Friday, October 26, 2007

A Pile of Loot!

Another week in Mexico is finished and I arrived back home tonight about 11 pm in a cab from the airport which feels terribly excessive and non-frugal to me. I try to hit hitch rides to the airport whenever possible because I like to leave my truck in the driveway because I don't have a security system and it makes it look like I'm home what with the lights on timers and all. But it seems not at all easy to find free rides back from the airport. I have the option of taking MARTA (the Atlanta "subway" system) but I would have to go all the way into the center of Atlanta and then change lines and come all the way back to my side of town and THEN take a cab from the station to my house (about 10 miles). All the while dragging luggage and my own tired ass. Sam kind of laid it on the line and told me to just take the cab and stop mooching rides from my friends because I can expense it. I'll still take rides where I can find them because even if I walked around with $1000 in 20's it is gut-wrenching to watch a cab meter ticking off the 1/8 miles. I'm hopeless.

So anyway I'll spare you the details but it was a fairly brutal week. Brutal in a weird kind of exhilarating way. Problems like I dealt with this week make my stomach burn and yet it really pumps me up to deal with them and make progress, and progress was made although it could have been better. Still I find myself sitting here in front of the computer at 11:42 pm on a Friday night (10:42 pm Mexico time - oh sure that justifies it) and I just kind of have to write a bit before I can wind down.

I've spent 16 of the past 26 days in Mexico and I'm fairly certain I'll be back, maybe soon. I changed most of my leftover pesos back to US dollars after the first trip but now I don't bother - I simply empty my wallet in flight and change back over to whatever I have of the currency of the country I'm flying to. I have a little change purse from Japan that I use for the purpose of storing whatever currency I won't be using for a while. Tonight I emptied my wallet of pesos and put the US money back in and I was shocked at how much Mexican coinage I had accumulated:

I know a lot of people who throw all their extra change in a jar and then once a year take it to the machine at the grocery store and buy a new BMW or whatever but I always try to keep my change to a minimum which I suppose is why I drive a 6 year old truck. But at least it's paid off! I found myself wondering how on earth I had managed to accumulate so many coins and realized with some embarrassment that Mexican coins are confusing to me! I far prefer to pay with paper money because I have to look so carefully to figure out which coins to hand over to round out a purchase. What a doob I am. Some of these are 10 peso coins which is roughly (very roughly) about $1 US and are highly useful for tipping bellboys and the guy who opens the car door in the morning. But the rest turn me into a babbling fool. So I have this pile of loot because of my own pride. I would rather walk around with 2 or 3 pounds of metal than embarrass myself with a cashier. Today in the Mexico City airport I went to the bathroom 3 times hoping there would be an attendant so I could put down a fistful of coins as a tip (fistful = roughly 30 cents) but no such luck which is unheard of in my brief experience there.

So anyway as I mentioned it was a rough week and long hours and no time to flit about Mexico but in the interest of sharing I have to tell you that I was there alone this week for the first time. The first week was me, Sam and Michael and during off hours we did that kind of business/social thing and it was great. The second short trip it was me and Michael and we did the same. This time me. The office have come to know me as a bit of a culture-glutton and this week instead of going in a car to a restaurant for lunch the whole office walked to a nearby "place" for take out. I can only describe this place because I don't know what to call it. It was kind of like a garage - with a roll up door onto the street. The whole place was maybe 400 square feet and most of it was a sit down dining area with about 5 plastic patio tables. The kitchen was not much bigger than my tiny bathroom and the cooks were a mother/daughter team. Every day there are two main selections that come with rice and plantains or rice and an egg, soup and a large drink (Monday it was a lime juice drink and Tuesday it was a guava drink). It is a full, hearty, home cooked "real" Mexican lunch and for everything it is $35 pesos (roughly $3.30). Unfortunately they don't do receipts so I can't really expense it but I'll try. It's just that down home. It was fun. You kind of walk into the tiny kitchen and tell momma your order then wait outside on the street and they bring it out to you and take your money. Then you walk back to the office, dodging stray dogs and vehicles. This is not what you should imagine Mexico City to be - this is just the area where the office is. Mexico City really is a very slick cosmopolitan city with a rich history but I think it is very cool that one can have an experience like this without ever leaving the city limits!

So anyway I took a couple of photos from my hotel window. I was looking out across at the airport and they are working on some landscaping. They are tending it carefully. I looked out the window at the exact right moment and saw a Mexican sprinkler system:

Can you see it? A big water truck and a guy on top hosing down the landscaping! WAIT!!! Here's a better shot!
Time to go now. Time to sleep in my own bed with my cats hogging up all the space. I have some other things to share about this week but will do it later when I've had time to vacuum and recover!

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