Category Archives: Mail Service and Shipping in Mexico

The Internet Saga Part 3

That comment the satellite installation guy made about an antenna for the BlueComm modem put a bee in my bonnet. I checked the modem we had and most models came with those rabbit ear antennas–ours didn’t. They weren’t expensive, less than $20, so I thought I’d order some from Amazon.

Well, the company that sold them didn’t ship to Mexico. Ok, I’d have them shipped to my friend in the US and she could send them to us. It would be a small package, no big deal. Boy was I wrong!

She tried Fedex. She had added a few things to my care package, including makeup and a cloth quiver for my son’s arrows. She was told that anything manufactured in China cannot be sent to Mexico. Both the quiver and the antenna were manufactured in China. Then that personal items like makeup also could not be sent. She said she felt like I was in jail and unable to receive items. Sure enough, cosmetics are prohibited items along with Garbage Pail Kids Cards, you know those awful cards from the 80s with ugly drawings of children like Pikey Nose Marge. I was unable to find anything specific about imports from China being restricted although technically the antennas would fall under the electronic equipment category I expect.

My friend then tried the DHL office. This time she tried to send just the quiver and antenna, no other “personal effects.” Sure, they’d send it but it would cost $140 USD. Holy crap! (See DHL import guidelines)

The offical USPS site doesn’t list cosmetics or things made in China as prohibited, so that was her next attempt.  Success! The package with the antennas and quiver would cost $22 USD and be here in 4-6 weeks.  Well, of course, that doesn’t figure the gas shortage in large portions of Mexico. So I expect it will take longer. 

In the meantime, I’ve had to cancel my online classes. The unseasonable rains have affected both internet modems. I’m trying not to dwell on that lost income.

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Puzzled

Today I’d like to share a secret with you.  It’s nothing too dramatic, like where I buried the bodies or anything.  Yet it’s a surreptitious activity just the same.

My secret is I like doing jigsaw puzzles….something that I imagined only old ladies did. I like the piecing together of random bits.  I like the knowledge that every piece has its place, I just need to find it.  I like to watch the picture all come together.  It’s soul-satisfying.

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There have been some studies on the whole jigsaw puzzle phenomenon.  According to researchers at the University of Bath, there are two main types of puzzlers, the hoarders, and the opportunists.  Fortunately for me, I’m more of an opportunist, searching for a variety of ways to complete the puzzle.  It also helps to not be a hoarder when my husband and son sit down for an hour or so and try to “help” me.  Their plan of attack is often not the same as mine.  All those blue sky pieces I had piled to one side are scattered over the table before you can say Jack Robinson. When that happens, I consider it yet another opportunity to work on my zen.  Eventually, the men in the house become bored and move along.  Then I am free to pile the sky pieces in the corner once again.

Apparently doing jigsaw puzzles are good for you.  Most specifically, puzzles have been shown to be good for the development of problem-solving strategies, project management skills, self-management skills, visual skills, cognitive skills, character development skills, tactile skills, social skills and collaborative skills. (See 42 Thinking Skills You Can Learn From Doing Jigsaw Puzzles)  Additionally, because jigsaw puzzle completion requires the use of both sides of your brain, there is some evidence that this little hobby can lead to a longer and better quality of life, and reduce the chance of developing memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s in later years. (See Health Benefits Of Jigsaw Puzzles)

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Puzzling is a sort of meditation for me.  It reminds me that it takes time to see the big picture and that sometimes pieces I believe should fit, don’t.  It fosters patience and perseverance.  It also teaches me that I have limitations.  While I can do a 500 piece puzzle in short order, a 1500 piece puzzle takes some doing.  I recently saw a puzzle of the Sistine Chapel–5000 pieces.  I know enough to leave that one to the masters!

I suppose I should be proud of my hobby.  I mean, it has a long and noble past.  Invented in the 1760s as an educational device, puzzling for adults came into its own around 1900 gaining peak popularity during the Great Depression as an inexpensive alternative entertainment. (See History of Puzzles)  It remains an incredible off-grid pastime in our household at least.

I recently watched a lovely Argentinean movie called Rompecabezas (Puzzle). A 40-year-old housewife discovers her passion in assembling jigsaw puzzles.  After receiving negative feedback from her family, she decides to keep her hobby and subsequent puzzle championship a secret.  

Unlike the woman in the movie, my husband and son know when I am working on a puzzle.  I literally take over the back table.  My husband has been supportive in that he frames the completed puzzle for me. His thought was something that took so much time should be displayed, not dismantled again. My son also enjoys our new wall art.

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So how do I feed my vice?  Zulily and Amazon Mexico of course!  Zulily ships to Mexico for $120 pesos per order and Amazon Mexico, provided it comes from the Amazon warehouse, often has free shipping.  Now with my own shipping address (See A room of her own) obtaining puzzles is not so challenging as it once was. Life is good.

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Piano shopping

upright piano

My son has been after me for awhile about getting a piano.  As a piano is a major investment, I’d been putting him off.  Then, all of a sudden, my mom is getting rid of MY piano.  It’s an Opera piano made in 1893. It’s a gorgeous upright with a rich, melodious sound. Of course, it is in Pennsylvania and I haven’t played it in more than 20 years, but still.  According to The Antique Piano Shop, pianos made during the last decade of the 19th century (as my piano was) are “some of the finest craftsmanship and quality ever to be put into piano manufacturing.”  So it’s a pretty good piano.

Then, the very next day, there was an ad in the local paper about a piano for sale.  As we determined it would cost more to go and get MY piano than to purchase another one, we decided to go and check this one out.

 

The man who was selling the piano was obviously a music teacher.  The piano in question was a Kimball studio piano and he wanted 17,000 pesos for it.  I sat and played around on it for a bit.  It was ok.  It had been refinished.  The owner went on and on about the quality of the piano, that it came from a New York company and that it should be kept out of the light to protect the finish and sound.  Hmm–Kimball was never more than a mediocre piano, manufactured in Chicago, and I had NEVER heard anything about sound being affected by sunlight.  I said I would think about it and we left.

A few days later,  I sent my husband to ask if he would consider lowering the price.  I felt that maybe 14,000 pesos was a fair price.  My husband arrived and spoke with the owner who said he’d lower the price $500 pesos but then he wouldn’t tune the piano once it had been moved.  As my husband was leaving, he ran into another person who had come to see the piano.  This person said that he had purchased the piano but had returned it since it would not stay in tune.  This indicated to me that there was something wrong with the piano and I crossed it off the potential list.piano logo

So then I tried a google search.  Morelia is about an hour away and is a city with a bit of culture.  Certainly, there must be pianos for sale there.  I found a lovely website with pianos in my price range, however, messages and phone calls went unanswered.  So I went to the second in the list, Su Majestad El Piano (Your Majesty the Piano) a bit of a pretentious name, but I received an immediate response to my message.  They even have a page on Facebook.  I set up an appointment for that Friday and printed out driving directions.

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It was a straight shot to the local.  We arrived a little early and had time to enjoy some tacos de canasta (basket tacos) while we waited for the place to open.  We talked with Lulu the owner who suggested we go to the warehouse to see the options.  As we weren’t familiar with Morelia and it was raining cats and dogs, we all went in her mini-van.  

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It was an amazing experience.  First, we looked at the upright pianos much like MY piano in PA.  There was a whole room of them in various conditions.  Some were pristine, others looked like they needed some work.  We decided that an upright would just be too big for the little house in Sunflower Valley, so we headed out into the main warehouse.

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It was a veritable feast for the senses. We must have spent about an hour walking up and down and looking over these pieces of history.  Lulu saw we were appreciative and had the workers uncover her masterpieces.  

There was a Bradbury square piano from the 1850s, a leather wrapped Wurlitzer piano, The Sting Player Piano, a piano Lulu called a Scorpion Tail Grand Piano, but actually was a concert grand piano, French pianos, German pianos, pianos so old that I could imagine Mozart playing on them, player pianos, more uprights, more grand pianos, more spinets and studio pianos, even a pink piano. What an experience!

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I was drawn to an unpretentious Winter spinet that according to the Piano Blue book was built around 1910.  The inside had slight damage, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. The finish was scratched a bit, but nothing major.  My son approved.  My husband thought it would look good with my brown chairs (See Furnishings).  So a deal was struck.  I paid half down and the other half to be paid upon delivery.  Delivery charges would be $500 pesos.  The piano would be completely refinished and repaired.  I could order a bench for an additional $1000 pesos, however as I had already overspent my budget, that wasn’t gonna happen.  The piano would be tuned once it arrived, by one of Lulu’s sons, and I would receive a written copy of the 5-year guarantee.  

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We could hardly wait until Friday.  I told my son that he could stay home from school to receive the piano.  He was ecstatic.  Only the piano didn’t arrive.  After a few messages, I confirmed a delivery date for Saturday morning.  Then, before I knew it, we had a piano.  My son plopped his butt in a chair and off he went into the musical world.  Yes, it was out of my budget.  Yes, it’s a luxury item.  Yes, it cost more than my moto.  But, oh the sound of a piano!

Note:  All pianos pictured (except for MY piano and the Winter piano) are available from Su Majestad El Piano.

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Zulily

zulily

Somehow Brexit has been messing with the Mexican peso. But since I’ve been earning a few dollars, that’s been to my advantage. So what’s a girl to do but go shopping!

As I hate, I mean hate, shopping here in Moroleon (quality, price, selection, size, you name it, I hate it) I was delighted that Amazon had opened a Mexican branch. Shipping for non-imported items was free with orders over 500 pesos and DHL delivery was prompt and reliable. (See Trade Route Established). My only hangup is that Amazon didn’t accept Paypal, so buying meant transferring my dollars from Paypal to my Mexican bank account, which was a 5 to 10-day wait, before purchasing.

Then I was introduced to Zulily! Zulily is kinda of like an online outlet store. Items are discounted but not available in every size or color. And, much like an outlet store, sometimes you have to sift through stuff to find a good bargain.

Shipping fees to Mexico are 120 pesos, which really is pretty good. The catch is all the items you order are sent to the central Zulily warehouse and then packaged together to be sent to you. This might delay the package some. Well, I’m used to slow mail.

Shipping is free for any other orders you make to the same address until midnight of the day you place the order. Any tax and duty fees are included in the price of the product, so there aren’t any surprises at checkout like with Amazon. AND Zulily uses DHL which I have found to be far superior to Fed-ex and the local postal service in my area of Mexico. (See Shipping Fiasco)

After browsing longer than I should have, I put a pair of jeans, a shirt, some shoes and a bra in my shopping basket. I headed like Little Red Riding Hood to the checkout and paid up. Later, I was second guessing my purchases. So I went back and ordered another pair of jeans and some undies. There, that ought to do it. Oh, and some sheets. Ok, I was done.

I placed my order on June 29 and the estimated delivery date was July 16. I had it shipped to the school since that seems to work the best. School was officially out for the school year, however, there was someone at the front desk for most of the morning and on Saturdays, I was there faithfully teaching English classes (See Saturday classes)

To my delight, my order arrived on June 14. No missing items, no lost boxes, and the clothes fit just right. I was super pleased with the experience. Now, let me take a look at the school items on sale….

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