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Showing posts from July, 2017

Neruda

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On a lighter note, I watched Neruda on Netflix the other night when I couldn't sleep. I loved it.

It's fun to watch films in Spanish and see how far I have (or haven't) come in my learning. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised in myself. Sometimes I still have trouble making words out when they talk fast, or talk quietly. But it's happening.

I'm not a film critic and this isn't a film site, so I won't go into the film much other than to say it's worth a watch.

I have been a massive fan of Pablo Neruda since 1994 when I watched Il Postino. Long before Under the Tuscan Sun, it was  Il Postino that planted the bug of being an expat. The romantic notions of our youth! Not that I'm particularly old now.

I own several Pablo Neruda books and some books about Neruda's life. Most of them contain the Spanish on the page next to the translated English. Another helpful tool in my learning process. There's some obvious poetical license in the tra…

Things continue to fall apart

Last night I went home and Angie was mad. Delta had changed our Merida flights in October. This is the second time they've done it. The first time caused us to book a hotel room in Miami because we were going to have to stay overnight because the layover got so long.

Now we were going to have a nine hour layover in Minneapolis, too.

I told her to call Delta and maybe they'd offer to pay for our Miami hotel or at least bump us up to first class or give us some extra miles or something. She wanted to call Travelocity, where she booked through, but I told her they couldn't do anything. Call Delta directly. And if worse comes to worse, it's really not the end of the world.

I was so tired after we ate and went to lay down for a bit.

When I got up and walked back in the living room she blasted me with the news. "I cancelled."

Did she call Delta? I asked. No, just Travelocity and then she cancelled. Now we'd have to cancel our rental in Merida and everything els…

No house, no problem

What do I do next?

Wait. I guess.

It's been three weeks since Angie was laid off and she's still on the job hunt. If she could find a job sooner than later we might be able to jump back on green house, or maybe even take another run at blue house.

Either way, I've told myself I need to wait and be patient. A quality I am not generally known to possess. We are going back to Merida at the end of October. We already had it booked many months ago, so job or no job, we're going.

Hopefully, she has a job by then for sure. If that is the case, then I think we'll just wait until we go and we can see green and blue house in person (assuming they're still on the market) and then maybe we can make an offer while we're there.

Again, this is all assuming best case scenario and that Angie has a decent job by then. Otherwise, we'll probably just go to Merida and not do any house hunting. That was hard to write, oof.

When I thought green house was a lock, I was so exci…

We bought a house in Merida, take 2

After the flurry of offers there was a brief time of relative calm. Angie and I would be taking a road trip in the U.S. for a week in mid-June, 2017. That meant my house hunting would take a back seat. A little time before bed at night in the motels gave me a chance to peek every once in awhile.

During our trip a new house came on the market. I'm going to call it Green House. Half a block away from Santiago. It was a tad bit shorter than I would have liked but, again, I was positive we could make it work.

When we got home after the trip I did the usual layout of the house using our yard. Drew it up on Illustrator and did some other comparisons. Another thing I usually do that I forgot to mention is I took a Google Street View tour of the neighborhood. See what's around. Any noisy auto repair stations or bars? No? Then we're good.

It seemed like it would work out well. And the price was already pretty fair and affordable.

I contacted Isaac and he checked it out for us and a…

A flurry of offers

With blue house no longer in our sights, I kept looking. I debated larger houses that were farther out, or smaller homes that were closer in.

I searched site after site and my list grew. If I was obsessed before, now I was super obsessed. Trying to erase the failure of blue house.

I found a house that was very nice and in a great location. A little short on the lot, but if we built up we could manage, I thought. And the price was great. I contacted Isaac and said to just offer what they're asking.

Nope, Isaac emailed me back later, it was no longer for sale. I had seen that one on a website that is sketchy about updating the site. Houses that may have sold are still listed as for sale. You don't know this, of course, until you've struck out a few times. At that point you start to get a handle for which websites are generally current in their listings and which ones you might need to check on if they're even still for sale.

I asked Isaac about a house I had seen the las…

We bought a house in Merida, take 1

Once things had quieted down we settled in for winter. Of course it was bitter and of course it was cold.

I still kept an eye out for houses. Checking all the websites. Sometimes daily, sometimes waiting a week or two in between.

Every once in awhile I would email Isaac and ask for an address so I could locate a property and see if it was close to my "zone."

I felt bad emailing him too much just asking for a location. Eventually, I got really good at finding houses on Google Street View. As long as there was a photo of the front of the house and a general neighborhood given in the description, I could usually track it down like a top notch Columbo.

Sometimes, to give Isaac a break, I would just hit the "more info" button to ask for a location if I was really stumped or there was no photos of the front. But that was rare and it was rarer still when I'd get a response. I was good at tracking down faded house numbers or using the 3D flyover effect of Google Maps t…

Last day in Merida

This is going to be one of those posts I'm going to have to fight my way through. I don't really want to write it, but I think it's a part of the overall story, so it's important to me. But it may also be brief, just to be sure I get through it and I probably won't take the time to read through it again to edit it. It stands as I write it.

I was only in Merida for a full two days, this time. My first day was house hunting with Isaac, and my second day was me roaming the city.

I found new restaurants that I liked that hadn't been there before. I looked for houses for sale that weren't on any of the websites. I accidentally found Mercado 60, which is a cool little market with a bunch of food stalls.

And that's kind of where I want to end my second Merida trip. I roamed around Mercado 60 right as they were opening and the food stalls were setting up. I left and wandered down to Santa Lucia Park to kill a little time and give the food stalls a chance to ope…

House Hunting in Merida 2016

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Morning came quickly and I couldn't sleep long. I was up early and went for a dip in the pool and then got ready for Isaac to come so we could start our house hunting.

I was using the iPhone app, Galileo, to track each place we stopped to look at a house. I wanted to be prepared this time. I would know where each house was located, no matter how many turns we made to get to each house.

I paced around Casa Koala as I waited. I pace a lot, it helps me think and relieves my stress. I also looked out the frond door frequently, hoping Isaac wouldn't have any trouble finding the house. Eventually he pulled up and I waved him over. I pointed out the house across the street and said with disappointment "That was the one I came for."

We looked at a number of houses. Some were already remodeled and they were nice, but they lacked a certain character charm that I was looking for, or if they had that charm they were too expensive or a little farther outside the area I preferred…

Return to Merida

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It was September of 2016 and I was returning to Merida, but it would only be for a couple of days and I would be alone on this journey.

Angie drove me to the airport on a foggy morning and I waited at the departure gate. My itinerary would take me to Denver, then Houston and then into Merida later that evening.

It turned out it wasn't just a foggy morning for me. It was even more foggy in Denver, which grounded planes and kept planes bound for Denver grounded. Including mine.

Time ticked away and by the time we boarded I was fairly certain I wasn't going to catch my flight to Houston. And, missing that flight, I probably wouldn't make it to Merida today. Added in that I only had two full days in Merida, and only one to search for houses, it seemed like my whole trip was going to be wasted.

Before boarding I debated whether I should just call Angie to come and pick me up and cancel the whole thing. I was already having anxiety about going alone anyway. But I soldiered on. M…

Life changes

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The Merida trip of February 2014 passed and there was no schedule on the horizon when we would return.  We went on a few other trips as Angie continued to push us to keep traveling to new places around the world. Merida would have to wait.

Christmas of 2015 brought some of the biggest changes to our lives and would make our world a different place. The day after we celebrated Christmas with my family my dad was admitted to the hospital. He had a heart attack. In fact, he had probably had numerous heart attacks recently, but my dad is not someone who ever has liked to be sick or go to doctors he just shook it off. Probably just some pneumonia, he figured.
He was in the hospital through New Year's Eve, when they would run him through a couple of tests and small surgeries to get his heart beating right again. He was doing well, but they wanted to run one more test on him and put him under for it. I thought it seemed like he'd been through enough for one day, considering he's …

Our first trip to Merida, Part 6

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On Wednesday, we drove to Chichen Itza and walked around the pyramid and ruins. We had lunch there and drove back. I won't get into a ton of detail on that. It's an amazing place to visit and I strongly recommend you do, but there are tons of places you can go online to give you better descriptions than my three-year-old memory can serve.

There were some people selling crafts there, and Angie bought some from this little old lady who she then asked permission to take her photo. She was very sweet.

We would spend more time relaxing at Casa Sisal and then head into Merida later in the day for a stroll.

We stopped by Plaza Patio Merida, a mall, on the way out of town to check it out and pick up some snacks to have while we watched movies at the casa that night.

Which reminds me. And this story doesn't really fit any of these timelines very well, so I'll jam it in here since I think this is going to be my clearing-house post on our first Merida trip.

We had been so used to…

Our first trip to Merida, Part 5

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With our house hunting excursion moved to Thursday, we now had two days to relax and enjoy Merida and the Yucatan.

On Tuesday we got up early and drove to Izamal.



The beautiful yellow city.



We climbed a couple "hills" in the city, which are ancient and eroded pyramids, and walked through the market.




By this time, the Yucatan was becoming more "normal" for me. I didn't feel like a foreigner, because people didn't treat us like we were. I mean, sure, we didn't speak the language, or really know the customs, and we were obviously American, but nobody cared. Even I didn't seem to care.
Nobody tried to sell us things we didn't want and everybody just treated us like we belonged. And that is often an odd thing when traveling internationally. 
I can't even guess the amount of times I've been approached in other countries by people wanting me to come to their shops to buy a suit. I work for a newspaper, in the online department, I really don'…

Our first trip to Merida, Part 4

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A large part of this first journey to Merida was to do some house hunting of our own. All of my looking at homes on the internet had convinced me they were going to be amazing and we needed one. But I still had to convince Angie.

After our first trip into the city we were feeling positive vibes about our trip. As we cooled off in the pool and discussed everything, I was more than a little excited about the prospect of buying a house in Merida and retiring here someday. I tried out my sales pitch on Angie about how great this could be. But she was still going to need to see the houses. And let's face it, that's most of the fun anyways.

Before we had left on the trip I had tried contacting different real estate agents in the area to possibly show us around and none of them were getting back to me. It was a little frustrating. If you have spent any time looking for homes in Merida on the internet you know that the addresses are never given and there are no open houses like we'…

Our first trip to Merida, Part 3

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We woke up in paradise.

After a stressful day of traveling, we awoke to sounds of the jungle and got up and strolled around the grounds of Casa Sisal. Check out my post on Casa Sisal for that story.

By mid-morning we had gotten ready and worked up enough energy to make our way to Merida. I mean, I felt like we had technically arrived, but this was going to be the real deal.

When I mentioned before about going to Merida, how it was like meeting a celebrity you loved, well staying at Casa Sisal was like the high-end hotel you stayed at the night before you got to meet the celebrity for lunch. I was nervous and excited all at once.

Angie is an amazing wife and a brilliant photographer and a wonderful travelling companion, but she is a horrible navigator. So I prepared my GPS on my phone that I would keep on my lap and I figured out which streets I would need to look for while driving so I could keep on track. It is actually pretty easy to get into and around Merida if you're prepared…