May 1, 2009

Vuelta de okis

Esperando was told early this week by the head office in Mexico City that he needed to go in person to La Paz to Hacienda (the Mexican equivalent of the IRS) to sign his taxes because he is getting a refund. This comes on a short week when we are preparing to head back to the U.S. for about one month to go to a wedding, celebrate my Mother’s 101st birthday, and get surgery done on my bad shoulder—in other words, really bad timing. However, yesterday morning at the crack of dawn we hopped into the truck and duly headed off for La Paz. Since we had to go, we planned to do some shopping for things we can’t get here which included a large water heater and water pump, a stove hood, paint, some hinges to match the others El Carpintero put in the kitchen, more wine and miscellaneous food items.

In La Paz we used to love to stay at Los Arcos, a great old Mexican hotel right on the malecon in the center of town. It has a good bar and restaurant but sadly has not been operating for the last four months due to striking employees. The main door was boarded up when we drove by and it was covered with striker’s signs. We headed on way south on Avenida Obregon to the other end of the malecon to Club El Moro, an apart suite hotel with free Wi-Fi. It’s really remote for walking to the heart of the malecon. However in the heat of the day their swimming pool was very inviting from the reception area, especially after the seven long hours of driving. All I wanted to do was stretch out on a lounge chair. The hotel is a white Moorish style building with alabaster flooring. The rooms were commodious and come with a kitchenette. A real plus here is they take pets. Our room sometimes had a bad sewage smell which wasn’t very agreeable. But their worst failing is that they make terrible margaritas, really sickly sweet.

I waved the swimming pool a fond farewell as we went off to search for the stove hood and hinges. The first place we went, El Ferry (on the corner of 16 de Septiembre and Revolucion), is kind of an upscale discount appliance center. They had some great stuff, but no 30” stove hood. Then we walked around to several hardware stores looking for hinges, but no luck, although one guy sent us off across town to another place which he thought would have them. Along the way we stopped at Ramos (Aquiles Serdán and 5 de Febrero) a great furniture store, to check out their stove hoods. No luck, then to another couple of hardware stores. We were pretty tired by now after the long drive and three hours of hot weather shopping. Finally we just decided to go to El Arco (corners Abasolo and Michoacan), a big hardware home products store. We were pretty sure they wouldn’t have the hinges. When we got there it turns out they had EVERYTHING we needed. We wasted three hour driving around when we could have done it all in 30 minutes.

We headed back to the hotel to enjoy the late afternoon sun by the pool, then had a delightful dinner at La Boheme (10 Calle Esquerro, about 1 block south of Hotel Las Perlas), a French restaurant with a great wine list. The food was fresh and delicious. We can recommend the pasta with spinach and smoked salmon, beef short ribs with tabbouleh, and a huge mansized ribeye steak. There is inside dining, but the real killer is a lovely courtyard with tinkling fountain and blaze of bougainvillea. The setting reminded us a lot of the wonderful old casonas (grand old houses) in Tlaquepaque.

The next morning we were up early for breakfast. Since Los Arcos is currently defunct we went to check out breakfast at the open air patio at Hotel Las Perlas. Breakfast was in full swing and we had delicious huevos rancheros and huevos divorciadas, then on to Wal-Mart to buy our food and wine in time to get Esperando to his appointment at 11:30 a.m. with Hacienda. It was here that the wait staff were all wearing masks to keep from catching swine flu, although it hasn’t been reported to be here in Baja.

When Esperando got to Hacienda he was efficiently ushered through the offices and was quite amazed how quickly things happened. Unfortunately they didn’t happen quite right. No one could find Esperando’s Mexican social security number in the system. Nope, he would have to come back again another time. So we drove all the way to La Paz and home, two days, for naught, and that my friends, is what the call a “vuelta de okis” in Mexico. No one seems to know the origin of the word “okis.” After this experience, we are beginning we feel a little more Mexican.

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