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Como México no hay dos.

Mexican Butter.

Where can I find good butter in Mexico? Mexican butter is probably one of the most discussed ex-pat topics, right behind toilet paper disposal. When the Dunosusa mini-market opened their doors down the street from our house, I asked for butter at the small deli counter. The lady offered me margarine. When I repeated that I wanted butter, she shrugged, replying,”It’s the same thing.” I didn’t argue but neither did I buy the proffered plastic placebo. Is placebo the right word? I assume that most placebos are either benign or inert. Poison sounds harsh but is more accurate. The Extra (a convenience store similar to 7/11) recently started carrying butter. However, ten years ago, nearest butter was 7 blocks away but only Lala or La Gloria brands. Mexican butter tastes odd to most North Americans, probably to Europeans too. It has a slightly plastic mouth feel. It’s okay in cooking, but I wondered about that off taste.  It worried me. ...

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Life in Merida- not all fiestas and parades.

People probably imagine our life here in Merida as exotic and exciting. Life in Merida is not all fiestas and parades, sometimes it’s just life. Instead of a parade, there will be a Chiapan family marching by, trumpets and drums making a discordant cacophony, stopping at our door hoping that we’ll tip them to go and play somewhere else. Sometimes, it’s the alarm at the Dunosusa going off at 7am every morning. Sometimes, it’s firecrackers and ambulances. Sometimes, it’s just life in a city of a million people.Life in Merida is not all fiestas and parades. Generally, my personality is sunny and optimistic, so much so, that I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna. I don’t think Pollyanna is such a bad role model, do you? However,I have been a tad blue lately, getting up well after 8 am, and just generally feeling listless. Yes, I know activity is the enemy of depression and so I have started doing  more ...

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Spending a decade in Merida

If someone had told me that I would be spending a decade in Merida, I would have laughed at them. The longest I have ever lived in one place was ten years, and that was under my parents’ roof. Of course, we’re just entering our tenth year of living here, not finishing it, so there is still a chance that things will change. I doubt that we’re going to leave town anytime soon, this is home. Merida has changed in the time we’ve lived here. You still can’t find comfortable furniture but you can buy good coffee and chocolate. The carnival floats are not as good as they once were, but La Ermita and Santa Lucia have been spruced up and more charming than ever. I understand that you can now buy decent pizza but we don’t eat wheat anymore so we don’t care. The best that can be said for Chinese food here is, “It isn’t bad” but you ...

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Hugs and Kisses Afghan raffle

  One of the International Women’s Club’s projects is providing handmade caps, activity books, story books, crayons, and assorted “smile-bringers” to  children being treated for cancer at O’Horan Hospital. Two members visit weekly, distributing joy to from 15 to 25 children from all over southeast Mexico and Belize, infants to age 16. To help fund this project, which costs over $10,000 pesos per year, two IWC members, Beth Knepp and Theresa Gray, have crocheted an heirloom afghan in white, which measures 66 x 66 in (168 x 168 cm) – a perfect size and weight, especially during our frequent winter nortes.  Tickets for a drawing to be held December 20th during MEL’s evening social, cost just $20 pesos, or 3 for $50, and can be purchased from Jonna Harlan < lou@baddog.com > or Beth Knepp <smiles4beth@yahoo.com>. If you or someone you know would like to knit or crochet some hats to cover those newly bald heads, contact Marianne Kehoe <kehoedds@comcast.net>. She will send hints and ...

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Frugal living Mexico style:fix it, use it up, or wear it out.

Frugal living Mexico style is easy. NOB it’s often simplier and cheaper to replace something when it stops working rather than try to fix it. Even if you want to repair something, you can’t find the parts or someone to do the work. Take cobblers for example, you can find shoe repair stands in every mercado, small or big. The larger mercados such as the Mercado Galvez have several. In Santa Rosa, I knew of two places in the entire town.  Husband routinely has his shoes resoled, it’s gone up fifty pesos since we moved here but it’s still 15% of what a new pair of shoes would cost, if you could find them. That’s a story for another day, however. We used to have a great appliance repairman. He’s fixed our washing machine twice. However, the last time I called his phone was disconnected. So I am in the market for a new washing machine repair man. Our machine ...

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Five kilos of onions

When the call went out from the IWC for people to chop onions for the I emailed and volunteered. I like projects with a concrete goal. Plus I have some experience in the onion chopping department, and more importantly, I own a Cuisinart food processor. I chopped 3 kilos of onions for the MEL chili cook off earlier this year. I won’t have to do it alone, one of my friends called last night and offered to help. The plan? Meet on Monday afternoon and chop 4 kilos of white onions, put them in gallon baggies. Slice one kilo of red onions. I also have a mandolin. I don’t think we’ll drink anything stronger than tea, but we will have fun.I am a fan of activity based socializing. Last year’s picnic was great fun. The location is perfect. The music is good. Joanna and Debi both have more information on their blog. I was going to include photos from last ...

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Clearing the deck for action

Five black tank tops! I had five black tank tops! BK came over and I modeled my wardrobe for her. Some of my favorites ended up in the discard pile, too big or unflattering, victims of my unwillingness to invest the time and energy to completely remake them. Even if they no longer serve me I have a hard time letting go of things. The alterations pile was plenty deep, fortunately most of it was quickly dispatched. Elastic was replaced in one pair of pants and three skirts,while another pair of pants and a dress were combined to make a skirt, several tops received either shoulder darts or seaming up the back. The waistband of pair of dress shorts was taken in too. The last time I wore the shorts, the weight of my  house keys, cellphone, and overladen change purse combined to drag the pants lower on my body than I was comfortable with. When I discovered that I ...

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Lies, insinuations, and innocence in the Yucatan

We all create our own reality. We see things through our own filters. I believe that. My Mexican experience is totally colored by my perceptions and attitude. I like to think of myself as friendly and helpful so of course I believe that most people are friendly and helpful.It doesn’t hurt that I have grey hair and look like your mother. Case in point, Sunday, BK, another girl friend, and I decided to check out the crafts fair at the Siglo 21. BK greeted me by saying,“There’s a noise under the hood because a piece of plastic has come loose and is flapping in the wind. I’ll have the mechanic check it on Monday”. In March, the Honda had been a victim of a hit and run accident while parked on an otherwise empty street. The bumper had suffered some damage along with the undercarriage. The dealership was supposed to have replaced the plastic housing, apparently they hadn’t fastened it ...

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Going native

We more or less live a middle class Mexican life. Last month when No Tech refused to accept the automatic deposit of Husband’s pension we found out just how little we can live on. I won’t bore you with our new improved credit union’s many shortcomings but suffice to say  when we inquired into the matter, their response was essentially require that we ourselves research the problem. Your Spanish phrase for the day “Me dan mal genio”. Since the demise of the Volvo, our shopping habits have changed. It’s been two years since I wrote Mi Dispensa where I told about my changing attitude towards maintaining a well stocked pantry. One of my friends is of the opinion that you either have to speak Spanish or have money to live well here. Ideally, you have both the language skills and the financial wherewithal. Luckily for us, we both speak Spanish since we are financial refugees from California. I’m happy that ...

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