Tales of Mexico


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Tales of Mexico:

Street scene in San Miguel de Allende

typical San Miguel de Allende street

For the last several years Jeanette and I have spent part of the summer in San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city in the mountains in the central state of Guanajuato.

We have flown to SMA twice and have driven down four times, usually staying a month.  Last year we stayed six weeks. We have rented the same house the last three years.  It is large with a private walled in yard and comes with Patricia, a wonderful maid who has been a joy to associate with.

Casa Cochran loggia

looking out into the yard

Casa Cochran
looking toward the house

Car Permit

When you go more than 60 kilometers into Mexico you must get a permit for your car. This requires a bundle of paperwork: Mexican auto insurance, car registration, photocopies of your passport, a letter from the title holder authorizing you to take the vehicle out of the country if it is being financed or leased. You are then given a permit which is good for six months. When you leave Mexico you are to return the permit at the office from which you obtained it. That is a pain in the butt. It means you must go back the way you came in. So . . . I just never returned the permits.

Two years ago, August, Jeanette and I had the dogs and stuff in our van and we were at the Mexican immigration office in Nuevo Laredo getting our tourist permits and vehicle permit. There were many people being processed that morning and the lines moved slowly. It took about an hour to get our tourist visa and Jeanette was concerned about the dogs being cooped up in the car because it was starting to become warm. I told her to go out to the van and put the air conditioning on and I would get the vehicle permit. After another 40 minutes or so I had finally made my way to the window. I handed the clerk all my paper work. She looked it over and then left her station, going back into an office. Soon she returned with her supervisor who said,

Señor, I cannot geev you a pear-meet to bring your automobile into Me-he-Ko.”
“Huh?”
“I cannot geev you a pear-meet to bring your automobile into Meh-he-ko, Señor

“Why not?”
“ Last year we geev you a pear-meet. You deed not return eet. You can only have one pear-meet. I cannot give you a pear-meet to bring your automobile into Meh-he-ko.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Return the pear-meet, Señor, and I can geev you a new pear-meet to bring your automobile into Meh-he-ko”
“I don’t have the old permit. I sold the car.”
“I cannot geev you a pear-meet to bring your automobile into Meh-he-ko. You can have only one pear-meet!”
“There must be something I can do!”
“Ah, yes.”
He hands me a card with the address of the motor vehicle department in Laredo, back over the border.

“Go to the motor vehicle department in Laredo. Tehas, Señor. Explain that you lost the pear-meet. They wheel write a letter to Meh-he-ko seat-tee. Meh-he-ko seat-tee wheel review eet. If eet is OK, they wheel write back and then we can geev you a per-meet.”

I lost it.  I screamed, “Are you out of your mind? I have driven 2000 miles! I have rented a house for a month! I have my wife and my dogs in the Car!”
“Your wife eez in the car, Señor?
“Yes!”
“I can geev her a pear-meet!”

Just part of the adventure.  When we left Mexico, we returned the permit.

Mr. N

The year before in San Miguel de Allende, I had dinner with Mr. N, a friend I’ve known fifteen years from West Palm Beach.  Mr. N was a big time jeweler in New York and Palm Beach until he had a heart attack and was partially paralyzed. His wife divorced him because, when she came down from New York to the hospital in West Palm Beach to care for him, she met for the first time his mistress, a wealthy heiress, who was at his bedside. So Mr. N’s life changed a lot about 15 years ago. He retired from jewelry, broke up with the heiress, took up with Ms. B, thirty years his junior and started spending his summers in SMA. There is a terrific art school there and Mr. N was becoming a pretty prolific sculptor. Plus, there was Ms. L, his wife away from home. Ms. B didn’t like SMA and wouldn’t come down, so that worked out OK.

Mr. N is the reason I started coming down. He liked it so much.

So, year before last we had dinner with Mr. N and Ms. L.  Mr. N was 85 by this time and frail. After the meal we both threw our American Express cards on the table and split the bill.

The week following, I was in Mega (grocery store) shopping. I handed the clerk my Am Ex card. When she handed it back I thought it looked strange, and upon examination I saw . . . it was Mr. N’s card!

I said to the clerk, “Oh, this is the wrong card! Let me give you another card”

“No Señor, eet went through the machine.”
“But it is not my card. Es mi amigo! I’ll give you another card.”
“No Señor, eet went through the machine.”

I decided not to make a big deal, so I said, “OK and signed it.

“ I need identification, Señor!”

Funny.

Anyway, I called Mr. N and said,

N, how are you?  I want you to know, I’m spending your money.”
“You are sending me money?”
“No, spending, N, spending your money”
How are you doing that?”
“I’m using your credit card. I bet if you look in your wallet you have mine.”
“Why sure enough. Here it is”.
“Why don’t I stop by on my way home and we can switch.”

When I got there we exchanged cards and I gave him 400+ pesos, explaining I had used his card at Mega.

He said, “I used your card last week, but I don’t remember for what or how much.”

“Don’t worry about it N. We can settle up when I get the bill.”

Two days later  Mr. N was found dead of a heart attack by his housekeeper. A sad thing, but he went out the way the way he would have wanted. He left Ms. B money to pay cash for a house in Atlanta where she was from.

More to come

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About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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2 Responses to Tales of Mexico

  1. Mr. N sounds like quite a guy. There’s an old joke about a woman who lost her credit card. Her husband never reported it because the person who found it spends less than she ever did! I think you are missing your little SMA.

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