Friday, August 16, 2019

Pals

It's hard to believe that these two hated each other once.

Belle was determined from the beginning to be a one-person dog and she never missed an opportunity to let Murphy know that she was the new boss dog Alpha in the house. For a while I couldn't even get them to stay in the same room together. But now...
They are family.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A fine night in New Orleans

Sitting in my living room, watching A Bridge Too Far on the TV while I drink a nice red wine and clean rifles. So far I've done eight M1 Carbines and I'm on the second Garand now. Most just need a maintenance cleaning, swapping old lubricant for new, but shame on me, I've hit on a couple that were apparently fired and put up dirty. These are getting worked over until they shine while I curse myself for being sloppy with my post-range cleaning. But this is why I try to go through them all every once in a while...just to catch the ones that I might have missed. Every one of these WW2 guns is coming onto eighty years of age, although some were rebuilt as recently as the mid-1960's. Lot of history getting cleaned tonight, while I watch a period film about the battles these guns were made for and used in.

And the lazy dogs nap as the wine level goes lower in the bottle. A perfect night indeed, even with Murphy popping the window blinds up every time he hears something outside. But that's Murphy, so it's not going to stop. I keep telling him that passers-by don't need to see me working on guns, but it's Murphy and he marches to his own drum. After all these years I'd worry if he didn't.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Merida at night

I did enjoy my night-time walkabouts in Merida, an area with serious poverty but very low incidences of violent crime. I felt safe walking these deserted streets...and they were only deserted until you get to one of the many parks or outdoor restaurants, at which time you saw everyone sitting out enjoying the night breezes.

But the streets...

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Veracruz

Traveling into Veracruz, I spied this ship and my liberal friend knew there was no way to avoid letting me have my moment with it. So she took her dog for a walk and I paid a visit to ex-Guanajuato, former Gunboat C07 of the Mexican Navy.
Laid down in a Spanish shipyard in 1934 and accepted by Mexico 1936, this 80m long ship could accommodate 230 soldiers and up to 40 horses in a special stable in the aft superstructure. She served with US forces during WW2 and was modernized and refitted in a US Navy shipyard when Mexico joined the war. She served for several decades until she was finally struck in 2001 and turned into a museum.
But typical of so many things in Mexico, she was neglected into ruin and though she looks good from the bow, she's actually sunk at her berth and sitting on the bottom, a stern view shows that her machinery spaces are now all underwater and she's no longer open to the public, travel websites notwithstanding.

The Veracruz nightlife is another matter. Both the waterfront and city center come alive at night and we were staying right between them so we sampled both.
Of course being Mexico, you need to get used to seeing the Mexican Marines patrolling, because the narco gangs are never far away and no one else with a uniform and badge is trustworthy enough to police important public spaces like this one.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Traveling through Mexico with my liberal friend

So a couple weeks ago I returned to Mexico to drive my liberal friend back home. The flight into Cancun was uneventful, but I did spot a Grumman Albatross sitting on the airport's "derelict row". It was apparently abandoned there in 2006 and I'm thinking of taking a run at it.
Spent the day snorkeling the reef in Cancun and then it was off for the five hour drive back to Merida, where we lounged for a few days before hitting the road northward again.

Now I love my friend. Really I do. She means well, and she takes care of me at the bar. And to some extent she understands that the world is all sweetness and light, which is why I'm shepherding her and her goofy-assed Pit Bull on these road trips. She plans the general route and I go over it to keep us out of the trouble spots as much as possible. I also handle the common sense, like "no driving at night", which is something we argued about every single night on the road even though we agreed to it before starting out. But every night, she wanted to run long after dark and I insisted on shutting down.
"I'm used to driving at night," she says. I like night driving."
"That's good," I say. "When we get home you can drive all night. Just not here."
"But there's no traffic at night," she observes.
"Yeah, and there's a reason for that," I patiently explain. "They know better."
Every night though. She just doesn't get it.

Lots of driving. Saw a lot of Mexico. Three thousand road miles covered south of the border in the two trips, much of it on bad roads through the mountains and jungles surrounded by drivers who definitely follow their own rules in regards to passing and speed limits and intersections.

And the last driving day in Mexico, we wound up on a sparely-traveled road in Tamipulas state, a US State Dept. "Level 4" designated area. (Do not travel. Danger.) When I realized that we'd made a navigational error and missed the main toll highway, I was about to turn us around despite her protestations that it was a nice road and a shortcut on the map when we ran across a two-truck patrol of Mexican Marines, the elite anti-Narco police. I made sure that they got a good look at us--and they definitely eyeballed us hard--and then I followed them at a distance for a couple of hours, figuring that we'd likely not get ambushed by a pop-up gang checkpoint if we were rolling with these guys.
It did not escape me though that these guys were definitely switched on. Good spacing, full armor in the sun, HK-21 LMG with a belt locked and loaded, and constant vigilance and scanning the surroundings--these guys were looking for something and clearly on the alert. I noticed this but she couldn't see it, even when I tried to explain. She just decided that I'm "gun obsessed" because I paid attention to the types of weapons that the various police, soldiers and guarda types around us carried. And I was focused, if only because if stuff breaks bad, the only gun I'm going to get to defend us with is one that I pick up or snatch from someone else and I need to make sure I remember the manual of arms. (I'm smooth with the M-16 and Uzi. the H&K products, not so much.) Yep. We definitely weren't in Kansas any more, Dorothy.

But we made it back safe, hitting the US border crossing at Brownsville, TX on the fifth day after leaving Merida. We saw a lot of beautiful country, some of which I'd like to see again.

Good times.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wheat a zoo!

Merida has a zoo. Small but well laid out, and free.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Liberal hypocrisy

So as I mentioned yesterday, I am currently staying with two girls here, one is one of my bartender friends from New Orleans and the other is her lifelong pal who currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. As proud NPR-worshipping liberals and wanna-be hippies, they do not like police, the military, the patriarchy or anything related to these things. Of course they also feel unsafe enough by themselves that they practically begged me to come along and drive down and back with the bartender. (The Boulder-ite flew commercial.) in other words, they don’t need or want someone like me around until they decide that they need someone like me. The irony is delicious and I’ve made it a point to bring it up once or twice, because I’m like that.
Now tonight I’ll be leaving them for the rest of the week and moving into another place with another nice gal I know who will be in town for a bit. I’ll be about a mile away but still in the neighborhood.

In other news, I found out what happens when a gringo walks into one of those “Mexican-only” cantinas last night. Standing at the bar drinking my beer, I was approached by a little fella who made his thoughts clear regarding my presence despite the language barrier. He walked up to me and snatched a lime off my plate and stared at me as if he was daring me to do something about it. I glanced around and the whole bar was watching to see what I was going to do, even the bartenders. Clearly a retreat with honor was called for so I laughed loudly and threw twenty five pesos at the bartender and told him “cervesa for mi amigo!” (Beer for my friend). Then I downed mine and walked out. This morning a couple of the expats I ran into told me that I was insane for even walking into that place. Hell, now I know.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Fix that Volkswagen!

At honest Jose’s repair shop!

Out for a walk today

On the way into town the other day I saw an aeiplane in a park that I wanted a closer look at. Unfortunately both gals that I am now staying with are very much anti-military and had no desire to go get a closer look at it. So today while they were off doing chica stuff I want walkabout to go don’t this plane. First I located it on Google Earth and then, since it was “only” 4 miles away, I started hoofing it.

It’s high nineties today. In the shade. But there was no shade. And I got my adventure and saw some picturesque parts of Mérida. In retrospect, Uber would have been smarter.

But I found my plane! A Lockheed T-33, in shit shape mainly due to vandalism and neglect. Welcome to Mexico. There were some armored cars there too, also vandalize and neglected. So Typically Mexican, I’m learning.


For the return trip I got smart and hitched a ride in a dodgy taxi van with a dozen other people. Language barrier but I just got in and stayed on until it looked like it was as close to our house as so was going to get them I jumped off. A steal at eight pesos and just a ten block walk from there. Beats four more miles!