Sunday, 6 February 2011

Long, Tough Two Weeks....

Hello again.
We are back in town for a bit, driving up yesterday.

     Yes, yesterday afternoon at around 2:00 pm,   arriving in time to wait at the Anzalduas crossing for and hour and a half.   The bridge is a nice and convenient crossing point for people who live/work from western McAllen , Mission, and the Palmhurst-Penitas-La Joya area of the Magic Lower Rio Grande Valley.     It has a problem, though,  in that the people who have the "quick pass" to avoid the using a pre-paid, pre-screened profile, bioscopic pass (about 250 dollars/year)....have a lane of approach, but no inspection booth...(????).
         One hapless fellow, apparently a well-to-do person from the city of  San Pedro de Garza Garcia, part of the Monterrey metroplex, drove up the vacant line, passing quickly by the rest of us dopes who were moving up at about 100 yards every 15 minutes.    He soon saw the fact that his lane lead to nowhere, except to some place called "Aekuandri".  I think it is the town they named after TaeKwanDoh's sister.
    He stopped beside me, lowered his window of the new Audi sedan, and inquired, "What do I do? "   He chose me because I was the only Gringo in the left-most line....all lines having 300 or more vehicles.    It serves to note that we were about 20 vehicles from the finish line.  He still addressed me in Spanish, probably because he was impressed with my 92 Dodge with the scars of 350,000 miles of service.
     I advised, "Sorry, but I do not go into service until 3:00 pm......You have to understand that we are the most advanced people in the world, so this is not actually happening.    I think it is what happens when the bridge is designed and operated by the government in Washington."    We laughed a bit...and he showed me his "Sentri Pass Card"....declaring "I am really not trying to break the causes me a bit of shame to be here like this".....
     Interrupting him, I observed, "The deal is that you paid a lot of money for your expedited pass and had to sit around in American Counsel for two or three days to obtain the pass...and you come to a bridge that says the have Sentri Pass....and then find out at the last minute that the system is not installed as of yet.   There's not a lot of shame in that....." .    Then I told him to pull in front of me with the next movement of the line and he could go with the flow.    If anything it was a little embarrassing for me as an American....but I shall allow the President to apologize in his next round of teachable apologies for the shortcomings of America and the Americans.

       THIS HAS BEEN A fairly tough period for an Old Gringo.   The cold finally arrived with a vengeance.     By Wednesday last  the tongue of Arctic invasion oozed into the Mexican tropics, splashed along the face of the Sierra Madre Oriental, leaving the Monterrey area covered in ice, sleet, and copious amounts of snow at all elevations.    Our mountains had a good amount of snow, freezing rain, and freezing fog.   The Quinta had a few brief flurries and a bit of freezing rain.   From Wednesday night through Friday night the temperature never went above 32 degrees F.   My lowest recording was about 21.5 degrees, and the majority of the episode vacillated between 26 to 30 and night.
       One of the disadvantages in revelling in the low-tech environment of exposed wiring and plumbing.....(It's easier to repair, don't you know, by the rustic maestros when things need fixing) the fact that if the plumbing and wiring are exposed then the chance that repairs will be needed at all are substantially enhanced.
       In this case I had to, of necessity, stay awake during the entire period, with very small exceptions, in order to keep going back and forth to run each and every water line however briefly so as to prevent tubing ruptures from ice expansion.    One time the Old Gringo managed to fall asleep in front of the television for about 2 hours.
     My efforts were rewarded with having a still intact system on Saturday morning, when the temperature went back above freezing for the first time since Tuesday before.   The electricity stayed on for the entire period, save for the brief moment that power was turned off while electricity transfers were being made to Texas.    That later proved to be an impossibility because as the hours went by it became apparent that the cold wave was probably going to be as bad or worse in northern and central Mexico as it was being in Texas.
     As the weather events worsened to unanticipated levels it became apparent that this was not going to be a two-day affair with an overnight frost.  Freezing temperatures continued all the way down to between Cd. Valles and Mante, which are situated well below the Tropic of Cancer.

DEALING WITH THE CATS and DOGS during prolonged inclemency

 Nephertiti takes a personal interest
in my special, prize winning cats

    The poor dogs found the shelters I made for them with boxes,  old blankets and towels.....they still appeared  forlorn and mournfully long stares at the cats who excersized  their Pharaohnic discretion to come and go, inside and out of the house at will.     Prince, Pinto, Trouble, and New Puppy could only imagine life inside the adobe walls, sprawled in front of the fireplace on a personalized bathroom throw rug for each Daughter of Nephertiti.....Smokey, Cleopatra, and Calico.   I would even allow old Sylvester, Smokey's black and white son with the two-crooked tail, most of both ears still, and one good eye still to come in and eat Whiskas in his personal bowl,  with an after-dinner bit of warmed half-and-half with three kitty-kookies as a little extra favour.    Nothing too special, because you never want to spoil a cat.
       I did feed the dogs at "their time", which is 04:00, warmed Gravy Train, and one large dog biscuit, plus one small dog biscuit, followed by another similar feeding around 14:00 hours.   These feedings require more supervision, because Prince is accustomed to "forgetting"  that "this bowl is for Pinto, and this bowl is for Trouble, and this bowl is for you".   He usually "forgets" when I go back inside, eating freely of all three sometimes, even in the cold,  one needs to keep an eye on things.
      "Prince!   Bad Dog!  That bowl belongs to Pinto!"  
       Prince skulks off, head down, tail lowered, but not between the legs.  "But you told me in English and I did not understand."
       To which I respond with an accusatory glare, "Yesterday you said that I had told you in Spanish and you did not which is it?"
        There is no response as he slow-foots off to his personal box to curl into against the brutal wind.    He knows I won the feels really
good to beat a dog in a domestic dispute....kinda rather re-instates me as the Alpha Dog in this pack.   Keeps things on an adult level.....

       There are always things to do and check into.   One of the main reasons for being here this time is that we have a potential long term client....also an active person who has lived in some very interesting places in Mexico over the years.    This potential client has interests in Texas that require being a little closer to the border, and it is very probable that we can develop a mutually advantageous long-term relationship.    Tomorrow we should know.
       Other matters are the purchase of a sundry of supplies for the Quinta.
The time has come to close this post as things change and remain the same.   Thank you all for your attention.   Your many comments have been reviewed and sincerely appreciated.
El Gringo Viejo