Bat Out of Hell

Life is strange sometimes. Okay, life itself might not be strange, but the stuff that happens certainly can be. It’s also possible the stuff that happens after you’re no longer living could be equally strange, but no one has ever documented it.

If the concepts of reincarnation are true, then we strive to improve on our past performances until we achieve enlightenment and no longer need to improve on anything. In that case, I’d expect a fair amount of the afterlife would involve having to read How Not to Fuck Up Your Next Life–for Dummies.

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, we survived Holy Week.

According to the Bible, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a hero on Palm Sunday, and five days later the same people who had cheered for him were demanding his death.

No one has ever had such a precipitous fall from grace, except maybe Howard Dean…

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Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The timeline is so improbable that it would almost have to be classified as one of Jesus’ miracles, and possibly his greatest. Or his worst, depending on your point of view.

It never made any sense to me. The only explanation that makes sense is that the actual events took longer than a week to unfold. Probably several months. Then everything makes sense, especially the conversations between Pontius Pilate and Jesus.

I’m not sure if Pilate hated the Jews, but he certainly wasn’t the most sympathetic Roman prefect of Judea. On at least two occasions he appeared to go out of his way to antagonize the Jews, and was eventually removed from office for dealing with his subjects too harshly. The fact that he would’ve had any hesitation at all about killing Jesus is another miracle.

And yet, in all four of the Gospels, he clearly doesn’t want to execute Jesus. A timeline of several months would, at the very least, give Pilate the opportunity to meet with Jesus more than once, probably after he had Jesus imprisoned. By all accounts, Jesus was a very charismatic guy. It’s not inconceivable that Pilate found himself liking the preacher from Galilee. So much so that by the time this scenario had reached its climax, Jesus had become the only Jew Pilate didn’t want to kill.

Yeah, I know. It’s all speculation.

Some of you might say, You know, for a guy who claims to be a Christian, you spend a lots of time questioning everything you’re supposed to believe.

Yeah, I do. But then, I used to believe in American democracy, too.

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The cicadas have started singing their strident songs. In the Lakeside Area, cicadas are called chicharros (waterbirds) because the rains generally start a few weeks after they start singing. And I found a tree frog on the patio last night. Another sign of the rainy season.

The rains will be nice. They’ll knock all of the dust and pollen out of the air, and that should lessen our allergy symptoms. Maybe.

But it will also make the velcro grass grow thicker at the golf course, and that’s not good for my score.

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A lots of people that retire here do a lots of research about the Lakeside Area before they uproot and relocate. The good thing is that there’s a plethora of information available on the Interweb. I’m going to guess that most of the articles accentuate the positive. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read any of them.

I doubt there are many articles that mention the flying buffalo ants. And I know there aren’t any articles about the flying scorpion spiders. Another thing you won’t find much information about are the bats.

The Spanish word for bat is murciélago. There are a lots of bats in Mexico. I won’t go so far to say that I’m afraid of bats, but they do kind of give me the willies. The little flying mice bats that eat insects aren’t so bad. It’s the larger, flying rat bats that eat fruit that freak me the fuck out.

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Admit it. You thought I was was making this up, didn’t you.

Oddly enough, the most common fruit bat in Mexico is the Jamaican Fruit Bat. We had encountered these bats at our first house. They drank all of the nectar out of Lea’s hummingbird feeders. Retrieving her feeders with a herd of flying bats swooping around my head wasn’t a pleasant experience.

When a fruit bat finds a ripe and desirable fruit, it swoops in and plucks it from the tree, then it flies to a temporary dining roost to eat.

There is at least one desirable fruit tree growing on the hillside of the golf course just below our backyard, and there’s also a very desirable temporary dining roost near that tree. That place is our spacious patio. At night, our spacious patio probably looks just like a cave, which is no doubt very inviting to a hungry bat.

Bats are voracious eaters, so our patio floor looked like unto a disaster area in the mornings when we first moved here. Little Known Fact About Fruit Bats: they can digest an entire meal in about fifteen minutes. Any guesses about what else bats are really good at?

Yep. They shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Bat shit is slang for someone one step beyond totally crazy. Guano is the technical term for bat excrement, which is highly desirable as a fertilizer. If the bats only shit  in our yard, I’d probably love them. But they’ve been shitting on our patio walls, and I really don’t love that.

Our walls are white. Well, they were white. Now they’re white with greenish brown streaks and spots, or white with pink streaks and spots. It’s not a great color combination.

I don’t know how long the bats have been using our patio as a restaurant/restroom, but it’s clearly been going on for a while. I tried washing the walls. Guano is some tenacious shit. It doesn’t wash off easily, and some of it doesn’t wash off at all.

I have no intention of trying to kill all of the fruit bats in the Lakeside Area, though that would certainly solve the problem of them crapping in our patio. And that’s the first step I encountered in trying to solve this problem. Cleaning the walls doesn’t accomplish anything if the bats just come back and crap on the walls again.

So, how does one get rid of bats without killing them? No one seemed to know. We did have an exterminator come over and spray the patio with something non-lethal, but noxious to bats. It didn’t work. I set up a sonic blaster device. It was supposed to emit frequencies the bats wouldn’t like and they’d stop dining in our patio. That didn’t work either.

We usually go to bed around 10:00 PM, give or take. There are no bats on the patio when we call it a day. Lea sometimes has trouble sleeping. On those occasions she likes to sit out on the patio, except the fucking bats freaked her out, too. It seemed that peak dining hours for bats were between midnight and 2:00 AM. I usually don’t have any trouble sleeping, but I’ve been on the patio at 3:00 AM, and there were no bats.

It might have been a month ago, maybe. Lea went to bed, but I stayed up. I was probably writing one of my blog posts…  At any rate, I finished some time around midnight, and I went to check on the world before I went to bed. And there were no bats on the patio. Not even one.

Hmm. Why do you suppose that is? I wondered. And then it occurred to me that the lights in the living room were still on, and maybe that’s why there were no bats…

We’ve been leaving some of living room lights on at night for the past couple of weeks. No bats! They’re apparently very sensitive to light. It makes sense. The fruit they eat doesn’t look that appetizing to me, and the bats themselves are butt-ugly. Darkness is their only friend.

Having accidentally figured out how to discourage the bats, the only thing that remained was getting rid of the Technicolor® walls of our patio. Simple! I’ll get some white paint. But there’s something like unto three hundred shades of white. Not so simple.

In the States, you can bring in a color sample and it can be computer matched. In Mexico, you can guess which shade is the closest and hope you’re not too wrong. I suck at this kind of thing, but Lea is a supermodel, and she is spooky.

She picked out a shade that wasn’t exactly the same as the paint on our walls, but it’s so close that you barely notice the difference. Most of the guano stains have disappeared, but some of them are still visible after three coats of paint. If only our walls weren’t white…

I told you that shit was tenacious.

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There’s one other bat in Mexico.  El Pinche Murciélago Gigante! That’s right, Cupcake. The Fucking Giant Bat of Mexico. They probably live in the Lakeside Area. There’s some really big caves here.

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You thought I was making this up too, didn’t you.

The Giant Bat is probably about the size of a Labrador. Maybe larger. Some of them have interbred with chupacabras, resulting in something like unto the closest thing to an actual vampire you’d ever want to meet. Not the cute vampires from Hollywood that make women cream their jeans. These are savage bloodthirsty monsters that will make you shit your pants.

As for what it eats, I’m guessing it eats anything it wants. Cats, dogs, kids. Volkswagen Beetles. And they’re particularly fond of tourists. If we can tell who the tourists are, there’s no reason to think the bats can’t.

So, just remember that the next time you’re planning a vacation to Lake Chapala. It could be the last vacation you ever take.

The Glamorous Life

It’s been a quiet week here in the Lakeside Area. Most of the weeks are quiet here. It’s kind of a bucolic place. That’s probably why so many people decide to retire here. However, it is Mexico. And it comes to celebrating just about anything, the locals don’t take a backseat to anyone.

Holy Week, Semana Santa, is coming up. Ajijic hosts a passion play every year. I hear it’s very good. You could check it out if you’re interested. Just in cases you don’t know what a passion play is, it’s a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering, death, and resurrection. It’s a very Catholic tradition. Mexico is a very Catholic country.

During Holy Week, the Lakeside Area is going to be packed with tapatios, pilgrims, and tourists, which is why I’ll be at home. There’ll be the passion play, and bands playing at the bars and los eventos, and the eruption of cohetes will fill the air.

Tapatío, in general terms, is a colloquial Mexican term for someone from Guadalajara. In more specific Lakeside terms, it’s someone from Guadalajara who comes down here to escape from the Big City for the weekend.

We used to do something similar when lived in the States. When we lived in Minneapolis, we’d go up to the North Shore. It’s still my favorite place on Earth. When we lived in Phoenix, we’d go up into the mountains to Prescott or Payson.

Urban living certainly has its advantages. Jobs. Entertainment. Shopping malls. Fine dining. Paved roads. It also has it disadvantages. Air pollution. Traffic jams. Crime. Mostly, all of the other fucking people that also live there. The population of Guadalajara is around seven million people. If you lived there, you’d want to get the hell out of there, too.

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We go to Guadalajara every couple of months to shop at Costco. Or the high end malls. It’s an adventure every time, mostly because of the traffic. Guadalajara was a little town that became a huge city with little to no civic planning. If you live there, you’ll eventually learn your way around. If you don’t, you hire a driver, or you have to depend on GPS to get from Point A to Point B. You are not going to just drive around and hope you find what you’re looking for.

We’ve lived in big cities before. We’re not daunted by traffic. And we have a system. Lea drives and I navigate. I’m a better navigator than she is. And Lea loves to drive. She’d probably love it more if she still had her sportscar. But the roads here make a vehicle like that impractical. And you can’t load a lots of stuff into a 370z.

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Our current vehicle is a Buick Encore. I’ll probably keep it for a couple more years, then get an Audi Q3. I’ll have to get rid of my American plated car and buy a Mexican plated car at that time. The Audi Q3 isn’t a sportscar, but it’ll still be a lots fun for Lea to drive. And it has a great stereo system, which is the only thing I care about when it comes to cars.

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I actually bought a car once because of the stereo. I didn’t even take it for a test drive. I played with the radio for a couple of minutes without ever leaving the sales lot. I told the salesman to write it up, I’d take it.

“Don’t you want to take it for a test drive?” he asked, a bit dumbfounded.

“No. I want to drive it to work. Today. My shift starts at 3:00. You have two hours. You better get busy or you’re going to miss a sale.”

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I still have no idea what I’m going to write about. Maybe this will end up being a general update on our glamorous retirement lives…

We haven’t had to deal with any major issues at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa lately. Jaime says he’s still looking for a replacement faucet for the kitchen, but the longer this goes on the more I think he’s decided he’s decided he can live with our temporary faucet, too.

It’s not a big deal. We love it here. The most annoying thing about living here revolves around our satellite TV service and the download speed for our Interweb service.

As I’ve said before, we don’t actually watch a lots of TV, but we almost always have the TV on for background noise. Silence might be golden to some people, but it drives me crazy. After thirty years as a psych nurse, I’m accustomed to noise. The absence of noise disturbs me greatly.

Wow. I can’t believe I just said that. I don’t think I had realized how much I hate silence until now.

We have Shaw Direct for our satellite TV. Shaw is a Canadian company. We had next to no problems with them at our last house. Here, our satellite feed seems to be somewhat sketchy at times. Again, not a huge deal. I’ve become very skilled at rebooting our PVR box.

If there’s one thing that seems to drive all ex-pats crazy, it’s a slow Interweb connection. Hey, we’re spoiled. We didn’t have this issue before we moved here. There aren’t a lots of options when it comes to this suddenly vital service. Basically, you can go with Telmex® or Telecable®. Compared to speed-of-light fiber optic cable, they both suck. And neither of them seem to care.

Telmex® is essentially the Mexican version of the American communications giant, AT&T, before it was broken up into a bunch of smaller companies. Telmex® is a telecommunication monster down here. It owns eighty percent of the telephone lines in the country.

We had Telmex® service at our last house. I guess it was okay most of the time, though we consistently had issues whenever we wanted to stream movies through our KODI box.

We have Telecable® at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. I wasn’t enamored with our service when we first moved in. So I tried calling the office, and that’s when I discovered there isn’t an office phone. You actually can’t call the office unless you have the cellphone number of one of the service reps, and I doubt they give their numbers out to anyone.

On their website Telecable® lists two levels of service available in the Lakeside Area: 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps. So I went down to the office to talk to one of their service representatives about upgrading my package. That’s when I met Carmen and Marisol. And I wasn’t quite so pissed off anymore. Okay, they’re young, and beautiful. And they have really big eyes. And nice smiles.

Carmen said yes, I could upgrade my package, except for one small detail. They only offer 5 Mbps in the Lakeside Area. I’d have to live in Guadalajara to qualify for the 10 Mbps service.

There is a fiber optic cable company that is getting started in Lakeside. ILOX started running lines in specific areas late last year. I have no idea when there service will be available here. Maybe I’ll wander into their office one of these days, except I doubt their service reps will be as attractive as Carmen and Marisol…

Given the limitations of available Interweb service, and the sudden sketchiness of our satellite service, we talked to one of our friends, Donald Stordahl. Donald has a streaming TV service here in the Lakeside Area. We rented one of his boxes for a month, and then I remembered I already had two streaming devices, and they were already paid for. I hooked them up and gave Donald his box back.

And everything was great until I blew up my Amazon Firestick. I had tried to download the latest update, and after that it wouldn’t work. I have no idea what went wrong, I only knew that I felt like I accidentally hit that red LAUNCH button, and there was nothing I could do to stop the missiles.

Seeing how I couldn’t repair my Firestick, I decided to buy another one, you know, eventually. But then Donald bought a used Firestick and asked me if I wanted it, seeing how I had just destroyed mine. He seems to be a pretty savvy businessman, from my perspective.

My previous Firestick had been jailbroken. The one I bought from Donald wasn’t, so I channeled my inner Millennial, and went online to learn how to do stuff.

There are a lots of online tutorials about tweaking your Firestick. I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to do this, given that I’d just destroyed my last Firestick by trying to update it. But all you have to do is follow the step-by-step instructions, and I’ll be damned, it worked!

I’ll tell ya what, I was pretty goddamn proud of myself for a couple of days there. I successfully downloaded and installed the most recent KODI app, and the Mobdro app. Then I got my lovely supermodel wife addicted to Game of Thrones, and the rest is history.

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The final season of Game of Thrones airs this Sunday. Like every other fan, Lea and I have been speculating about who’s going to win the Great Game and sit on the Iron Throne. I don’t care who it is, just as long as it isn’t Cercei Lannister. She needs to got dead, soon.

Will the Golden Company help her maintain her grip on the reins of power, or will they break a contract for the first time ever and go fight against the Night King and his army from Hell? And how many of my favorite characters are going to get killed to death…

How are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen going to defeat an army of animated dead warriors, White Walkers, and a zombie dragon? And what will they do when they discover that they’re related? Will Jon freak out when he finds out he’s been having sex with his aunt?

Who will kill The Mountain? What the hell is a Three-eyed Raven, and what sort of spooky superpowers does Bran Stark really have?

The good news is we’ll all find out soon. Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.