Sunday, September 4, 2011

Robbed in Ajijic, Mexico!

                                                                By Nancy Snipper

{Also posted: http://smrcultureplus.blogspot.com/2011/09/robbed-in-ajijic-mexico.html}
It’s become the most popular retirement spot for Canadians and Americans. More than 7000 non-Mexicans live mainly on the northern side of Lake Chapala; the largest lake in Mexico (about 80 km in length and 12.5km in width) takes the spotlight around here with its boardwalks, markets, charming shops, restaurants and music that resonate around its vast shallow waters (with a mean depth of 4.5m). The most popular towns where all the gringos go are Ajijic and Chapala that have been built on a good stretch of the lake. It’s Jalisco State’s pride and joy.










Everything looks fun, colourful and inviting, it is, but watch out! All the gringos live behind gated wrought iron fences, and all the gated communities have 24 hour guards. Clearly there is a reason for this. It’s about a dirty secret that some of us know about having experienced it first-hand. I made the mistake of renting a casita in the village of Ajijic on September 16th Street from a rental agency whose owner immediately began bad mouthing me the minute I arrived to get the key. She told me she didn’t need to go over with me nor show me the ropes. I insisted she did and I was concerned about locking the door etc.
Immediately arriving, the TV was not working. The nasty casita owner (originally from Switzerland) came over and wanted me to leave right away and go to a B & B. “I want her out.” He said in the worst manner. The rental agency had told me he was mean and she didn’t want any trouble from me. There they stood, trying to kick me out after a 6 hour bus ride from San Miguel de Allende toting suitcase and bags.
I convinced them I was no trouble, but if the TV could be fixed that would be nice. I also had pre-paid. I stayed but for 4 nights I had to endure the worst sound of the water pump motor. It was not functioning properly. It got fixed days later, but another disturbing fact was that by day 5 already four people had entered the casita, the gardener, the plumber and the TV cable man. I was present at all times, but the gardener had access to the house and peeking his head through the garage door into the house’s bottom stairwell inside asking if anyone was there.
Six nights later I was robbed at about 2 am right in my bedroom! Thank God I didn’t wake up.
The first thing I noticed upon going into the bathroom on Saturday morning was my nail scissors were missing, then my jewellery pouch, and my two bags I had placed on my large bed before going to sleep at 1 am.Those robbers had seen me sleeping. I was lucky to have come out of it alive.
But everything was gone, 2000$, my jewellery including irreplaceable hand-made pieces from Crete, Greece, my passport, my plane ticket which was to get me back to Montreal in two days. I had no phone as the rental agent gave me two hours to get out and the phone was cut off. During those two hours I phoned Continental Real Estate Company in Ajijic, out of desperation. The lovely secretary La Donna, whom I had never met, was the first native English-speaking voice I heard that day. She told me to come over right away to use all the phones I would need. At one time, I was on two phones at the same time:  a Vonage phone speaking French to the embassy in Ottawa, the other a cell phone, trying to get hold of MasterCard and shortly after the airline.
La Donna Farrar
Secretary Continental Realty

Michael Kavanaugh
Owner Continental Realty
MasterCard told me they would actually deliver money directly to my door by 2:00. The owner of the agency Michael Kavanaugh became a saviour. He kept his own agency open for me, waiting patiently, even getting on the phone himself to try to get the ball rolling with the Airline Company and MasterCard, but MasterCard never arrived! The promise of having money was simply false hope.
The entire day was a waste. The police had showed up 6 hours after being called about the robbery and the rental agency had immediately changed the lock of the casita door, so they couldn’t get in to “inspect”. I was told to go to Chapala to file an official report; the Ajijic police didn’t write a single word. It was too late, as the police office there was already closed. I had no place to sleep, no money and no passport. Michael had tried to get me to Chapala in time along with my friend Nacho who helped me so much through this. We were driving quickly, but we arrived to watch the police gate close. Dear Michael announced I would be staying in a house he had that remained unoccupied. It was for sale. Without asking for any money, he stopped on the way to buy me booze and handed me 500 pesos (about $43 dollars). This man did not know me, knew nothing about my job nor asked any questions. What a lifesaver.
I had to wait another day Sunday to contact the embassy. It was only open in Guadalajara on Monday.
And here is where another angel entered my life. I opened the door of my new house to see what street I was on, and just then a sweet lady appeared exactly as I was approaching the street sign. I asked her if she had a phone I could use. I told her what had happened. Without a second’s pause, she took me into her home around the corner. Her name was Lucille, a fighter for animal rights, a dog rescuer, and obviously a special person. Originally from South Africa, we found out we had so much in common. She has lived in Chania, Crete and so we both started speaking Greek, as we love the place. She’s lived in so many countries, and even lived in Montreal! She had a Canadian passport. Not only that, she was willing to have money wired down from my MasterCard (I got hold of them finally and told them I needed money and how they had failed me), and so I was told it would arrive on Monday. Darling Lucille, who was actually waiting for her furniture to arrive from Turkey, was supposed to be at home waiting for it after months of paying needless fees in Veracruz for storage. They had failed to deliver it when promised. Nonetheless, she put that on hold, and went into Chapala with me and her friend Cynthia who happened to be a translator and we filed the police report, went to the bank, to get my wired money. We had to make another call as some was not delivered; Lucille called without me even asking. I called the Canadian consulate from the bank using Lucille’s phone, and was told what I would need to get out of the country and return to Canada. By now I had missed the flight, so I would have to purchase another ticket. Lucille arranged for a meeting with me at a travel agent to do that. I got photos taken for the document I would need, but the document requested so much information including references. It was a mad scramble that Monday.
On Wednesday, darling Nacho took me to Guadalajara by bus to deliver the papers and photos needed to begin the process of being issued an emergency one-day exit pass, stamped by the Canadian consulate. It’s a temporary emergency document. I was ushered into a private booth to begin the interview and hand over the papers.
On Friday I was to pick up the document if everything had been approved. I had a new airline ticket; that cost me 379$ more (I had to pay a $150 penalty for the change of date – no compassion there from Continental Airlines. But I had made two amazing Buddhist friends Lucille and Cynthia, the Mexican translator whose looks and personality could charm anyone.
I speak Spanish, enjoy Mexican culture, but my dream to retire there went up in smoke with that robbery.



The story worsens. In Houston, I was escorted into an immigration room; nothing was explained to me. After waiting 20 minutes, a horrid lady called me up and proceeded to intimidate me with her tone and comments: “You are all over the place; this is serious business. “ She asked me so many questions and every time I went to answer she gave me a stare down. In fact, I counted 10 seconds of pursed lips and angry eyes of complete silence before she asked me yet another question. She then said, “I have to make a phone call.” She didn’t want to stamp that emergency paper, nor accept that I had no ID as I had been robbed as the emergency paper stated: passport reported stolen. At one point after she kept asking me for ID I gingerly removed my own CD from the borrowed purse Lucille had given me for my trip home. (I’m a singer/songwriter - it had my name and two photos of me. That really got her angry. I was just trying to assist the situation. I was stressed and tired, having left for the Guadalajara airport at 5:00 am.
I still had another flight to take from Houston to Cleveland and then back to Montreal. Would I make the connection?
 I did but upon arriving in Montreal, I had to go through 3 different customs areas, but they were all super nice to me. The last one was a suitcase opening part. But the young woman took one look at me (I must have looked 101 years old), and she smiled and said, with great pity in her yes for me “Bienvenue, Nancy”. I broke down and cried!


Spam: This is my reply to a modern day curse!


Who do you think you are? To me you are a modern day curse. Do you really think that I would fall for whatever it is you are trying to palm off on me? You are annoying; you waste my precious time and that of many others. You come disguising yourself in various colours and pretend you are sorry for the intrusion. You try to pray upon my kindness, to bring out my greed for prosperity, my naiveté, you try to sell me your useless products or your business proposals, you send emails in languages I don’t understand and you pretend to be a legitimate corporation or professional often trying to scare me into taking action to prevent my account from being closed (GMAIL is a common example and GMAIL actually flags these emails as spam so go figure). Well if you think that I would fall for your trickery you are sadly mistaken and your attempts at communication, I find offensive, intrusive and unwelcome.
Sometimes I may read what you have written (although I probably shouldn’t as even just reading may be a trap) and quite frankly if you weren’t so annoying you would look ridiculous. You pretend to be a professional but your writing is often atrocious (like that of a child). You call me friend but I consider you a malevolent foe (to the tune of around 30 per day of your annoying proposals, transparent requests for help, ‘congratulations’ you have won ...’, unwanted products or services, foreign languages I do not understand etc).  I wish that email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, MSN etc would one day develop a way to block you and a legal system to prosecute all of you spammers and all who use the Internet for unscrupulous, unsavoury and even immoral activities.
 If your email provider has flagged an item as spam, approach it with great care and above all NEVER send personal info to those who request it unless you trust their legitimacy. Be aware of ‘Get rich quick’ schemes that seem to be ‘too good to be true; chances are: they are not. A ‘stranger’ who asks for help is clearly trying to con you. Don’t pay any attention! Together we can make the internet a safe haven to communicate to each other.

Spam: C'est ma réponse à une malédiction moderne!

Qui pensez-vous que vous êtes? Pour moi, vous êtes une malédiction moderne. Pensez-vous vraiment que je me laisserai prendre pour que ca soit  quel qu'il soit que vous essayez de refiler sur moi? Vous êtes agaçant;  vous gaspiller mon temps précieux et celui de plusieurs d’autres.  Vous venez en te déguisent en de nombreuse couleurs et fait semblant que vous êtes désolé pour l'intrusion. Vous tentez de prier sur ma bonté, pour faire ressortir mon avidité pour la prospérité, ma naïveté, vous essayez de me vendre vos produits inutiles ou vos propositions d'affaires, vous envoyez des courriels dan des langues  je ne comprends pas et vous faire semblant d'être une société légitime ou les professionnels souvent en essayant de me pousser à prendre des mesures pour empêcher mon compte de fermeture (GMAIL est un exemple commun et GMAIL en réalité indique ces courriels comme du spam donc débrouiller vous pour deviner). Bien si vous pensez que je me laisserai prendre pour vos ruses  vous êtes malheureusement erronée et vos tentatives de communication, je les trouve offensive, intrusif et importun.
Parfois je peux lire ce que vous avez écrit (bien que je ne devrais probablement pas même juste la lecture peut être un piège) et franchement si vous n'étiez pas si agaçantes vous auriez l’aire ridicule. Vous faites semblant d'être un professionnel, mais votre écriture est souvent atroce (comme celui d'un enfant). Vous m'appeler un ami, mais je vous envisager comme un ennemi malveillant (à l’ordre d’environ 30 par jour de vos propositions agaçantes, vos demandes de l'aide transparente, 'félicitations vous avez gagné...', des produits ou services non désirées, des courriels en langues étrangères que je ne comprends pas etc.). Je souhaite que un de ses jours, les fournisseurs de courriel tels que Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, etc. seraient un jour de développer une façon  de vous bloquer et un système juridique pour poursuivre tous les polluposteurs et tous ceux qui utilisent l’Internet pour des activités sans scrupules, peu recommandable et même immorale.
Si votre fournisseur de courriel à indiquer un élément comme  spam, l’approcher avec le plus grand soin et surtout NE JAMAIS envoyer votre informations personnelle à ceux qui le demandent sauf si vous avez confiance a leur légitimité. Soyer conscients des stratagèmes pour devenir riche rapidement  qui semblent d’être «trop bon pour être vrai; « il y a des chances: ils ne le sont pas. Un « étranger » qui demande de l'aide est clairement en traine d’essayai de  vous escroquer. Ne lui prêter pas aucune attention! Ensemble nous pouvons faire de l'internet un lieu sur pour communiquer les uns au autres.



   






Saturday, August 13, 2011

SMR’s Proverbs / Proverbes de SMR


Don’t try to change me; try to understand me!
N'essayez pas de me changer ; essayez de me comprendre !  

If you are concerning yourself with preparing to cross a bridge you ‘might’ cross, you will not be ready to cross a bridge that  ‘needs’ to be crossed.
Si vous vous concernent à la préparation de traverser un pont que vous « pourrait » franchir,  vous ne sera pas prêt à franchir un pont qui vous « devez » à traverser.

The wise man learns from his foolishness whereas the fool wallows in it.
Le sage apprend par sa sottise tandis que le fou se vautre.

The wise man accepts responsibility for his foolishness whereas the fool blames his environment.
Le sage accepte la responsabilité de sa sottise tandis que le fou accuse son environnement.

An open spirit guarantees a life filled with patience to pass thru the darkest moments and you will have tolerance for all of humanity.
Un esprit ouvert garantit qu'une vie soit remplie avec patience pour passer à travers les moments le plus sombres et d’avoir une tolérance pour l'ensemble de l'humanité.

Patience is like giving enough rope for your enemy to hang himself.
La patience s’est comme donner suffisamment corde pour que votre ennemi se pendre.

Release the past, take care of today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
Libérer le passé, prendre soin d'aujourd'hui et laissez demain prendre soin de soi.




Friday, April 29, 2011

Kombucha Tea

Kombucha Tea


Kombucha: A ‘Living’ Soft Drink

Earlier this week, I was introduced to a delicious drink called Kombucha. The taste was somewhere between apple cider and champagne. There were two flavours offered:  white tea and ginger, rose hip and hibiscus. I preferred the second. It is brewed by Crudessence (link below).
It is fermented tea that is achieved with a symbiotic mix of yeast and bacterial culture. The actual origin of this drink is not known, but the first recorded use was during the Tsin Dynasty in China 221BC. It was known as ‘the elixir of life’ or ‘the immortal health drink’.
 Please note: much of the claims made as to its health benefits are not fully substantiated so as with all things in life, I urge caution and moderation.
Enjoy!

For further information please go to the following sites:

Kombucha culture

Kombucha : Une Boisson « Vivant »
Plus tôt cette semaine, j'ai été présenté à une délicieuse boisson appelée Kombucha. Le goût était quelque part entre champagne et cidre. Il y avait deux saveurs offertes : thé blanc et gingembre, hip rose hibiscus. J'ai préféré la seconde. Elle est brassée par Crudessence (lien ci-dessous).
C'est le thé fermenté qui est réalisée avec un mélange symbiotique de culture de levures et les bactéries. L'origine réelle de cette boisson n'est pas connue, mais la première utilisation fut pendant la dynastie Tsin en Chine 221BC. Il s'appelait «l’élixir de la longue vie ».
 Veuillez noter : une grande partie des réclamations faites quant à ses avantages pour la santé ne sont pas entièrement étayées ainsi qu'avec toutes les choses de la vie, j'exhorte la prudence et modération.  Profitez en! 

Pour plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter les sites suivants : http://www.seedsofhealth.co.uk/fermenting/kombucha.shtml




Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snipper Proverbs



The logic of human beings defy reason.

The progression of a culture
must not be based on the oppression of another.

I do not suffer a fool gladly except myself.

Vanity is a necessity of life, otherwise we'd run around smelling foul and looking terribly unkempt.


You can hear when someone stops listening to you.

The past is your invisible stalker.

Our memories are our dearest friends; we replay them like movies that never have an end.

Ageing is not a state of mind; it is the state your body is in from which your mind wishes to escape.

With a few quarter notes, music can instantly unite billions of people.

Human beings give up; dogs never do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Relationship Levels / Niveaux Relationnelles

 
It takes a community/village to build an individual. This is best fostered by learning another language and by being open to other cultures.

Il faut un communauté/village de construire un individu. Ceci est mieux stimulée en apprendrent une autre langue et en étant ouvert aux autres cultures.

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0 = Stranger / Inconnu   

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1 = Acquaintance / Connaissance   

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2 = Casual Friend / Ami Occasionnel   

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3 = Deep Friendship / Amitié Profonde   

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4 = Soul Mate / Copain - Copine d’Âme  

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keep Me Company But Leave Me Alone

                                                                 
                                                             by Sylvain Richard 

An exploration of the dichotomy (a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups, entities, concepts or desires) of those, who on one side desperately seek the company of others while on the other, lead a private,  almost  secluded life. For the sake of clarity and consistency ‘we/us’ will refer to those who possibly may have this dichotomy and ‘they/them” to those who do not. Also, it can be associated with aspergers syndrome (see below):  http://www.disabledworld.com/artman/publish/article_2086.shtml for a partial list of famous people suspected of having this social disorder – others not listed could include Glenn Gould, Syd Barrett and Michael Jackson.) Some of the more common characteristics are obsessive compulsive behaviors, depression, social isolation, intense passions and eccentricities. Often our obsessions with detail and perfectionist approach to a task at hand leads to neglect or even at best, a difficulty in taking care of vital areas of life such as health, hygiene, appearance and our dwellings and even family, furthering our social isolation. Also there is a tendency to make choices in our lifestyles, areas of frequentation and those we associate with that can put us out of -- or on the edges of -- mainstream society. To phrase this metaphorically it is as if we begin hiking with a group but along the way, we become intrigued with a particular plant only to find that our group has gone on (an real-life example would be, as explored in the Japanese 2008 film “Left Handed” by  director Laurence Thrush about a teenage boy who locks himself in his bedroom -- hikokomon (self-incarceration) for 18 months – a situation that can set one back relationally much more than just the years of adolescence) without us and now we are all alone lost in the wilderness of life. Many of us engage in areas of society that are often mutually exclusive,  for example church versus entertainment. To us it is all the same thus,  our actions or conversations can offend. And if this occurs often in our youth we withdraw into ourselves (highly introverted) and develop a low level of self esteem due to an extreme fear of rejection. After all it ‘has happened’ so why take a chance?
When we are in social situations we feel a sense of discomfort, a bit of dread, even loneliness and a desire to escape, yet when we do find ourselves alone(the phone doesn`t ring, no emails come in etc), the ‘pain’ can be so excruciating that we seek relief from it in somewhat self-destructive means -- self medication, the company of anyone, often seeking those who can and do harm us while at the same time shunning those who can help -- being able to see us beyond what we appear to be at the moment – to see what we can become: ‘a diamond in the rough’. Though occasionally, when we are aware -- and this awareness can seem to make the pain   even more excruciating -- wisdom can prevail and we resist the pull(s) and deal with the pain in directing the excessive energy we possess towards a positive goal -- great artistic achievements, scientific and social advancements etc. Above examples of famous people listed in link (plus the three I named) serve to illustrate the point. This awareness should grow as we become older and the realization  that we are of value to those around us and even to humanity in general due to our achievements and advancements.
They often will shun us when we display eccentric or excessive behaviors or worse often exploit the situation – if we are perceived as weak or gullible. Regarding the shunning, it literally doesn’t take much -- one wrong word or action on our part (usually in innocence) -- in short ‘a bad hair day’ to phrase it facetiously.  Fortunately such encounters are few yet the result  -- whether short or long  -- can be very devastating. After all, we do tend to be like a ‘glass house’ -- very fragile -- such that even a ‘pebble’ can shatter us when thrown in our direction. Most will respect us yet maintain a distance due to a lack of understanding or a perception of our fragile nature or that we just don’t let them in. Yet fewer still will enter into a closer relationship with us thus instilling a sense of wisdom and maturity with a greater measure of self control. Yet the roads travelled on with such relationships can be rocky and rough as our friend has to deal with our quarks, eccentricities and expressed  episodes of paranoia coupled with bouts of depression. Yet if such a friend stays with us through the rockiest and roughest passages, the final destination will be nothing short of Shangri-la and it would not be just one sided. We receive a high amount of reassurance, less fearful and finally a greater ease in controlling what has isolated us in the first place. We become stronger and less fragile. The other would have the benefit of a true friend – the  results of our obsessive compulsive behaviors (due to a high amount of energy in our spirit as one doctor once told me that I/ we would need to learn to channel in a positive manner.) Our sensitive natures would be such that the needs of the other would be placed before our desires – increasing as we gain wisdom and maturity.
Those who die young – Glenn Gould & Michael Jackson (at 50) are usually child prodigies while others like Albert Einstein (76) or George Washington (67) are often late bloomers. Some like Syd Barrett who left a tremendous body of work (Piper at the Gates of Dawn – with Pink Floyd and two solo albums after only four years in the limelight) before retreating into hermitude with much speculation that he had suffered a drug induced breakdown. With this in mind songs like Bike in both the lyrics and the music do have a sense of asperger. Yet his legacy and influence is felt even today, over 40 years later. Kind of begs the question -- where would humanity be without us: creatively pushing the boundaries forward in all walks of life – the Einsteins,  the Glenn Goulds, the Leonardo DaVincis and the Bill Gates? Could we be as has been mentioned ‘the salt of the earth’ and one of the characteristics of salt is that just a little can add flavor to a dish. Another is that salt acts as a preservative.
Coping with:
1)      Accept the difference within us.
2)      Learn to redirect your energy towards positive pursuits.
3)      Learn to never express your negative thoughts to the other person. Dwell on the positive. If this becomes too difficult seek professional counsel.
4)      Remember this `flow` of will’ -- Devine will brings the other to you; the other`s will is how close, the nature and the pacing; our will is to accept and nurture.
5)      Remember the adage – if you attempt to grab something that is going away from us, we only succeed in pushing it further away.
6)      Learn to say NO (as we are often very compliant -- a form of co-dependence -- so we say yes most of the time) and accept it when the other says it. It is not an expression of rejection!