Saturday, October 11, 2008

Down to Business

My posts lately have been noticeably infrequent and sparse at best. I'll blame it on the fact that I spend about 9 hours a day working on the website for our business. After a full day staring at the computer screen and wondering when I'll have to go in for a new eye exam (think computer screen burning my pupils), the last thing I want to do is write. I wouldn't say I'm a naturally talented writer. In fact I spent most of my youth watching tv which left me with poor grammatical and verbal skills. It's really only been since college that my writing and reading has reached a level where I feel comfortable communicating online or in a professional setting. The reason why I say all this is that I am constantly proofreading my writing - revising it, changing words and sentence structure. So the 15 minutes it may take to write an entry turns into an hour or even more depending on the depth of my rambling.

I've contemplated for sometime whether to talk about my business in this blog. In the back of my mind I keep thinking "keep business and personal life separate". On the other hand I can think of many advantages to mixing them: more business exposure and more topics to write about. So in the end I've decided to discuss business here as well - perhaps not down to every detail but enough so you can get the idea. Well, here goes.

My partner and I have started a property management and vacation rental business in Playa del Carmen called North American Standards Property Management. We originally came to Mexico in the spring solely with plans of staying two weeks for vacation and had no inclination whatsoever of moving here and starting a business. However we couldn't help but notice the rapid real estate growth in Playa and the need for competent and experience property managers. Considering Allan and I have over 40 years of combined experience in the industry moving here and starting a business seemed like a good idea.

Granted there are many property managers in Playa. Many have been struck with the manana attitude which has lead to many unhappy clients: problems are not addressed quickly enough. Other managers are very good and charge too much. Then there are companies like mine which charge reasonable rates and give best efforts to respond to our client's needs rapidly even with the obstacles of dealing with Mexican maintenance staff who perhaps are on a different time schedule (think laid back beach attitude).

So our website is We have about 15 vacation rental properties all near the beach and trendy 5th Avenue. We are spending a good deal of time and money on advertising both online and in Playa itself. In the past 24 hours our online ads have been displayed over 95,000 times. Yes, that is correct - almost 100,000 times in 1 day. The online global market is simply mind boggling. Yes, those are exact figures folks - many thanks to those brains at Google. In my next life that's where I'm going to work. Although we are seeing less than 1% of that traffic actually clicking on our ads, we remain hopeful.

Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals

My Mom in Cozumel

My first taste of live native creatures - a tarantula on the side of the road!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Water Problems

We haven't had water since last night and I'm beginning to get just a little irritated. I mean we've scheduled back to back massages at 10am this morning for the three of us (my mom, Allan and me) and it would be nice to feel clean. I might have to jump in the pool if it doesn't come back on soon. That's no consolation for my mother: it's raining outside, and she can't easily walk in the rain and then maneuver to get in the pool since she walks with crutches. She acquired polio at the age of 5. I can live with the inconvenience. It's when it starts to bother my guests that gets me going.

Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Muzzle That Mutt

Why is it many Mexicans approach our dogs with caution? It's been a question perplexing me since we arrived in this beautiful land. Our beloved companions, Rickey and Mitzi, are 2 of the most gentle and loving creatures around. Why do they invoke such trepidation?

Local: "Will they bite me?"
Me: "Will they bite you? If you're Mexican they might" I respond in jest. "Actually they don't bite. They just kiss."

The answer to my quandary came in the shape of a four legged terror - my neighbor's dog - the one that tries to kill us whenever we walk by. The dogs here are SCARY.

It's got to be pretty bad when I prefer getting plowed down by a crazy driver by walking down the middle of the street rather than strolling down the sidewalk and having some terror jump from behind a fence fangs showing, hair standing up and growling. Seriously, I'd rather take my chances in the street.

People have guard dogs because crime is a real problem here. Fences have been constructed to keep people out and then barking dogs have been placed behind the fences as a deterrence. My neighbor's German Shepard literally tries to jump over the fence and attack. I don't care, I'm not walking anywhere near that fence! I mean, really - can't I just walk down the sidewalk in peace?

We haven't experienced crime here personally, but we know it exists. Friends have been robbed more than once. Coming from Boston, Allan and I take all the necessary precautions (lock our doors, keep valuables in our car and home out of sight), but generally feel very safe here. Those perpetrating such inexcusable acts are a very small minority of the population. However, I don't think anyone is free from the risk of being the victim of crime, including us. It's just a fact of life in Mexico as it is the US and around the globe. Granted some places are more safe than others.

People in Playa feel they need mean dogs to keep out the unsavory section of the population. Finding a scary four legged security system can be a lot cheaper than a sophisticated electronic one. I just wish people managed their mutts with just a little more respect for their neighbors. It's got to be pretty bad when I'd rather risk getting hit by some maniac driver than being bitten!

Playa del Carmen Condo and Villa Vacation Rentals

Working diligently at the Coffee Cafe, our neighborhood hang out. The service is great, the coffee savory and the wireless is free.

I can never get tired of the beach.

Rickey and Mitzi pose below the palapa in the entrance to our complex.

My mother arrives today - I'm so excited!! This photo is of her wedding day.