Another Day in Paradise

I’m going to keep this post simple if for no other reason that life here is simple.

If I haven’t said it before, this is the land of MexiCANS. As in the land of can do. Case in point. My new friend, Clemente picked me up in his 25 year old GMC pick up truck this morning so that he could take me to a place where I could get my beautiful old Panama hat cleaned and blocked.

This is my Indiana Jones style expedition hat that I have worn so many times that I sweated it out of shape. I bought it in Ecuador – that’s where Panama hats are made – cheap for something like $20-$30 and I wore it on several adventures in Peru including a short climb (4600 meters) my Dutch friend, Hendrik and I did in the beautiful but remote mountains called the Cordillera Blancas.

Anyway, I love the damned thing and it broke my heart while living in Washington, DC that the only place that did that kind of thing – located appropriately in Georgetown – went out of business before I could get around to having it done. I will admit I equivocated for quite some time because they wanted the astronomical sum of something like $100 to do the work which frankly kind of pissed me off; a hundred bucks to fix a thirty dollar hat.

The town I live in now is famous for two industries: hat and sandal making. But both industries have fallen into decline. Sandals, because the Chinese and Brazilians have turned the business upside down with price wars that have pushed the prices down so much as to detrimentally erode quality. And then the ubiquitous stupid baseball caps have slowly been driving the local straw woven western style hats into oblivion.

So I was quite surprised that Clemente knew of a local shop that both dealt in Panama hats and also cleaned and blocked them as well. FYI – blocking refers to reshaping the hat once it has been cleaned.

While waiting for the shop to open this morning we drove around and casually shot the shit for a couple of hours in a civilized manner. He’s my age and is more interested in living life as a true expression of one’s values than acting out a pretentious posturing fakery that many lesser men affect as a substitute.

By way of conversational passing, he for whatever reason, wants to get me involved in developing his 100 hectare (250 acre) ranch. I told him that first I needed to up my legal status here in Mexico before I could even think about involving myself in any serious enterprise like the one he was suggesting.

He is old family here dating back some 20 years after the conquest of Mexico (1630?). A couple of weeks ago he took me to the home he was born in and it was old school hacienda style. In fact it reminded me of Asia. From the outside adobe wall there was a single wooden door and a few weathered wood shuttered windows. It was like so many similar residential walls I had seen in Asia. The wall as presented to the public did nothing to hint at what lay beyond it.

And it is more typical than not that a rundown wall could hide a palace within. And in this case the door opened into a huge courtyard, a garden of old fruit trees and ancient clay pots filled with all manner of flowering plants.

And the amazing thing about this hacienda is that it sits just five blocks from the plaza and is nestled between businesses in the heart of the commercial district. I must have walked by it a dozen times or more and never even noticed it was there.

But back to the visa thing. He casually mentioned that the next time he was in Mexico City he’d have a talk with someone – some federal government someone – that ‘he needed me to help him in his business’ and ‘couldn’t they expedite a resident’s visa for me?’

He told me that in order to do that he first needed my papers (copy of passport, birth certificate, etc.) first.

I told him that a lawyer over in Jiquilpan had the Apostille original of my birth certificate, including it in translated form with Mexican notary stamp to boot. And that this lawyer had been dodging my request to return those papers to me.

Clemente, also a lawyer said, “Let’s go see him.’ Which we did.

That’s some true MexiCAN my friend.

And I like it.

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