Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Heading Back to the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre

     The time has come that we need to head back down to the Quinta.   Alvaro needs to be spelled for a bit and we have some long term clients coming in.   We shall be going over everything between clients to make certain all is functioning as it should. 
     Part of this is checking over the old broken parts of things, making sure that the repairs that were made to prepare them as "emergency replacements" are still good.    Things like toilet tank filler valves....like water heater pilot light "mechas" (pilot assemblies, and also matches).....kerosene lantern wicks and oil...and batteries AAA, AA, C, & D....and candles.....and the first-aid, especially  benedryl (for folks who might react to bee stings and other insects) and a hundred other items and procedures.
      Alvaro did a repair job on our beautiful, "street" facing rock wall (called a 'barda' in Spanish) because it had developed a bit of a "grieta" (lightning bolt shaped crack).    But now, that has been fixed according to our neighbour at the Hacienda de la Vega..."....y muy bien hecho  (...and very well done)", according to him.
    Anyway, you all need to email Diana with any questions about reservations or whatever might interest your curiosity during my absence.   I should be out for a couple of weeks before returning for a very brief stay during the first week of February.    I'll look forward to added some more tales of the Quinta at that time.

Thanks for your time and interest!
El Gringo Viejo 

Exchange Rates, Business, and the Quinta

     Due to the American proclivity to think that the central government can and should control the general economy and the economy of each man, our currency has weakened considerably.   This is especially true when compared to the currencies of nations that have begun to practice a bit of budget restraint and realistic financial management.
      Mexico....its President, and incredibly, its Congress,  has been stumbling, dragging, edging, and crawling more and more to a less socialist economic model.   Although there are many, many vestiges of the ancient, Jurrasic Epoch socialist infrastructure (PEMEX, Comision Federal de Electricidad, Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, Confederacion de Trabajadores Mexicanos, etc.) much of the country is moving to greater private economic position.    It has long been said that Mexico is a land of small business....and this is clearly evident when one sees the taco stands, shoe shine men, push carts, tiny stores, repair shops, tire repair stands, and the like. 

      Sometimes it is assumed by the foreign visitor that these tiny operations are deigned by abject necessity.   Perhaps in some...even many.....cases this is true.    But the total truth is some how best expressed in a classic Vicente Fernandez song of the Charro/Mariachi genre...

"Con dinero y sin dinero,
Yo hago siempre lo que quiero.
Y mi palabra es la ley.
No tengo trono ni reina.
Ni nadie que me comprenda.
Pero sigo siendo el rey."

     This says, "With money and without money....I do always that which I want....And my word is the law.    I have no throne nor a queen....and nobody that can understand me.....But I continue being the King."

      This song is an anthem of the  conservative, lower-middle class, blue collar type.   Such a person is usually a male...full of the classic machismo etc.....but it can and frequently is a self-employed female.   They grumble about taxes, crummy government services, corruption, and they pretty much take care of themselves.  They also foul up the polls and the centrist and leftist political parties, because, although far from rich or well-to-do,  they tend to vote Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN) which in Gringo means an amalgam of Republican moderates, right-wing crazy Republicans, Tea Party Whackoes, and Ron / Rand Paul Libertarian types.   As you might imagine, I identify with this particular Mexican demographic fairly closely.
       Their eclecticism is best described by the little place where I had a tire repaired not long ago.   A wall of the three sided structure had pictures of things of interest to men and human beings as well.   President Calderon had his image there, along with John Kennedy, Fernando Valenzuela, some girls who forgot to get dressed before their photo-shoot, Veronica Castro (almost obligatory), Pedro Infante, Sarah Palin (with clothes on), Emiliano Zapata w/ Pancho Villa (also with their clothes on) at their meeting in Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City in 1915, and other such things.   

       So, the Mexican Government and financial gurus have...since about 1994 stayed on a steady course of running budgets that run very close to balanced, with small variations into the red and into the black.    The above described Mexicans grumble about reductions in outlays...price increases at times for things like gasoline and electricity... but, there is a haunting ghost that they still remember.     They remember the 50,000 peso note....which could buy a couple of hamburgers....drinks are extra.   They have told their children about the 50,000 peso note....and the older Mexicans have told their children about the 1 peso silver coin  (and the one peso silver certificate, paper currency)  that would buy a good hamburger, a cup of coffee, and leave a large, solid copper 20 centavo coin as a gratuity.   I did this 1 peso trick many times as a pre-delinquent and as a teen during my adventurous times in Mexico.   I did not know then that it was such a hard trick to duplicate....but apparently it was....because all the Bernackes, Greenspans, Volkers, and Geitners in the world have not been able to duplicate that trick again.

      Now, however, with revaluations, devaluations, adjustments, re-positioning and whatever else the gnomes of the Banco de Mexico and the Tesoria de la Republica spin out of the "D.F."...a person can buy a couple of decent meals at the Pollo Loco or KFC, with soda pops, and have a little change left over from a 100 peso note.
      My problem is that during the last year, the peso has gained from about 13.30 to a dollar to now around 12.15 to a dollar.  That means the Obamadollar has lost about 9 per cent against the peso....almost totally due to the loss of faith in the exchange markets in the dollar's ability to withstand the borrowing required by $2,000,000,000,000 annual budget deficits.
      This has put a bit of a crimp in our batting stance at the Quinta...but we, as small operators will figure a way out of the labyrinth better than any dumbo who can be Secretary of the Treasury but who also supposedly cannot figure out how to do his tax return.
Thanks, once again for your attention and investment of time!!!
El Gringo Viejo 

Monday, 24 January 2011

Obama Loosens Regulations on Travel to Cuba

       We noticed that Obama has cleared the way for "certain academic groups, working for academic credit and religious groups doing religious work in Cuba".... and these groups will have permission now to go to Cuba.   Two things:
       (1)     Immediately upon announcing this "new openning" to Cuba, Raul and Fidel kick sand in the face of Obama, America, Cubans here, Cubans there, and to general tourism and investment throughout America by eliminating existing programs of contact and currency interchange, electronic and direct.    I do not know if this was the "hope" part or the "change" part.
      (2)      The permits to go were going to be issued exclusively to "friendly" academic and religious groups.   The rabidly pro-communist, psuedo-Evangelical "Pastors for Peace" comes to mind....they have about as much to do with pastoral service and peace as the "Reverend" Jim Jones of Jonestown fame.....although they may lack the Kool - Aid still.    For years they have come through the McAllen - Reynosa port of entry area, on their way to and from Cuba.   They arrive with much fanfare saying they are taking "necessities" to the Cuban people that they are denied by the "blockade" against Cuba promulgated by imperialist, counter-revolutionary forces funded by special corporate interests.    Their caravan is always compose of beat-up old busses, shabby rattle-trap vans and stationwagons....true poverty-mobiles.    They present themselves as shabby, unshaven, dirty, dishevelled "Grapes of Wrath" extras...and smell of "exotic" fragrances.
      Envision Peter, Paul, & Mary, Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, and maybe Bruce Springsteen all without a bath for more than the normal three weeks, all singing, "This Land is My Land, This Land's Not Your Land", "God Bless the Grass That Grows Through Concrete", "Little Boxes", and of course, "If I Had a Hammer (and sickle), It would be 'Made in China'"
   They proceed to Tampico where a specially arranged Cuban tramp freighter loads them up and delivers them and their "relief supplies" to the Comite' Revolucionario del Pueblo Cubano.   Only religious groups that are approved by the tightly controlled, pro-liberation theology Cuban Roman Catholic Church can have access to the populace.
    We can only imagine how many delegations from the National Council of Churches and graduate schools of the elite universities were celebrating this new opportunity to express solidarity the Revolution efforts to advance the efforts of Marti', Bolivar, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Mao, Marx and Benito Juarez.   (Their words, not mine).

      It brings to mind another time, another rub-a-dub-dub, three-men-in-a-tub.    Fidel Castro Ruz, Raul Castro Ruz, and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna....on tour in Texas....a long time ago.
     Back in 1958, the little threesome, along with eight or nine other rough looking thuggish types made landfall at the tip of South Texas...docking in Port Isabel with a beat up fishing boat. They cleared customs there with supposedly valid Cuban passports, while a few of them had legal resident alien permits from the United States, along with papers which entitled them to seek remunerative employment. Others had Commonwealth, American Passports, being from Puerto Rico.
     Later, it turned out that the ones with work papers had actually bought or stolen the papers, and that the documents pertained to Mexican nationals who had reported the papers stolen in Houston. Two carried emergency entry permits, directly issued by the United States Department of State....issued from Washington, D.C. (???)
      They made their way inland in station wagons provided and driven by waiting friends, arriving finally to McAllen, Texas where they checked into the venerable Hotel Casa de Palmas in that city's centermost point. While there, they went about meeting with various people of public and private importance, and also held long, midnight-oil-burning meetings in their rooms with persons unknown and/or unremembered.

      Oddly, they held a press conference which was attended by the local print media and the two local television stations, KGBT - Harlingen and KRGV - Weslaco. They declared that they really were "freedom fighters" engaged in the overthrow of the tyrannical dictator Fulgencio Batista, and that they were in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to raise money, buy supplies, and establish communication systems that would help in their long term efforts to expulse the hated Batista.

      I remember that they went to the public schools in McAllen, visiting the two junior high schools, Travis and Lamar, and the High School....and talking to students during their home room periods. The wore olive drab fatigues with military caps and combat boots. Most had scruffy beards and smelled a little different from regular folks. They were very dedicated to their cause and left no coin unturned.....requesting and collecting even the silver quarter/dollars many students had for lunch money or for squandering on corn nuts and soda pops.

       Being only a seventh grader, I had the pleasure of having only one of the lesser liberators hustle our loose change and tell us that every dollar will be spent on feeding the children of the "freedom fighters" who are trying to rid Cuba of oppression, just like the Hungarians fought the Russians, and to help "finish the work started by America when they helped us break away from Spain a half-century ago". In the large recess yard, after the bell, we were treated to "El Comandante" , a fellow named Fidel, signing autographs and speaking almost totally un-accented English with a large gaggle of enthralled junior high mushheads.

       It was two or three days later that the news showed footage of the "freedom fighters" boarding their unlikely craft in Port Isabel to make the "dangerous voyage to an even more dangerous duty....Opposing tyranny where ever it might be found in the Americas". We thought we had really been living something important, fine, and great.
     There was one old curmudgeon...(.perhaps I, as a trainee curmudgeon, carry his spirit)....who railed against Castro and all his crowd,     Jason Matthews, an eccentric, wealthy genius, publisher, artist, poet, investor, and adamant anti-Nazi and anti-Communist. He establish a large John Birch Society group in the McAllen area....probably 200 people....conducted youth instructional clubs in many cities, and published the right-wing magazine "Mercury" for many years....At one time it had a monthly circulation approaching 500,000. That is a subscription, mailed circulation .
       Mr. Matthews set the record straight in various forums, and was immediately poo-poo'd and discounted by the  more intelligent, informed, and enlightened people. Reasonable people......moderate people....."Mr. Matthews is an extremist, he is a racist, he is an advocate for the wealthy special interests." 
       They assured us that Fidel Castro is a "freedom fighter" like a Minuteman.....an agrarian reformer.....a defender of the impoverished who are enslaved by the Spanish system of haciendas and peones...of those with privilege and those of want....of a people enslaved by discrimination and corruption of a regime that is owned by the Mafia." they informed us with authoritative smirks.
      Of course, it turned out that Edward R, Murrow and the smart people were half-right and all wrong.     Before seven years had passed, Cuba was reduced from 4th highest per capita income of all nations in the Americas to next-to-last.....where it has stayed after 50 years of revolution.

 How's that "hope & change" working for you?

More information will be coming out later to-day.   Thank you all for your comments and observations....Bless the folks who understand my pitiful attempts at humour....and feel free to question, advise, and participate.    Your transmissions will not be used on this blog without explicit permission.   They are never otherwise revealed away from this computer.
      Remember, if you send me $50.00, you get to read these screeds for FREE!!! 
El Gringo Viejo

Friday, 21 January 2011

Some Economic and Financial Observations

     Usually old blowhards have learned, by my age, not to advise people to do or not do anything.   One learns quickly that anyone who follows some other's advice is quite prone to blame the advisor for any contretemps the flow from said advice.   But....
      We are frequently asked about this business of buying property, of bank deposits, or generally doing business in Mexico.   This is my admonition and, should I say.....suggestion....?

(1)     Business is a proposition of great gain, little gain, no gain/loss, loss, and absolute loss.   Do not do business anywhere without confessing belief in the above.    Business is not a work for salary issue.....although, just like business ventures,  even working for wages and salary carries no certain guarantee of permanence.

(2)    In Mexico, you can buy land, houses, even farms, ranches, on-going businesses, or establish a business.   There are many conditions which must be met.   I will save you time by stating flatly that one wishing to do any of the above should use a Notario Publico to finalize any transaction(s).    That Notario should be recommended by a trusted person who is a Gringo who has done business in Mexico or a Mexican friend who is of absolute trust and experience.   (forget the American Embassy)

(3)     Investment?     No one has lost money in Mexico, even during the depression of 1930's, on deposits made in pesos and paid in pesos.   The risk one takes, after recognizing the previous fact, is that at times....and always following aggressive socialist initiatives by some previous administration, the Mexican central bank is forced to devalue the currency due to the treasury being exhausted of foreign reserves...(and even domestic reserves).   Mexico has wisely based the value of the Peso on the holding of foreign reserve currencies.
      These holdings are still worthless American, French, British, and Japanese paper...but it still holds Mexico to a standard set by an outside, major-league economic standard.   It is about 100 steps higher than taking support loans from the IMF or World Bank   (aka: Bolshevik Capitalist Appreciation Society).
      WHERE PEOPLE LOSE MONEY BY BUYING MEXICAN PAPER.....comes in terms of those pesky devaluation "hangovers" after some socialist episode has cured all the problems of poverty by giving poor people lots of free things and free money.    These are losses in dollar terms, which, if one liquidates his peso holdings and demands to be paid in dollars....then he has secured a loss in dollar terms.     The old wise men who play the peso/dollar game never cash out during these espisodes of devaluation...."Well, I'll just wait a while.   They will raise the interest rates up so high that I'll recover my principal in a couple of years.  I don't need the money right now anyway."  is a common observatoin of the "Old Timers" during those moments of stress.  
       The Administration of Lazaro Cardenas 1936 - 1942, for instance and especially the two administrations of Luis Echevarria Alvarez 1970 - 1976 and Jose Lopez Portillo 1977 - 1983 brought Mexico to the point of disintegration.    It took, literally, 15 years for Mexico to dig its way out of that mess.
      The losses suffered by foreign holders of Mexican paper during the period from 1970 through 1996 were readily offset....for those who held on to their paper.....by ridiculously high interest rates....which, for a brief period reached 149.50% for a 360 day deposit on Mexican Certificates of Treasury Obligation.
      As an aside....and by nearly pure luck....we were advising an elderly widow about her assets in Mexico.   Her husband had invested a considerable sum about two years before his death.    She had received a lot of mailings, never opened, about her account status.   She asked us to open them and read them and tell her what needed to be done.   It turned out that she had never "taken possession" of the deposits....and the banks were demanding that she execute survivor's rights or they would be forced to turn the inactive accounts over to the Mexican Treasury. 
      She sent me to that retirement area, where they had lived and made their investments, to deliver death certificates, LWT, and probate orders, and we saved her deposits by 23 days....No charge...just copies and re-issuing change of title holder of account name, etc.     The sum that had been left behind was , shall we say, considerable, in American money.....by that time that was about 100 figures in Mexican currency.    BUT, at 149.50%, and remembering that no peso deposit in Mexico had ever defaulted, I decided to invest this woman's "chaff" into a one-year deposit on Mexican Treasury Obligations denominated in Mexican Pesos. 
      One week later, President Miquel de la Madrid Hurtado, the Bank of Mexico, and with approval by the "Heroic" Congress of the Republic....froze the rate of exchange and declared that there would be no further float or devaluation for one year.   Budgets, investments, everything in Mexico changed overnight.    Faith in the peso...medium term investments...everything looked brighter immediately.    Mexico confirmed its obligation to the international community....money came in....It was a real "Hello muddah, hello faddah, Wait a second, It's stopped raining"....moment.
      The little old lady essentially made a government guaranteed 150% interest rate in dollar terms...and would wind up with, considerable,  payout.    She made other similar recovery in the Mexican stock market from some of those investments made during their period of residency in Mexico during the earliest part of the 1970's.     One of her mining stocks went on a tear and, after splitting six times, increased over 10,000% in value in 18 months   (yes, 10,000%).    It was madness.
       Her "chaff" had become "wheat" .......

These stories are true.   They are also rare.  
       But, for the average Gringo dumbo, like me, one could take a small, but significant part of his money and place it into Mexican Government paper.   Usually, the best approach is the automatically renewable 28 day deposit.  AT this time....Brazil, the internationally acclaimed celebrity of the Leftist Elitist set....."taxing their way into prosperity (Hillary Clinton - 2010)"....is in near free-fall....being forced now to pay nearly 12% interest on accounts that are in no wise secured except for IMF backing (disaster).   Brazil will soon be in that undesirable position of having to officially (or unofficially) devalue their currency.   They will soon be involved in pension shortfalls and government operating revenue shortfalls, just like almost all third world countries like New York, Illinois, and California. 
     Mexico is paying 4.5%.....the economy is advancing at a real 5% rate...the budgets are essentially balanced...AND THE PESO HAS GAINED OVER 10% against the American dollar during the past year and a half.....(can anyone say Obamonomics?).    The U.S. runs a 1.5 trillion dollar annual budget deficit and loses currency value against the Mexican Peso when Mexico is running a balanced budget....."How does that happen?" asked the Harvard Economics professor. 
     Brazil is raising taxes on the rich,  the well-to-do, and the lower-middle class for "infrastructure and social equity issues"....and they are now broke.   The great Brazilian miracle  will collapse later this year....and the IMF will blame America and Americans for our selfishness and addiction to consumption.
     Mexico's draconian 16% national sales tax, and the ridiculous "progressive income tax" has essentially been held steady, although they have a much lower corporate income tax than Obamerica.    Brazil heads down, Mexico heads up.   That's my forecast....although it is a forecast that is done by a weatherman who looks outside and sees the rain falling and says "I think it is going to be raining".....these dynamics are presently underway and under reported, because the leftist American and International press "adopted" de Lula's socialist agenda ("it's only fair, after all, to take money by force from those who have it and give it to people who want to procreate, drink beer and bad rum, and receive somebody else's money to do it, No?)   The present President of Brazil is a former communist insurgent  "went institutional" and became a "progressive" (a word meaning communist, but spelled differently).    Her Excellency, Dilma Rouseff does not have the political skills that de Lula had, and chaos is already oozing into their political processes again.  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101031/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_brazil_elections

      With reference to the violence in Mexico and its effect upon the economic activity and progress, I will submit that my faith is in the increasing maturity of the Mexican populace, and the superiority of the Mexican military's moral and military bearing as opposed to those who have no souls, no patriotism, no communitarian conscience, and no good grasp of martial procedures beyond abject terrorism.
     These observations and comments come after various questions posed by various people.    In light of the realities, and in many, many cases the poor, but authoritative reporting about Mexico, many Americans have reason to be negative or concerned about anything Mexican.   Americans with negative attitudes can only be seen as being reasonable, based upon what information they receive.
     Still there are inquiries because folks hear about Americans and other foreigners investing in Mexican paper or in some form of import/export, or other pursuit.    I should sum it all up and say, "Yes, Virginia, NAFTA really does work, after a fashion.   Mexico is not China....Mexico is not Detroit....Budget discipline really does work.    Mexico is not perfect, but it is far better than you hear from the experts."
Thanks again for your time and attention.   Give a clik anytime, we always appreciate your emailed questions and comments.
El Gringo Viejo

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

So you think I'm not a real curmudgeon...?

     A real curmudgeon is a really grumpy old man who has somewhat irrational notions about how much better things were "then" than they are "now".   He also becomes especially grumpy when certain errors are committed by the forces of the Universe that really make him grumpy.     Since I am curmudgeon, I shall reveal certain secrets that heretofore have never been known about why Karl Marx, Van Gogh, Hillary Rodham, Santa Clause stand-ins at the department stores, and the guy in front of you at the Starbucks are grumpy old men.....or...as in the case of Hillary Rodham...a really grumpy old man. 

       (1)    Saying in an advertisement "Choose from 34 'select' models" .   The dumbo announcer means to say...wants to say...."Choose from 34 selected models."    The dealership is trying to unload the pink Jetta with a column shifter and has always had a dog-pound fragrance since it arrived from the factory.   It is a "selected" model.....this goes for motor-cars, furniture, food orders at a "select" restaurant...etc.    The announcer or advertizing agency is taking advantage of the fact that we dumboes associate the term "select" with things like meat & seafood, certain vegetables, and other commodities of higher quality that have the official legal quality status of "select".   They use that term to associate with junk that has been selected to be unloaded on the dumboes who compose the general public, like me.  

      (2)    College professors and radio personalities, etc.  who say, ...."He was talking to me and Jeff, but ..."

      (3)     Any severely intellectually challenged person who says ...." This will bring closure to the family....by finding the remains of the person who this vicious criminal murdered and brutalized in 1988....blah..blah..".     THERE IS NO "CLOSURE".....

      (4)      Weathermen who say, "Yesterday we had a high of 40 degrees and to-day will be 50% warmer, with a high of 60 degrees."    Temperature averages, as we know, cannot be based upon zero being an absolute base,  because temperatures do not have a zero-degree, absolute base.    In Fahrenheit, absolute zero is   459.6667...degrees BELOW ZERO degrees Fahrenheit.    Therefore 60 degrees F would be about 0.450% warmer than 40 degrees F,  (more or less).

     (5)      "With all due respect......" .

     (6)        "He is a member of a organization....."    A organization!!!!! ?????  In the dark ages, it was said, "He is a member of an organization...."    What is the vegetarian, wiccan, marxist problem with the article "an".....?

     (7)        The misuse of the word "gay".    What a ruinous way to contaminate such a noble word.  

    (8)        "This is adult entertainment".....No, it's not....it is degenerate, childish, coarse, sewerage.     Give me a break.

    (9)        "And if you buy these three Asian elephants for three million dollars we will give you this Made in China, genuine plastic flashlight that is guaranteed not to work....ABSOLUTELY FREE....".    And at Joseph Banks Men's Wear, you buy the first suit for 300 dollars, and the second for 58 dollars, and you get 5 more items....ABSOLUTELY FREE.....!"    Uuhhh??   Excuse me....If I buy something as a pre-condition to receiving something else.....THEN IT IS NOT FREE!!!!!   UP AGAINST THE WALLLLL!!!!!!!

Now you know what a curmudgeon is.

As always....Thanks for your time and attention!!
El Gringo Viejo


Monday, 17 January 2011

Some Notes About Medical Bills and Procedures

      As a card-carrying member of the International Association of Hypochondriacs, and a one time vice-president of that organization, I fight an urge that all but forces me to moan and whine about every little pain and/or discomfort.   It comes mainly from my Grandfather Rex Andrew Neal, who was a bundle of Southern contradictions......among them, never being sick a day in his life, but having more medical complaints than a charity hospital in New York City....daily.    He took every known purgative, curative, preventative, additive, and recyclitive that was produced during the period from 1893 through 1971.     When he moved his family to South Texas in the early 1920's, he hit the jackpot, because most Mexicans....especially those of primarily or totally Caucasian racial background are born hypochondriacs.  To this day, everywhere in Mexico....and most of Latin-America....there abound interesting, fragrant little stores that sell preparations for all known and unknown disorders that have ever or never existed.
      He would drink his half-gallon of castor oil, chase it down with a couple of pints of cod-liver oil, and then sit in the lion's-foot with cold bath water steeped in gobernadora leaf tea (to fight against gall and kidney stones).   Every day had to start and end with a 1/4  cup of lemon juice....etc. etc.
      To be sure, the previous paragraph might be a bit of a fudging from the absolute truth.....but the foundation of the point being made is certainly true. My addictions are essentially one fish oil gel-tab, two regular aspirin, and one vitamin D .....every three days.    I use an inordinate amount of garlic, a huge amount of onions, and eat any and all vegetables including huitlacoche (corn fungus), broccoli, cactus, and okra by preference.   Any meat....anemone, roasted crickets (in Oaxaca...mmm,mmm good), liver, menudo, fish-head stew, raw oysters, beef, fowl, seafoods of any and all kinds will be found on my table.    When I was a post infant...like two and three years of age.....people would come out to show their children that there are children who would eat everything on their plates.   My mother would put out turnip mush, broccoli, mushrooms, oatmeal, and Mexican dried beef and the little toe-heads would watch with saucer-sized eyes while I consumed it all gleefully.   My table is always graced with at least two forms of something "picante" ...as tame as Tabasco or Cholula Sauce, or serrano peppers, or some other selected or homemade concoction.    We used to joke that my mother ate her ice-cream with jalapen~os   (It was not actually a joke).

      SOooooo?  One might reasonably wonder where all of this superfluous bilge is heading.   As some might remember from a previous post about my unfortunate spill,   my account included the revealing of certain injuries and remedies.    My wife, who is both more reasonable and smarter than I...., noted that no mention had been made about how much it had cost to receive whatever medical intervention was necessary.
Prince, the Guilty Dog, in days before he became
a serial Gringo Destroyer

     It was pointed out that I had a tetanus shot (hate shots), some type of anti-pain sedative, three pills, but not a prescription.   These pills were for things that really hurt, not like my pleasant hypochondrias.   The doctor and his wife (a nurse) were doing contract service for the State to update and provide the current batch of primary school urchins with their required  childhood vaccinations and inoculations.   They had advised someone, I still do not remember who, to tell  me to suffer and they would be out in the early morning of the next day....and they were..... with a neatly stocked van and a portable X-ray machine....The only thing they "shot" was my right big toe...revealing a chip off the tip bone (done swole up real big, Miz Jolly).   The knot on my right side was "probably a cracked rib"...."have you cough't up any blood?"  ...... the knot on the front right side of my head was about the size of a pullet egg (maybe a bit smaller)....and this took the longest time, because the doctor....who looked to be   seventeen years old...(he is actually 27) gazed long and hard into my right ear and even put a q-tip in looking for any trace of blood, I presume.     He told me that his wife....also either a doctor or perhaps a nurse....could take off my right big-toe toenail...but I told him that I had grown attached to it, and preferred long goodbye's in this case.   They also painted up a nasty abrasion of the right knee.   I remember letting everything move along in Spanish...and then changing over to English, just to see how the good doctor would react.   He did not miss a beat...speaking an accented form of text-book English mixed with some practice with literate people in McAllen and Central Texas....as did his wife.
      When they were through they left....attended to their original, more official mission, and then came back in the afternoon to check on the Old Gringo.    When they had left I paid them what they asked....700 pesos....and told them they could use the guest room as a safe harbour, office, rest area, or whatever while they were out in the boondocks.   I think they could be heard returning later that day...but I was really in a cloud.....but their return late in the afternoon is remembered....because the routine with the Q-tip was repeated and a lot of stethoscope time was given over to the knot on my rib-cage.    "Drink CocaCola at room temperature, and take another of your pain pills at mid-night if you have to"....and then they left....after letting my inside cats in and feeding them.   The 700 pesos at that time was about 56 American dollars.
      For most of the time during and shortly after my regaining any coherence my recollection has been substantially cloudy.   I am very reactive to sedatives and have taken perhaps five in my lifetime...always due to significant minor injury.   So....what led to their arrival I am really still not perfectly clear....but they left behind a comfortable and repairing patient.   The toe, right knee, and the rib are still discoloured....but no longer painful except to the touch....and I am 99.9% whole.
     I noticed that they had used the guest room, left it spotless, and left a 50 peso note for the chambermaid who would have to re-dress the room.
     Now, you know the rest of the story.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Things that Don't Really Matter....but

       For many years we had carried in our family lore and understanding a notion that my grandfather had lost brothers in the War Between the States.   So that you all can feel like family members (This has already been sent to family yesterday) this is included so that the reader can know the writer a bit better.    An excerpt from the transmissions from yesterday are included below:
      Do not tell anyone, but while sneaking behind Yankee lines, I found a Pennsylvania bunch...the 96th Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, Company D....just forming up for drill and presentation. It looks like they are getting ready to join up with Polk and McClellan down in Virginia. Their musicians are at the fore, waiting to strike up, and their rank and file look pretty good, except for the Corporal of the 4th Platoon, who is fully one pace back from presentation position. Checking our secret sources on the ground, it seems like he is some dolt named Charles Newton from someplace called Montrose, in northeastern Pennsylvania.
       Check in platoon groupings, one by one, as you move back from the company band, and you will see the Corporals presenting....and as you encounter the fourth Corporal, you will see him presenting properly, but standing about 3 feet back from the correct position. That truly is your Uncle Charles.

p.s.   The Rebels killed him in May of 1863.....but it was the fault of the cowardice of the 5th Maine Regiment, who fled the field and did not support the Pennsylvania 96thRPVI/Dc advance as ordered.

     This picture taken in late 1861 shows what is probably the the final drills before moving out as a unit to join the fray.    While this company unit was organized in Schuylkill County, my great-uncle Charles was from Susquehanna County just to the north.    This regiment had service from about 5,000 different men during the hostilities.....and of that number over 500 were killed in action, 700 were wounded, 400 were taken prisoner, and 600 deserted and did not return  (all round numbers).   Great-uncle Charles was wounded on 3 May 1863 and died in Fredericksburg, Virginia in either a private home or private clinic/medical facility on or around the 18th of May, 1863.
     Another brother (actually a 1st cousin) was killed in action after Gettysburg....about a month later.    So the lore about them being lost at Gettysburg was wrong, but right in a way.   One was lost as Lee began his advance towards Pennsylvania and the other was lost during the pressing of Confederate forces during their retreat back to Virginia.    As one might imagine these losses caused severe emotional impact upon my great-grandfather....from which he never actually recovered. 

      As an aside, and for new or occasional readers, my mother's side was very Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina in their background.  For some strange reason I am shaped like my father's mother's people...tall, lanky (nice word for skinny), w/ long, thin feet....while my sympathies in the issues under dispute during that horrid war would have been and are with the Confederacy.    I guess that makes me a purebred American mongrel.

As usual, accept my gratitude for your time and attention.   Emails have been and are welcomed at any time.   All is well at the Quinta, Alvaro says that he is only feeding the cats seven time a day now.
The Old Gringo   

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Weather Alert

This is a brief advisory of no particular urgency.   During the night between Tuesday and Wednesday the backside of the the Sierra Madre Oriental received considerable snow at the latitude of the Quinta.    If one clicks on to Google Earth and moves towards Cd. Victoria, Tamaulipas....browse slightly to the west-northwest.....near the peak of Pen~a Nevada....stay at a fairly high elevation...about 35 to 70 miles west and northwest generally of Cd. Victoria and the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre.
     The west-facing (dry-side) slopes of the Sierra de Cautivo and surrounding areas can be seen to be heavily impacted by what appears to be snows of up to 12 - 20 inches overnight.   Most areas received much less.    The "El Cautivo" is a cordillero which composes a signicant section of the overall Sierra Madre Oriental range.
     These snows seem to be mainly in the 8,000 to 10,000 foot level with a few exceptions.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Back in Texas

     We were out for long time.    A great deal happened and very little happened.     During the first few days, I managed to allow myself to be tripped by Prince....my main pure-bred mongrel alfa-beta male dog.  I landed forward, made a 5 inch long, 3/8th's of an inch deep slice in my interior left forearm, cracked a rib, bonked my head, broke my right big toe at the tip, and had numerous very minor cuts and bruises.   Prince had tripped me from behind, which is kind of a morbid game he plays, especially when he is playing with the occasional visitors from the adjacent Hacienda de la Vega.
      These visitors...a male dog (part coyote) I call RinTinTin, and Mara the female Rhodesian Lion Hound....had come in company of the owner and we were checking out things on the lower part of my property.   This checking out concerned some suspicious activity on the adjoining property....it turned out to be nothing more than some workers preparing for a mowing project to be started the next day.  (Finally.   The owner has not raised a finger on the place since the floods of last summer.    Grasses and scrub had engulfed the entire place...five to seven feet high.)
     In any regard, the dogs meet seldomly and after a bit of preambulation begin to play like puppies.   The problem is that, this time, Prince included me in the game of tag.
     I had to have a tetanus shot (hate shots) and a bit of help to sleep through nagging pain (joy for a hypochondriac) but it did cloud about 2 days of memory.    My recuperation was quite rapid, leaving only a few bruises and aches here and there.

      Then there was a flood of bumblebee hummingbirds.   They came to the duranta plant that we have along the corridor.   The little one-foot high thing that we planted a couple of years ago is now about 16 feet high and full of the cascading assemblies of purple blossoms that are a joy to a gardener.   It turns out that they are also excellent for attracting these tiny members of the race of hummingbirds.    Even the males of this sub-species are only about 2 1/2  inches in total length and they are frequently thought to be moths, upon first sighting.  For  about a week we had mid-morning and late afternoon swarms of these rare birds.....thought to hide in the recesses of the Sierra Madre nearby.....and then over the past week-end they seemed to stop arriving.
      It was interesting that the other sub-species of hummingbird males did not attempt to drive off the new arrivals as is normal during feeding times.    Even without the bumblebee hummingbirds we can normally have as many as 20 feeding off of the shrimp plants and powderpuff at a given moment.

      During the past three or four weeks we have had very brisk mornings.  Temperatures have been as low as 33F on up to 55F every morning.   Usually it would be in the mid to upper 40's.  Daytime highs stayed stubbornly below 80F for the duration.   That last figure represents quite a departure from normal....and we even had one week where the temperature did not go above 60F.    Burned a lot of firewood that week.

     Briefly stated.....the overall climate in Tamaulipas continues to improve with the presence of the military.   My point of view is jaundiced because I am there.   The  American press and their various lackeys, etc. is better informed because they are not there....preferring to listen to "information sources"....and are more than willing to take elements of the truth and twist those elements into what finally becomes a lie.
      The press....for instance....can take a person who is essentially deranged, who shoots 19 people....killing six.....and declare that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin drove him to do the deed.   This, in spite of the fact that he was mainly influenced by communist dogma,  and who, like Barak O'bama, Jeramiah Wright, Roger Ailes, Jesse Jackson, and most all radical leftists, holds a viscous  hatred for Jews.   Forgotten also by the press is the gunman's love of Satanic influence and ritual (odd for someone who says he is an atheist).
Beware of the American Press....beware of any press...in these times.