Saturday, March 6, 2010

Errands - Loreto style

This Thursday was my day off. I am now usually working a regular 5 ½ day week, but since the office was covered by my colleague and I had a list of errands that had built up over the past several weeks, I decided to take the day off and get everything done.

I am going to be travelling back to Calgary next week, driving to Cabo on Thursday and catching a 4:00 pm Westjet flight direct to Calgary, so I wanted to get an oil change before making the trip, but before dropping the car off I had to make the first stop. A couple of days ago I had noticed that one of my bicycle tires had several bulges and, on closer inspection I realized that the rubber had started to rot away, probably due to a combination of age and sun exposure (come to think of it, much the same could be said about me) so I threw the bike in the back of Denny (the Denali) and Bicitaller Manny was my first stop. This is a great little bike shop off a side street in town where I have had some tune-ups and tubes repaired before, and so I wheeled the bike into the shop and the lady behind the counter had a choice of two knobby mountain tires. I picked the one I liked and left the bike with her, it would be ready in a couple of hours.

While I was in the shop, there were two guys in spandex biking suits with their serious looking touring bikes complete with panniers and the paraphernalia of a road trip so I struck up a conversation with them and they told me they had just arrived in town after riding from Tecate, about 1,000 km, in FIVE DAYS. I remarked about the trip and asked them if they were camping and they said no, they had stayed in Hotels all the way down – that was why it had taken them SO LONG – they had to stop for the night where there were Hotels and so they couldn’t make AS GOOD TIME! 200 km per day for five days up and down some significant mountain ranges with nothing but desert in between and no shoulders on the road, I was impressed. But they went on to explain that they were in the shop looking for bike boxes because they were flying out on the afternoon plane and they needed boxes to ship their bikes home with them. Not surprisingly, Manny didn’t have any proper freight boxes, but they were going to find some cardboard boxes and pack the bikes in that, with lots of duct tape.

So I left the cyclists to their challenge, and gave them my card with the blog address and told them they were going to be in my posting this week – (if you’re reading this, hats off to you and I hope the bikes made it back OK). After leaving the bike I then made my way to one of several aciete cambio (oil change) places in town, choosing one that also did carwashes, because Denny was looking thoroughly Baja, after not being washed for a couple of months. When I pulled in to the shops driveway, which ended in an open pit where they could access the underside of the car, I told them I wanted a change and a lube job as well (grasa) and then I asked about a wash, and the attendant said sorry, no agua. The water had been turned off somewhere in town and who knew when it would come on again – no agua – no limpio!

After leaving the car with them I then made my way on foot across town on my next errand, but first I passed by the Papelleria (stationery store) that is owned by my accountant, to check on the appointment I had asked her to make for me at the Tax Office in La Paz, where I would stop on my way back, on the return trip from Calgary. That business taken care of, I continued on to find the new Barber Shop I was looking for.

As some of you who read this blog regularly realize, I do not make a habit of frequenting Barber Shops very often – in fact it has been about 6 months since my last trim in Calgary before I came down here. But, I am going back to Calgary to have a visit with my Mother, as well as some other family and friends, and I thought a bit of a trim was in order so as to look my best.

But there is more of a story to my choice of a Barber. I met Luis about a year ago, when he was working part-time at the Golf Course Clubhouse (when we still had a functioning Clubhouse) and he gave me his card, explaining that he was a Peluquero (Barber). I gestured at my then almost shoulder length locks and said I wasn’t really interested. I would see him around the development from time to time, he had several other jobs on the go including pool maintenance and then I heard from word of mouth that he was also a masseuse – truly a multi-talented individual!

When I returned in the Fall Luis wasn’t around and I lost track of him, until a couple of months ago, when someone told me that they had met him in town and he told them that he had opened a Barber Shop. So, a few days later I decided to try to find him and see if he was still doing massage. The cell number on his card still worked and I invited him out to my place to do a massage. He arrived the next Sunday morning, right on time, Sundays being the only day he could massage as he kept his Shop open the other 6 days of the week. It was a great massage and so I booked another one for two weeks later, and last Sunday we had our third appointment.

Of course, when I decided to get a trim, I was going to go to Luis and he had told me he was right beside the Estafeta Office, which is the local Baja courier. The shop is located about a half a block off Juarez on Misioneros street and I walked in to find a brightly painted little shop with one chair in front of a mirror and a couple of waiting chairs by the door. We chatted about his business while he did a quick trim and he said that things were going well, he was doing more cuts a day each month since he opened in December. I paid him the 50 peso charge (about $4.00) and confirmed my next massage appointment for the Sunday after I get back from my trip, and then I was off on my next errand.

I wanted to pick up a few small gifts to take back to Calgary and so I headed over to "Conchita’s Curious" (which I think was supposed to mean curios, but then again, maybe curious was right after all) to pick them up. While I was making my selection, two ladies who were making a purchase recognized me and we got into a conversation. They had seen me showing the house in Loreto Bay across from theirs several times, and asked me about it and set up to come and see it before one of them left for home. These sort of impromptu meeting serve as a reminder that it really is a small community that we live in!

When I left Conchita’s it was time to get back to pick up my car at the oil change and after I paid my 710 peso bill ($55) for oil change, filter and lube, I headed back to Manny’s before they closed at 1:30 (for siesta, reopening at 4:00 until 7:00) to pick up my bike with it’s nice new black knobby tire for which I was charged 165 pesos (about $12.50 - $11 for the new tire, the rest for labour!). By this time, my two new cyclist friends had boxed up one bike and Manny was cutting away at a couple of cartons, making them into one for the second bike. When I asked how they were doing, they grinned a bit nervously and said they had 25 minutes before they had to jump into a taxi to get to the airport to catch their plane, again, I hope they made it!

I still hadn’t given Denny his bath, but there was another little wash just around the corner from Manny’s, so I drove past and talked to the proprietor, who first of all had to check if he had enough water in the big “cisterna” in the yard (I guess the water shortage was wider spread than I realized) but he said it would take at least 2 hours because he was working on another car. I decided to try one of several other nearby places and found one a block away (I swear there are more car washes in this town of 12,000 than in Calgary with over a million people!) who said they could do it in an hour and a half so we agreed on the time and I left the car with them.

By now it was time for lunch and I knew where I was going to go. I re-crossed town for the third time on foot and headed for my friend Hector’s “new” restaurant La Cava. I say “new”, because I am somewhat ashamed to say that Hector (who is my next door
neighbour in Loreto Bay) opened his tapas style restaurant before Christmas and, until today, I had not made it in for a meal yet. I had a delicious arachara steak sandwich on chibata bread with some caramelized onions and some lettuce and grape tomatoes on the side along with several Negra Modelo beers. Hector also has a small wine shop adjoining his restaurant, where you can choose your bottle and pay the regular retail price plus a small corkage and enjoy it with your meal, before picking up a couple more bottles to take home with you after the meal, if you choose.

Following my delicious meal, it was about time to head back to pick up my car but I had just enough time to stop in and say hello to my friend Jill, who lives with Ben in a beautiful home they built just off the main town plaza at about the same time we were building Casablanca here. (Jill has also guest blogged last year about their trip on their boat Alley Cat, to La Paz.) Then it was back to the car wash where I hardly recognized the newly beautiful Denny, gleaming at the side of the road, it had been so long since he was clean I had almost forgotten what the colour was underneath. I paid the 100 pesos ($8.00) which included a thorough interior cleaning, and then returned to Loreto Bay, arriving back about 4:00 pm with a feeling of a great sense of accomplishment with my day of errands. Getting all that done in less than 5 hours – and having a great time doing it – that is really “Living Loreto”!