Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Another Thing to Worry About

As you may remember, at the end of my trip to Ohio I had received a summons to jury duty at my old address.  I resolved that issue, but upon returning to Mexico City, I faced another cause for concern.

While I was in Ohio, I had received an email that a piece of mail had arrived at my private mailing service.  It was a week after my return to Mexico City before I had a chance to pick it up at office.  The letter was from Medicare, and when I read it, my stomach was immediately tied in knots.  Ever since I turned 65, my Medicare premiums have been automatically deducted from my checking account in Ohio.  The letter said that I was delinquent in my payments.  When I returned to the apartment, I checked my account statements online, and sure enough, no Medicare payments had been deducted since January.  By that time, it was after business hours, and I figured that I would not be able to call and find out what was going on.  Needless to say, I had a sleepless night.

The next morning, I was up before 6:00 A.M.  We are two hours behind Eastern time in the U.S.  I thought that perhaps the office would be open at 8:00 EDT, so at the stroke of six, I was dialing the Medicare number.  I imagined being on hold for an hour or more before being able to talk with someone.  To my surprise, my call went through immediately, and I found out that the Medicare line is open 24 hours.  I explained the situation to the lady.  She could see that no payment had been made since January, but she had no idea why the premiums had not been made automatically.  She told me that I could pay the delinquent bill online on the Medicare website.  She also said that once the bill is paid, the premiums should once again be taken from my checking account.  If they are not, I should call again.

I went to the Medicare website, and I was able to easily pay it online with my credit card.  I still do not understand why the automatic payments stopped, but at least I know how to pay online if necessary. 


Monday, April 29, 2024

A Shopping Expedition

Yesterday, Alejandro and I went to Parque Tepeyac, the shopping mall that opened less than two years ago just two Metrobus stops down the road from where his family lives.  Even though the neighborhood is certainly not an upscale part of the city, the mall is very nice with three floors of a wide variety of shops and restaurants.  It appears to be a commercial success.  There are very few vacant spaces, and most of those have signs announcing the opening of more stores in the near future.  The mall is anchored on either end by two major department stores, Liverpool and Sears.  (As I have mentioned before, Sears is alive and well in Mexico, and is an upscale chain owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico.) 

Part of the mall's success is undoubtedly the fact that it contains an important local tourist attraction... the largest aquarium in Latin America.  That is still on our list of things to do, but we certainly will not be doing that on a weekend.  The line waiting to buy tickets was very long.  (See can see part of that line in the first picture on the second level.)

However, not everyone was there to see the aquarium.  There were a lot of shoppers because two gift-giving holidays are coming up.  Tomorrow is Children's Day, and May 10th is Mothers' Day.  (Unlike the United States, in Mexico Mothers' Day always falls on the same date.)

"Happy Children's Month!"

And that was the reason for our trip to the mall.  Even though our nephew Ezra is no longer a child (he is now an adolescent), we wanted to get something for him.  We found a shirt at one of the many clothing stores.  Later, we were browsing in a bookstore, and I found a Spanish translation of the classic children's book, "The Secret Garden".  I wasn't sure if it would be something too childish for him, but Alejandro said that Ezra loved the movie.  So, I bought that.  At one of the department stores we purchased a perfume gift set for his sister for Mothers' Day.  So, we have our shopping done for the two upcoming special days.  

Sunday, April 28, 2024

What Are They???

Sometimes there are art installations in front of the Mexico City World Trade Center.  At the present time there are things (somebody, I suppose, considers them works of art) on display in the fountain in front of the entrance.  There are no signs describing who made these things or what they are supposed to represent.

I have no idea what these things are made of, but every time I pass by, all I can think of is that they are rejects from an elementary school papier mâché project!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Who Are They???

As I have mentioned many times, my apartment is just a short walk from the Mexico City World Trade Center.  A part of the complex is a concert venue known as the Pepsi Center.  The frequent concerts... sometimes even on weeknights... draw large crowds and snarled traffic.

Outside the center there are posters advertising upcoming events.  I have to admit that I have never heard of any of these singers and musical groups.

Even as a youth I was never really a follower of the latest music, but Alejandro has never heard of any of them either.  I guess we are just a couple of old fogies! 


Friday, April 26, 2024



One of my favorite fruits is the mango.  It is hard to get really good mangos in the United States.  The very best variety is the one known as the "mango de Manila" (as the name implies, it was originally brought to Mexico from the Philippines).  However, due to the delicate nature of the fruit, the "mango de Manila" is rarely exported to the United States.

The season for the "mango de Manila" is from April through October.  This week when I went to the market to buy produce, I asked the vendor if she had any.  She did, and I bought several to take back to the apartment.  They are so sweet and juicy.  If fact, I have to eat the mangos over the kitchen sink, and I have to wash the mango juice off my face and hands after eating it.

Mangos will now be on my weekly shopping list when I go to the market!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Poster Pollution

The elections in Mexico are a little over a month away.  I wrote in an earlier blog entry about the political signs posted everywhere, but, since my return from Ohio, the number of signs, banners and posters has proliferated to the point of ridiculousness.  This is especially evident in Alejandro's part of town.  It is not as if his borough is a hotly contested district; the area is overwhelmingly in favor of the ruling, populist party Morena.  But Morena obviously has money to burn with advertising overkill.

 On every utility pole there are multiple posters, one on top of another.  It just looks trashy.


Janecarlo Lozano is running for the mayor of the borough where Alejandro lives.  He goes by his unusual first name which is pronounced ha-nay-car-lo, but we jokingly Anglicize his name and call him Jane Carlo.

Someone obviously does not like Yuriri Ayala, Morena candidate for local deputy.


The sad thing is that no one removes these posters after the election.  For months and months the neighborhood will be blighted with poster pollution.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Street Art Again

It's been quite a while since I have written an entry about street art in Mexico City.

I was walking around Alejandro's neighborhood yesterday, and I photgraphed several examples which I had not posted previously.

Geometric designs decorating a wall behind a local playground

A mural on a government sponsored athletic and cultural center

Public schools frequently have outdoor art.  The following are on the walls of a junior high school and an elementary school. 

I don't know exactly what this beast is supposed to be. Perhaps it's an "alebrije", a fantastical creature which combines elements of different animals.

Nor am I sure who this person is supposed to be, or if the headdress is a jaguar or a tiger.

There is no mistaking the subject of this painting however.  It is Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god of pre-Hispanic Mexico. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024


On Saturday, Alejandro and I were walking through the "tianguis" (outdoor market) in his neighborhood.  He was trying to decide what he should fix for dinner for the family that day, and he asked me if I would like "pambazos".  Several years ago I wrote about those tasty sandwiches, and Alejandro didn't have to twist my arm for me to say "¡Sí!".

So, instead of buying something in the market to fix for dinner, we went to a nearby, hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

There are a few tables inside, but most of their business is carry-out.  You can see that Alejandro was second in line, but, soon after we arrived, a long line of customers had formed behind us.

The place is called "Doña Tere Pozolería".  The specialty is "pozole", a pork and hominy soup.  (A number of those waiting carried plastic buckets to be filled with soup.)  However, they serve a number of other traditional Mexican foods, including "pambazos".

A "pambazo" is a bun with a filling of chorizo sausage and diced potatoes.  The bread is then brushed with salsa and grilled.  As a finishing touch, some shredded lettuce and "crema" are added.

We purchased eight "pambazos" and took them home for dinner.  They are definitely a "knife and fork" type of sandwich.  They are also very filling.  I had one and a half "pambazos", and I was stuffed.

Not an especially healthy meal, but so delicious!

Monday, April 22, 2024

Welcome Rain

Mexico's dry season usually runs from November until the middle of May.  However, this year the dry season is more than just dry.  Much of the country is suffering from a severe drought compounded by higher-than-normal temperatures.  Many lakes throughout the nation are drying up.  Lake Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán is a popular tourist destination, and the island of Janitzio in the middle of the lake is famous for its Day of the Dead celebrations.

This is what Lake Pátzcuaro currently looks like, and you can walk to Janitzio...

(image taken from the internet)

So, we are keeping our fingers crossed that the rainy season, at least here in Mexico City, seems to have started a bit early.  On Thursday, the day that I returned to Mexico, it was drizzling in the early evening.  In the middle of the night, while I was sleeping, it rained more heavily.  It drizzled again on Friday and Saturday, and then, yesterday afternoon, we had a heavy rain.

Rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast for this afternoon and early evening again.

With last yesterday's rain, the webcam of the volcano Popocatépetl showed the peak covered with snow this morning.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Flying Home

 It still seems a bit strange to say that I am "flying home" when I return to Mexico City.

Last Thursday, after a wonderful two week stay in Ohio, visiting friends, and seeing the spectacular eclipse, I flew back to my adopted country.  I got up early, checked out of the hotel, and returned my rental car.  The shuttle bus took me the short distance to Cleveland airport.  My flight to Houston was scheduled to leave around 11:00 AM, and I checked in at 8:00.  On previous trips, I usually left Cleveland earlier in the morning, and I would be at the airport before 6:00.  I was amazed that the airport is much less crowded a couple hours later... the check in line was minimal and even the security line was shorter.  On future trips to Ohio, I will have to make it a point to leave on a late morning flight instead of at the crack of dawn.

As I mentioned when I left on this trip, I had splurged and booked first class tickets.  I had plenty of time before departure, so I was able to have a leisurely, free breakfast in the United Club lounge.  My flight to Houston left on time, and I was served lunch on board.  I had a three-hour layover in Houston, so I availed myself again of the United Club, and ate more free food.  There was a lot of eating that day!

My flight to Mexico City also left on time and was pleasant and uneventful.  In drought-stricken Mexico City it has been sunny and hot for weeks. However, as we descended for our late-afternoon landing, the skies were overcast.  (Later that night it rained.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that perhaps the rainy season will begin early.)

Because of the gray, hazy conditions, the photos as we approached Mexico City International Airport are not the best...

In the metropolitan area outside the city limits is Presa Madín, one of the reservoirs that supply Mexico City with water.  Given the current water crisis, I was surprised that the level of the lake did not appear to be low.

As we fly over the city from the west, in the lower left you can see the Hipódromo de las Américas, Mexico City's track for horse races.  The vague green area to the upper right is Chapultepec Park.

A closer, but hazy view of Chapultepec Park. (My attempts to photoshop this picture did not do much good.) The two buildings on the left side of the park are the National Auditorium toward the bottom and above it the National Museum of Anthropology.  You see the line of skyscrapers stretching along the Paseo de la Reforma beyond the park.

The building in the center of the photo is the Mexico City World Trade Center. My apartment is down there just a block away.

I'm home!


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Update - Jury Duty

I wrote in yesterday's post that I had received a summons for jury duty in Ohio.  When I called the courthouse, the lady said that as long as I am a registered voter in Cuyahoga County, I am obliged to serve, even though I am living 2,500 miles away and it would cost me at least a couple thousand dollars in airfare, hotel room, car rental and restaurants.  But it would cost me a LOT more if I were selected for the jury of lengthy trial.  

Previously, I had only been summoned twice in my life for jury duty.  The second time, the defendant pled guilty, and I was dismissed after a couple of days.  However, my first time serving on a jury was a much different story.  It was the summer after I retired from teaching, and I was selected as a jury member for a murder case.  At first, I was excited about the experience, but my enthusiasm waned as we heard day after day after day of testimony.  The case, which received national attention, involved an insurance agent who was accused of murdering his wife.  At first, I could not say that I was convinced of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  But by the time we went into deliberation, I was sure that he was the murderer.  I forget how many days we deliberated without reaching a unanimous decision.  We were deadlocked at 9 to 3 in favor of conviction.  The judge finally declared a mistrial, and we were dismissed after a month of serving on the jury.  (The defendant went to trial again, and there was another hung jury... 10 to 12 against him.  The third trial ruled that he was not guilty.  He escaped conviction, but if he was indeed the murderer, karma came after him.  He was financially ruined, and he died at the age of 66.)

Anyway, thoughts of that trial went through my mind as I thought that I would have to return to Cleveland.  I would not be happy if my minimum of five days stretched into several weeks.

Yesterday, my first full day back in Mexico City, I called the courthouse again.  I talked with the same lady, and she remembered me.  Perhaps she had talked with someone else about my situation.  This time she said that once they received the form I had sent with my new address, I would be excused from jury duty.  So, I guess that I don't have to worry about returning to Ohio next month nor being arrested the next time I fly into Cleveland.        

Friday, April 19, 2024

A Fugitive from Justice

During my stay in Ohio, the new owner of my old house invited me to stop by.  I really didn't feel any pangs of emotion returning to the place where I spent most of my life, although it was a rather surreal experience.

The owner said that there was only one piece of mail that looked important that had been sent to me at the old address.  She handed me a summons for jury duty that had arrived a few days earlier.  I thought to myself, if I had never received the summons and did not show up at the courthouse on the date of service, there would be a warrant for my arrest.  I had visions of returning to Ohio sometime in the future and being met by the police when I landed at Cleveland airport.  (I checked on the internet, and failure to show up for jury duty in Ohio carries a charge of contempt of court, $100 fine plus court costs and / or three days in jail.)

The summons unfolded to include a form for requesting excusal from jury duty.  I checked change of address and provided my new address (both my private mailing service in Florida, and my actual address in Mexico City) and my new phone number.  I went to the post office and sent it on my last day in Ohio.  However, I also called the courthouse.  The lady said that it doesn't matter that I am now living 2500 miles away.  As long as I am registered as a voter in Cuyahoga County, I am required to serve. 

I found a form on the internet from the Ohio Secretary of State in which I can cancel my voter registration.  However, I don't want to do that.  I want to be able to vote in the November election.  Besides, I don't know if cancelling my registration AFTER receiving a summons would be valid.

I am going to have to make some more calls, but I have a feeling that I am going to have to make another trip to Ohio much sooner than I had planned!   

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Souvenir Shopping

Of course, I had to buy some Cleveland souvenirs to take back to my Mexican family.  I wanted to buy some tee shirts commemorating the total eclipse.  A shop in the suburb of Lakewood that specializes in Cleveland-themed clothing was recommended as a place where I might find some shirts.  I went there on Monday, hoping that they would still have some.

The store, GV Art + Design, is a cool place with a wide variety of apparel.  They still had a few eclipse tee shirts, and I bought several of this design as gifts and for myself...

The image in the center is of one of the monumental "Guardians of Traffic" sculptures on Cleveland's Hope Memorial Bridge which crosses the Cuyahoga River.  (The new name of the former Cleveland Indians Baseball team, the Guardians, is a reference to these statues.)  On this tee shirt, one of the Guardians is pictured wearing glasses to view the eclipse.

I could not resist buying this hilarious tee shirt...

Clevelanders always joke that if you don't like the weather here, just wait a while because it will change.   That was very true on this trip.  I experienced snow, rain, high winds and some beautiful days of sun and warm temperatures during my two-week stay here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

At the Art Museum

On Sunday, Katie and Olivier took me to the Cleveland Museum of Art where we saw a special exhibition called "Africa and Byzantium".

The exhibit shows the artistic connection between the Byzantine Empire and northern and eastern Africa, including the black, Christian kingdoms of Nubia and Ethiopia.

Here are a few of the items on display...

Diptych of the 12 Apostles and St. Paul
Empire of Ethiopia, late 1600's

Mosaic portrait known as "Lady of Carthage"
Tunisia, 4th or 5th century

Gold coin necklace
Egypt, 6th century

Terra cotta pottery
Tunisia, 4th century

Funerary sculpture
Egypt, 4th century

Mosaic of a lion attacking a wild ass
Tunisia, 3rd century

Gospel illustration of the journey of the Magi
Empire of Ethiopia, 16th century

Tapestry of the Virgin and Child
Egypt, 4th century

Wood and ivory bridal chest
Kingdom of Nubia, 300s - 500s

Empire of Ethiopia, 15th century

Mosaic palm tree
Tunisia, 6th century

Wall painting of a Nubian bishop protected by St. Peter
Kingdom of Nubia, 10th century

Triptych with the Virgin and Child
Empire of Ethiopia, 17th century

Miniature diptych used as a pendant
Empire of Ethiopia, 18th century