Thursday, May 8, 2014

Chapter 16, San Miguel de Allende Again Seemed So Right.

Chapter 16

San Miguel de Allende Again Seemed So Right

Before my trip to Baja California I had experienced my third ATM fraud since living in Mexico. All three times the fraud happened in San Miguel de Allende, never Baja California or Ajijic or when traveling in Mexico. I woke up the day before my flight to Tijuana to a call from Wells Fargo asking me if I had been in 20 different states that night buying pizza and Netflix movies. I was glad they had called me to ask and reversed the almost $2,000 in charges after  pointing out that it would be impossible for me to be in 20 states in one night or eat that many pizzas and watch that many movies. But I was not happy that they canceled my debit card when I was traveling the following day. I had been to an ATM machine that night on my way to have dinner with friends and had paid for them as they had ATM fraud that day and had no cash. Now I only had 700 pesos to travel from Leon to Tijuana and could not get cash until I went across the border to my bank in San Diego. Wells Fargo would not over-night a new card to Mexico and would only mail it regular mail to my mail forwarder in Laredo. It takes two to four weeks to get a new card when you live in Mexico. We call our mail forwarders donkey express.

My dear guy friend Texas whom I knew in Ajijic had recently moved here to San Miguel de Allende and was nice enough to loan me 3,000 pesos to get supplies for my Chihuahuas while I would be gone and to spend on my trip until I could cross the border. I am sure many of my friends would have loaned me money, but he is the only one I would ask. We have known each other since 1994 and he has been to one of my weddings and has helped me bury a husband. He and I have a lot of history together.  Only my Chihuahuas have as much history as we have together.

When I returned to Leon from Tijuana I took a red eye on Volaris, an airline that has no leg room, seats that barely recline, and even charges you for water. The size and weight limit for your checked in bag is the size that most airlines allow for your carry on.  If you don’t print out your own boarding pass at home they will charge you 100 pesos to print one for you. I was obviously exhausted but my first priority was to go open up an account at a bank that would cash my US checks without ever needing to use an ATM machine again.

After unpacking I walked to the bank with everything that I knew I would need. After all, I had over the years, 7 different bank accounts in Mexico. I had my passport, permanente card, 2 different utility bills and 2 references all with 3 copies. But this bank wanted something no bank has ever asked for before, proof of payment of my property taxes. I had already filled out the application and showed her my originals and given her the copies. I found a taxi and hurried home to get this document and make 3 copies of it. As I walked in the door I immediately realized that I had left my document bag in the taxi. I ran out and he was gone.

I went back to the bank and gave them this document. Then I went to the radio station to offer a reward. The taxi drivers listen to the San Miguel de Allende radio station all day listening for rewards of left items in taxis. I then went home and called my attorney and the consul to report my missing documents and ask what I would need to do to replace them. Both told me to wait a week as if you report this to us your documents will be canceled and you will need to reapply. I called the California Driver’s License bureau and the Sentri office and was told I would need to come to California in person to get new ones. So I waited, and one week later I got a call from the radio station to come in and pay the 1,000 peso reward as they had my documents. My entire life was in that bag: driver’s license, Veterans card, credit cards, ATM cards, Social Security card, Medicare card, passport, permanente card, Sentri pass, a blank check from my U.S. bank account and 4,000 pesos cash to open the bank account with. Everything was returned including the 4,000 pesos. I have heard that a U.S. passport can fetch $10,000 U.S. dollars on the black market and anyone would have been able to do identity theft with all these documents. Thanks to a good friend, an honest taxi driver I not only got my documents and cash back but was saved the money and time of reapplying for each of these documents and traveling to California.

The irony of this banking adventure was that when I returned a few days later for my account number and to cash a check, the investment person did not remember me, nor could she find my paperwork. After sitting there for over an hour while she searched, she finally found them under a stack of papers and said she had tried to call me to ask who would be my heir. I was shocked and replied, “I have an answering machine and caller ID so I would know if you had called me, so you are a liar. I want my papers back and I would never trust you to manage my money.” I then had to start all over again with C. I. Banco, S.A. and they accepted my copies without seeing my original’s since I explained they were all lost. When I got my documents back I then showed them to the bank. I no longer need to use an ATM card for cash, and don’t have service charges for cashing a U.S. check. I get the best rate of exchange since I have a VIP card. A VIP card is a discount card that locals buy in San Miguel de Allende that get you discounts at restaurants, bars, services like gas, medical, shopping and too many other services to even mention. All that is required to have an account at C I Banco is that you have $8,000 pesos in a savings account with them. The interest is more than you would get at a US bank.

The irony on this story is that there is now a new banking rule in Mexico and no Mexican bank will accept a U.S. check. Some will accept a wire transfer if they have a relationship with the bank you are wiring from.  All Expats from the U.S. now have to use ATM machine with their U.S. Debit card. Social Security will wire your benefits to a Mexican bank as well as certain investment accounts.

I knew now that South Carolina, Baja California, Port A in Texas or Ajijic were not the best places for me to live. Especially with all the support I get from my friends here in San Miguel de Allende. I made a excel sheet of all my requirements to live in each place and rated and compared them. There was no surprise; San Miguel de Allende rated the best. I rated them each as best, equal or worse.

Places to compare and rating:      Ajijic/13, San Miguel de Allende/33,  Baja California/14,  Port A/14,  Chapin/16.

I decided to not announce my decision until after I could tell my little Mermaid in person who was coming to visit me in San Miguel de Allende from Port A, mid-June, as well as my family in South Carolina who I was visiting in July. I wanted to spend my one-year anniversary of being home with them since they were the ones who made it possible for me to move back to San Miguel de Allende.

During my healing process for grief, guilt, forgiveness and anger before my trip to Port A or the Baja I had a healing with a famous Sonoran Shaman who also was a medical doctor and surgeon. I had reservations about this as I have never done a drug before. However I knew that if you were healing in a rehab center you took Methadone, a drug to heal from an addiction. I therefore did lots of research and trusted him. My Mini-me came with me and said she would stop it if she felt that something he was doing might hurt me.

These are two full Interviews with Dr Octavio Rettig that explains the entire process. Both these interviews made me feel confident in having my healing with him.

The day of the healing you had to be on time, turn your cell phones, off and the doors to the house were locked after the shaman arrived so that no one could come or leave after the healing started. You were told to bring a towel, blanket, food and drinks and a change of clothing.  It seemed an odd list at the time, but made sense as the healings took place. There were three of us that day and I was first. I was so glad to be first.  If the second person had been first I would have climbed over the wall to escape. The third woman held me tight and begged me to not let what he was doing to this woman happen to her.

He called me to bring my blanket and stand before him. He chanted as he danced around me with bells and drums and some type of burning herbs. Then he prepared a pipe of Sonoran herbs with the toad venom and had me smoke it. I fought him and it took three tokes of the pipe before I fell down and he and I were together communicating through our minds and no one else could hear what we said or know what my experience was. Everyone has a different experience and most only need one toke. I can only relate my mental experience and what people told me I said when I spoke. When the toad venom took effect the sky disappeared and everything was solid blue and his face kept changing from one face to another of ancient Mexican tribes. I don’t know if these images came from my memory of books or from what I had seen in museums. His face and costume transformed into Toltec, Mayan, Aztec and others that I could not identify. He would become one of these images and then he would return to his own face.  I remember coming out and crying and telling him please no more and he gave me another toke of the toad venom and I returned to that mental place with him. In my trance he told me to trust him and he gave me advice to change my life which is private between him and me.  Most people never say anything. They just moan. But when he threw water in my face I responded firmly, “No, I hate water, I can’t breathe in it,” and he replied, “But you are water,” and I hissed at him, “No I am fire,” at which point he threw more water on my face.

Mini-me told me that she tried to stop the healing when he threw more water on my face and then held my mouth shut and held my nostrils together so that I could not breathe and he told her it was okay that he was a doctor. So she sat down and watched and was vigilant just in case. When the healing was over I cried on his chest and he held me until I stopped sobbing. I had the most wonderful feeling of peace and happiness. Mini-me and I went out for dinner and I did not even want a glass of wine. As the waiters walked by with glasses of wine on their trays it did not even entice me. I came home and there was a bottle of white wine open in the refrigerator from the day before. I was told that you could not drink the day before the shaman ritual. I equated that to mean 24 hours. Since my healing would be at two o’clock. I opened up a bottle of white wine and had a large pour in a glass with my lunch at noon. We were also told that we did not need to tell him what we were having a healing for because he would know when our minds came together in our trance. I had not gone to stop drinking but I did feel that I wanted to drink less and handle liquor more responsibly. For a month I did not have a drink or want one. Then slowly I started to drink socially and not before five, unless I was out for lunch with friends. 

I sent this email to all my girlfriends in the Baja, Ajijic and here in San Miguel de Allende as well as my friends and family in the U.S. on January 6, 2014 the morning of my healing with the Shaman:

I will be out of touch this afternoon & evening having a healing session with Dr. Octavio Rettig, from Sonora who is also a Shaman. It is the final stage of my year-long healing process, which I began when my unappreciative gigolo pushed me so hard on Christmas eve 2012 that he broke my foot off my left leg (both ankles, tibia and fiba) and I had to have surgery on Jan. 7, 2013, to have it reattached after waiting in a wheel chair in a cast for the surgery date. I was lucky to have wonderful girlfriends who took me to the surgery, for follow-up appointments, physical therapy, sitting with me at home to keep me company, bringing me food (while he did nothing for me), and taking me out in my wheel chair with them for outings. They helped me heal from my injury and also to heal my heart and soul and keep me safe and sane. They then helped me escape the end of June and put me in my car when I was able to finally walk again without a aid and I drove myself home to San Miguel de Allende to my wonderful girlfriends here who continued to help me heal and recover my life and sanity and regain my confidence and find peace and forgiveness the past six months. Thank you girlfriends in the Baja, Ajijic and here in San Miguel de Allende, without you all I don't know what condition I would be in today. (You are too many to name) Also, thank you to my parents who inspired me and helped me financially to make the journey by car home alone with my four little Chihuahuas, leaving most of my belongings in the Baja with friends. My good friend Mini-me is going with me for support, bringing me home and staying with me tonight as I have to smoke a hallucinogenic made from Sonoran toad venom and Sonoran native plants.  So today one year after my surgery my final journey to healing spiritually and emotionally.

Now as I end this Chapter I and this book I say thank you Dr. Octavio Retting for making me see my life path and make the best decisions for myself. I also have come to realize that unlike my previous life that I wrote about in my first book, “A Single Gringa In Mexico” I no longer need or want a man in my life in order to feel happy or whole. I enjoy being with me, me and me. I enjoy doing what I feel like and with whom I like, going to bed when I chose, waking up when I feel like it and alone. I have actually met a few very nice men since returning to San Miguel de Allende. They know who they are and I have not written about them. But I am able to support myself and handle my life alone.  I have also begun to weed out friends who bring nothing but drama into my life. Friends come with responsibility so I have begun to be more selective when allowing a new person into my life.


I have a male friend who is a writer who sent me a letter eighteen years ago. I found it recently and it is perfect as my ending to this book.  I am therefore sharing it; “You are writing the most important book of all, the autobiography of your life, and you’ve many more chapters to write. There are plenty of pages left for love, enlightenment, and vicarious moments of joy and ecstasy and caring… just a wonderful richness of life still out there just waiting for you to tap. So I say go forth into the world with your remarkable beauty and embellish society. Your autobiography is the most important book ever published.” I was not writing a book then, not until 5 years ago.