First, the cooks among you are probably waiting for the newest recipes. Despite the three-week interval since the last one there are only two new ones, since Yurina and I took a week off.
So we've started looking at properties. We saw one that we are sort of nuts about. It has three buildings on it: a casa with a bedroom and dressing room (!) upstairs and a little room downstairs that could be used as my study plus living/dining/kitchen, a casita with three rooms that we're thinking of making into two rooms by knocking out a wall, and a good-sized room with a nearby half-bath that could become a guest room and full bath. The property has a lovely view over San Miguel, is not terribly far from Centro, has a good amount of land, has an OK price that we would reduce, and is in a decent neighborhood. The trouble is that it looks like how Sleeping Beauty's castle and garden must have looked after her 20-year sleep. Derelict doesn't begin to describe it. But the buildings seem solid and there are two huge jacaranda trees for shade. We are making appointments with architects, contractors and garden designers to find out how much money and time would be required to make this into homes we'd want to live in, at an affordable total price. We should be able to make a decision about it this coming week or so.
I have bought two homes in my life, both in Seattle, and for both of them the market was so hot that it was a matter of Decide on the Spot or lose it. I am reveling in the luxury of taking the time to make up my mind about this place! Rick's mind too, of course.
The weather continues to be horrendous, at least for a girl from the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures are in the low to mid-90s every day, strong sun every day, until the rains start probably next month. Old-timers here say this is the hottest summer they can remember, but maybe this will become normal. I carry an umbrella for shade, use the hand fan David and Shree gave me when they were here, and always have a bottle of cold water with me. I have bought something sold locally here, a cloth tube filled with water-absorbent granules of some sort. You soak it in the morning and it holds the water for most of the day. You wear it around your neck and the coolness is wonderful.
And I never thought I'd ever in my life consider this, but we are thinking of installing a small pool in the place we buy, as a relief from the heat. As we all know, only rich people have pools, so this is a conceptual and financial stretch. We'll see if it's possible to do it here for a price we could afford. It bears looking into because labor is much cheaper here. There's a good place in the Sleeping Beauty property for a pool, and in addition it would be easy to create a sleeping porch there for each of us. The nights are deliciously cool, down to the upper 50s, but the houses retain the day's heat: sleeping porches would be ideal in the hot months.
The adult education program I proposed to the Biblioteca is not dead, although it sometimes seems so. After trying to work with the Biblioteca Board of Directors and a Board member who volunteered to work with us on it, I came to the conclusion that they are absolutely so awful to work with -- slow, bureaucratic, micro-managing, intrusive, counter-productive -- that I'd rather not do the program than do it with them. My friend Luba, with whom I'm working on this, suggested an alternative place to hold it. We have made a presentation to the Director and think that the signs look good, but there's no conclusive answer yet. We hope to have one soon, maybe this week.
I have a Mexican medical story to tell you. I got my annual mammogram at the San Miguel public hospital, the Hospital General. It is entirely free, apparently subsidized by the government, but it took five trips. 1) Go to the hospital and learn that I have to come back between 10:30 and 12:30 to make an appointment. 2) Go back between 10:30 and 12:30 and make the appointment. 3) Go back for the first appointment: give them my name, address, age, etc. This takes about 3 minutes. 4) Go back the next day for the mammogram but the doctor has left even though I haven't yet had my appointment. 5) Go back again and this time get the mammogram: sophisticatednew digital equipment, apparently knowledgeable technicians. But when I changed into a hospital gown I saw this was is a shared resource; it looked clean but the idea is yukky. I will have to go back for a 6th time to get the results, in a month. In a nutshell you have the advantages and disadvantages of Mexican medicine: excellent and priced right (can't be more right in this instance) but so inefficient.
People in the US keep asking if I feel safe here. I must tell you that I feel 100% as safe as I did in the US. Actually, considering comparable-sized cities, I feel safer here. It is true that I wouldn't be comfortable living in a border city, god forbid, or in some port cities where there's been drug violence, but this place feels like a small town in Iowa. And it's just fine to fly into Mexico City (or Leon, a closer but more expensive airport) and take a luxury bus to San Miguel. So from someone with direct experience, the stories of how dangerous Mexico is are starting to sound like the stories about New York, where you're mugged every day, and about Seattle, where it rains 100% of the time.