Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Random ramblings on New Years Day

I was thinking this morning about how much more pleasant it is travelling down here compared with the last time we were here. Its been 5 or 6 years since we were this far south and 4 years since we were last in Mexico. In that time the infrastructure has improved - dramatically in some areas and incrementally in others. The highways are better although some of them are still extremely narrow and some of the tolls are barbaric, everything is cleaner as though the country had finally abandoned the notion that every wide spot in the pavement was the local garbage dump, there's a lot of evidence of new construction and not nearly so many antique Dinas travelling the highways with massive overloads. Electronic technology has made a huge difference too - its not unusual now to have wi-fi access in a park and we have our own means of accessing the internet wherever we are. Feeling like we are connected to the world in Canada makes a huge difference to how comfortable we feel. The ability to scan the news at home helps us stay connected and, whenever we have wi-fi, we can also get streaming radio from virtually any station we want. In theory we can get streaming radio content off the satellite as well but the latency on the connection makes that a little less reliable although occasionally workable.

Some things haven't changed down here. While Navajoa seems to have outlawed topes, the omnipresent speed bumps on steroids that Mexicans love to use to control traffic speeds, other areas definitely have not. One of my favorite sayings down here is "en Mexico tienen mas topes que gente." You can use babelfish to sort that out if it really needs translation. Another thing that hasn't changed is the mañana attitude. "Mañana" literally translates to "tomorrow" or "morning" and it is used in that context but it is also used in the context of "not now". As in "I will fix that mañana" which the gringo foolishly thinks means that the thing will be fixed tomorrow but to the mexican can just as easily mean "it ain't gonna get fixed today." So the site that we are parked in here at Miramar has this swampy sinkhole directly to the south of it. You have to be careful where you walk - fortunately the parking is on concrete because we would literally go out of sight if we drove into the wet area. The neighbours said they had reported the area to the park management - it is obvious that there is a break in the water line somewhere close to the surface in that area. No problem - they haven't got around to fixing it yet. Then yesterday a guy pulled in next to us from California and said "Oh, I see they haven't fixed the leak that was there last year."

And on the subject of neighbours. I guess I'm prejudiced against La Belle Province - maybe that isn't too big a surprise to anyone who is reading this. There's three couples here that I thought were from Quebec & I was making an effort to control my prejudice. One of the couples was noticeably more friendly - Gary & I have had several conversations & I actually enjoy his company. Guess what? Turns out they live in BC. He happens to speak french so he does that out of respect for the two couples from Quebec but he isn't from there. One of the Quebecois accosted me yesterday and told me that my wifi was interfering with his access to the park wifi. We don't have wifi. I've disabled it in my router but the damn thing insists on broadcasting its name despite the fact that I have removed its antenna. I would change the name to something like "not available" but the guys that set it up in Ontario put in a password and then forgot what the password is. So I could reset the router and reconfigure it but I've got it mounted in a cabinet and it would be a PITA & I just haven't got around to doing it. So anyway, Mr. Frog accosted me and accused me of interfering with his access to the park wifi. I tried to explain what was going on which basically is that we aren't interfering with bugger all but he wasn't buying. Then I figured out that the reason he claimed we were interfering was because, when he was parked directly beside us he could access the wifi but when they moved (farther away from the office) he couldn't. So I said "why don't you go sit over there?" and gestured to where he used to be parked. "Oh well my wife she wants to look at it at night" I walked away.

I think we've talked ourselves back out of the property idea. We will still meet with the real estate agent again but there are challenges to non-Mexicans owning property close to the beach and, even if there weren't, we probably wouldn't own recreational property. We have always rented our recreational property and it has worked well for us. I think some people mix up recreation and investment in their heads and that isn't necessarily wrong but it doesn't work for us. If we make an investment decision to invest in recreational property there are ways to do that; if we make an investment decision to invest in Mexican property there are ways to do that too; and if we want to combine the two properties there are ways to do that. None of those investment decisions requires that we live on and use the property.

As long as we can rent in the areas that we want to spend time in we think that makes the most sense for us. This location would be a perfect example - we're in a garden like setting within 500 feet of the ocean. Owning a location like this, even just enough space to park in, would cost probably $250,000. That's more money than we would want to risk in what is still a difficult investment climate. Legally non-mexicans can't hold the title to property within something like a 50 mile range of the ocean. There are a host of ways to get around that restriction but it doesn't change the fact that there is some risk involved. If we want to invest in beachfront property there are ways to do that without the risk that the government will someday expropriate all the foreign controlled land. There's plenty of precedent for that kind of unilateral action right in this country (and I guess right in our family as well) and no need to expose ourselves to that risk.

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