Still doing lots of this. Mexico City, Tampico, another Mexico City and then Bogota. Who knows what's next. I'm hoping they like me in South America and I can do a six-country tour during this next year.
As usual, I'm not blogging much anymore. It's the same old routine here at the ranch and it even gets boring for me to write about it. All is well and we are biding our time waiting for that magical day when we both have a retirement check. I'll be too old to do anything with it. I have to say though that plans are coming together and we tend to agree more and more each day about what we want to do.
I'm still going to Colombia next week for four days. No sense in staying longer by myself. It just doesn't sound fun. I've been there and I am sure I could find a month's worth of activities to keep me busy.
I've been walking six to eight kilometers every evening and the mornings on the weekend in addition to my running and weight workout at the gym. Diet is still an issue even though I've eliminated most of the animal stuff except for once in awhile. Very hard to break 60 year old habits. I still have the on-going pain in my chest. It comes and goes. I have an appointment but as some of you know, social medicine can take awhile especially for an MRI.
On my walk this morning I did quite a bit of observation. You know that Mexico is like any other country and it has its good, the bad and the ugly. Where we live is a tourist corridor along the highway. It is filled with shops on one side and buffets on the other. They sell un chingo de furniture along with local eats such as pan de elote (corn bread), miel de caña (a drink made from sugar cane), camote en jarabe (sweet potato and squash in honey), things like that. People pack the place on weekends. Some of the shops are nice but in general, and I hate to say it, the place is a real dump.
Many years ago, before the bad times came (which are now gone around these parts), I knew many of the younger folks who had shops. They are mostly revendedores (resellers). All nice people but they lack one important ingredient, education. During those years and even now, we have programs to help the small business person. I'm not an NGO fan as I believe I pay taxes for these programs and we need to take advantage of them. I had helped or attempted to help several of these people. I talked to them about the programs, what the requirements were, paperwork, etc. They had to take a course. That was the first show stopper. The loans and courses were available if you met the requirements and they were fairly simple; be a registered taxpayer, and have a registration number. As a contribuyente pequeño (small contributor) you only need to show an estimated amount of income, for example, 5000 pesos a month. You would then pay a fixed monthly tax of say 300 pesos. However, that would be sufficient to get you into the program.
I was only able to help one person, a woman from the gym. She had a laundry and washed people's clothes using a residential washer and dryer. The dryer and the electricity did use consume much because most people like their clothes line dried. When you don't use a clothes dryer you don't want your cottons to be dried as they will shrink. So the next time you have laundry done in Mexico and you have some things you don't want in the dryer just tell them line dry. I do it when I am in SMA.
She was hesitant but after time she accepted. She went to the course, she paid the small fees and off she went. She was able to obtain a low-interest government loan that helped her build a small yet viable commercial laundry service. She has accounts with restaurants and asilos (nursing homes) to do their linens. She also added a tintoreria (dry cleaning) although she sends it off to a plant in Monterrey. It can be done but the problems are the following:
1) lack of education (most folks around here don't finish secondary out in the country)
2) lack of confidence in the government
3) the government doesn't get the information out to the locals
Government does a good job in these programs but it takes effort and you have to have the confidence of the people. One of the governments responsibilities is to provide employment and in Mexico it does. It doesn't work though because no takes advantage of the programs which in turn allows for a lot of employees to sit around doing nothing. The more you sit around the more -bureaucratic thins become. It's a catch-22.
I guess I put to much into it. It's just that it could be so much more and people could have more income, better living conditions, and have happier lives overall. If you've stuck with me this far, then maybe some of you have a better perspective. Remember that Juan did his PhD thesis on dropout rates in Mexico. The lowest denominator on the list was economic. The highest was lack of interest.
Our pool remodel is almost finished. The grout work has been redone and we are planning on a formal palapa not a gazebo. We haven't decided yet on a tile deck, stamped concrete, or cool deck products which are like a stucco effect but the material doesn't get hot in the sun.
We opened up the trailer this afternoon and are going there for happy hour to talk about our two-week trip during Semana Santa to San Luis Potosi.
Keep tabs on Ruth and Kevin. They are in Italy right now. Contessa and Colin are enjoying incredible sunsets every evening and Norma and Croft are basking in the Arizona sun.