Saturday, April 17, 2021

Riding the Roller Coaster of Car Part Mayhem

My days have been a roller coaster of waiting for the top of the hill and then the subsequent plummet afterward. Up and down, up and down. If I come out of this without high blood pressure I'll consider it a win.

All that to say, I'm still carless in Guadalajara. 

Thought we had it all figured out only to turn around and find out that all the different parts of the puzzle to get the compressor to me quickly have fallen apart. 

So I'm back to square one it feels like. I can't believe how frustrating this all is. It's not just frustrating trying to get the ac compressor for my car but it's also very frustrating to not have my car for over 2 months now. 

Who could have known that finding a GM ac compressor in Mexico would be near impossible....or as it looks at the moment, actually impossible.

If anyone is in the interest of driving to Guadalajara muy pronto or is feeling generous to mail a car part to Mexico, I'm open to suggestions!

Really, the prices are so high for this part (in my opinion), that buying one in the USA and shipping it seems crazy, but that's my only option so that's what it will be. By the time this car is fixed I'm anticipating many many more road trips and a big celebration when I pass the 300,000 mile mark!

Since I purchased a bicycle, I'm much happier. I love bikes (although I prefer battling rocks and trees to cars). Luckily for me there are protected bike lanes in some of the larger streets :) It's given me the freedom to travel a lot further and get to more places without losing half or more of a day to do so. And it's good exercise to boot. I put the extra Denny Crane poundage on my back and settle into gear 24 and pedal my way through the city streets.

I was ever so hopeful that with the holy week vacation (now a couple of weeks past), I'd get to go mountain biking, but wouldn't you know it, that is when a gigantic fire started in the nearby forest. They brought in helicopters and ground crew and are still working on it. Needless to say, it was closed for the general public, so I was unable to go mountain biking :(

Denny Crane had a lovely Semana Santa. He got to investigate new places and smell all sorts of new smells. Unfortunately there weren't any doggie friends, but he did try to befriend a cat. The cat was not so trusting although the curiosity of the cat was extremely entertaining to watch!

I can't believe Denny Crane is still kicking along so well. He's 16 as far as I know and his blood work is good. Incredible. That boy follows my every step (literally). I think he needs some new friends lol, but he's a really good dog, gotta say. 

And...I've recently learned that I'm identified in GDL as Denny Crane's mom as opposed to Ronda. The dog is a celebrity and I'm merely the handler 😂

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A new chapter in Till Eulenspiegel?

Regarding the title...Till Eulenspiegel is a prankster that is set in a German storybook and also to music by Richard Strauss. It occurs to me that maybe the book is missing a chapter because I certainly feel like I'm being pranked with all the funny car business that keeps happening.

If you have been keeping up with my blog at all, you will know that I've been running the gamut with my car trying to get it fixed. I've been told several times the car would be ready the next day and so far, the car is still in the shop. Sigh.

The latest development is with my ac compressor. 

The ac compressor has a pulley attached to it that the serpentine belt runs around. Technically, I don't need that pulley and can get a shorter serpentine belt that skips it so I can still use my car, but the ac wouldn't work. What fun for 90 degree weather all summer long in the city....not....

But, I figured, I'll deal with it. My car is old and I don't want to spend more than I'm already spending. 

Well, turns out the mechanic can't find a short belt to fit the car. He told me he tried at least 10 belts and none were correct. 

So he found another ac compressor that has different bolt holes and so he can't connect it to my car, but the components are good except for the coil (the part that actually makes the ac). He phoned me to find out if I was ok with this because he told me he'd gone to so many junkyards and called so many places, and nobody has the exact ac compressor I have. Even the Alero 4 cylinder car doesn't have the same compressor.

I told him okay. Fine. I'll suffer without ac and you can mesh the two compressors together and I'll get my car back...finally.

Oh, if it were only that easy.

Apparently (from what I was told), when the car was started with the "new" ac compressor in place, the pulley on the outside that the serpentine belt goes around is wobbly. The mechanic is not okay with me driving the car around as such so he's now literally looking at ebay in the USA for this part and trying to find out how much to ship it to MX. 

What an inconceivable mess.

So all told, now I'm sitting at home, still carless, and carless for the foreseeable future. 

Boy it's a good thing I got a bicycle!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Beef. It's what's for dinner.

I'm slipping aren't I? 

It was posts every day, then every other day, and now I'm down to every couple of days. Apparently life is getting boring.

I recently revealed that I bought a new-to-me-bike, and with the "semana santa" or holy week about to start here in Mexico, I was really really hoping to have my car back to hopefully go mountain biking. 

It's been one uphill, no breaks, and no flat stretches with this car in Mexico. It would never have occurred to me that getting parts for a GM product would be so difficult, but it is!

Anyway, I was finally willing to just plunk down some money I don't have just to get it back and in working order (even though I don't need a new air conditioner). Spent the time online searching for parts and the mechanic was as well. For days, nothing. Finally today I went to Auto Zone to see if I could just buy an outright new part for the car. I had suggested bypassing the air conditioner compressor, but we weren't able to find the right belt to do that either!

Lucky me, today, after a whole day of more stress trying to figure out if I'd have my car for the holiday or not and basically giving up that I would, the mechanic told me (after I contacted him with more questions this evening) that he had forgotten to call me, but, did in fact have a solution and was able to get the compressor fixed. Hallelujah!!!

It won't be ready tomorrow, but he said it should be ready Wed. I sure do hope so because Thursday is the first day of the semana santa vacation and I want to use every bit of it I can to hit the trails. 

But I'm not holding my breath. I've been told for over a month now that my car will be ready the next day and I am still waiting. If nothing else comes up or breaks or makes funny noises though, maybe, just maybe, I'll be back driving my girl down the road soon :)

To make my day even more exciting, I got to clean my washing machine. Why? Because last night I had a horrific nose bleed that gushed out before I knew what was happening. (It hasn't rained since last year so the air is extremely dry and I would love to purchase a small/cheap humidifier for my bedroom, but they don't seem to sell them in Mexico, alas.) I happened to be lounging on a pillow (that belongs to the landlord of my furnished apartment) so I immediately tried to take out the stuffing so I could soak and wash it. The blood stain was a good fist size plus several smaller droplets from when I got up before realizing it was blood. 

Turns out cheap pillows in Mexico are filled with the remnants of scraps of foam from other pillows. I'm talking less than 1" squares of foam. WHAT A MESS! After getting out what I could from the pillow (much of it was actually stuck to the sides somehow), I plopped it in the washing machine to soak and then run on a short gentle cycle hoping that would get it all clean. 

When I checked on it this morning, there was still evidence of blood. I don't think the landlord would have noticed, but because I knew it was there I clearly saw it so I thought I would run the soak/cycle again, but with stronger soap. Early afternoon I heard the ding of the washing machine signaling that the time was up so I went to check on the pillow and to my miserable surprise, a seam in the pillow had unravelled and the teeny tiny pieces of foam that I couldn't get out were now all over the inside of the washing machine. Oh yea...Now I get to clean the washing machine. 

It was all up the sides too, which is hard to see in the photo.

Trying to pick out every minute piece of foam is not fun, albeit necessary, because I do not want that foam on my sheets, towels, or clothes, nor do I want it plugging up the washing machine pipes. I cleaned the filters too. I'm hoping I can hand stitch the pillow back together in a non noticeable fashion before stuffing all the rest of the itsy bitsy pieces of foam I collected back inside.

Yeah, it was a fun morning. NOT!

But, I did get a good run in. My pace isn't very good yet, but I was able to do a 5k (that's my goal for now) so I'm happy about that. Trying to get back in shape enough to start Insanity again haha! Those months with my back out really cost me.

Denny Crane and I also walked to the corner carniceria/market. He got to sniff all the recent smells along the way so that a 3 block walk took about a half an hour. But he enjoyed it. Then he got breakfast of fresh cut raw meat. He loves it and seems to be doing very well on a half diet of raw meat now. The little guy is a porker and weighs a ton for his tiny size! I've learned that biking with him in his backpack is extra hard work. Biking is now a workout and I can't always keep up my usual pace with an additional 10 pounds lugging me down haha! The people that run the little carniceria like him though and the meat butcher knows us both by name :)  Denny Crane is a celebrity anywhere he goes!

Beef. It's what's for dinner!

Friday, March 26, 2021

A New Set of Wheels

Relax! It's only a new set of two wheels, not four. My car is still in the shop.

In my new quest for fitness, sports, and most of all, independent local travel, I purchased a "new to me" bicycle! It is frustrating that I have bikes in the USA, but when I drove down over a year ago, the car was packed and I chose to wait to bring one until I returned a few months later for the remaining orchestra gigs I had contracted. But then covid came and the borders closed and the gigs cancelled and I was unable to return to the USA to retrieve it. Now that I "could" return, my car is unable to make the trip and the border has become a haven of bandits looking to rob incoming cars regardless of driver nationality or luxury car model (so I could theoretically leave Mexico safely, but who could say regarding the return). New-to-me bike it is then, after impatiently complaining for over a year that I miss my bike. 

Ironically, the new-to-me bike is the same one I have at home. That wasn't at all intentional, but is kind of funny in after sight. It's a different color with slightly different components, but it's the same brand and the same model and some of the same components. Luckily for me, I paid less than half of what I paid so many years ago, which I see as only befitting since the bike is now that much older. It's still a fantastic beginner bike. 

Technically I'm no beginner. I've logged many many hours on that bike, crashing and burning, nearly dying, and always leaving with exciting stories to tell, or at the very least, extremely muddy, sometimes bloody, and very dirty. There was a period of time I spent 3-4 hours a day on that bike hacking away at various technical difficulties on the Austin Greenbelt. But hey, I still like the bike even if I have outgrown it's capabilities and I'm happy to keep riding another one vs not riding a bike at all or riding a poorly constructed one.

Considering the old bike has withstood the test of time (i.e. it is Ronda proof-thank you Trek!), I'm looking forward to battering this one hard and reselling it in a few years when my visa expires. I'm very happy with the deal I got so hopefully I will recoup much of what I just paid for it.

I'm also very excited to now have the freedom to go much further, must faster and spend less of my day walking. Not that I don't enjoy walking, but I'd like the option to choose whether I spend hours walking to the store or not, or have the ability to be gone for hours and go to many stores vs just one.

The next weekend is the Easter celebration weekend. In Mexico it starts the Thursday before Easter Sunday, so I'm praying that brother Murphy goes on vacation early so I can get my car back in good working order and go mountain biking!

Here's to getting back in the saddle soon!

Meet my new Trek 4500

Sitting pretty in the sunshine.

Of course 😂 Denny Crane got to ride along. I finally used my Timbuk 2 San Fransisco backpack for it's actual bike-riding purpose!
Don't worry, Denny Crane was safely secured inside and as far as I know, he didn't cause any rubbernecking accidents!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Down the Car Repair Rabbit Hole

I've been postponing writing more about my car repair progress until I had more news. It took me this long to get more news. (Mexican time lol)

I missed the phone call from the mechanic yesterday. Tried calling him back twice to no avail and texted saying to call me anytime. 

Didn't hear anything this morning, so I finally tried again at noon. 

Funny thing: I apparently want to get my car back bad because my phone dialed the mechanic after I went to bed! He told me his wife was really mad that I called so late and so I looked on my phone records because I was confused how that could have happened, but indeed, there it was. I had "called" the mechanic after midnight. Oops!

Luckily he wasn't too mad at me today when we chatted and he told me there is a new problem. Down the rabbit hole I'm falling.

The intake manifold from Mexico City arrived, in worse condition than described, but in better condition than mine, so it's hooked up and running.

But there's something wrong with my ac compressor and pulley that is making a terrible racket. 

I was supposed to hear back today as to how much it would cost to fix or if I just want to bypass the whole thing, but, Mexico time....I never heard back. 

So now it's continuing the waiting game for yet another part in my car (You guessed it. The part is hard to find here...). Who knows if I'll ever get my car back. In that thought, I've started aggressively bike shopping HAH!

On a happier note, I've been making great progress with my back pain. There is rarely a time I feel it now so I'm taking more risks lifting heavier items. Also started running again. Boy am I out of shape. Hoping in a month I can get the extra weight from the previous months back off and get my bikini body ready for a covid summer indoors....hip hip hooray...

But I'm very happy that my back is not talking back every other thing I try to do these days so I can get back to being me. And who knows, if I can actually find a decent bike, maybe I'll be able to go out and hit some trails this summer. Boy wouldn't that be grand?!

Denny Crane is always happy when I get back. It's nice to always have a welcoming committee!

Friday, March 19, 2021

La Pasarela (aka The Mexican Catwalk)

Today and yesterday were busy busy busy days.

Why? You ask.

Well, I'm assuming my "brother" Murphy took a much needed vacation and I had a moment of good luck. Amazing luck actually!

Today was my first "job" in over a year. It was only an hour and half with a day and hours of prep beforehand, but I have made the first steps to becoming a model in Mexico.

I woke up this morning at 3:00am, 5:00am, 5:30am, 6:00am, 6:10am, 6:20am, and at 6:30am I finally got up and got ready to leave. Yes, I was slightly paranoid that I wouldn't wake up to my two alarms so I never really slept, but that's what coffee's for right?!

Super crazy lucky for me, the event took place only a 5 minute walk from home, so I didn't need my car and could actually take the job. What amazing luck in such a big city!

I showed up on time at 7:00am and walked around waiting for everyone to arrive and trying to take in the situation that:

  • I was at my first job in over year. 
  • I was at my first catwalk in Mexico.
  • I was at my first modeling gig in Mexico.
  • I was at work!

The picture above is the "catwalk". With covid, they had fewer people, spread out with extra space, and only 3 models instead of a standard dozen or more. Usually the department store would have a giant production in a commercial space, but because of covid, they're doing small private productions. This was the first event. I can only pray that I get to do all the rest of them!

At around 7:10am, everyone (but one model) was there so we began hair and makeup. I'm not a very girly girl, but I do enjoy having my hair and makeup done and with covid for the past year, I've not gone to a salon of any kind. It was a real treat to be pampered as such. The girls that did our hair and makeup weren't very professional imo, as I told them my hair doesn't hold a curl, and they tried, and tried, and tried again, and by the end I had a few waves at the bottom. Oh well. 

The girl that did my makeup also mistook my paler skin tone for a pink-based European canvas. I do admit that it's rare when I find a makeup artist that actually figures out my native American roots and does everything in peach shades instead of pink. So my makeup looked more hooker in my opinion than natural classy woman, but hey, whatever they're happy with. I'm there to get painted, primped, and sell clothes off my body (ok, that sounds very hooker, but you know what I mean!).

After hair and makeup were through, one of the directors took the 3 models to show us a triangle formation walk. We practiced it and he gave me directions on what he wanted for the brand (slow, casual, no crossed feet). We left the runway to head back for clothes prep and to meet our dressers. (Dressers are people who help you dress and undress very fast because you have to run between walks.) We got dressed for the first walk and the 2nd director tried to explain a whole new walk to me. I was so confused. He tried to explain several times and still I had to ask the other girls and even after that, I felt like I was winging it. I understood all the words in Spanish, but together, they meant nothing in English. How frustrating!

I did my thing and walked the walk and even had audience members applauding and nodding approval. 

My head was all awhirl with trying to remember the specific walk patterns, the specific walk notes, the specific walk poses and especially, trying to listen to the host talk in Spanish and respond appropriately in my walk. Whew! I need to study Spanish more, that's for sure! But it was all a whirl of live performance and I loved being back in the pressure of the spotlight, to be back on a stage. I wasn't performing music (and I miss that terribly), but I was back in my element; an element of being watched, being the performer, being the part of a whole, being an artist.

This was the first look I modeled. I didn't have time to take more pictures once the show started sadly.

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll already know I've modeled in the US for years, but this is the first time I was contracted to model in Mexico. 

Posing at home.

I sincerely hope it's not the last!!

After the event, selfie shot :)

Loving me some Denny Crane after the show. He was happy to see me come home!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Tequila: Been There, Didn't Taste That


The town, silly. Okay, the drink too.

Me and Denny Crane not waiting in the long line for the photo in front of the sign.
If you drink enough tequila, the sign looks the same backwards as forwards anyway!

The town of tequila is famous for being the first to cultivate the agave plant for the tequila liquor. 

Everything in the puebla is decorated with agave plants. I particularly liked this fence arrangement.
Even the street grates were agave plants! Vibrams included :)

It's a mere 60 km (37 miles) to Tequila, Mexico, but it will take you over an over with all the traffic to get there from Guadalajara. 

I'd never been to Tequila, because covid started just after I moved here, but Monday, I decided to take the trip. Everything is open in MX more or less, so I thought maybe I could find cozy corners to people watch from afar and wander the side streets.

I had images of tequila bars lining the streets serving nothing more than lots of tequila and chips and dip; ideas of tequila tasting rooms in the various tequila distilleries all within walking distance in the small town; rows of agave plants just off the main streets.

Boy was I wrong!

I am pretty sure I walked every single street in Tequila within a 3 block radius of the central square. (I don't think there were many more blocks past that). 

Central Plaza

There were small places tucked away to purchase specialty tequila drinks either in a plastic bag or in a souvenir pottery mug. I'd already tried several of the drinks on previous occasions, so I went with a new one and told the man easy on the salt. For sure, I got my daily dose of salt that day! Wow! I couldn't even finish it. But on the upside, I have a very poorly made tourist cup I can use for the next few months until the detergent washes off all the paint on it and it's recycled to another purpose.

Posing with my not-so-delicious beverage in "front" of the back of a tequila tour 'bus'.

Through all the city streets I also searched and searched for a small family restaurant that appeared to have cooks that at least washed their hands and had a spare table. Never found one. The number of small restaurants on the side streets were practically nill. The restaurants were focused almost entirely around the central plaza with a plethora of taco and hotdog stands littering the plaza and also taking residency in the adjacent enclosed marketplace. 

Plant lined pedestrian street

Um, what? 

Beautiful, bright colored buildings

The beautiful church at the center of the plaza was a nice respite from the sun and of all the cathedrals I've visited in all my travels, this one had truly unique floors!

What interesting wood flooring. It's rare to be caught by the floor in a cathedral, but it sure drew my eye. How gorgeous with all the colors and patterns.

Look! My mask matches the ceiling art!

In my desperate search for lunch/dinner, I came across a street vender selling flavored and unflavored (natural) crickets. He asked if I wanted to try. Well, of course! He practically grabbed my hand (not sure how clean either hands were..) and dumped several unflavored crickets inside. Then he poured a red salsa, some salt, and lastly he squeezed some fresh lime juice over it. I downed it and it was delicious! Really really really tasty. I was all set to buy a bag freshly prepared for the wandering road when I found out how much for how little I would get. I moved on, stomach still growling. Below is a picture gallery showcasing my cricket eating delight. Enjoy!

Protein for the day

All or nothing

mmm I like these!

Chomp chomp

All gone!

Unaware that all the restaurants would close by 5pm, I ended up at one of the largest tourist traps right on the square. I was prepared for terrible food for high prices and they delivered. I ordered enchiladas that arrived cold (not a little warm still but completely cold like from the fridge) and hard like they'd been made the day before and the staff had just poured sauce over them to serve them to me. I would have sent the dish back in the US it was that bad. It also had no flavor. It didn't have flavor I didn't like. It had no flavor. 

It looks significantly better than it tasted.

On the plus side, I also got to try a local dish called aguachiles that usually features shrimpies, cucumbers, purple onions, sometimes avocado, and a spicy lime juice soup-like base that it all sits in. This restaurant had all those ingredients and added sliced pineapple, sesame seeds, and a pleasantly spicy green chile sauce/paste. I've tried numerous aguachiles (they make them green, red, black, and with a variety of seafood sometimes as well), but never this combination. I loved it! I will definitely be on the lookout for pineapple aguachile in the future! The combination of the sweet from the pineapple with the spicy of the sauce and the tang of the onions blended quite beautifully.

I also ordered the obligatory guacamole. It wasn't bad and I learned I really enjoy radishes in my guac. Who knew?!?!

As for the tequila tasting rooms, that's a thing...that you have to pay a tour guide to take you to grr. I asked directly at one of the distilleries, and was told you must book in advance and go with a group. Seriously? Guess they're not interested in my money after all. 

Tequila tour "bus"

So after a long afternoon in the hot (but delicious) sun, wandering pretty much the entire "downtown" of Tequila, I left mostly disappointed. Mostly, because after searching for some fresh churros after dinner to brighten my taste bud's mood, I couldn't find any. Did you know that apparently, downtown Tequila turns into a French/American colony at night? The food stands in the central plaza area only sell crepes or hotdogs. There you go. I did find about 6 taco stands all in a row just a block off the main square but had to travel several blocks to find the worst churros I've had in Mexico. The oil was too hot so the outside was overcooked and the inside was still uncooked. Appropriate ending to my day.

Lit up streets at night

It may sound like all doom and gloom toward the end, but I really did actually enjoy the day. It was nice to get out and go someplace. It was nice to "travel". It was nice to explore. It was nice to feel the vitamin D on my skin. And it was nice to be someplace new.

Will I be craving a prompt return to Tequila? Probably not. But I can now say, been there, didn't taste that!

Obligatory 'selfie' pic of Denny at dinner!