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barrbower

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Everything posted by barrbower

  1. I just spent about an hour doing a live chat with several folks at Medicare.gov. There is no change as to the coverage or limitations to any Medicare Part C plans. That means you can't legally use that Part C for anything if you are living outside the US or places like Guam or Puerto Rico. If you don't reside in Mexico but are traveling outside the US for less than 60 days and have a legitimate emergency while traveling here, then the Part C use is legal. There are a few exceptions but those won't apply to this discussion because we are not a border town or traveling from Alaska through Canada. Please don't perpetuate fraud and run the risk of having a bigger bill bounce back on you. There is an organization called NBI MEDIC that investigates fraud, overcharging, theft, etc. on behalf of the Part C insurance providers. Even if you've had luck in the past with this scam it doesn't mean you will next time. Several folks here locally have discovered that the hard way and got bills for many times more than what they would have just paid out of pocket. Alan
  2. You might try searching for Finca La Estramancia in San Luis Soyatlan. I contacted them and it looks like a lovely place. Problem is that they only take groups of six or more and are otherwise not open to the public. Food and wine available for a cost and the tour cost 500 pesos each person. Not the typical winery business model we are all used to seeing. It is actually located just past SLS on the lakeshore side of the highway. Looks beautiful. Wines are all on the expensive side and I don't know if they are good. I think they need a marketing person. Alan
  3. In English "lagoon" is normally used to define an area of salt water separated from the ocean by a sand bar, for instance. In Spanish Lake Chapala is called "Luguna de Chapala" on Mexican maps and in common usage. Mexican Wiki says the same. They define it that way by virtue of it's characteristics...primarily it's shallow depth and propensity for dramatic expansion and shrinkage depending on seasonal weather. Just like Lagunas de Cuitzeo and Yuriria which are just north of Morelia. All are destined to one day be wetlands and then seasonally verdant plains. Many, many years ago Guadalajara was a laguna. When it rains really hard, parts of it can still require a boat. I have read that all of this part of Mexico was at one time a single huge body of fresh water. Nobody was around then so I don't know what they called it! Alan
  4. Normal and average are two different things. If the average drops over several years of lower levels then that becomes "normal." With this being a lagoon as opposed to a deep lake, fluctuations are "normal" and are very dependent on climate conditions. I've seen the shore all the way up to 16th of Sept. in Ajijic and I've seen the shore a mile out with the exposed land being used for football fields, farming, and even fenced for livestock. Both conditions were normal but not average. Whatever the average is, it's good to see it now coming up a little. We could still have several more inches of water this season or...no more rain at all. Either would be "normal." Alan
  5. Yes, and it was resurfaced less than a year ago. The entire highway is already breaking up. Not properly bedded and thin coat of asphalt spread on top of unstable base and old potholes. But it was smooth and pretty for a little while. The main problem is the amount of bus and heavy truck traffic required to use that road. Dump trucks and delivery trucks hauling tons of rock, sand, cement, beer, and dirt. On the plus side, the crappy roads (and poor traffic lights and crazy weekend traffic) might keep more of us gringos from moving here... Alan
  6. In the US, the "inflation rate" is calculated (generally) by looking at goods and services not including food or energy costs (like utilities.) Also not included are taxes, higher education, healthcare, credit card interest, and home prices. So basically all the things people know are zooming upwards are the things that make life just existing day to day for many people. I'm sure the actual cost of living increases each year are actually not the 2.5% quoted but are easily four times that. Wages have been flat since the seventies making it seem even more worse that it truly is. I'm sure the same is true in Mexico. Every country needs a "working poor" class to stay a little afraid and therefore easy to manipulate, to keep the economy stable. Just buy what you need and try to keep everything you've bought for as long as possible. And try to think of those less fortunate than most of us are. Alan
  7. I'm pretty sure that the Tecolutas soccer field on the west side of Ajijic is built on federal land which was filled in to make the municipal field. Also pretty sure some additions to the malecons in the area were built in spite of federal encroachments. I'm thinking of the "restaurant" on the Ajijic pier, the bridge and Jesus statue in Chapala, and almost all of the Joco malecon. So if municipalities allow those things why should they get too worked up over some rich guy wanting to do the same if there is bribe money to be made? There are MANY homes, on the west side especially, that have expanded, filled, and built out on to the shore of the lake. By federal statute all waterways and shorelines, as determined by high tide or full lines, are the property of the Mexican public. No hotel can declare a beach in front of their property to be private. No private development can prohibit passage onto their grounds if that is the only access to the beach. But rich folks are more important than average folks so they act with impunity in most cases. I don't see much difference here in Mexico than what happens around the world. Money talks and the rest of us whine helplessly. You could be talking about forests in Brazil being removed for private exploitation, pipelines across sacred Native American lands, tourist hotels built on world heritage sites in Peru, wetlands being filled in for golf courses in the southern US, or scarce water resources used to fill swimming pools or grow almonds in California. There are many examples of corruption for the benefit of the few to the detriment of the many. It has always been that way and, as the world heads to a tipping point, it doesn't seem to be slowing down. Alan
  8. One thing to keep in mind is that we all have opinions about many things but not all opinions should carry the same weight. I have an opinion on almost any subject but I'm an expert on almost none....including vaccines and Covid 19. So I would consider myself an :() to proclaim my opinion on , say, astrophysics, has the same value as the opinion of somebody like Neil Degrasse Tyson. You can find "peer reviewed" papers online about the "flat earth" or "big foot" but that doesn't mean that those papers have much merit or should be considered at all next to current scientific expert opinion. When science changes, it is based on new information coming to light...not on dogma and stubborn personal prejudice. But that is just my opinion... Alan
  9. I think MC might just be afraid of needles...Maybe if the doc offered a lollipop afterwards he'd get vaccinated! Alan
  10. The government requires several vaccinations to get into public schools and well as some instances for military duty. They required everybody to get a polio vaccination back in the 50's and 60's. Everybody complied. During the big surge of the 50's, there were something like 15,000 cases that resulted in some kind of paralysis (me included) and 3,000 people died. There have been 200 times that many deaths from Covid, so far, and some people still seem hesitant to take a vaccine that will keep you out of the hospital. Sometimes the government makes you do things, that some individuals might not like, for the betterment of society at large. Like speed limits, seat belts, workplace safety requirements, fire drills, clean air standards, food inspections, paying into Medicare and social security, etc. There are many examples. Because some are too stubborn, greedy, ignorant, or politically self serving to just do the right thing, government has stepped in for the benefit of the majority. A day might come when this Covid vaccine will be required. It might be a new and improved one...let's hope so. But the un-vaccinated are causing great harm right now and it affects everybody including in non-health related ways. Mexico has a little more room to be excused due to lack of access. The USA has no excuse. Alan
  11. Currently the states with the highest rates of Covid infection seem to be those with reduced focus on mask wearing, lockdowns, vaccinations, and controlling group activities like sporting events. I know that wearing a mask is not a perfect answer. Neither is a vaccination or never being in a large crowd or staying off of public transportation. Washing hands frequently is fine but won't protect against all transmission of viruses. But I tend to believe that we all should try to be part of a solution rather than being part of the problem. Delta and other variants are developing and spreading in part because of relaxed efforts to control Covid. ER's are filling up in parts of Texas. Kids are starting to get sick in larger numbers. Folks who have been vaccinated are still getting ill and spreading it to others without being aware. The lockdowns and related efforts are taking a horrible toll on normal life in many ways but to pretend there isn't a problem only makes the problem drag on longer. I sure hope this isn't the new normal but it will be if there isn't a unified effort. We are learning as we go along and "facts" change as new evidence emerges. As individuals we have to take personal responsibility for our own health and safety and sometimes it is inconvenient. More so if we care about others. That is just the way it is for now...hopefully it will change for the better soon. Alan
  12. The things we sometimes find charming about life in Mexico can sometimes frustrate us as well. We do live in a "functioning anarchy" where rules are plentiful but personal responsibility is usually all we can count on. Alan
  13. If the construction is on the property line then no windows are allowed if they look out onto the neighbor. With all the two, and now three, story houses along with miradors on top, it is likely that somebody will be able to see into your yard even without being on the property line. Alan
  14. Yes they can...and yes they did! Actually, for me it was an illegal U-turn on the highway to the airport. He was very polite and professional and I was polite to him. He explained what I had done wrong and I was guilty. We visited in Spanish for a couple of minutes and he then offered to write me the cheapest ticket he could which was a "no seat belt" instead of the turn infraction. He showed me on the ticket how to go online to get the numbers I'd need to pay at Bancomer for 1/2 price if paid promptly. He showed me his name and badge number on the ticket as well. He never asked for a mordida and I never offered one. I didn't mind getting the ticket since I have bent my share of traffic laws over the years. Figured I was due... Alan
  15. Here is an idea. If you still have the old container with it's pump sprayer, you can buy a package of "Cynoff" at almost any hardware or lawn and garden supply store and mix your own. I think the little pack costs something like 40 or 50 pesos and mixes with water. Not sure of ratio for gallon size jug but I think one pack makes about two gallons. I use a small spay bottle and add about 1/2 tsp. Same kind of chemical...odorless, non staining, long lasting, and works on any kind of crawling bug. Roaches, ants, scorpions, spiders, etc. Safe for pets once it's dry but don't spay on the floor where pet beds or food bowls live. They should not lick the floor where applied. I normally spay around entries, areas where walls meet floors, under and beside fridge and stove, etc. Seems to work very well except for those tiny little ants that seem to materialize from thin air. Alan
  16. I thought this forum existed for discussions about topics that affect us here at lakeside. This topic does that. When I used the term "new money" it was meant to be sarcastic. There is no new money from this little scam. All of the money will just come out of the legitimate economy someplace. People only have so much to spend and that money could be spent over and over as it circulates through many hands. The money collected by transitos will be spent that way. But the money collected by the government and some German company who sets up these stations is likely gone, for the most part. That's about fifty million dollars a year taken out of the local economy and that represents perhaps ten times that much of economic activity lost as that money won't circulate. Those who don't like the topic and think it is a waste of time should also not waste our time posting complaints about it...maybe just go do something else. Alan
  17. According to the Reporter, there are three testing stations each with four lanes. It takes fifteen minutes to test each car meaning four per hour each lane. 4X4 is sixteen cars per hour at each station. 16X3 is 48 cars per hour. If they are open 12 hours a day that is 576 cars per day. If there are 177,000 cars with plate ending in "7" then, if they are open Sundays also, it will take them 308 days just to get the first number done. They need to get busy with new stations or this will soon become another income stream for Transito cops asking for mordidas. They should also exempt car models newer than 2011 models. Those cars will all do better than the minimum test standards and the state knows it. But that would cut into the revenue stream they have created with the testing. What will the "new money" be spent on? Probably not on road work, trash collection, sewer and treatment plants, etc. I'm guessing it will just disappear into the money funnel that is government everywhere. There might be a slight improvement in air quality but they could achieve the same improvement by only targeting the worst offenders by impounding vehicles with visible smoke coming from the tailpipe. Alan
  18. I wouldn't put much money in any Mexican bank...but that's just me. Might be a place that does dollar accounts but not sure if it's insured and there has been theft from accounts. If you have a peso account, the rate of exchange could nullify any interest income as peso falls to the dollar. Those insecurities are why they offer to pay more interest here. Most folks leave most of their funds in the US or Canada banks and if you need pesos here use an ATM. Some banks waive ATM fees. Opinions vary widely and so do recommendations on how to handle cash. I'd let the owner decide all of that or get a legal document in addition to POA that removes you from any responsibility if things end badly. Alan
  19. When the average depth of the lake is only twelve feet the total volume can change quickly...both increase and decrease. If the shoreline has moved out, say, thirty feet it could represent a total volume loss of 50% which is where we are now. It could mean only a drop in level of four or five feet but over the large surface of the lagoon, that is half of the lake volume. Most of the drop seen every year is from evaporation not draw-down from Guadalajara. If the depth of the lake was averaging 150 feet the lake would only be abut 1/10th the area it covers now and you would hardly notice the dry season change in level. Cedros is correct in that the level is very much dependent on rains and inflow from areas east of here. You'll notice it when the lirio starts showing up when dams are releasing water. Some day it will all be wetlands and then slowly become a seasonally verdant plain. But not this year. Alan
  20. I was told that HSA will honor insurance like Medicare if there is also a supplemental plan that insures for emergencies while traveling outside the USA. They then bill for services at a much higher rate for reimbursement from those companies. Problems arose when "emergensies" turned out to not always be the truth. Patients were caught taking advantage as were doctors and the hospital that made more money than if they were charging local prices for local services. If it was all above board the insurers would end up paying less for expats' medical care if they would just insure for local care. Big corp and politics on both sides of the border take priority over what is logical and compassionate. Never forget that the US does not really want us spending our money in foreign countries. Local insurers also don't want things to change because those corporations can charge what the market will bear. For an aging population with money and few alternatives that seems to be to demand higher prices, provide less coverage, give more denials, and cancel policies for anybody with even a slightly higher risk factor. If insurance, as it now stands, was a good deal for the consumer they would not be selling it. Alan
  21. I like Tapalpa. The drive there can be interesting because you can see the dry lake bed, an elephant, a rhino, and if it's the rainy season there are birds wading in the shallow water. The winding road up the face of the mountain is a bit of a pain but the views out over the lake bed are amazing. The town itself is more traditional. The church is the largest brick church in Mexico and is made only of bricks and mortar...no rebar or concrete supports. The piedrotas just outside of town are quite interesting. On the other side of town in a golf course/subdivision that has a great hotel, bar, restaurant with outside seating and a view of the lake, volcano, and the golf course. There is also one of the tallest waterfalls in Mexico but that requires a bumpy ride and a fairly long hike. You can arrange a guide. Mazamitla has a more vibrant feel due to it's location as a trade and commerce center. Tapalpa is pretty much on the end of the road. Mostly tourists and locals just hanging out. There is a second route for the return which takes you across the top of the mountain and through some beautiful pine covered hills and interesting little towns. That route takes a few minutes longer but it's a nice change. The last time we were in Mazamitla, and tried to get into the subdivision where the little Japanese style garden and waterfall are located, we were not allowed in by car...only on foot or horseback. Of course the horses are there for renting and if you are younger and fit enough the hike is nice. I think the homeowners didn't like the car traffic and noisy 4 wheelers in their neighborhood. That restriction now makes Mazamitla less interesting for me. There are a couple of other little towns near Mazamitla that are pretty and interesting. MC has been to all of them on his bike and might have some suggestions that could make a day trip there more interesting. Alan
  22. These comments just prove to me that all that is needed there is one four way light with left turn arrows for all four directions with opposing sides all doing the same thing at the same time. Just get rid of all of the extra trappings. Allow right on red after stopping, when safe, at all times. Pretty much what EVERYBODY said was needed and what most assumed would happen. Any officials out there with the guts and influence to make it happen? It would be a very popular decision that might even have future election ramifications. Alan
  23. I wish I knew exactly how the money stream is working. Does the Federal Govt. pay to the local government which then hires locals to do the projects? Is it only state money that has been received from the the feds and the state hires the work done? Who is deciding what this is going to look like in the end? I know the entire Pueblo Magico program is now something different from what it was when Tapalpa was designated. Is there different oversight now? I just feel like whatever was decided was going to be spent to "improve" Ajijic is not what is actually being spent. I have been asking since the start who was going to be responsible for sidewalk repairs when poles are removed. Where are the extra cars going to park? Who is going to pay for improvements and changes to utilities once they are buried under the streets? How are CFE, Telmex, Wizz, etc going to access the infrastructure once it's buried and who pays for all that? Has any thought been given to the local businesses that will be adversely affected by changes like increased traffic and less parking, street closures, infrastructure interruptions during changeovers, restrictions to access to the plaza for seating, etc? Anyway, I'm hoping logic begins to play a major part in this mess but I'm afraid corrupt ineptitude will continue to prevail. MC is correct...charm and character are losing out all over this area and Pueblo Magico status is not going to help. Alan
  24. We recently saw the Ajijic plaza project and what a mess! And no surprise either. We had a chance to try the new benches just before they were removed. Badly placed, ugly, uncomfortable, and already breaking. Again, no surprise. The final project doesn't look like the rendering that was shown either. No surprise. And it is starting to sound like, just as I predicted, that there might not be a lovely patio for the Jardin restaurant and perhaps the coffee shop and bar might lose their plaza space as well. Next would be the craft vendors on the Guadalupe Victoria walkway and the evening taco, hot dog, and tamal vendors. Pretty much everything that makes the plaza "magic" could go away in the name of sterile Pueblo Magico" regulations. Ajijic has never had portales or other architectural elements to make the plaza a commercially viable or person friendly space without using some of the plaza footprint. That was why they decided years ago to close streets on two sides of the plaza. It made the space a more user friendly destination. What they have done now does the opposite. There is soon to be a committee supposedly made up of locals to help direct future issues like buried utilities, increased car traffic, sidewalk repairs, street closures, wall painting, etc. It would be good to know who those folks are and how input could be provided ahead of another mess of a project. And maybe revisit the entire Pueblo Magico designation. Alan
  25. Well, the traffic control lights at the intersection of the carretera and libramiento have been off for a few days. Guess what! No problems with traffic jams, accidents, and no transito cops trying to direct traffic or stopping cars to ask for bribes when they can't figure out the WalMart entrance. People seem to be careful and polite and Mexican anarchy proves once again to mostly function OK if you can keep government and other "experts" out of the situation. Think how many uncontrolled intersections are in our area and folks make them work fine on their own. In several places in Europe, traffic controls are being removed and results are similar. People enter the intersections with caution, they let pedestrians cross, and traffic flows much easier. I like to think somebody is looking at that mess and trying to decide how to best change (and hopefully improve) that intersection. I could be wrong...it could just be a faulty light controller. Alan
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