Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moving to a New House in Mexico

I moved into a 3 bedroom house very close to the school where I teach.  What an experience, I must say.  It is a newly built wood-framed house with some recycled materials like the kitchen cabinets and the doors.  Yes, I said wood-framed house, just like the United States. The part I really like is the windows are brand new with double panes.  And they tilt in for cleaning, if I had the desire to clean them.  I might... someday.

Here's a laundry list of things you do not get when moving into a new home in Mexico:

1. Stove
2. Refrigerator
3. Boiler
4. Closets
5. Curtains or blinds
6. Air conditioning

For item #1 just across the border in Texas is what I call "used appliance row". I bought a gas stove for $150 and Sergio installed a 45 kilo LP gas tank that he found for 700 pesos.  The stove is awesome. It is full size unlike my other apartment's little stove.  And the oven uses Fahrenheit degrees!!!!  My old stove was labeled 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 for the oven temperature which I never did get the hang of and it didn't work very well.  Pizzas tasted like soggy cardboard so I did the Mexican thing and used the oven as storage.  I baked cookies in my new stove just to test it and they were AWESOME.  I can't wait to try a pizza.  While I was at the "used appliance row", I bought a washing machine for $80.  I hung clothes line around the palapa in the backyard. Oh, yes, I have a palapa in the backyard. How cool is that?

For item #2 Sergio's partner got a refrigerator from a school.  It is an Amana side by side and it is huge.  It needed a new compressor.  So for $120 I have this super cool refrigerator (pun intended).  At the old apartment I had an early 1970's vintage refrigerator that had been spray painted but all the rust was seeping through and when I moved in, I could tell it served as a roach motel. And the milk would last about 2 days before starting to become cottage cheese.

Item #3, the boiler.  I hate cold showers.  Everyone who knows me knows I hate cold showers.  All my blog readers know I hate cold showers.  I've bitched and moaned about cold showers because I had the world's suckiest boiler at the old apartment until the school finally decided I had bitched and moaned enough and installed a new boiler. Guess what? I am taking cold showers.  And I am not liking it one little bit. I won't last until December.  I won't last until October.  I may not last until next week even though it is 100 degrees everyday and the water coming in isn't exactly cold because of the heat.  Did I say I hate cold showers?

Item #4, the closets.  I can not believe that an American-style house was built without closets.  What's up with that?  So I went to Home Depot and bought the brackets, poles and boards for a shelf on top of the brackets.  It works.

Item #5, the lacking of window coverings is common in all new construction.  No surprise there.  I went to Walmart last weekend and bought 8 mini-blinds for (gasps in surprise) $3.96 each.  They look great!

Item #6, the air conditioning.  Even worse than having no boiler is no air conditioning in this incinerating, hellish, super-duper hot, tropical heat. Sergio installed a mini-split that takes the edge off of the blazing temperature, but it's not big enough.  It's being sent to the bedroom and so a better one can be installed for living and kitchen.  Soon.  Very soon.  Did I say very, very soon?

Also on the list is getting cable and internet.  Luckily, I have a neighbor who neglected to secure his wireless connection so if I sit in right direction and the sun and moon are aligned correctly, I can leech off the neighbor's internet. Which is what I am doing right now to publish this.

Moving is a good thing.  It forces you to clean out your closets and get rid of things you haven't used in years. Just ask my folks.  After a lifetime in Iowa, they are in the process of moving to Texas.  Mom, it's time to get rid of the Home Interior decorations from the 1970's.  Dad, the leisure suit in your closet should go.  But then again, maybe not.  After all, your closet/museum has been a source of amusement for me and my sisters for years.  We're talking about a man who still wore his Navy issued swimming trunks 50 years after discharge.  Woo hoo, way to go Dad!

Dad and his Navy issued swimming trunks, cerca 1951

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rio Grande Valley rudeness!

I HATE crossing the bridge between Mexico and Texas.  Anzalduas, Hidalgo, Pharr, Progreso, etc.  The lines are miserably long.  The worst in the whole process are the lane cutters.   At the Hidalgo bridge, the right lane is the preferred lane because it splits into 4-lanes at the end while the others don't split.  Consequently, the right lane is longer.  So the lane cutters pay their toll, drive half-way across the bridge and then at a moment's notice they cut in front of you if you hesitate for even a second.  This is made worse by all the vendors on the bridge. I'm so afraid I'm going to hurt one of them, I hesitate a lot. Therefore, the lane cutters jump at their chance risking life, limbs, or, to the very least, scratches and dents in their car and mine!  Yes, I've been hit by one of these jerks.  Makes me so angry I feel like playing bumper cars and whack their ass back to their own lane.  Nah, I ain't gonna do it.  I'd probably take out a bridge vendor in the process.  I don't want to hurt the poor bridge vendors (no matter how irritating they are) who are just trying to put food on their table.  But I'll make an exception for the one that swore at me a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Iowa - The Land of Tall Trees and Tall People

I'm an Iowan - Idiot Out Wandering Around Nowhere.

That joke was told to me by a good friend who happens to be from Minnesota.  You know why Iowa is so windy?  That's because Minnesota sucks!   JAJAJAJAJA (LOL en espanol)

I arrived in Iowa today.  I drove my parent's Ford Explorer while my dad drove the big moving truck. They are in the process of moving to Edinburg, Texas.  The first night we stayed in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the Bedbug Motel 6. It was nasty and I would give it a 0 star rating because the sheets and blankets were stained. We spent the night at my cousin Sherri's house in Knob Noster, Missouri last night. That was fun. It was a Culberson gathering with cousins Candi, Kelli, Jordin, Shane, Anna, Ham and kids. Oh, yeah, I meant to say Jordin, my first cousin, once removed. (hahaha, inside joke - she'll get me for it the next time we get together).  We told stories or made confessions about rotten things we have done in the past.  We told stories about my sister Lynn, who died tragically in a car accident this past winter.  I confessed how my sister Deana and I many years ago trained our Maltese dog  to attack Lynn.  It sounds worse than it really was even though Lynn would jokingly claim she needed years of therapy because we had traumatized her for life. OK, I admit to feeling guilty, just a little. But, dang, it was funny when that 8 pound dog would chase Lynn up the steps and then stand guard so she couldn't come down the steps.

So here I am in Cedar Rapids. My parents have a huge maple tree in the front yard. At one time they had a willow tree that seemed to be as tall as the clouds. All trees in Reynosa are dwarfs. Tonight I was walking around Hy Vee, the local grocery store, and marveling at how tall everyone is. I am only slightly above average in the height department here in Iowa which means I am a half-foot taller than everyone in Mexico.  It must be all the corn and pork products that we consume in Iowa that makes us grow so tall. Or it's the lack of fear of a gun battle in our neighborhood.

I will be returning with tomatoes and sweet corn.  And nobody will dare to put mayo, cheese OR chili on my good ol' Iowa sweet corn.