’t even noticed my absence.  Let’s pretend you did, though. (And while on this subject: Thanks to those who checked in on me!)

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

My good old friend Liz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, I had so many things going on: tea appointments with the Queen for example. We had the most delightful chats, but yesterday, just when I had finished my third scone (and feeling bad about it, you shouldn’t eat three scones when teaing  with royalty) and was wiping off some crumbs I said to her, “Liz, listen, I need to get back to blogging. My readers need me.” And she nodded her head, although it was clear she didn’t know what blogging was, and said, “Well, as always, my Dear, it has been an absolute pleasure. Please come and see me again when your time allows.” She’s so classy. But then, she’s the Queen.

Yes, that would have been my daily life had I been on Prozac. But I wasn’t. Instead, I was fighting a battle with the beloved rainy season. In a way, we got lucky as we had not one hurricane this season and since hurricane season is over, I don’t even have to knock on wood. On the other hand, we got plenty of rain.

Some of you may remember that we had just moved last year. Well, we should have known better than to move into a new construction… Let me tell you: Never a good idea in this country. And even if you think that a 2 year old building might not count as new, make no mistake! The problem is, that people are in it for the quick money, so they build up everything really fast and really sloppy, a bit of paint and it looks all shiny and fancy, they ask for a high rent because, hey, it’s all marble, right? Which is good, because you see, when the indoor rain starts you can just mop it away. A carpet wouldn’t work.

Well, we did a lot of mopping this season. I got used to the sound of water dripping into the buckets we put everywhere. I also got used to the sight of colourful beach towels on the floor in all the rooms. Mrs. P. got used to getting wet feet and we didn’t have to carry her outside anymore. We got into the habit of having self-made stilts ready to lift the furniture. But then the mould started. Our walls turned black, so we washed them with chlorine. Two days later the mould was back. It was bad. And then we learned something fascinating: where there’s mould, there are booklice. Never heard of them? Nor had I, but now I am a booklice expert. Our walls were covered with them, and if you took a closer look you could see them crawling about. It was horrid! In my mind, our home turned into one of those nightmare places that are eating you alive. At night, I was sure to hear the  booklice munching, and I could feel them getting under my skin and into my ears and nose… Luckily, our lease was up anyway, so I contacted our realtor and within 10 days we had found a new home and arranged for our 3rd move since coming here. Yay.

The move was a freakin’ disaster. We had asked for two days of packing and moving, yet the moving company convinced us to do all in the same day. Never listen to moving companies, honestly. After 12 hours of packing and schlepping they were not nearly done. More trucks were ordered but there was none available. Paco and Jose showed up with their little family vans where they tried to squeeze in the rest, but it didn’t work either. New permissions for our fenced-in community were required, we were running back and forth, the new apartment wasn’t ready yet, so we had to cram everything into the living room, all furniture, all boxes, it was a desperate sight. Then the movers had to come back after the weekend to carry the rest over into our new home, and still, we had to stuff everything into the living room so in the end, we couldn’t even set foot into it.

That was about one third of our moving disaster. Looks like fun, huh?

That was about one third of our moving disaster. Looks like fun, huh?

Mr. R. was all busy those days and couldn’t get away even for an hour to help me sort things out what with a baby is a bit of a hassle. So I arranged for some strong helpers who agreed to meet me at lunch time. In the end they showed up at 5pm, but finally, things were moving and we were glad when we actually were able to sleep in our new bedroom.

The next morning we found our adjacent bathroom completely under water – the air condition was leaking. The next day, I almost blew up the entire building due to wrong insulation material behind the oven. Luckily, Mr. R. was at home to pull the oven out and discover a cosy little fire. Soon after that, we left for some family time in Europe, and ever since we got back, everything seems to be more or less under control. We now live downtown Playa which I enjoy so much more than living in what my mum called “the ghetto”. True, we sometimes cannot sleep because of mariachi music outside. When you open the door you take a bath in fried chicken smell thanks to the restaurants downstairs. But the beach is one block away, so far we haven’t had any tarantulas, nor cockroaches, and more importantly, it stays bloody dry in here – when the A/C is working properly that is! (Oh, and if you are still there, Mrs. Cakelady: I have a French patisserie just around the corner, so I can stuff my face with croissants and cake all day long!)

So that’s my little and long overdue update. Thanks for still hanging in there, and I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas!

Do Royals Fart? And: How little George Alexander Louis brings out my inner feminist.

So we have our new prince in good old England! Yay! Not only should we be happy for the lucky parents, but we should all thank them for providing us with an excellent new small talk topic. A topic my mum and I extensively discussed during one of our last Skype conversations.

I expressed my concerns about the amount of pressure that is weighing on that poor young couple. I mean, if you see pictures, they both look like normal happy parents – only a little prettier and conspicuously well-dressed. Will we ever see lovely Kate with spit on her silk blouse, I wonder? Or tousled hair because little George discovered the joys of hair pulling? Will the little prince burp and fart in public? Or do royals have entirely different bodily functions, I ask myself?

I think it might make for a delightful anecdote if they took the baby to let’s say some glamorous dinner and in the middle of a speech, the little prince noticeably soils his diaper. Or blurts out, “Mommy, who’s that fat guy over there?” Are royals BORN well behaved? Oh, no, they are not, how stupid of me. We all know that e.g. Prince Charles can be quite a naughty boy.

Will the press be searching for dark circles around Kate’s eyes? Will they monitor her post pregnancy weight loss?

Being part of the royal family can’t be fun, I think. That’s why I gave up my dream of becoming a princess when I was…hum…32. But just imagine, for Kate this dream (if it ever was a dream) came true. But then, she is ridiculously pretty, and as we all know, the prettiest girls always get the prince.

In honour of little Prince George Alexander Louis I’ve been reading a lot of fairytales lately, so my daily life has been filled with princes and princesses. I tend to believe though that times have changed. Back in the days, if you choose to believe Hans Christian Andersen and other storytellers, the king came, saw the pretty (mostly weeping) girl, lifted her up on his horse, took her to his castle and made her queen. Bam.

That’s the picture girls (and boys) grow up with. The only thing girls have to be in those stories is pretty. And I do remember that that really influenced my view of the world. Now you should know that I am a terribly vain individual. Which is a good thing, otherwise I would be stuffing my face with pie all day long. Would I be less vain if fairytales had focused more on other qualities in women? Or are girls in general and by nature more vain?

When I wouldn’t stop crying when I was little, my mum would say to me, “You look so ugly when you are crying, you should really stop.” Now of course, I was torn – my vanity told me to stop crying, but at the same time my stubbornness forbade it. I daresay, I still was more stubborn than vain and continued crying, only this time more forcefully. Also, I already suspected that that was only a trick my mum was playing. You know how princesses always get prettier by crying? The tears falling down always create the illusion of diamonds on their silken garments, and if he hadn’t done so before, now is the moment that the prince realizes that that’s the girl he must marry. So yeah, sorry Mum, that move didn’t work on me. (Although she was right. Have you ever seen a boiled bagel before it’s getting baked? Well, that’s what I look like when I am crying, a doedough-eyed, red-nosed mess.) But I still find it interesting that my mum thought it would work. I am sure she never tried that on my brother.

I too tend to compliment little girls on their looks while I’d never do such a thing with a boy. Isn’t that terrible? Shouldn’t our generation be smarter? Do we create little princesses, thus stand in the way of real gender equality? There we have all those great role model women, and I still stupidly remark on how pretty a girl is?

Apparently I, too, am to blame that TV shows like this exist.

 

Well, I promise to better. That’s why now I’ll kiss my little boy and tell him how handsome he is! Although… Nowadays, the emancipated handsome guy might get the princess, and I am just not up for this!

ThankYouThankYouThankYouThankYou!

Lovely Sherri from A View from my Summerhouse nominated me for two awards – the Super Sweet Blogger Award and the WordPress Family Award. Thank you so much, Sherri, I feel very honoured!

And I also just found out now (how could I miss that??) that Linda from Expat Eye on Latvia nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogger Award (and The Liebster Award, but since I’ve already been nominated, I’ll skip that one and consider it done). Thank you so much!

  The WordPress Family Award

I had never heard of the Family Award before, but I think it is a lovely way to let your fellow bloggers know you consider them “cyber family” how Sherri put it. Living in Mexico definitely teaches you how to bend the rules a little, and that’s what I am going to do by making a little award hodgepodge.

THE SUPER SWEET RULES:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post.

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers

5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog

THE SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS:

Q: Cookies or Cake?

A: Cake. But when I am finished with the cake, I can still go for cookies. In fact, I once went on a cookie diet: I was staying with a host family in Finland and the food was very different for me for we were having either milk soup with pearl barley or milk soup with rice and on Sundays a super salty fish casserole. So I bought myself cookies (“Muumi Keksi” – my favourites!) and had about 3 packages each day. Nevertheless, I came home all skin and bones. Maybe I should write a book about the Cookie Diet.

Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?

A: Both, of course. Nothing beats a chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Just sayin’…

Q:  Favorite sweet treat?

A: An almond croissant from Le Panier in Seattle.

Q: When do you crave sweets the most:

A: With my 5 o’clock tea. Or when I am feeling lonely.

Q: Sweet nickname?

A: Mr. R. calls me Sweety sometimes – can’t get any sweeter than that.

Now, just so you know  what The WordPress Family Award is all about, here is a word from Shaun, the creator of this award:
‘This is an award for everyone who is part of the “WordPress Family” I started this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award.’  Thank you Shaun @ http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/
NOW THE FUN  (and the work) starts, the rules are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 others who have positively impacted your WordPress experience.

4. Don’t forget to let your WordPress family members know of your nomination.

5. That’s it!  Just pick 10 people that have accepted you as a friend, and spread the love!

So these are my Super Sweet Fellow Bloggers whom I consider my little cyber family:

A View From My Summerhouse
Expat Eye on Latvia
American Taitai
Expat Lingo
The World according to Dina
Outbound Mom
Tales from Hebei
Lady of the Cakes
Wie sagt man…?
Zhongguo Jumble
Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife
ExpatAlien

Thank you all for making me smile, laugh, and dream (e.g. doesn’t that picture of those super sweet cupcakes make you dream, too??) and providing me with my daily dose of inspiration!

It’s all fun and games at the Mayan Riviera – or is it?

I’ve just come downstairs, sweaty and exhausted. It’s a good thing you can’t see me, believe me. Why am I sweaty? Not because I did some kick-ass workout, let me tell you. No, I was mopping up water. You see, it started raining again. After our last rainy adventure, Mr. R. discovered that those geniuses of builders built in the door leading to the roof top the wrong way, so the outside is on the inside and vice versa. So the little thingy that is supposed to keep the water out is on the inside. How very convenient. At least the house is waterproof from the inside.

That's the paradise part of the deal!

That’s the paradise part of the deal.

And while I was merrily mopping and moping, I was thinking of a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine,  a Mexican lady who also used to live abroad, but came back with her European husband to try how they’d like living here. She surprised me by telling me that she would actually prefer to live someplace else, but that her husband is the one who refuses to leave. And I can see why, I mean, it is just stunning out there with the turquoise sea, the white beaches and all. People are genuinely friendly, everything and everyone is pretty relaxed. If you are into golfing and water sports, you can’t go wrong either.

What I understand is that this area is unlike every other area in Mexico – at least, that’s what everybody tells me. When I ask people from different parts of Mexico how they like living here, a lot of them say, “I like it, because I have a job.” Or, “I like it, because this area is so safe.”  It all seems pretty welcoming at first glance, and there are most certainly beautiful things to enjoy here. But like everything and everywhere: Nothing is perfect!

Another friend of mine put it in a nutshell when she said, “This place is paradise – if you get the chance to get away on a regular basis.” And yes, I do know a lot of expats who spend about 6 months of the year abroad and just come back to relax.

I remember when we got here, I felt like this was going to be one big vacation. And I was joking around that my husband’s company now made up for our honeymoon we once had to cut short in order to move to Seattle. Well, we had our honeymoon here for about 2 months – which definitely made up for the lost time on Hawaii. Then we moved out of the resort and into our new home, and that’s when I got a first glimpse of everyday life.

Yes, there are things, nobody tells you before you move to the Riviera Maya.

So if you consider living here, this checklist might help you to determine whether you are ready for this Caribbean adventure or not:

A bit of water.

A bit of water.

Play rainy season:

  •  Set your entire house under water and let the water stand over night. Remove water in the morning. Repeat for a week and see how you like the experience.
  •  Put on a cocktail dress, squeeze your feet into high heels and put on lipstick. Then head to the nearest spa and request access to the steam room. Stay in there for at least 3 hours. Maybe you can persuade someone to pour you a glass of white wine so you get the full cocktail hour experience.
  • Take your car to the next public open air pool and drive through the water for an hour. Maybe you can get some mariachi radio station to keep you entertained?

Test your patience muscle:

  • Ask a friend to cut off your electricity and then make a plumber appointment for you within the next 3 days without telling you when. Sit around and wait and see if you like it.
  • Do the same thing with the water supply.

Ready for some fun?

  • Visit the next funfair and hop on the bumper cars. Drive around for an hour to pretend it’s rush hour in the city.
  • If you intend to give birth in Mexico or undergo any kind of surgery, ask some friends to strip you to a bed for the amount of time that procedure would take and play some Mariachi music real loud.
  • Try to find someone who can set loose cockroaches, millipedes, geckos and whatnot in your home. Maybe in addition, they can throw in a tarantula as special surprise. Also, try to raise ants in your kitchen.
  • Invite your friends for a supermarket scavenger hunt: Everyone goes and hides products in various supermarkets in town. Then hand out and receive shopping lists and go look for those products. This might even add a more festive note to the Easter holidays.
  • And last, but not least, as we must not forget that this a touristy area: Go to a typical spring break location and mingle with the teenagers. Ask some random adults to come too and hand out free liquor. Lean back and enjoy.

Oh dear, have to rush. It started to rain again!