Let There be Internet!

I’ll be the first to admit I have been spoiled by the first world and all of its “problems.” I’ll also tell you I haven’t been this frustrated with internet access since constantly hearing “GOODBYE!” in 1995.

The house we rented in Mexico did not come with internet. At first blush, it didn’t seem like that much of an issue. How hard could it be to order service? Oh honey…let me just tell you.

Telmex is the main ISP in our area. I was told to check their website and see if they service our address. I mean, that sounds easy enough but the Telmex website asks for the neighborhood before giving one an opportunity to enter an address. Our US-based landlord didn’t even have the correct neighborhood listed on the lease so we had some sleuthing to do. My first-world brain still wonders why the ISP doesn’t *know* which addresses belong in each neighborhood of their service area but this is not, in fact, the first world.

With all relevant information obtained, we were able to request installation and received confirmation that a technician would arrive on Monday, October 28. They confirmed the appointment multiple times via telephone but alas, no installation occurred on October 28.

I accidentally made contact with Telmex via Twitter on October 30 and that went about as well as one would expect. They rescheduled for November 2 and no-showed again. The excuse they used when contacted via telephone was that they couldn’t find our house. It’s not like I have a screen shot from Google Maps showing our house in relation to a very well-known landmark a couple blocks away that I could have sent them via DM on Twitter or literally any other platform. That would be crazy.

They rescheduled again for November 7 and no-showed again. With that third strike, they were out. I spent THREE WHOLE DAYS watching for these fools. So I contacted some guy on WhatsApp and he was at our house installing blazing fast internet the very next day.

I had been relying on *maybe* 2G mobile data for weeks. There were people doing work at out house the first week and I couldn’t just leave my dogs there all day while I sat in a coffee shop with my laptop. I didn’t realize just how much I depend on reliable internet access to get through the day. I still remember when AOL was too much trouble because connecting to a free line in Wichita took 30 minutes or longer. I honestly couldn’t understand the appeal.

Fast-forward a couple decades and I’m a full-blown addict. Once my devices were connected to that sweet Wi-Fi, it was like dopamine was being injected directly into my veins. I probably streamed video for a solid seven hours. It was pure binge-watching bliss. I can’t watch everything from Mexico but I can watch a lot.

The lesson in all of this is there is always a workaround. Smile, nod and say, “That’ll be fine.”

Driving Baja

Whose brilliant idea was this, anyway?

We decided to cross the border in Mexicali to save time and money. After being delayed due to a late Amazon package and a bad wheel bearing (not mine), we left Arizona much later than we expected. As a result, the crossing we intended to use was closed for the weekend so we used the busier one on the west side of town.

Being in two vehicles can be a challenge, especially when the leader gets pulled over for an inspection and is extorted to the tune of 3,000 pesos. We sat for a couple hours while they decided what to do with us and the psychotic hound had a panic attack requiring a dose of trazodone. Great start to a nerve wracking drive.

Highway 5 from Mexicali could have been in the US. There was a ton of traffic in San Felipe and the road quickly deteriorated after we left heading south. Little side detours for construction were unpaved and extremely rocky in spots. Some of them included very steep climbs and descents and I thought I would need 4WD a couple times. A large unpaved section that continued for a few miles was a little sketchy, especially considering we were running out of daylight. Views of the mountains and Sea of Cortez were absolutely breathtaking but it was impossible for me to divert my attention to taking photos while driving due to the road conditions. I learned my dogs are not fans of off-roading. My Jeep was absolutely made for those conditions and it would have been fun, had I not been carrying cargo with feelings. I feel like I should get a cheesy t-shirt that says something like “I survived driving Highway 5” but I’m content to settle for bragging rights.

We made it to Highway 1 right before dusk and had no choice but to continue after dark. There were no shoulders and terrible (mostly nonexistent) road markings in most spots. Mountain curves were terrifying after dark. It was impossible to see. We had been up since 4 am and semi-trucks were driving way too fast for the road conditions. We finally made it to a hotel just outside Guerrero Negro at about 10 pm. Lulu wasn’t even talking to me by then.

The lead vehicle lost its fuel pump as we were leaving the next morning so we sat until after lunch and only made it to San Ignacio where we stopped for the night. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful aside from being utterly confused by Mexican towns and whatever rules drivers seem to haphazardly follow. We finally made it to Todos Santos at about 8 pm the next night and my dogs and I were toast. They weren’t listening to anything I was trying to tell them and I was beyond exhausted. We got the keys to our house and completely crashed.

The drive was better and worse than I expected. It is my sincere hope that I never have to do that again.

Untethered

Last Friday was my last day at work. I cannot clearly articulate the relief I felt upon exiting the building. A neighbor caught me while the cargo box was being installed on my Jeep and asked me 20 questions. Among other things, she wanted to know if I’m retiring. I really didn’t have an answer for that, so I told her I am for the time being. I plan to mentally detox from that godforsaken environment until at least the first of the year and then see how I feel.

My house has been officially sold and I have received the proceeds. My departure from Tucson has been delayed by a tardy Amazon package, of all things. I’m fine with an extra night in a hotel but my psychotic hound wants to go home. There currently is no such place. Good luck explaining that to a dog.

All of the stress of preparing for this move and stirring up a ton of dust has wreaked havoc on my skin. I didn’t need a reminder of what being a teenager looked like. I’m also covered in bruises from carrying items in excess of my weight limit. My dogs seem determined to dislocate both shoulders by zigging when they should be zagging. It’s all 100 percent worth it.

My stress level is shrinking along with my to-do list. I feel pretty good about the fact that my biggest problem is Sherman’s continued refusal to do potties while on the leash. My temporary solution is to take them to a dog park a while after their meals so they can have their privacy. That won’t be a viable plan for much longer so I really need Sherman to get on my wavelength.

Speaking of waves, storms are still forming in the Pacific and I really hope we can dodge them on the way down through Baja. I’ve been told I should learn to surf in Scorpion Bay due to the little baby waves, which are the ocean equivalent of a bunny slope. I would love to stop there on the way to my final destination but the weather will decide.

For now, I’m waiting for an Amazon notification and my dogs to finish their afternoon naps. This is easy.

Trapped in a Box

If only the headline were a metaphor.

I may have mentioned the only things I’m taking to Mexico are shoes, clothes, purses, skin care products, and dogs. That doesn’t seem like much but I have quite the stockpile and I drive a Jeep rather than a Suburban. I decided to buy a cargo box for the roof to carry the lighter items so the puppers have more room to stretch out during our trek down to Baja. The box I chose is cavernous and one of the reviews actually showed a grown-ass man fully inside of it for scale.

As is often the case, assembly was a bit tricky. The hinges for this box are at the front so marrying the top and bottom was awkward, given that this thing is 57 inches long. I’m only 61 inches long, ya know? I was able to maneuver the pieces so the hinges lined up but there was a clip that needed to go into a hole right there at the very front to keep the hinges from separating. So that meant I had to climb inside the black plastic box, hold the back of the box up so I could see what I was doing, and also attach this clip with my very sweaty fingers…and a 61-inch wingspan.

Unfortunately, my t-shirt got caught on the lock at the back of the box and I was stuck. I’m not severely claustrophobic but being physically trapped in a black plastic box was a bit alarming. The lock caught my shirt near my left shoulder so I had very little mobility and nearly dislocated my shoulder getting unstuck. I also hyper-extended my dumb thumb. As I was struggling with all of this I was just thinking to myself, “Suffocated in a plastic cargo box…what a fucking way to go.”

Anyway, the goddamned thing is together and ready to mount to the roof rack. I’m just waiting for my surfboard to deliver and I’ll be all set.

I will get through this. *insert ALL of the eyerolls here*

Flipping the Script

For as far back as I can remember, my parents drilled into my tiny little head that it’s rude to make people wait. This has condemned me to a lifetime of being the person who arrives ten minutes early and waits impatiently for everyone else. I was told to stay out of people’s way. This has condemned me to a lifetime of irritation with those who seem to think they’re the only people on Earth and can therefore take up as much space as they like for as long as they like.

Be quiet. Don’t touch anything. Don’t make a mess. I could go on for days.

In less than two weeks, I will no longer be on a schedule. German time does not exist in Mexico so why be in a hurry? I will not worry about my dogs barking. Everyone’s dogs bark. THAT’S THEIR JOB. I will not worry about breaking something that is absolutely replaceable. I will accept beach dust mixing with dog hair and coating every possible surface. I have to release myself from the subdivision mentality. These are the things I keep telling myself.

My current reality is quite different. I’m worried about the things I may have forgotten to worry about. No detail is too small! I’m basically walking around in a perpetually nauseated state at this point. I’m worried about whether or not I’ll be able to turn it all off when I finally arrive at my destination. Because I’m really telling myself that I have to change my entire personality in order to fucking relax.

No problem…it’s on the list.

Countdown to an Aneurysm

My calendar is killing me right now. I am not a fan of dealing with things or people and that is literally all I am doing for the next three weeks. Who knew moving to a foreign country could be so involved?

I recently received a federal grand jury summons for December. Hate to break it to you folks but I’m not going to be around for that. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Analysis paralysis is setting in hardcore. Big decisions are easy; the small ones not so much. I trashed all of my yearbooks and various items I’ve been dragging around with me for the past two decades. I definitely did not need to keep the stuffed koala bear my grandmother brought to the hospital when I was born. Or the stuffed shark headband I wore to a Jimmy Buffett concert circa 2003.

Anxiety and OCD. Rigid punctuality. Routine. Proper prior planning. Checklists. Chest pains. Nausea. Insomnia.

At this point, anyone who adds to my stress level is going overboard. I am not entertaining any nonsensical bullshit. I just have to get through this and if you’re not part of the solution, I can’t even with you.

Here’s one thing I do know: A month from today, I will run with my dogs on the beach. I will cultivate some motherfucking Zen if it’s the last thing I do.

Happy Adoptaversary!

In September of 2009, I was living in a tiny Kansas town and minding my own business with my two Rottweilers, Rommel and Patton. There was a super obnoxious little puppy who lived across the street and she would run into my driveway to bark at me when I would pull my car into the garage. I had no idea what kind of dog she was; I just saw a brindle behavioral nightmare.

I just happened to notice one day that the neighbors across the street appeared to have moved away but their ill-behaved puppy was still there. I called the City Clerk (small town, right?) and she confirmed they were gone. What kind of monster just moves away and leaves their pet behind to fend for itself?

I immediately took food and water over to the little monster and noticed she was definitely malnourished. She was also covered in fleas. I was able to get close to her but it was obvious by her reactions that she hadn’t been treated well. Another neighbor and I took turns feeding her and she was just hiding underneath whatever she could find for shelter. I learned from some kids in the neighborhood her name was Lulu and they said her people left her because they didn’t want her to potty in the car.

It only took a couple days for me to decide the little ragamuffin was coming home with me. But first, flea and tick prevention! I dosed her with Frontline Plus and continued feeding and getting to know her for a week before I brought her across the street to her new home. She heard the deep bass of my Rotties barking and was terrified but we got through the flea bath and she quickly learned her new brothers would tolerate all manner of unkind behavior from her.

Honey Lulu is no fan of costumes or parades. She loves people but generally has no use for other dogs. She is extremely reactive and to this day will flee the area if she sees a flyswatter. Her noise phobia is worsening with age and she requires Trazodone for severe panic attacks.

She regularly smacks me in the face with her bear claws and goes in for the hard boop without warning.

On the other hand, she loves her brother and will go into Sherman’s bedroom in the middle of the night so he can accompany her to the backyard for potties and a perimeter check. Before my bare foot found its way inside an angry pitbull’s mouth, she ran a 5K with me nearly every day.

She travels well and has assured me she is ready for our move to Mexico.

Today, I celebrate 10 years with the ultimate hall monitor. She’s a pushy broad but I love her.

I do love a challenge!

I listed my house last Friday and received a full-price offer two days later. My dogs were at work with me half of yesterday due to the buyer’s inspection. Assuming nothing goes horribly awry, we’re looking at closing on October 15. I need a drink.

Packing should be super simple because I’m only taking the absolute essentials that will fit in my Jeep. Family heirlooms and photo albums are going in storage. My realtor will facilitate the sale of everything else. Should be pretty easy, right? It’s *so* easy I have chest pains every time I walk into the bedroom I use as an office. That’s where the paper lives. ALL. OF. THE. PAPER. I didn’t go through the Great Depression so why am I like this?

My dogs and I are getting every single appointment imaginable out of the way before we leave for Mexico. Annual physical exam, dental cleaning, fall veterinary checkup, labs, eye exam, mammogram, Jeep checkup…OMG. Mexican auto insurance. Bet you didn’t think about that one! My Sling account has to be cancelled because I can’t use it outside the US without using a VPN and I don’t care enough to worry about that. Anyone know if you can just convert your Amazon Prime account to the Mexican version? I’ll be looking into the best option for that as well. What mail forwarding service should I use? I have to switch dog food because my dogs’ bougie brand is unavailable south of the border. What will I do without Chewy???

I’m getting super stressed about the drive through Baja. Depending on which route I take, it could easily be more than a 26-hour drive. That’s stressful by itself. Then factor in the foreign country/language component and the stress level increases just a smidge. Then remember I’ll be doing this with two large dogs and the stress level increases more than a smidge. There’s a very real possibility that I will be juggling all of this alone.

*RED ALERT*

In the three plus years I have had Sherman, he has never done his good boy potties while on the leash. The last time I drove to Kansas (14 hours one way), Sherman refused to take care of business until I sat down on my mom’s patio and he could finally relax. He did the same on the drive back to Arizona. He doesn’t care about the beauty of the park, the softness of the grass, or the shade from the trees; He’s holding it until he feels comfortable. I lack confidence in my ability to chill out enough for him to work with me. Lulu, however, will potty anywhere other than Hatch, New Mexico.

The timing of all of this is critical. I have to be out of the house prior to closing but may need to be in the area for a couple days around that time to take care of housekeeping items. My dogs do not understand the concept of couch surfing. If my employer refuses to allow me to work remotely but is slow to recruit my replacement, I will need to process payroll the day before closing from somewhere. All I need is WiFi but people have feelings about things. Ugh…feelings.

Have I mentioned my therapist is still out of the country?!?

Mexico or Bust

This is not a drill. Initiating panic attack sequence in 3…2…1…

I signed paperwork to list my house yesterday. It is being photographed in less than an hour and the listing will go live tomorrow. My realtor told me if a home in my zip code and price range stays on the market longer than 10 days, there’s something wrong with the property. Way to keep a girl away from the ledge!

Moving is always stressful but I’ve done it a million times. I have never moved to a foreign country, however. I have certainly never moved two large dogs to a foreign country. My anxiety this morning is at about a 7 for the first time in several months and my therapist is out of the country until the end of September.

Last night, I moved some items which must be kept forever into a storage unit and that is what I think made it really real. I’m not entirely certain why I still have my grandmother’s roller skates in the original box but I do. They should probably go to a cousin with children but I’m the only one who grew up actually using them. I doubt anyone else in the family would want them or even understand why I have been dragging them around from state to state for the past 20 years.

I’m excited about unloading the majority of my belongings. It feels like they have begun to own me and it’s time to let all of that go. My problem is with my great-great-grandmother’s china. An engraved pewter mug that belonged to a great-great-uncle who died as a toddler. Items which had been displayed in the family museum. For whatever reason, my grandmother thought it was a good idea for me to have these things and I still agree with her after all these years. But as God is my witness, my antique knife rest collection is not going to Mexico.

There are a million decisions which will have to be made in a relatively short time frame and I’m really feeling that right now. What am I doing with the proceeds once my house sells? Will my employer allow me to work remotely? If not, where do I move my 401(k) funds? Do I fully embrace the digital nomad lifestyle? How much money do I really need to live comfortably in Baja? My dogs’ food is unavailable in Mexico so what will I feed them? Do I keep my cell phone plan? Why is Babylon Berlin unavailable on Netflix when I log in from Mexico and how do I get around that if/when a new season is released? These are pressing issues.

My strategy for today is to focus on the next item on the list. I’m breathing. I’m doing yoga. I’m acknowledging it’s normal to feel anxious about this whole process while also feeling like I want to load my dogs up into a scene from The Grapes of Wrath this very instant. Mexico or bust.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑