Thursday, March 3, 2011

La Paz life, still in paradise, but problems are finding me.

Feb 17 to March 2-2011

Been boon-docking at Tecolote Beach for almost three weeks now, beautiful beach, few people and totally free. It's about a 30 mile round trip into town, so I've been mostly riding my motorcycle for the city trips. I ride every few days to check internet, use ATM, site see and get a few supplies.

So about a week and a half ago, my email was flooded with banking alerts and emails from my family wondering if I was still alive. Something unusual must have happened (I'm still not totally sure what), but two of my three banks cut me off and froze my accounts due to suspected fraudulent activities! The banks called some family members (my phone doesn't work down here) to ask about me. But wouldn't give them any details. So my family gets worried, start calling all the hospitals here in La Paz asking if there were any dead/robbed gringos laying around and were within hours of flying down to search for me (or my remains). I emailed them back and "chatted" with one daughter, assured them I was fine, had no idea what the problem was. I had all my cards, nothing had been compromised, had no idea what the big deal was. So I go to the nearest ATM, and yep, sure enough I'm cut-off. Go back to the internet, try to log in to see what the deal is with that bank, nope, online access denied also. So I try calling the 1-800 number on the card, guess what? US 1-800 don't work here. Have more email and chat with family, they call bank and try to explain the situation, no luck, they won't talk about it with anyone but me. I consider having a kid or brother try to fake it and pretend to be me, then decide against that for a couple reasons..

Then I think, ok go to the bank and get a cash advance on my other credit card, nope; turns out Mexico don't do cash advances or cash American paper checks. By the next day, I'm down to 300 pesos in my pocket ($27.00). I finally obtain an international collect number for the bank. I try numerous public phones, and they can't do it, doesn't work, gets about half-way through the number and line goes dead. I go to a high end gringo type hotel, speak to clerk, he offers to put the call through on their phone system, for a fee (now down to 200 pesos). He gets the same problem..........So somewhat by accident, I'm in an appliance store that supposedly has a bank in the back, none of them speak English (and my problems were too complicated to use my wonder Spanish). They find a TV salesman there that speaks English, I explain the phone problem, he takes me outside, walks up and down the street with me until he finds a particular phone booth (there are multiple street phone companies). Turns out only MexTel public phones will put through a US collect call. At 10 pm I end up successfully talking to my bank (now on the second night of this ordeal). They ask some questions to prove who I am, I say everything is fine, they have me confirm some transactions, yep, all mine, so dang it, turn me back on!! I've been using this ATM card in Baja for  4 months now, what triggered their heartburn all of a sudden? I immediately go to the closest ATM, it works! Next morning I try to go online to that bank, I'm still disabled there! I have to make another collect call to get that re-enabled. As I write this now, to the best of my knowledge, all these banking troubles are behind me now. I am so thankful for my families concern, help and support throughout this ordeal. You are all wonderful.

another Tecolote sunrise

I've previously mentioned the wild dogs in camp here. They are stand-offish, but seemingly friendly. And are kind of protective of the area. They start barking when strangers stroll thru camp or when campers dogs make trouble. And I've also previously written about the big troubles I've had with Mexican dogs viciously chasing me on my motorcycle. Well, sweet justice today. I was riding out of camp, the wild pack knows me and just kind of watches me leave. But a new RV had arrived the night before with a medium sized dog off lease, and this gringo dog goes after me with flashing teeth. The local wild dogs spring into action and attack the dog that was attacking me! I thought my God, these guys are protecting me. When I came back into camp later that night, that incident was the main topic of conversation. Turns out the gringo dog didn't get out of the situation to easily, lost lots of fur and had some nasty nips. Nobody else knew the whole situation, and blamed the "wild" dogs for bad manners. And so guess what? Next time I rode out of camp, that gringo dog didn't even raise an eyebrow, the locals taught him a good lesson.

It's been in the 70's the whole time I've been here, but can be a bit breezy. Fishing has been slow, but I did go out with a neighbor the other day. We caught 4 Sierra and 2 spotted bass. Kind of the shoulder season right now, the big game stuff isn't happening yet.
catch of the day

I have enough boon-docking capacity to last about 6-7 days w/o having to recharge batteries, refill water or dumps tanks. But I had to fire up the generator the other day, my batteries had gotten low enough that my fridge quit working. Then I see that the coach 110v (from generator) is fluctuating wildly, coming and going. Shut things off and start looking for the problem. I immediately find one lead at my 30 amp receptacle was burnt/melted, and unfix-able. While trying to figure out some sort of temporary bypass/repair, another neighbor comes over, we talk. Turns out he has one! And won't take any money for it. I'm fixed and working again in 15 minutes. Easy and cheap fix for what could have been a very serious problem.
yea I know, real interesting for the female readers

Balandra Beach, about 1 mile from where I'm camped. One of many white sandy beaches I pass on the way to town.
Balandra Beach

One day in town, some sort of activity is going on at the Malecon. I wander over, and it's some sort of X-Games type promotion going on. Lots of dirt bikes, jerseys, videos and models. Monster girls and other sports drinks, all very well represented (and eager to pose).
eager to pose

Bike problems again. This time a fuel leak at the gas tank petcock. Humm, no wonder I'm getting bad mileage back and forth to town. I'm not really sure, but I think I can tell where the leak is, but of course it is on the inside, can't see it well enough to be sure. I disassembled it all, look for bad gaskets and connections, all looks ok. Except I had to build a new gasket for the primary tank connection. Had to cut up a perfectly good spare inner tube, but that part worked fine. Reassembled, and still leaks. Drove RV to Home Depot (yes, they have one here), but some glue type stuff that claimed it worked an anything to do with automotive. It didn't. Then I found a neighbor with some old JBWeld, looked like it was going to work, set up nicely, rode around for an hour or so, still leaks, but much better. But I consider it unridable at this point. I might be able to afford the extra gas, but if enough of it dripped on the wrong place, my bike could turn into a napalm crotch rocket. So it's at the dealer now, we'll see what the local pros can do.

This picture is out my dinette window. Four PM and the window thermometer says 72. So at least I still have the weather going for me. Some neighbors have satellite TV, they tell me 46 of the 50 states have had snow in the last two weeks. Maybe I'm doing ok.
dirty window, but a nice daily view

1 comment:

  1. Glad all is working out well for you despite the problem with the phones. Never thought about the banks here getting nervous about "foreign" activity on the bank card. Glad to be aware of that.
    Your view is as usual beautiful.