Saturday, January 19, 2008

going to pot

Ok. I was supposed to be sorting today, and I slept in instead. And then I started trekking through my list of blogs -- and posting the great comments several of you have added to this blog.

Brenda and Michael have raised a point I thought of last night while using my best skillet. Should I bring my best pots and pans to Mexico?

That leads to the next question. I rely on Costco here in the States; I will rely on Costco to some degree in Mexico. I already know that the Morelia Costco does not stock books in English (a crushing blow to one of my plans for reading material), but what is the story on goods such as -- oh, pots and pans?

And how about lap tops? Bring one? Buy one there?


Beth said...

I was at a group gathering one time where someone had the book "1000 Questions." The question was: "if your house was on fire and you only had time to save one thing, what would it be?" My immediate answer was Mungo and Gracie, but then I was told we were suppose to assume family and pets were already safely outside. The question was clearly geared toward material possessions. I was surprised to find myself stumped by what I would "rescue." I'm sure I gave some lame answer about saving my Steve Lyman prints or some such thing. But every now and then that question pops back in my head. I really enjoy all my stuff. I'm sure I'd be sad if it were all lost tomorrow, but I honestly don't think there's any particular items that I couldn't start over with. (There are some historic family letters from the Civil War era that I keep locked in a fire-proof box so I pretended like that would survive this mythical fire and I wouldn't have to rescue them.) I helped a girlfriend pack her house shortly after her husband passed away unexpectedly. She was leaving Salem and moving back to Eugene. I packed for 8 hours straight one Saturday. When I left, you never would have known there had been any packing done.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take the clothes on your back (maybe a bit more to avoid too much initial laundry), a journal (or laptop) to record your thoughts & observations, your dog, a few favorite CDs (or mp3 player), and hit the road. For me, it would include my Escape. Hey, maybe that's what I would have saved in the house yellow Escape.

Good luck with sorting!

Steve Cotton said...

At the rate I am sorting today (not), I may need to adopt your method by default. The only thing not on your list is books: I will need to take at least three unread books to keep the book-reading primed.

Don Cuevas said...

Bring your laptop. For one, it's less expensive in the U.S. for consumer electronics, more in Mexico.
Mexican sold laptops are probably mostly in ths Spanish version of Windows. Macs can switch over languages with some simple software control panels.

You will feel more comfortable using an English language keyboard. The Spanish keyboards are useable, but challenging to learn.

You are allowed to import one laptop, duty free.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Michael. I used a Spanish keyboard in Spain last year; I found it as difficult to use as a Spanish-speaker must find English-based keyboards. And, on choosing where to live, I need to remember living near the sea is very hard on electronic equipment. Of course, as I sit here on a 40 degree night in Salem, Barra de Navidad starts to sound very tempting.

Nancy said...

We don't have Costco in Mazatlan but do have Sams Club which is close to the same in stock, and I would say bring your pans, for sure. Even the big department stores have crummy pans which seem to be only available in sets.

Laptop? I'd say buy it here since if it needs to go for repair you have to keep outgoing receipts etc so as to not pay duty when it comes back repaired.

And books? I have bought from both Amate books in Merida mail order and also Amazon with no problem. You'll hook up with either an english library or a group of expats to trade with no matter where you are, I'm sure.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Nancy. I do not currently have a lap top computer. When I head down on my next scouting trip, I will take a look around at what is available.

I am leaning heavily toward following your original plan: picking a place and renting there for 6 months or so. But you know how those plans can quickly change. I guess the key is to remain flexible.

Felipe Zapata said...

Laptops are small. Bring it. They cost considerably more here.

Regarding books, I have started my own Book(s) of the Month Club. Once a month, order one or two from Amazon. With the higher shipping charge, you will pay more, of course, but there is no way around that. It will average about $20 a book.

Don´t order more than one or two at a time. Large orders appear to trip the import-tax wire. Though no taxes are due on imported books, the tax guys sometimes tax you anyway. Makes no sense, but neither does much of Mexican life.

Smaller orders seem to slip through okay. Do this once a month, and you will be content.

I use a Spanish keyboard. That means I can write mañana, and you cannot. Well, not easily.

I recommend a Spanish keyboard because it goes along with learning Spanish. Nothing is more important than learning Spanish. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nada.

And if you hang around with a bunch of Gringos trading books, you won't make much headway learning Spanish.

Brenda Maas said...

Flexibility is a RULE down here LOL.
Personally I would bring a laptop from the USA, for 2 reasons: cost and ease of use in english.
Pots, I have already mentioned. If you have good ones bring them.
Definately agree with the renting somewhere for 6 months or so, living somewhere is way different than holidaying for a few weeks.

Steve Cotton said...

As always, Michael -- to the point and extremely helpful.

Steve Cotton said...

Brenda --

Thanks. The nice thing about computers is they will inevitably need to be replaced no matter where purchased. I am going to have that issue sorting through my possessions. I have 4 old sets of computers.

Alan said...

Steve, as a confirmed bookbuyer on ebay and from I would not worry about a source for reading. I have purchased at least 50 books from these sites and have never had a problem.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Alan. Another moving concern put to rest.

Islagringo said...

Read my lips. Bring a laptop! I am currently on my fourth one in four years. They are extremely expensive here, as are most electronics. The one I am currently using I bought online and had a friend bring down.

Unless you are a gourmet cook who simply can't live without those copper pots, leave them home. You can buy very decent, high quality teflon pots and pans here. Use the space they will take up with something more important to you.

Felipe Zapata said...

I disagree with Wayne on the cookware. I have not seen anything like my nice Calphalon pots down here. Plus, like furniture, Mexico prefers to sell cookware in huge sets to match the huge families. You often have to buy 15 items in a box.


Brenda Maas said...

Sorry Wayne; but I have to agree with Michael on this one.
The only pots and pans I have seen, (where we live), are either the cheap, horrible enamel ones in which everything burns or the really thin aluminium ?? ones which are also very thin. With the hot, fast heat of the gas stoves you need something with some thickness to it to avoid scorching and burning.
I brought down my heavy bottomed stainless steel pots and haven't regretted it for a moment. They took up some space in our car on the way down; but it has been worth it to have them.

Steve Cotton said...

I am with Michael and Brenda on this cookware issue. Cooking matters a lot to me and I hate wasting food because it has been improperly cooked. Gas is the best heat source, but it requires good quality cookware to make it work properly. I have never been able to get my wok to work properly on my halogen burners.

Nancy said...

I thought of another thing!

Up north I had several really wonderful wood cutting boards. I would die to have them now! The only thing I've been able to find are about 10" squares of pine or something like it and those white plastic ones.

If you have one you like, bring it!

Also, get this! A pyrex butter dish like I had up north was $380 pesos at a local department store! (Fabricas de Francia)

AND, for someone like you with a long hair dog, bring your vacuum if you like it, otherwise you will have a toy pull around vacuum or a shop vac.

And I really miss my memory foam mattress pad. Can't find them here, unfortunately.

John W said...

How come I didn't find your blog until now? Thanks to a comment you made on mine, it's become a part of my world.

Bring a laptop. Bring a Mac laptop because it'll let you easily set up a tiny toolbar icon that, with a click, enables you to switch from English to Spanish alphabets.

It'll cost an arm and a leg to buy one in Mexico (if you can find one at all) and it'll be some months behind the latest models.

Michael Dickson is right about Spanish. All of Mexico opens as your Spanish improves. You become a member of your community instead of remaining a lonely gringo on the periphery, playing bridge with other retirees.

My Spanish, such as it is, has brought me Mexican friends, one of whom just bought me a new Mac in Las Vegas and brought it back with her at Christmas, when there's a holiday on duties for Mexican citizens. She brings me dutiable stuff on other trips, too, and she knows all the tricks for minimizing duties. So if you want good pots after you move here, a Mexican friend you met through your facility in Spanish, one who makes periodic trips to the States, would help you out.

I've had better luck with buying English languaqe books in larger orders through Amazon, but that's because San Miguel de Allende (Mexico Lite) has mail forwarding agencies licensed to handle aduana functions at the border, and because gringos are their clients, they're a little looser in assessing duties.

Felipe Zapata said...

Actually, a plastic cutting board, and I have three (one huge from CostCo) are supposed to be far more hygienic than the wood models. Plus, they dry way faster.

And I´ve seen good vacuums often. I have two. Depends on how far into the boonies who lives, I imagine.

Pyrex butter dish!? Just do what the natives do. Leave your hunk of butter on the window sill.

Anonymous said...

Hola Steve,

I found your blog through comments on Michael Dickson's blog. I wish you the best possible move.

For what it's worth, I'd say buy a U.S. laptop and take it with you. Mexico imposes tax on consumer electronics, and they are noticeably (~15%+) more expensive there than here. Costco has the best deals if you must buy in Mexico.

As for typing things like "mañana" and díos, on Windows PC's you can install (via software) different keyboard maps. Go to the control panel, select "regional and language settings," select the "languages" tab, and then select the "details" button. You want to click "add" and then select "united states - international." Once you've done that, you can switch between your usual keyboard layout and the U.S. Intl. With U.S. intl, when you type an apostrophe followed by a vowel, it will come out accented: é, á í,ó, ú. ¿ñ¡ are done by holding the right-side alt key while pressing the appropriate key.

So you can type in Spanish on a U.S. keyboard. And the advantage of keeping a U.S. keyboard is that Mexican keyboards are physically different, with an additional key before you get to the return key. This is harder to get used to than typing an apostrophe before you want an accented vowel.

Oh, and to switch between the keyboard maps? You'll see a small button on your task bar that says "en" or "es." Just click it and you can switch languages.


Kim G
Boston MA (But spending a lot of time in Mexico City, and maybe moving there some day)

Steve Cotton said...

Kim --

Thank you for the information. When I move down next year, I will buy a lap top here in Oregon. I was unaware of the font option you mentioned. I will start using it immediately. That will avoid the need to copy and paste the spanish words I use frequently.

By the way, I thoroughly enjoy the witty exchanges between Michael and you. He is one of my favorite blog writers.