Monday, June 28, 2010

Funny Mexico Phone Number Formatting

Have you ever considered how difficult it might be to have someone tell you their phone number in a format other than the typical xxx-xxx-xxxx sequence? Instead of hearing 984-873-3548 someone might tell you 984-87-335-48. You would hear 3 numbers, then 2, followed by 3 and then another 2. Or someone might break it up more and say 98-48-73-35-48. In Playa del Carmen, I am frequently told phone numbers in a wide range of formats, and have consequently had a difficult time adjusting.

As an American I'm used to hearing phone numbers in a predetermined arrangement of 3-3-4. Thinking logically the area code is 3 digits, then the city code is another 3, which leaves the last 4 of the number. The American format makes sense: it's put together correctly. The varying number arrangements in Mexico aren't logical at all. I've pondered why anyone would format a phone number differently. Perhaps the pattern of 3-2-2-3 is easier to remember than 3-3-4. Maybe groups of two and three digit numbers are easier to remember than groups of 3 and 4. That is really the only logical explanation I can come up with.

It is even difficult to recite phone numbers from memory in any other arranagement other than 3-3-4. As a test, try repeating your number from memory in a sequence of 3-2-3-2 or even 2-2-2-2-2. I have even heard a phone number as 2-3-1-2-2. Have someone tell you their number in a foreign sequence and see if your brain has trouble processing it. My ears and brain experience a disconnect in terms of what I expect to hear and what is actually being told to me.

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Please enjoy these photos taken the other night at a friend's birthday party held at a local pool hall, where we feasted on pizza, beer and cake!

Claudia, our marketing guru, along with John the birthday boy of and Claire

I love pool

Libby of and Claire

Laura and Carlos of Coco's Cat Rescue

Libby, Claire and Claudia

Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting Caught Up in World Cup Fevor

I grew up playing soccer since I was very young in Duxbury, one of Massachusetts' soccer meccas. Consequently I gave into soccer pandemonium at an early age. My senior year of high school both the girl's and boy's teams won the Massachusetts state tile; the boy's team was even ranked as the 3rd best high school team in the country by Umbro. Although I was a member of the team, I was not that good of a player and sat the bench often, and was only put in when the score was something like 20 - 0, which believe it or not happened more than once.

Regardless of my upbringing, World Cup soccer craze in Mexico overshadows most all US soccer celebrations. When Mexico is playing, the country shuts down. Bosses and workers alike put work aside and huddle around small televisions with excited anticipation of a potential world soccer title. Many schools now have TVs to watch world cup games, to combat absenteeism for kids who were skipping school to watch games. Soccer is Mexico's national sport. When Mexico wins everyone acts like they are your best friend, partying in the streets is expected and national pandemonium becomes the norm.

Both Allan and I have been watching as many World Cup games as possible. Never before have we watched so much soccer. We are finding creative ways to view games, whether it be turning on the game at a client's condo while we are doing routine property checks, or working on the laptop in bed while catching the latest World Cup games on TV. We are excitedly anticipating the games this weekend, and may even rearrange our beach plans so they do not overlap with the World Cup matches.

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These are the Batab Mayan Skin and Hair Eco products that we sell. We offer samples of some of the products in our welcome basket. They are all natural, 100% biodegradable, and safe in coral reefs and cenotes.

Chocolate soap.

The most incredible insect repellent I've ever used. All natural, no chemicals, and it smells great!

Package of insect repellent and 30 SPF sun block.

Safe tanning lotion.

SPF 45 sun block - the best sun tan lotion you'll ever use.
Chocolate shampoo.

Apple cinnamon body lotion.

SPF 15 sun block with tanning accelerator.

Insect repellent - the larger bottle.

SPF 30 sun block - I don't spend a day at the beach without this. It's the best I've every used.

After sun recovery lotion.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Deterioration of Material Goods and Rejuvenation of the Soul

Now that we have been living in Playa for 2 years we are starting to experience a new unexpected phenomenon. Some of our personal items and those of our clients are starting to deteriorate due to the salt, humidity and sun. We live so close to the beach in year round sunshine, so I guess it has to be expected.

The other day my housekeeper showed me my very nice North Face backpack which I kept hidden in a back corner of my closet. It was dotted with green mildew and the zippers were stuck and coated with green film. We noticed the zippers on our camera case experienced the same fate.

Televisions here, especially those close to the beach last for about 3 years before they need to be taken in for repair. The irregular voltage combined with the salt and humidity rapidly deteriorates electronic devices. Last month we brought in for a repair a client's 3 year old television which had stopped working. After a thorough inspection it was determined that the inside was covered with salt. For less than $100 USD we had it fixed, and now it works like new. Over the past 6 months we've had at least 5 similar TV experiences.

In the properties we manage we have begun taking inside the BBQs, bikes, wooden chairs and anything else that might deteriorate in the sun and salt, especially in properties which are next to the beach. Two bikes kept outside at one of our client's beach side condos were covered in rust after a year. A new BBQ at the same property showed signs of rust after only 1 week outside.

Even the water is harmful. One of our inside plants which we hydrate with tap water has a white crust on the top of the dirt where the water has evaporated and left calcium deposits behind. Many tourists are afraid to drink the water due to supposed bacteria. In my opinion there is little or no bacteria in the water. The dangerous part is the calcium deposits. That's why no one drinks or serves it. Even the very poor drink bottled water.

With at least 300 days of sunshine a year, wood fades very quickly. Anything from stained wooden railings to wooden patio furniture needs to be repainted after a year. If I were a developer I would refrain from using wood in any construction, especially because of termites.

Despite the inconveniences of living so close to the beach in year round sunshine, we love being in Playa del Carmen. Our Sunday trips to the beach help us to get rejuvenated and to wash away any of the stresses of the previous week. The sun, salt and humidity can cause a lot of damage to property and possessions but they can also help to revive the soul.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Questionable Store Security

In certain stores in Playa del Carmen there is an interesting security method used to prevent theft. Empty display boxes are placed on the shelf and the original boxed item is kept in a locked back room. Perhaps this type of practice is used in the US as well. Regardless it strikes me as curious especially when other security measures are in place.

In Office Max yesterday I was purchasing a wireless router, and found empty router boxes on the shelf. Assuming the original item was kept in a secure back room, I brought the box to checkout and had to wait roughly 20 minutes while they searched in their bodega for the merchandise. My suspicions to the ineffectiveness of this security method were confirmed when the router could not be found. It seems this extra security seemingly led to the disappearance of the router. Was it stolen? Was it missing? Perhaps if it was kept on the shelf it would not be missing in the first place.

There are security sensors at both store entrances. Perhaps if they relied on these theft sensors it would be easier for both the consumer and employee. Customers could pick up merchandise more easily and employees wouldn't have to go searching in a bodega. Typically I would expect the empty box method in the absence of security gates - not in addition to them.

From our experience in Playa we have seen that many security methods are put in place to prevent theft by employees rather than customers. At the Mega Grocery store a security guard stands in front of the bathroom entrances and only stops and searches Mega employees, not customers. I would think an institution would have more confidence in their staff rather than their customers. If you don't have basic trust for your employees with some type of oversight how can one expect their business to succeed? Hiring trustworthy employees is one of the cornerstones to a successful business.

Perhaps Office Max did not invest in enough theft protection sensors in put in their merchandise. If this is the case, why waste the money to put up the security sensor gates? Are empty display boxes being used to prevent theft by employees or customers? Regardless, the empty box method is both a frustration for me as it poses a major inconvenience having to wait up to 1/2 hour or more for production retrieval. It also does not seem to prevent product loss and may in fact contribute to it. I don't mind waiting for what I consider valid reasons, but when it comes to poor planning and incompetence then I get very frustrated. As with most things living in Playa, it's the ability to get over the inconveniences and to focus on the positives that makes living in this beach paradise more manageable.

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Allan's kite

Allan flies 2 kites at once

My turn to fly one

Allan, Claudia and me

Mary Lou, me and Allan

Me and Allan


Allan and his kites

Mary Lou has my shorts...

Can you believe the water?

Mary Lou


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