Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Productive Week! Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

And so the week continued with excursions and activities for the sole purpose of making the apartment comfortable in style and function. But, of course, we had to have some fun too along the way!

I think I've mentioned Cupocity before, the Mexican Groupon. Well, it was time again for our monthly massages and we had bought a great deal for only $190pesos ($15 US) each - 75 minutes of pure bliss. What's nice is that we're able to try different spas throughout the area. And, I must say, so far Angels has been the best so far!! 

And what better way to celebrate our out of body experience than to drop in at Sea Monkey for a margarita. Only problem was that they've stopped using real limes due to the lime crisis and they were way too sweet and sugary. So until the lime crisis is abated, we'll not be going back for margaritas. But they still have Mike's $1 beers and I'll just have to have my wine. :)

For those that aren't following the lime crisis, let me explain. Because the rainy season lasted longer this year, early January was our last huge gully washer, it prevented the lime production. Prices have quadrupled here, which really eats into the profits of a $1 margarita!!  There is hope that as the dry season continues, production will increase. We'll see...

We made our first excursion by bus out to Home Depot on Tuesday. Unfortunately, our goal of finding shades, blinds or curtains didn't work out nor did we find acceptable washer/dryer choices or a replacement toaster. Bummer!!  We did buy a couple of wax begonias for only 10 pesos ($.80) each on close out. 

So we decided to get off at Walmart on our way back into town because we had seen bamboo shades there that we knew would work. Instead we found 2 beautiful orange rolling shades that were a   perfect size for 2 windows. Now we only had to borrow a drill to put them up. 

I had been trying to get together for months with another Facebook friend who I hadn't met yet, Helen. So on Wednesday morning Mike and I went to her meditation session at the yoga studio right here in Old Town.  It was a wonderful half hour of just letting go and getting carried away to another realm.  

After our session, we trekked back to Costco to buy the toaster that I had been eyeing since we got to Mexico. It's not only beautiful to look at but it fits our larger bread to a tee and does a better job. Yes, it was a bit more expensive but in the long run it will pay for itself in many ways. 

We spent Thursday installing the shades that we bought. And, oh what a difference!! Not only do they look great, they are making a huge difference in the room temperature when we get the afternoon sun.

As the week progressed, PV became a very busy place! Semana Santa is the largest holiday in the country and EVERYONE it seems heads for the beaches.  They estimated that there were an extra 10,000 cars in town and I believe it!  Driving was absolutely insane with people driving the wrong way on one way streets. So, as a pedestrian, look out and be acutely aware of your surroundings even more so! And the sidewalks and beaches were packed right through the weekend.

We were very much looking forward to Friday for it was going to be a busy social fun day.  We started by going to a late lunch with my friend, Karyl.  She had never been to lunch up at Casa Isabel, so of course, we had to go there.  And, as always, we enjoyed the meal but truly loved the view!!

We had also purchased tickets through Cupocity to see the Carole King show, Tapestry, at Act II.  No disappointment here!  2.5 hours of wonderful singing and great piano and guitar.  Tickets were $120 pesos instead of $300 each ($9 US vs. $23).

A bit of video to enjoy: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_7791351

I WANT Lamar's T Shirt!!

A great way to end the day was by listening and enjoying Sean Moore and his Texas Blues Band at Nacho Daddy's.  Boy can they make the blues rock!

I had been conversing all week with a gentleman who was selling a brand new LG washer/dryer one piece combo on Craigslist.  It's a really cool machine. Totally automatic from wash cycle through drying process. Runs totally on 110v electric and it's sleek and gorgeous to look at. So on Saturday morning we talked by phone and came to an agreement on price ($800US) that is half of what it sells for retail.  But it needed to be viewed in person before we'd all go through the exercise of having it delivered.

So off Mike and I went by bus to the end of the line in Pitillal then by taxi to his home in another suburban neighborhood.  We were not disappointed in the machine.  It looked as good in person as it did in the pictures.  And, it wasn't as large as we thought.  The seller owns a Ford Explorer and with the three guys (father, son, and Mike), they were able to lift it into the back of the SUV with no problem.  And once his brother arrived, off we went.  He stopped at the bank to let us get our cash to pay for it and once at our place, the 3 were able to carry it up the 3 flights of stairs to our condo.  It's a heavy son of a gun, so they were all glad we didn't live higher up!

It now has a beautiful silver cover to keep it looking this nice.

We could justify the price because we would be spending about $12/week on a laundry service for clothes, towels, and sheets.  That's $624 plus all the hassle to carry it back and forth plus working with their hours of operation.  Yup, now I can do my laundry when I want to!!  Even at night because this baby is quiet as a church mouse!!  It even plays a sweet little music melody when it's finished. 

Saturday evening didn't turn out to have much of a sunset, as the clouds rolled in. But, we did enjoy drinks with Helen on her rooftop right on the beach. 

Our building from afar.

From there we ended up eating at Di Vino Dante.  We had been wanting to try it out and enjoy the beautiful peaceful setting up above the art gallery.  The restaurant itself exhibits allot of art and is in its first season. It was the 2 x 1 pizza that caught our attention.  A most enjoyable experience and a beautiful venue!


And, so as it was Saturday night, that meant our friend Joe King Carrasco was playing at Nacho Daddy's.  A must stop for us.  As we were going to find a table, I got stopped by a man who knew me well from reading my blog.  Bo and his wife, Dora, had just come in from Ecuador and are checking out PV.  We had a delightful rest of the evening getting to know each other and talking about places and countries we've both been to. 

This is not the first time and probably won't be the last at being recognized.  It never ceases to amaze me at how many people I've never met before know me when I walk by just from reading the blog and seeing our pictures!! 

Easter Sunday was a totally lazy day with sleeping in, doing a bit more laundry, a scrumptious gorgonzola egg souffl√© with bacon croissant.  Mike's specialty!  And, to top off the day, a bit of sunbathing and lounging in the pool.  Ah, the good life!!

This week is already shaping up to being very productive, as well.  We continued on with our search for blinds and went back to Home Depot on Monday.  After looking at all the options again, we decided to buy a cut to fit blind in cream for over the sink.  We installed it this morning and it's perfect!

We have continued to chase our old landlord, David, for our security deposit but with the Easter holidays we got nowhere fast.  Couldn't even get a response from our legal advisor so this morning Mike got up early and personally went to see David.  David did answer the door, which is quite a surprise. He still contends that we will have our money by tomorrow but that he would only present it to our legal advisor.  Who knows.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

The construction of the new building on our street was thankfully put on hold all last week.  The daily jack hammering into the bedrock does eat into our peace and quiet.  We truly enjoyed the whole week without it.  But sure enough at 8am they were back at it again yesterday. At least when we close the doors and windows here, it really does lessen the noise considerably and for that we are grateful.  It shouldn't last much longer and that's nice to look forward to as well.

Only one last real project to coordinate and that's getting a custom drape made for our sliders.  But that's for another day.

This week I also got published again in the online Retirement and Good Living site.  They also reached out to me from having found my blog.  http://retirementandgoodliving.com/retiring-in-mexico-making-lemonade-when-handed-lemons/

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend doing whatever. 

Again, thanks for following along on this journey of ours and for all of your wonderful comments and feedback.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Budget Update!! ONLY Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

I felt it was time to leave behind the chart of all the other countries that were not our location of choice.  Anyone still wanting to take a look (and, they should), you can find it in my Archives in March, 2014. 

I will now concentrate on a full year's monthly budget to show absolutely everything we spend money on. We do like to live as big as possible on the budget GOAL of $1,800/month we have set for ourselves.

The main point is that even though this month was our declared "Vacation Month" because we had so many family and friends visiting that we were out and about far more than normal.  And still, we didn't overspend our income!  We are now back on the "normal" mode for month 5.

We chose to keep our rental amount at what we were paying during high season because we found a great apartment exactly where we wanted to be and didn't really compromise on much. A very good value! And, because we are living here year round, we chose to purchase some items that make our life more comfortable and pleasing for us.  This was total Discretionary spending and not necessary at all to live here. 

I have also now included the cost of our Medical Insurance.  We have decided for the near future we will continue to keep our Traveler's Insurance for both of us at a cost of $772 for 6 months or $129/month.  The coverage we get in this policy is as good, if not better, than what we would get through private insurance and it includes coverage to fly us back to the states in the event of a disaster or illness.

Living Expenses:
Rent w/util $1,050.00 $1,000.00 $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Electric $4.00 $4.00
Cell Phone $16.00 $16.00 $16.00 $15.00
Groceries $247.00 $308.00 $230.00 $331.00
Meals Out $274.00 $283.00 $167.00 $382.00
Drinks Only $211.00 $193.00 $164.00 $130.00
Entertainment $70.00 $74.00 $102.00 $238.00
Massages $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 $30.00
Bus/Taxi $72.00 $28.00 $5.00 $21.00
Dental Cleaning $8.00 $8.00 $8.00 $0.00
Incidentals $22.00 $4.00 $23.00 $20.00
Medical Ins. $129.00 $129.00 $129.00 $129.00
TOTAL $2,139.00 $2,087.00 $1,888.00 $2,296.00
TOTAL W/O RENT $1,089.00 $1,087.00 $888.00 $1,296.00
Discr Spending:
Tours $203.00
Home Improve $793.00
Medical $60.00
Air Travel
Hotels $38.00
Car Rental
Spanish Lessons $117.00 $124.00 $36.00
TOTAL Discr. $320.00 $124.00 $96.00 $831.00
TOTAL ALL $2,459.00 $2,211.00 $1,984.00 $3,127.00

* We had to restock our refrigerator after moving because we had let the supplies run down.
* We ate out 17 times this last month vs. 10 times the month before and at places that we wouldn't normally go to on a regular basis, as they were more exotic & expensive. But certainly enjoyed every moment!!
* We did several tours because of guests being here. Lots of fun to do but will do only once a year when guests come again.
* We spent a bit on "discretionary" kitchen & home items that just make our life more enjoyable here. The apartment is well furnished and these were totally not necessary to live here but they sure are nice to have!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Week of "Hi's" and "Bye's".... Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Here in Mexico, daylight savings time began last Sunday.  Weird for sunset to be so late at about 8:30pm but at least we can have dinner first then go watch it.  And, this week there have been some beauties!!  Enjoy!!

Because of the jack hammering that's been going on for the new construction project on our street, we've been rudely woken up almost every morning at 8 am.  I know, I know, that's not really early and most times we are in the early throes of being awake.  BUT, it's another to have the jack hammer in the brain that early.

Our daughter, Ara, sent us a request to help out our 6 year old grandson, Arlo,  with a Flat Stanley project for school.  If you don't know what Flat Stanley is, it's where you draw a body and place your face (our grandson Arlo's) on the body.  Then people you know get the picture printed and they take it to places Arlo has never been to.  So off we went with the picture on my flash drive down to Mailboxes Etc. for color printing and laminating.  From there Mike and I walked up and down the Malec√≥n taking pictures of "Arlo" at different sites along the way.  Arlo will be printing out our pictures back in Spokane and presenting them as part of his project.  I actually think we had the most fun!

Monday evening there was the annual meeting of Democrats Abroad at Los Muertos Brewing.  Mike had done some volunteer work for them so we decided to attend.  Always good pizza, beer, and wine.  And while there, we were invited to come to a couple's home, David & Judy, on Saturday to get to know them better.  Slowly we are meeting people and making new friends with those who live here most of the year.

On our walk home, we ran into Mel Enge at Nacho Daddy's.  He was there to watch the men's NCAA Championships.  So, of course, we sat ourselves down and watched the game with him.  A delightful evening all around especially since UCONN won!

Sean Moore, owner of Nachos, Mel Enge, & Mike

Tuesday we went out to find a Mexican salad bowl and spoon rest.  We love the Mexican pottery and want to have some accent pieces that are useable and not just decoration.  Our "go to" place on the other side of the river where we bought our water container wasn't open so we went down stairs.  Lucky us that we found exactly what we were looking for and they are a beautiful addition to our kitchen and home. 

The newly painted water stand

Yes, we are accumulating "things".  Things that make our life and living it more enjoyable.  They are not "needs", they are "wants".  And none of them are necessary for day to day living.  We are fortunate that we do have some discretionary money every month over our "needs" budget.  These are also items that we could sell or could easily walk away from should the time ever come but they certainly make it more beautiful NOW!

We had made plans to meet up with friends, Andrea and Richard Doggett and Todd Wheeler for Happy Hour at the Signature Lounge at The Pinnacle.  It was nice to see Harris joins us, as well. This was Andrea and Richard's last few days before they headed home to Iowa on Thursday.  Certainly had a blast while they were here and we will miss them!!  Somehow I have a feeling that we will see them again somewhere.

Mike had continued to try and reach our previous landlord to determine when we would be getting our money back.  "No" was not an option with us and we felt we were definitely now getting the run around.  So by Tuesday afternoon we were both very frustrated and decided to contact our legal facilitator, Felipe.  He was happy to go with Mike Tuesday evening to meet with David and converse in legal and technical terms.

Turns out this was absolutely the right thing to have done.  David was very upset with us and started being belligerent to Mike.  That's when Felipe started to say "Fine, be that way.  I will call my uncle the lawyer and we will file papers against you tomorrow."  David threw up his hands and said he didn't want any trouble.  "Supposedly" we will have our money within 2 weeks.  Something about it having to be transferred back to Mexico from the states.  He now knows that if we don't get our money back, papers will be filed against him.  He picked on the wrong gringos.  We aren't leaving town and saying "oh well".  We shall see how this all shakes out....

I, on the other hand, was enjoying a lovely evening of beautiful blues and soul music listening to Chris Kenney at Nacho Daddy's while Mike and Felipe were out doing their work.

Thursday morning, Mike and I walked up the street to say farewell to our new good friends, Andrea and Richard.  The nice part about us being the ones that stay behind is that we are now the recipient of left overs from various friends we've made who go home for the summer.  Andrea and Richard's contribution was a gold mine though!!  Tequila, Gran Marnier, Contro, Baileys, Pina Colada mix, Margarita mix, full loaf of bread and a box of granola.  Score!!!  Thanks, guys!

The final fund raiser for the Babies at Risk cause was being held Thursday at Nacho Daddy's.  This cause is where the money raised is used to buy good formula for babies whose mothers have HIV and can't nurse their babies.  Karyl Littlechild, a Spanish lessons classmate and friend, has been organizing and running all of these events.  She is to be commended!!!  Every community is enriched because of selfless people like her.

Mike and I showed up at 1pm to help with the setup.  All went smoothly and we met some really nice people.  Unfortunately, the time came and went for people to start showing up...only they didn't. Bummer!! The advertising didn't go well and the date had been changed too many times and it's late in the season here with many already gone home to the states or Canada.  So all of us volunteers hung out having drinks and listening to the very very good rock band - Tres Quartos (3/4) band. 


While listening to the music, we met a woman, Karen and her finance, Lindy.  We had a wonderful conversation getting to know each other. So now we have plans to get together this week at our place for drinks then go around the corner and out for dinner at Fusion Gourmet, where everything is half off on Wednesday nights.  Meeting more great people!!

Friday morning early, we were taken up to a beautiful condo project in Conchas Chinas, Miramar.  It's at the highest point in PV.  We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at their restaurant and shown some of their condos.  A stunning vantage point to view the Bay from but way too far and up for us to consider without a car.

Saturday we made another run to Mega where we found nothing on our list so we ended up deciding to hop another bus and go up to WalMart and the Galeria Mall.  Found nothing we were looking for in the mall either but did find a new toaster and a very large lid for our very large frying pan. 

We have also been wanting to put up some window treatments in the living area.  The sun is getting quite intense in the late afternoon but it's more for if someone comes and needs to sleep in the living area.  They would need some privacy and darkness to sleep.  We didn't buy anything but we did make a decision as to what we are going to do.  Take a bus to Home Depot for the first time this coming week and see what they have available before making any further decisions!!  It will also let us look at their washers and dryers before we make a decision on that also.

And, then we took a cab to go to our friend's home up in Gringo Gulch.  They have a stunning condo that has a 180 view of the Bay off their terrace!  What a lovely evening getting to know new friends, sharing stories, and talking about what a great life it is here.  Judy and David are from Portland but live here 8-9 months of the year.  Next time at our place!



I awoke this morning to the news that my article was published by International Living and it was and it was today's Email Postcard that gets emailed to thousands around the world.  Many that I know and some that I don't emailed me directly with wonderful compliments.  I feel honored that all of my efforts to share our journey through this blog are truly helping so many others.  And, now my efforts are being recognized.  That feels really good!!


Mike and I decided not to cook breakfast this morning and instead went around the corner for a delicious and inexpensive meal at Fusion Gourmet.  French toast to die for and Eggs Benedict. Then a walk on the beach, where it's clear that Semana Santa has definitely started!!  We're being invaded by the rest of Mexico!! Laundry is done and I'm finishing up the blog.  A really good day!

Video of this flying person: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_7773248

So I'll end this week on that high note and hope that everyone else had a great week and that they will continue to do so in the coming one!!  Thanks for following along....on our journey.