Thursday, 25 February 2010

Tomorrow, Driving into the Dawn

    Tomorrow will find me heading South by Southwest to our little adobe hut by the mountains.  I just finished reading yesterday's McAllen Monitor.    The reporting was, typically, full of contradictions, hearsay, and obfuscation and generally contradicted what I know to be true.   There was one admission, finally, in that much  (I would say the large majority)  of the information that swirls about in this environment turns out to be rumour which is not based in fact.
     As an aside, rumour in Mexico is usually fairly reliable.   During these days it has not proven to be so in this geographical area.

     What is going on right now in Tamaulipas State is the puffing and poofing of politicians declaring their  candidacy for various positions ranging from City Mayor (Alcalde) to Federal Congress (Diputado Federal) and Gobernador (you guessed it! Governor).    So, like in the United States people are being rewarded for long service to their parties....some better candidates are emerging....and some real dumboes are "probando la corona" (trying on the crown).    And, as it is said, before  all the campaigns are finished by early July, almost all the men will have had their opportunity to "probar la corona"....but in this case the term is frequently best translated to to "drinking a lot of Corona beer".     Mexican general elections are celebrated under the rule of "ley seca", or the dry law.   And the common joke in the past was that the elections are "dry" because there was nothing left to drink.
     Actually, the people are pretty serious about voting.   They have become more dedicated than in the past because now there are political parties and personalities that make the races interesting enough to bother to vote.   Tamaulipas is one of the last strongholds of the old, official government party...the Partido Revolucionario Institutional.....that held almost all public offices, local, state, and national from 1917 through 1995.    The main national leftwing party the Partido Democratico Revolucionario (PRD) has almost no carbon footprint in Tamaulipas, while the main rightwing party, the Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN), has been able to win a few major mayorships, some few Congressional seats in the national and state congresses, and a couple of national Congress senate seats  during the past few years.

     Times should be interesting for the next nice thing about the elections now is that a person really never knows who might win nowadays.    In the last Presidential elections Lopez Obrador, the leftist led three months before the election 52%(PRD) to 29% (PAN), to 21% (PRI).     When the election was over, the count was 36% (PAN) to 34% (PRD) to 21% (PRI) and 09% (4 small national parties).    Three months after the election....because of almost deranged protests and blockages and moaning.....several polls were taken of the electorate in general, requiring the respondents to choose between the top two and only the top two candidates as if they were voting in a classical run-off.     The results were 63% (PAN) to 31% (PRD) and 06% (neither).    This might have been skewered a bit by the ire of the general populace at the PRD's activists blocking the entire Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City's elegant main boulevard, and essentially setting up shop and residence in the middle of this heavily used thoroughfare.....for a distance of about 40 blocks.

      Okay....just wanted you all to know that I only have brief periods of derangement.   With certainty of my path, now, I shall finish my preparations and perhaps make one more entry before heading down tomorrow morning. 

As usual, Thank you all for your investment of time and interest.
The Old Gringo       


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Mundane Things About Coming and Going

     Right now, I am starting to plan for another jaunt back down to the Quinta, where a stay of a little more than two weeks is anticipated.   We have a couple of clients coming Mexican couple, I think from Mexico City, and another couple who are birdwatchers from up north.
     My to-do list is pretty much done.   While finishing the various bits of shopping that must be done, it dawned on me that our readers might be interested in the reality of going back to the border as it pertains to "special shopping realities".

     Alvaro's brother-in-law, Efrain, who is a very helpful and competent personality came to the Quinta two days before my departure this time, and gave me 200 American dollars and asked me to buy him a new Stihl weed-eater.   A couple of days before, my neighbours, who were staying at the Quinta while they supervise the beginning of construction of their new house next door, asked me to buy some Excedrin Migraine, and they gave me five one-dollar bills.
     Taking last first, the neighbours are very well-to-do and cosmopolitan, and they have the most luxurious HEB grocery store in North America just 10 blocks away from their home in San Pedro de Garza Garcia, the most wealthy city per capita in all of Latin America.   That HEB has a huge pharmacy, both for prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies.

     Both these parties are from different strata, one urbane and sophisticated and the other rustic and traditional....both parties being what they are by their own preference.     BUT, they share the notion that if something is bought in the United States of America....and more especially in Texas...that it will be better and cheaper.    It must not be bought unless it is clearly stamped "Made in America".

     In any regard, I finally found out that Stihl no longer markets around here anything labelled "Stihl".   It is a German company and they have established a completely independent subsidiary under the trade name of ECHO in the United States....and these products are the "sons" of Stihl, but American made.   I struck out then to find professionals using the these weed-eaters....around commercial buildings, cemeteries, etc. and had some success in learning that the ECHO weed-eaters are very highly regarded.   They rev higher...up to 12,000 and 13,000 RPM's.   BUT, they require a slightly lighter oil additive...MANDATORY!
     In any regard I bought one medium heavy duty ECHO weed-eater for Efrain, with a no-extra-cost 5 year warranty, along with the appropriate plasti-string, and now hope that it will be what he is expecting when I arrive.
It was 185.00 with the tax, oil, and 095 string.     Then, I searched out the Excedrin and found two boxes of 24 tablets each on a "buy two and take a dollar off" deal.   That was a total of four dollars.

     Now, here is the point of this whole thing.    It is difficult to judge what the actual amount of cross-border trade is between Mexico and the United States, because these purchases are NOT calculated into the statistical mix.   Mexicans who come and go each day and who come and go over a period of an extended stay almost always go back with the 300 dollars/person daily personal import limit.     Sometimes they have errand-gringos to do their shopping for them.    Pretty much the same thing exists for Gringos coming back from Mexico with junk, Tequila, fine handcrafts, dental work, etc.   These things are not put into the regular governmental calculations of cross border economic activity.   Such above-mentioned things can only be estimated.
      Mexico and Canada are the two biggest trading partners of the United States, and visa-versa, especially when it is considered that these "daily billions" on both borders cannot be estimated.      This considered,  these two trading partners become even more  important in the mix of North American economic power.   I am pretty much a free-trader....and would probably be an unbridled free trader if we could  prohibit the import of anything made in  Red China...and the export to the same country.    American industrialists are fooling themselves if they think Red China is any sort of "trading partner" much less an "ally". 
      Red China is the one country where the communist party leadership pretty much sees my grandchildren as organ donors for the children of the communist party leadership.   But that is another story. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Some information sources we use
We draw information from these and other information services that will be being posted here during the next several hours. Thanks for your patience as we try to build this entire blog into a decent, minor leaque hidey hole for people who would like to do their own reasonable speculation, rumination, and deduction.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Back to Things That Are Interesting

     It was of some interest that the McAllen Monitor had a good  article concerning  a bird known as the "tiger heron"  .   Its AKA is "bare throated tiger heron", and apparently is a rare sighting in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
     Here they are commonly found around the various small ( 1 - 3 square miles) irrigation control impoundments found on the east side of the face of the Sierra Madre Oriental all the way from Allende, Nuevo Leon to the area east of Valles, San Luis Potosi'.    It seems to like to wade along the edges of these huge ponds (or small lakes) looking for goodies to pluck out of  the shallows.
       They can also be found along some of the ancient Spanish Colonial period canals that are still in use in areas such as where our Quinta is situated.   Another area with an excellent combination of canals and irrigation impoundments and small brooks and rivers is that which is adjacent to the El Chorrito religious site and old site of the Hacienda de la Meza, about 25 miles northwest of the Quinta (by straight-line;   45 miles by highway).   The ancient canals and spring-fed character of the watercourses gives this well as others....plenty of fare on the menu pretty much on a year-around basis.
       Among others "leggy birds" that can be found with some dependability are  cattle egrets, common white crane (garza), green heron, "el gigante"-great blue heron, straight-bill and curved-bill curlew, and others that do not come to mind right now.   (Don't ever become old.)
       Sea gulls, beach snipes, pelicans, osprey, and other such maritime and coastal birds arrrive at the face of the Sierra Madre Oriental more often than is worth mentioning.    Because of its rarity it is also hardly worth the mention, but, every few years flamingos on their way to and from Campeche State's southeastern coast....and their whooping crane cousins from their Aransas winter address come around.    They are probably hung over from a hard night on the town the day before...or something....and wind up in our area when their GPS is out of kilter.   This is in no wise common, but it does occur.

     ALSO!!!!   About a week ago, I was out kibbutzing with my neighbour who is busy putting in quite a fancy place next door.   He is the brother-in-law to the hacendado of the oft-mentioned Hacienda de la Vega.   They live in the fancy city of San Pedro de Garza Garcia, adjacent to Monterrey, and are finally moving ahead with the building of a mansion of sorts next door to us.
     They are nice people, very organized, and they have three daughters who seem to like the country atmosphere and cheerfully participate in heavy gardening and even some of the lighter construction work. 
      As I was walking back up to the Quinta, I heard a sharp, cat-like shriek and instinctively thought it was an encounter between two old tom-cats who call the Quinta home (debateable).   Turning, I noticed that it was actually a bobcat who had been involved in a stare-down with our old dog Prince ( a mainly black w/brown tips dog whose ggggggrandfather was probably a Doberman).      This bobcat was a male, about 35 - 40 pounds, and oddly very dark in colour.   He ran off towards the Rio Corona about 100 feet away, where cover abounds,  and returned to Nature. 
     The good part for me, in a way, is that now my neighbours know that I am not just a long-winded Texan telling enthralling tales of the animals who move around between the dusk and the dawn in the Valley of the Rio Corona.
This particular cat was out a bit early, because normally they wait until darkness to sneak out free-range hen eggs (fairly common in our neighbourhood), left-over dog and cat food (very rare!).
    Thanks again for your attention.   There will be more later, as usual.

The Old Gringo