Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buying Stuff

I was reading Jonna's blog today and was reminded of some of the hassles of shopping here.

With starting up both the B&B and Capi's Apartment, we were doubling up on a lot of items - blenders, toasters, coffee makers, tvs. At the cash register the practice is to open each box to make sure all the parts are there, which is good in a way because it is not easy to return things to the store. But it irritates me because they do not tape the box back up, so we are left with open boxes. Transporting that stuff back to Isla and making sure nothing falls out is a feat.

One time we bought a patio umbrella at Costco. It was wrapped up in plastic and Miguel said we should check it but I declined because a) I didn't want to open the plastic that was holding it all together and then struggle keeping it all together on the way home, and b) what could really be missing from an umbrella? Well, turns out the bottom post could be missing, so we paid about $100 for half an umbrella. We had to get the metal guy here to make us a bottom post. The umbrella is less than beautiful, even if it is functional. I hate it, actually.

When we bought the tvs for the rentals, they opened the boxes too. In this case I was glad, because about 3 years ago we bought a cheap tv at Walmart. A Mitsui tv. You've probably never heard of it, and that would be because it is a secret name that does not come up on any google search with any useful information.

We got the tv back to Isla, opened the box, and found the remote control missing. I was leaving the next day for Canada so was unable to get back to Walmart to get a replacement remote. By the time I got back from Canada, I could not find the receipt so Walmart would not help us other than to give us the name of a reseller in Cancun.

We went to the reseller in Cancun and although they had hundreds of remotes, they could not find one for Mitsui. They dug through boxes of remotes and stuffed a few with batteries and pointed them at tv's, but nothing worked on the one Mitsui they had in the back of the store (not our model), so they decided they did not really have a remote for our tv. But they came up with one they said 'should' work, a universal brand. We paid about $15 for it, got home and it did not work. I finally threw it out after about 6 months of leaving it lying around to taunt me.

I researched online to try to order a remote for the tv, but Mitsui is not a brand that even comes up as a tv. I wrote the head company and heard nothing. I wrote Walmart and heard nothing. I wrote Mitsubishi since the name is close and I thought maybe they bought Mitsui and might help me. I heard nothing.

There is a remote control stand right in Walmart - a separate business. They have a glass case loaded with remotes, and some had the name Mitsui on them. The hours of business listed were not really the hours of business, because we stood there for 30 minutes after the opening time (11 am), and nobody showed up. A security person came along and called the number posted on the booth, and the salesperson on the other end said they were not coming to work that day. They 'rest' on that day, we'd have to come back another day.

We went back on a day they were supposed to be open, at an hour they were supposed to be open. Nobody was there other than another potential customer who was frustrated because she'd been trying for days to get someone to show up and help her. We gave up that day, but another day we were at Walmart we happened to see the salesperson there. Of course we were unprepared, we did not have the model information with us, but she assured us she would have a remote for us if we just brought her the information.

So...another trip to Cancun with the information resulted in the woman thumbing through all her books and then declaring that our particular model was one she did not have available. She took our information and promised to call when she found one for us. We are still waiting.

I tried to buy a universal remote in Canada, but Mitsui is not listed on any universal remote. Somehow getting up to change channels led me to desperation, so I bought one anyway, one that claimed to work with all brands.

I sat on the bed and punched in every single code listed in the darn book. The best I could get the remote to do was to turn the tv on and off, and to move down one channel at a time by pressing the 'mute' button. No volume control. We can also punch in each channel, if we happen to know which channel we want to watch (I say 'we' here, but I really mean Miguel because I hardly watch tv, and I certainly never have control of the remote).

So...we turn on the tv, start at channel 99, and press the 'mute' button to search channels. It sort of works. And we just leave the volume at 18. Occasionally the sound is so low I can barely hear it (do I care?), and occasionally it is a little loud (I fall asleep anyway).

One day I dream about buying a nice new tv for the bedroom. One with a remote that does everything it's supposed to do, and probably will do more than we'll ever need it to do (all those buttons - who actually uses them anyway?). And I still check out all the universal remotes when I'm at stores in Canada. Who knows? One day I might actually find one that says "Mitsui".

Friday, February 27, 2009

Highlighting a Blog - Beck

I've only met Beck briefly. I love her blog and her pictures. She often posts old family pictures, and I swear that those pictures are the same ones I have in an old box in the closet. Same clothing, same hair-unstyles, same furniture. We even both had a Grandpa Bowman.

But we are not from the same family, at least not recent generations. We never even lived in the same country. I guess we just grew up in the same period, and had similar family functions/features - siblings we hated/loved, mothers who dressed us and gave us hairstyles that they thought were 'cute'.

One day when I have time (will that day ever come???), I want to scan some of our old family photos so I can enjoy them rather than just let them sit in a box, forgotten.

Here is a recent post with pictures from Beck's garden. I'm going to see if I can do something like this with photos from our garden, hopefully this weekend.

From Beck's blog I've discovered some handy 'tools', the most recent being Feedjit, the map you see on the sidebar with all the dots showing where readers are coming from. Pretty interesting stats for the owner of the blog.

So take a peek at Life With Beck, my blog highlight for this week. Thanks, Beck for sharing!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fragrant Flowers

I'm sitting in the living room in Canada, smelling the sweet fragrance of beautiful deep pink lilies. These are the same lilies my daughter had at her wedding - a simply gorgeous flower:

In our garden in Mexico we have some sweet flowers too. The scent wafts around the front terrace and is a delightful greeting when we come home.





We have hundreds of other plants in the garden, some flowering, some foliage. The earthy smell of soil and plants and sun and water is rich. Small lizards and birds use the garden as their playground.

Right now it's snowing outside. I won't be here when it happens, but I know everyone in Canada is ready for spring. Canada in April/May is full of fragrance from the garden too - tulips, hyacinths, peonys, magnolia, flowering shrubs. Ahhh...I can smell it now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Highlighting a Blog - Bennie

Before I started blogging, I only read a couple of blogs that were related to Mexico. Since I've been writing, I've checked out the links that people put on their blog roll, and have discovered some very interesting blogs out there. I've added some non-Mexican blogs to my blog roll, and thought it would be interesting to highlight one of these blogs each week. I will start with Bennie...

I used to travel every week. For 10 long years. And after I stopped weekly travel I still travelled every month until recently. I ended up feeling like I'd lost myself to my work, that I was never home, that I was always trying to catch up. Even though I was relaxing in a hotel room at night, I was not in my own home, where I could do the things I needed to do to keep ahead of the game (i.e., laundry, shopping, cleaning, bills, etc). When I finally got home, too much had to be crammed into too few hours and it left me feeling stressed and constantly under pressure to do more than I really had time or energy to do. I lost my hobbies, and contact with friends. I barely kept up with family, and had little time to just 'do nothing'.

On the plane yesterday I exchange these thoughts with another 'road warrior'. His family functions without him, they all have their own routines and when he's around, it's disruptive to what they've developed. He has no say in his household, he's more like a visitor there.

The airport is full of people like that man and me. Commuters. Working from home offices but mostly working away from home - in another town, another state, another country. My father worked internationally, and I can only partly appreciate how hard it must have been for him to do all that travel. And I'm sure it's worse now, since air travel has become such a chore.

"Take off your shoes". "Do you have any liquids or gels in your bag?". "Keep moving". "Your flight has been cancelled/delayed". "I'm sorry for the inconvenience of losing your bags (and your underwear and deodorant)". "I'm sorry, we only have center seats available". "We are not responsible for damage to the wheels, straps, zippers, pockets, of your brand new $200 suitcase - it's normal wear and tear". "That will be $15 for the first checked bag (and we may or may not damage it as just mentioned)". "There is no overhead space available, you will have to check your bag (and hope we don't lose it or damage it)".

I used to travel a lot with a former co-worker and still very good and dear friend. Bennie was always the guy who would get the rental car and pick me up at the airport if he could. He did the driving, I sat and admired the scenery as we talked about everything and anything. Thanks to Bennie I got to see more of the towns we were working in, he was always looking for something to do and explore. And he always knew the latest on what was going on - with the clients, and with the area we were visitng. Thanks to Bennie I have pictures of the ice storm damage in Enid Oklahoma, and the Pentagon after 9/11.

Bennie has started writing a blog that well-describes the life of being on the road, and along with his words, he has posted some nice pictures. Portland Oregon is the site of his current travels - take a look.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am up to my ears in cats.

My neighbors are away and they have three cats that I've been feeding once a day (I think they'd like more, but that's what they're getting).

I'm also feeding three cats across the street. Wild cats that have learned how to let me know they're there and they're hungry. The black cat (Minina double) sits under the wood pile and meows at me. When I shake the food container, the grey kitten (about 6 months old now), comes out of the bushes and joins his mother/father on the platform where I put the food. They eat hungrily and then are gone.

The third cat across the street is probably the father of the grey kitten and is the least friendly and most suspicious. Recently the poor cat has been limping badly - his front leg broken or something, from some sort of accident. The cat cannot put much weight on the foot, but he uses it for balance and uses the side of the leg to climb up to the feeding platform. The other day I got close enough to see his foot, and although all the fur is intact, the claws are extended - looks like maybe nerve or muscle damage that stops him from being able to retract those claws. I'm not sure how that affects his ability to protect himself, but he's been this way for several weeks, so he's managing. There are many days we don't see him, but when he comes he gets on top of the platform and just lies there waiting for me to deliver his food. After seeing his foot, Miguel suggested putting a bowl of water out for him too, so we're doing that. I hope he'll be ok.

Yesterday morning we went to the mercado and on the way we came upon a dying cat in the road. Several men were gathered around it watching it twitch. Miguel picked it up and put it in the plants so it could die and not be run over. There was nothing that could be done for it at that point, but it was sad to see it dying.

Our own cats have been good and bad. For some reason, Minina, who usually loves to be on the back terrace, is not happy out there in the mornings. She is climbing the screen door and crying and being a pain. Maya, who has been very content out there until the last two days, has been watching and now is climbing the door too. But she climbs all the way to the top, and there's nowhere to go from there except back down. I've been throwing water at them and so they moved to the kitchen window. Actually, just Minina moved to the kitchen window, because Maya learned several weeks ago that water comes through that screen as well. And now Minina knows too. (insert evil laugh here).

Minina has always been good at slipping out the front door, but until yesterday, Maya just sat there and made no attempt. Yesterday we were in the kitchen and I just sensed that the house was too quiet and the cats were up to no good. Sure enough, both Maya and Minina had slipped out the front door that Miguel did not close correctly. They were both in the front garden, with Luna watching (Luna knows they are not supposed to be there). It was some effort to round them up, and later that night Miguel opened the door and Maya was out before he could even shove his foot in the way. It took a few minutes to catch her - she's fast and she just ran from one corner to other corner and back again. I was guarding the street as it was dark and Maya is probably small enough (or crazy enough) to jump through the hedge.

With guests in the house we have been sleeping with Maya and Minina in our room so as to keep them from making noise all night long or slipping into the guestroom (after 3 months, we still do not have that darn door for the staircase to keep the cats downstairs). Maya is a brat and tackles Minina wherever she is resting and makes her move. Minina had the top of the armoire as her refuge, but last night Maya finally figured out how Minina got up there. We heard a scuffle and some cat fighting, and realized they were duking it out up there. Finally Minina jumped down and the triumphant Maya slept there until I got up to the bathroom in the middle of the night and she cried to be lifted down. But I think Minina was the winner, as she got to sleep in the blanket near my feet. Maya hasn't figured that out yet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Water Issues

Yesterday wasn't my best day.

Our house guests checked out and that meant laundry. Along with our clothes and small piles of things that had to be washed separately, I probably had 6 or 7 loads lined up on the floor outside the laundry room. Since yesterday was Sunday and we try really hard not to do much work on Sundays, I decided to just do two loads that could not be put off.

I am using my new washing machine because I ended up donating my old machine to the laundry needs of Capi's Apartment after the machine over there broke. My old rusty washing machine survived the move to the apartment and is washing sheets and towels like it should, although it started coming apart when we lifted it onto the golf cart. I only got to do laundry out on the back terrace once before the machine left me, and even though I'd like to say I miss it and all the attention it needed, I don't miss it a bit.

My new machine has been working great since I figured out the drain problem. But yesterday I guess I didn't put the hose into the drain exactly right, because I found a small puddle of water on the floor around the drain. I cleaned up the mess and made what I thought was the necessary correction and put in my next load - a small load of two blue beach towels that needed a good rinse due to an unpleasant beach odor (which I hope does not mean beach pollution is coming to our island).

Miguel and I were sitting in the living room when the machine finished the load. As I turned the corner from the living room I saw that the floor was flooded with blue water, which was slowly making its way into the bedroom and dining room. I quickly shoved the pile of towels I had on the floor into the water to block the flow. I must have groaned or something as Miguel was alerted that something was wrong and came to check. Smelling the towel water, he concluded that the drain had backed up with sewer water (it hadn't, that's just how bad the towels smelled from the beach!).

I started toweling up the mess and I looked up just in time to see Miguel sawing off the end of the drainage tube. He then stuffed the shortened tube down into the drain. I protested, because my understanding of the drainage issue was that the end of the tube was too low and that was causing a siphon, and now he'd just made it even lower. So in the middle of the mess we had a little spat, and spats never make anyone feel good.

So we completed the cleanup in silence, and I went upstairs to take a bath while Miguel sat beside the machine and watched it cycle through the next load. And guess what? The machine worked perfectly; no siphon issues, no drain backflow.

But I now had piles of wet laundry, so the machine really got a good test as I put in load after load - probably 8 loads in all by the time I rewashed the towels I'd used to mop up the water along with the stinky towels. I didn't have enough room on the lines so got out the portable laundry stand and filled that up too and so far the cat has only knocked it over once.

I did everything BUT use the dryer that was the original purpose for buying the new washing machine in the first place. So much for taking Sunday off.

Later we went out and picked up roasted chicken for our early dinner (we eat our main meal around 3 pm). As we sat at the kitchen counter eating, I picked up my water glass and it slid right out of my greasy fingers and dumped water all over the counter and ran over the ledge onto the counter below. The only good thing was that the glass was plastic or I'd have had broken glass to clean up along with mopping up the water. Miguel just looked at me and declared that it was not my day.

But it could be worse. We could be without water, as we've been on and off over the last year, thanks to something going on here that causes them to randomly shut off the water. Jackie has posted about it, and rather than write a lengthy comment to her, I will write about it here in a future blog. The issue is not new. But it's even more annoying than drainage problems in my washing machine.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Life's Small Treasures

I've pretty much lived all my life in a tourist destination; Niagara Falls, Ontario and now Isla Mujeres. Unfortunately, I get wrapped up in life's daily routine and forget to take the time to enjoy the things that bring people to my hometown every year.

When hosting visitors, I get to show them all my favorite things about where I live, and sometimes I end up doing something for the first time in my life.

In Niagara Falls, I'd never ridden the Maid of the Mist

nor shot the rapids in the Whirlpool Jet Boat.

Visits by friends and Miguel over the last few years prompted me to do both, more than once. Although both adventures were awesome, I probably won't do the Jet Boat again (twice was enough, thanks). But I would not hesitate to jump on the Maid of the Mist any time, it's an amazing experience.

I enjoyed introducing people to some of my favorite parts of Canada, and now we're doing the same thing here on Isla. It's fun to point out places of interest, and I'm realizing that our guests are really enjoying what is available to them, and it's time I paid attention and spent a little more time doing the same.

Here is one of my favorite beach areas, because it is like a natural swimming hole but with the view of the surf.

Yesterday, driving around the east side, I spotted a rocky place where I want to sit and eat sandwiches. Maybe today - it's a gorgeous day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Close to Home

Last night there was a plane crash at my home airport - Buffalo, NY. A small commuter plane operated by a partner with Continental Airlines, flying from Newark, NJ to Buffalo.

In my early days of working in the US, I flew Continental Airlines between Buffalo and Newark every week for a year...out on Monday morning and back on Thursday night. Upon arrival at the airport, there were always lots of people waiting to pick up arriving loved ones.

I can't imagine how horrible it must have been for them last night. My heart goes out to everyone on the plane, and their families. RIP.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Zest is gone

We've been providing fresh bars of bath soap to our guests at both properties. Zest - a soap that I remember as smelling fresh and sporty.

Most Mexican cleaning agents here smell a whole lot better than they do in Canada - very clean and flowery and sweet. The Dove soap they have here has the same smell I'm used to, and the Camay is pretty good too. I expected the Mexican Zest soap to be 'zesty' just like in Canada.

Recently I put a bar of Zest in our bathroom for our personal use. The soap had a rather bland smell; I wondered if it needed to be used a day or so for the great smell to start coming out.

After three days of use, I have realized that the Zest soap here is bland and boring, almost a smell I don't even like. I don't feel fresh as the daisies, or zippy and zesty. I feel clean, but that's it.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's About Time

Finally, the weather is the way it's supposed to be according to me. Sunny, breezy, and very warm. Warm enough to turn on the ceiling fan, warm enough to make me break a sweat when climbing the stairs, warm enough that the cats stayed on the back terrace all day without clawing at the screen door to come in out of the cold. We drove around a little tonight and I didn't even need a jacket - first time in weeks, maybe months.

I don't know how long the lovely weather will last, Miguel says they are predicting 20 more cold fronts. I don't want to believe it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cancun Sandwich

On Sunday I made Sue's version of pollo adobo - chicken baked in an adobo mixture, and if possible, finished off on the grill. Not quite like the link I posted, but close.

Sunday was too windy to start up the grill but the chicken was delicious anyway. I threw together sort-of scalloped potatoes and baked those in the oven along with the chicken. Miguel made a salad and I boiled some broccoli, and we had a great meal.

Yesterday morning we had a wonderful breakfast, including our usual huge plate of fresh fruit. The mango is so good right now, and I've figured out how to eat it without triggering the itchy eyelids and lips. I remove the fruit from the skin before putting on the plate - so simple!.

Yesterday for lunch we ate the leftovers of Sunday's chicken dinner. So our stomachs should have been very full, we normally only eat two meals a day.

Late in the afternoon we were off to Cancun to see the doctor and hear her sermon based on our test results. The appointment was at 5, which happened to be the time they reopened after the midday break. We were there 10 minutes early, and the office was closed. A salesman was also there, and a few minutes after 5 he called the doctor on her cell phone to see if she would be coming. The doctor confirmed she would be there shortly.

About 5:15 the receptionist showed up and let us in. We sat down just as the phone rang. It was the doctor, calling to say she'd been in a car accident and would be delayed. The salesman and Miguel knew that delay could mean hours, and so we rescheduled to 6 pm tonight.

Luis, our taxi driver, was waiting for us, and with nothing else to do, we told him to take us to Walmart to pick up a couple of things. We ended up buying 8 flowering plants, a couple of power bars, and some rubber gloves for my dry, cracking hands (from the cold we've had here!).

Although it was only 6 pm, I was hungry again! And I was sleepy. But as we drove to the ferry, I recognized the bus station, and I knew that Tycos was nearby. I asked Luis if it would be open and he said yes, and swung the cab around and took us there.

I love the vegetarian baguettes at Tycos - loaded with marinated veggies, a little pesto, cheese, and a wonderful toasted baguette. We got the baguette 'to go', and a ham and cheese baguette for Luis, who tried to complain but just ended up saying that we were spoiling him and he would be crying when we stopped coming to Cancun so often.

The sandwich was hot and I couldn't wait to get home to eat my half. We got to the ferry just as they were loading, and in the rush to find two seats together and get our plants on the floor without damaging them, Miguel sat on my tote bag that had the sandwich. When we got home, I inspected the damage to the sandwich, and there, clear as anything, was the imprint of Miguel's butt in the squished end of the baguette.

But it didn't ruin the sandwich, and I had already eaten most of my share by the time Miguel came back in from taking the dogs out. It was SO good!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning from Elders

As Miguel says, Maya is in school now, learning the facts of cat life from her older housemates - Minina and Luna.

The other day we went to Cancun and bought a large bag of Whiskas cat food to feed the cats across the road, and my neighbor's cats. The cats here in the house eat Kirkland food from Costco. But Luna has decided she'd like Whiskas instead, and helped herself to opening the bag and fishing out some pieces.

Maya was a fascinated on-looker; I can just hear Luna telling her eager student exactly how it's done...

First, you scout out the territory...

Then you pick the site of attack...

Here's where you need all your strength, to tear open the bag with your teeth...

Then you stick your paw in and pull out as many pieces as you can grab...

Ah...Sooo good...and I'm not sharing...

There, now see if you can do it...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Just a couple of our recent issues

To live here successfully I think you have to be a bit of a problem-solver. An out-of-the-box thinker, coming up with solutions to problems that you would normally not even be facing.

Problem #1

My new stackable washer/dryer is mostly installed - we're just waiting for the gas tank to be filled now, and from the way gas tanks get filled here, we could be waiting a while yet.

Anyway, eager to try the new washer, I put in a load of whites and pulled the dial. Water started to fill the tub. I walked away to do something else, and when I went back (30 minutes later), I found the washer still trying to fill the tub but all the water just running out the back drain. Hmmmm...

Maybe we need to use the bomba, our water pressure pump up on the roof. This device ensures good pressure throughout the house, and even though the water flowing into the washer looked more than adequate, we decided we needed to use the pump.

Jump forward a few days, after I've done a few more loads, seemingly successfully using the pump. Same darn problem, but this time the pump was on. So why did the washer think it should just let the water run out rather than fill the tub?

Maybe the internet would be able to help me. I searched on draining problems for the type of machine I had, and found nothing of use other than the installation manual. I read the manual, and it stated that the hoses into the washer must not be longer than 42". Well, due to the location of the pipes in the laundry room, Miguel had rigged up extensions to the hoses. Was that the problem? The hoses were too long and the pressure dropped as the water passed through the hoses? We discussed this and Miguel decided he would move the taps, even though the water flowing into the tub, even on just gravity pressure, seemed very adequate.

But before he moved the taps, I took one last stab at the problem. The drainage hose was in the hole in the floor, and the bottom of the hose was below the surface of the water sitting in the drain. Was it possible that a siphon was created by the water seeking its own level? I moved the hose up a little higher so the bottom was clear of the water in the drain.

We're on our third day now and the machine is working normally. Fingers crossed that was the problem because if so, it will save electricity because we won't be using the water pump. We also won't have to use the water from our tanks (which is required when we turn on the pump), we can use the water coming directly from the street flowing down from the second floor via gravity. Seems like we can keep our hose extensions, and just use street pressure water, and all will be well. We'll see.

Problem #2

This is Minina:

Is this also Minina?

What about this?

Answer: Just the first one is Minina, the other one is the Minina look-alike that lives in the plants across the road. I still can't tell them apart unless one looks me square in the face, and then I can see that the cat in the plants has a wider face than my delicate Minina.

I have no idea if the black cat is male or female, but the grey baby cat (now about 5 months old, and male), is usually hanging out with the black cat. Mother and son? Father and son? Don't know, but they are now used to me putting some food out for them, and so they are less shy and the black cat will call me when it sees me. There is another adult grey cat that sometimes joins this little family - clearly a male and probably the father of the baby. Logical deduction dictates that the black cat is the mom; I'm waiting to get a good look at the back end to determine the sex of the cat. Or maybe, since I haven't noticed the sex, I should assume it's female? Yeah, I think I'll go with that.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Some Lessons I've Recently Learned

1. When sweeping the floor, if there are two pieces of something that look like plant material but are identical, don't pick them up with your bare hands. They are probably the left-over legs from some insect one of the cats ate.

2. When you are trying to be quiet as a mouse when getting up to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you will always bump into something and make a lot of noise.

3. When you are waiting for guests to arrive, and it's getting late enough that you are getting worried they are lost, walk to the store. On the corner you will find a taxi with some people in it, and when you take a chance and call their name, they are ever so grateful that you know them.

4. When you put out the laundry and you really need it to dry, that's when it will rain.

5. One of the cats will always sneak into the guest room and sit under the bed while everyone pleads with it to come out.

6. Loco will always sneak up on the couch if you forget to pull down all the cushions.

7. All the cats like raw beef, and only Maya likes boiled chicken. The dogs like it all.

8. The butter will always be hard when you need it the most.

9. One raw egg will always be broken in the group.

10. We like everyone we've met recently! The world is full of some really great people.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mexican Medical Care - so far

I've had limited personal experience here with medical needs. In my 8 or so years of coming to Isla, I've had encounters with the following:

Navy Hospital - Isla Mujeres
Got a piece of concrete blown into my eye, and it would not come out. Finally gave in and went to the hospital, where my eye was flushed and I was given drops. Although my eye improved, a week later I had a complication (dilated pupil). I returned to the Navy Hospital but with a dilated pupil they did not want to treat me; they told me I needed to go to Cancun to see a specialist. Total cost for the two visits - $20.

Ophthamologist - Cancun
I called the doctor's number and got him on his cell phone. Since his clinic was closed (I called during the evening), he told me to show up at 10 am the next morning, which I did. He examined my eyes (both), explained the problem (inflammation of the inner eye), and prescribed several drops. Told me to come back in 3 days so he could check. Total cost for the two visits - $40.

Doctor - Cancun
Now that I'm living here, I needed to find a doctor to manage my yearly physical checkup. Someone on a message board made a recommendation and I called the number provided. Turns out the number was the doctor's cell phone, not the office line. The call went to voice mail so I hung up, planning to call later. A minute later my phone rang - the doctor saw my number displayed and called me. She told me to just show up at her office the next day (a Saturday) and tell them she told me to come. After a short wait I was called (with my GP in Canada I was used to waiting well over an hour, more like two - even when I had an appointment). The doctor here sat and hand-wrote a very thorough medical history, did a physical exam, and ordered tests, including blood tests for Miguel (who doesn't have a doctor and needs his cholesterol checked). Note - this doctor is a woman's doctor, but she covered me from head to toe just like a GP in Canada would do. And she happily ordered the tests for Miguel! Wow. Cost? $70.

Mammo and Ultrasound - Cancun
Called to make appointments for both tests and was able to get in the NEXT week! (I'm used to waiting MONTHS). Went for the tests - the mammo was right on time, and included filling out a form for medical history. The equipment looked similar to what they use in Canada, including the computer with the patient database. The ultrasound appointment was about 45 minutes late, but was performed by a female doctor who gave me the results right there in the examining room. All clear, according to her - just need the mammo results which I was able to pick up two days after the test. Total cost for both tests - $80.

Lab Tests - Cancun
On Saturday morning we showed up at the lab in Cancun right as they opened. One other person was ahead of us. As we waited to register, at least 3 technicians stood in the alcove waiting for us to be registered. The receptionist explained that even though only blood tests were ordered, we could throw in a urinalysis for the same price - a promotion. In Canada a lab will only do what the doctor orders - here we were able to customize our requisition as we wished. Wow - in control of our own testing, how refreshing! Miguel's tests would cost 800 pesos (less than $80), and my tests would cost 3000 pesos (around $300). My tests were so costly because my doctor had also ordered cancer screening; otherwise my tests would have been around the same as Miguel's. The results will be ready on Tuesday, with the cancer-screening available Thursday.

The lab was very modern, and furnished with antique-looking furniture. I had to chuckle in the bathroom - the toilet was decorated with lacy pink seat and tank covers. Very feminine, I felt like I was visiting my grandmother.

So far I'm pretty happy with this private medical care in Mexico. We'll see as time goes by if I continue to be a satisfied customer. I'm hoping we'll only be yearly consumers. Fingers crossed!