San Antonio

The Changes Snowbirds Never See

It’s May in Ajijic. Most of the snowbirds have left for the summer, and many full-timers are escaping the warm weather by visiting friends and family in more temperate climes.

The snowbirds don’t all arrive and leave at the same time. The influx starts in November and builds to a crescendo after Christmas. I remember my first year here, walking into Ajijic’s plaza. It was teaming with northerners, many holding street maps and trying to figure out where to go. The Mexican presence seemed to diminish.

Likewise, the snowbirds start leaving in small numbers at the end of February, peaking around April first. Some stay around until May or longer. While they’re here, just like any “resort” area they inject a healthy amount of money into the economy, and contribute to countless charities that help the locals year-round. They spur the advent of numerous theater productions, concerts, and entertainment from up north which makes life more interesting.

However, snowbirds also contribute to traffic problems, long waiting times at restaurants and supermarket lines, and over-crowded dance floors.

Last year, I travelled to Boston, to take care of some business in early May. I missed the changes that are now taking place in this area. When several thousand people leave a small town, you can see and feel the changes. There’s a more relaxed atmosphere that makes most of the things you do easier, except maybe if you have to deal with the government bureaucracy. That never changes.

My feelings are mixed about the snowbird exodus from the Lakeside area. On the one hand, I enjoy having fewer people around. There’s more time for, and in some ways it’s easier, to build friendships. On the other hand, I miss many of the people I befriended over the winter. In a way, it’s sad when they leave – even though you know you’ll see many of them again next winter.

Summer in Ajijic reminds me of a time, many years ago, when I lived three blocks from Harvard Square in Massachusetts. Every mid-May, the Boston area experiences a mass migration, as tens of thousands of college students and graduates leave town. Harvard Square, for a few months was left to the locals and the tourists. Life was easier. Then, in mid-August, just like the swallows returning to Ajijic, the area bulges with young people, and frenetic activity.

So, for the snowbirds that have already headed home, and have never experienced life in Ajijic at this time of year, I’ve compiled a list of the things that change when you’re gone.

  1. Everyone left here breathes a collective sigh of relief and looks forward to calmer summer months
  2. Some of your favorite restaurants go on vacation and close for extended periods of time.
  3. Sadly some of your favorite restaurants and businesses close their doors forever
  4. New restaurants and businesses open and eagerly await your return
  5. You don’t need a reservation, most of the time, at most restaurants
  6. You can actually dance at Adelita’s
  7. The swallows return, have their babies, make a mess, and leave
  8. Rainbirds (Cicadas) hatch and spend a month driving us crazy with their insanely eerie wailing (See my blog post from last year)
  9. It gets really hot in the afternoons (try 90+F)
  10. Dust from the dry streets is everywhere until rainy season starts
  11. There are a lot fewer traffic jams
  12. You can actually move at the Ajijic Wednesday Tianguis
  13. Starting in June, it rains a lot (mostly late afternoon or evening)
  14. The trees on the mountainsides turn green
  15. Calle Colon often becomes a rushing river when it rains
  16. You find out where all the leaks are in your house
  17. There are fewer fundraisers
  18. The Mexicans return to the plaza (not just the Guadalajan’s on the weekend)
  19. Come about September, we look forward to your return, and the fun and craziness you bring.

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My 6 Favorite Posts and More

I’ve been writing this blog for a year. In the past year, I’ve posted 50 times. This post, my 51st, is taking a short break from my road trip series to share my favorites. I’ll re-commence my road trip on Tuesday.

First, I want to thank all the people who found my postings worthy enough to gain your “followship,” as well as all those who have left comments. I’m not the most timely responder, and will need to do a better job in the coming year. And, I appreciate any and everyone who has taken the time to stop by and read what I have to say.

There’s are some great posts buried in the archives, and If you are newcomer and are enjoying “Retired ‘n’ Single Blog,” you might never discover some of my favorites from ‘way back when. Here are the six I had the most fun writing (in no particular order):

Of Spiders, Dogs, and other Pets
Everybody who reads this post has a good chuckle before they’re finished. It prompted my ex-wife to comment that she thought I was losing my mind. Epilogue: Fred was so overtaken by his fame and loss of anonymity that he just left town one day never to be seen again.

Cat Woman
The Cat Woman is still up to her old tricks. Since it gets dark earlier, you can’t see her. But you can hear the sprinkle of Kitty Kibble as it lands on the roof, and a bevy of feasting felines scrambles for their dinner.

Up or Down?: Ruminating on Toilet Seats
Either you love this one or you hate it. Regardless, and despite risking alienation of the fairer sex, I had a good time writing it.

How to Launder Money
All in good fun! You can’t help but thinking what some spy at the IRS thought when the agency’s Web crawlers found this tongue-in-cheek “how-to” post.

25 Reasons Not to Retire to Lake Chapala
There are so many reasons why Lake Chapala is a great place to live. This blog post looks at 25 of them from the viewpoint of the glass being half-full. Bah humbug!

How I Survived the “Blizzard of 2015”
I had a lot of fun poking fun at the “hardships” up north in Boston. And this January storm was just the beginning! Reality struck home when I returned north 6 weeks later and reported my findings in “Changes in Latitudes…”

The blog post with the most views is a recent one, “Road Trip 1: Am I Crazy.” It was the first post after a long hiatus. I didn’t realize there was such a pent-up demand. I might have to take more long breaks to get my readership up!

It seems like a lot of people like when I post about food. Mexico is a very interesting place to discover amazing foods. If you’re adventurous, there are all sorts of tempting discoveries hidden in the shops, markets, and little restaurants here. As someone who likes to “play” in the kitchen, I’ve also shared some of my experiments, including recipes. Here are some food posts you might like:

⇒  Dinner from the Dredges of the Refrigerator (recipe included)
⇒  When the World Gives you Mushrooms (recipe included)
⇒  Beer and Tomato Juice
⇒  Feet, Ears, Skin – Tostadas Revisited
⇒  Wednesday Lunch – Tacos at The Tianguis (still my favorite Wednesday lunch)
⇒  Tostadas: Taming the Mess

Please let me know which of my posts were your favorites?

Heads – Americans Win; Tails – Mexicans Lose

The American dollar is “heading north” of 18 pesos (no pun intended). This is great for Americans living in Mexico. But, is it good for the Mexicans whose businesses we patronize?

Here’s just one example…

Hole-in-the-Wall Bakery

Hole-in-the-Wall Bakery

There’s a little hole-in-the-wall (really…see the picture) panaderia, or bakery, around the corner from where I live. Its proximity makes it difficult for me to stay on a diet. Six days a week, José Maria and his wife bake a selection of breads, rolls, and sweets. There’s plump bolillos (rolls), biscuits, donuts, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and cookies. They supply the little corner stores, abarrotes, in San Antonio. They also have a small shop in the front of the bakery where they sell at retail. There you can buy whatever is available for 4.5 pesos each (about $.25).

José Maria and I have briefly talked several times. Once I remarked about his large selection of items. He looked over his shelf and agreed. “Making them is the easy part,” he shared. “Selling them is difficult.” He’s a good baker, and his selection keeps growing. Once people discover his place, I can’t imagine that being a problem.

Since that conversation, I’ve seen him walking down the street to Jesus’ little store or Laura’s Superette with a tray piled high with baked goods. Or he might be driving his car to stores farther away with a pastry-filled back seat.

Last week I was curious about how the increase in the dollar was affecting him. I asked him about the ingredients he used. “Where do you get your wheat,” I asked him.

“About half of it comes from the United States,” he answered. The other half comes from Mexico. The stuff from Mexico is better,” he chided.

“So, have your prices for ingredients gone up,” I continued. His expression became more serious.

“They haven’t gone up yet,” he explained. “But they will.”

When you understand that his market is local working people, you realize why he’s concerned. 4.5 pesos doesn’t seem like much. However, a house cleaner makes only 50 pesos ($3) an hour. Laborers don’t make much more. There’s a guy who will wash your car while you shop up the street for 35-40 pesos. At some point, José Maria will have to raise his prices to keep up. And, his customers will have to pay more.

I wrote about the rise of the dollar back in December. Back then the dollar had appreciated 10.6% in the short time I was here. The recent exchange rate means that, in 11 months, the dollar has risen about 40%. Yikes!

I usually don’t pay much attention to the prices in the markets and stores. I eat out a lot, so I pay attention to menu prices. In December, I discussed the rise in the price of a steak at one restaurant that was tracking right along with the dollar. As its price increased in pesos, the cost of the steak stayed at $9.52US. This past spring, that same steak had risen from 119 pesos to 179 pesos, costing 50% more in pesos. Meanwhile, today that steak costs me $10.22 or about 7% more.

The restaurant appears to be doing well. There’s no shortage of middle class Mexicans frequenting it. Someone’s doing well in Mexico! While the Canadian dollar has been relatively stable against the peso, some Canadians I know are starting to complain. They buy their airplane tickets in U.S. dollars, some pay their rent in U.S. dollars, and it’s more expensive to buy a steak at that restaurant. It will be interesting to see if fewer Canadian snowbirds make the trek down here (and Florida too) this winter.

One thing is for sure. The dollar won’t stay up forever. You know what they say: What goes up…

If the doom-sayers are correct, the dollar may have a hard fall at some point in the not-so-distant future. Then the Americans among us down here on fixed incomes and meager savings will feel the pinch.

Until then, let them eat steak!

Up on the Roof

One of the things I like best about the house I’m living in is the mirador. A mirador is a rooftop deck that lets you see beyond the walls that surround most Mexican homes.

My mirador is spectacular. I have a 360 degree view of the mountains to the north and the lake to the south. Lake Chapala spreads out before me from east to west.

And sometimes, I even get to watch Cat Woman feed her feline friends.

Often, in the evening, I’ll go “up on the roof” and watch the sun go down with a brilliant flourish, and the stars rise in the ensuing darkness. Sometimes distant lightning will illuminate the sky across the lake. The evening sounds of San Antonio fill the air around me. And almost always, I’m reminded of the following lyrics…

“When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space

On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there, the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now

When I come home feeling tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet
I get away from the hustling crowds
And all that rat race noise down in the street

On the roof’s the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof

At night, the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me
I keep-a tellin’ you

Right smack dab in the middle of town
I found a paradise that’s trouble-proof
And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two up on the roof”

Thank you, Goffin Gerald and Carole King

Copyright: Screen Gems-emi Music Inc.

Buses and Mala Suerte

One of the smaller buses in traffic on the carraterra

One of the smaller buses in traffic on the carratera

Don’t ever stand at a bus stop with me. I am mala suerte – bad luck. The local buses generally run about every 5-10 minutes…EXCEPT when I need one! Either the bus is pulling away when I arrive at the bus stop, or I wait a long time before another one shows up.

Believe me. I don’t plan it this way. But it seems that it always happens. This is particularly true if I have some place important to go or am late for an appointment. I’ll wait and wait and wait. I think the buses must sense this and purposely go slow, or their drivers are clairvoyant and like sticking it to the antsy Gringo.

The Mexicans with whom I stand appear to take it all in stride. They know the bus will show up ahorita – eventually. And because there hasn’t been one in awhile, it will be packed to the gills.

I’m getting better about lowering my expectations and my anxiety level too. That’s because every day I live here I shed a little bit of my North American attitude. Pretty soon you realize that the people with whom you’re having those important meetings and appointments are either Mexicans or others who have already adopted a Mexican attitude.

15 minutes late? No problema!

Someone once said: “Life is about showing up.” They never qualified it with today, manana, or ahorita. My ex-wife, who lived in India for awhile, says that for the Indians it could be “the next lifetime.”

small bus SA

Small bus approaching the bus stop outside my house. On my way to Ajijic,

There are basically 3 types of buses here, and you can pretty much get to anywhere you want to go without hassle. There are the fancy Chapala Plus buses that travel directly into Guadalajara about which I wrote in a previous blog post. Then there are the big local buses that also go to Guadalajara, making multiple stops along the way. Finally there are the smaller buses that run between Chapala and Jocotepec. They run along the carratera too, but make side-trips into the villages of San Antonio along the way. They’re usually not as well appointed as the bigger buses, and you get bounced around quite a bit on the village streets.

inside small bus

This interior is rather luxurious for a small bus,,,new plastic seats. What a pleasure!

I never quite understood why there are different prices for the same trip on the different buses. But if I take one of the larger buses to go from San Antonio to Chapala, I pay 9 pesos. If I take a small bus, it’s 7 pesos. The seats may be cushioned in the larger bus (but not always) and usually plastic in the small buses (but not always). In a small bus, the driver usually wears a polo shirt (but not always) and the drivers of the larger buses where white buttoned-down shirts (I guess they appreciate that in Guadalajara). Go figure!

bus stop sign

The sign says: Bus Stop. Prohibited to put garbage here (it doesn’t stop anybody!)

I’m fortunate to have a parada – bus stop – right in front my house. The little buses rumble up the street after circumventing the plaza a block down the hill, and re-enter the carratera a block further up. With an aggressive driver, if you don’t take your seat quickly, you could find yourself tossed onto the lap of some unfortunate abuela and her bag of groceries.

All in all, however, the transportation system works pretty well here…for everyone but me and those poor souls who choose to stand next me waiting for the next bus.

Qué lo vaya bien!

Don’t Buy That House!

House for sale cheapWhat do you do when you see someone ready to make a huge, expensive mistake?

Do you try to warn them?

That’s what about 10 people tried unsuccessfully this past week. A couple had joined our Monday get-together group for dinner. The couple had been in Ajijic for the first time for only 3 days, and they wanted to buy a house.

“No!!! Don’t do that!!!” we all implored in a hopefully more persuasive way.

While I haven’t been here that long, most of us have heard the horror stories. While there are thousands of happy homeowners here, most of them, I’m sure, applied a more reasoned approach to their real estate purchase.

I live in a very enticing place. It’s a retirement “destination,” much the same way that Florida is for some, and Hilton Head is for others. People come to Lake Chapala to visit, and never go home.

Why?

  • Near perfect climate
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Comfortable life style
  • Lots of activities for every age and interest
  • A lower cost of living
  • Friendly people – expats and Mexicans
  • Relative personal safety – way better than [take your pick of any American city]
  • Excellent medical and dental care at a reasonable cost

Yes, there are negatives. But a 1-2 week visit isn’t enough time to find out about them. As I wrote about in a previous post, I came down for a 6 month test drive. I learned my lesson several years ago in Belize where I also took a test drive. 3 months in Belize was enough to tell me that it wasn’t a good place for me to retire. After 3 months at Lake Chapala, I knew that it was the place for me…at least for now.

However, one of the big negatives of this place right now is the real estate market. The prices are low by American standards. They are depressed because people want to sell, and no one is buying. When I looked this past weekend, there were 476 houses listed on Lake Chapala’s MLS (and not all realtors are members). They ranged from modest one bedroom condos to palatial estates.

So, let me tell you what happens when people who come down here to scope the place out for a week and haven’t thought things through or done their homework.

  • They meet lots of people (it’s real easy).
  • The weather is way better than where they came from.
  • A real estate agent sinks their teeth into them.
  • They do a few quick calculations, and figure they can save $XXXX a month living down here.
  • They become infatuated (love is too strong a word to categorize a fleeting fancy).

Retirement isn’t looking too bad.

When you combine this infatuation with a recently sold house stateside, a pocket full of cash sitting in a bank account that’s burning a hole in their pocket, and a north American attitude that believes renting is bad, it’s enough to make a real estate agent drool all over their preppy blouse and blazer.

You see real estate transactions down here are all cash, especially for foreigners. For the middle class, that means they’re tying up money they may need to live on or pay medical bills in the future. It can take years to sell a property. That’s when what you thought was an asset turns into a major liability.

That’s not all. Here are a few reasons why renting first is preferable when you are thinking of moving to a strange place:

  • Neighborhood: you don’t know which ones are good or bad; which ones have a higher incidence of petty crime or worse; which condo communities are having legal problems (there are several here); which ones have more blackouts, floods, poor Internet or telephone service, and other infrastructure problems.
  • Neighbors: the last thing you want is neighbors from hell having loud parties, playing loud music when you’re trying to sleep, barking dogs when you’re trying to sleep. Use your imagination.
  • Location and distance to services: how far are you from groceries, public transportation, and other services. You may bring down a car, but what’s your back-up plan?
  • Divorce: the stories are rife of couples who thought they had found paradise until one of them didn’t. One went back to the states and filed for divorce; the other stayed to live happily ever after in paradise. The chances are that many of those people didn’t have good marriages anyway. So, why get stuck with a house in Mexico.
  • Sickness: if you’re coming down here to retire, chances are you’ll get sick or need an operation before leave on your own or in a casket. Need extra cash to pay those bills? There are no second mortgages down here! We are living longer, so unless you’ve got tons of other assets to self-insure, why tie up the cash you may need at a later time to survive.
  • Death: Every country has its own laws about death, wills, disposal of the deceased’s assets, and death taxes. Death can be a major headache for surviving spouses and children, especially where real estate is involved. Most people don’t have a clue about those things when they first move to a foreign country.

Only time will tell how things play out for the infatuated newbie couple our group was trying to stop. I hope they both live happily ever after in a paradise of their choosing.

Meeting the Neighbors

smileyWhen I moved to San Antonio, it was from a Mexican-style suburban neighborhood where most of my neighbors were Gringos or middle class Mexicans. I only knew one of my neighbors. Most of them stayed behind their walls, and only venture forth in their cars.

My new home, San Antonio is a Mexican village, despite the fact that a lot of Gringos live here. I live on a street much like the ones I walked on in Ajijic where Mexicans mostly lived. My neighbors here are mostly Mexican. This fact has given me the opportunity to start conversations and practice Spanish.

My abode is two houses away from a family that sets up a “roadside’ taco stand outside their home in the evening.

Corner Taco, Enchilada, Quesadilla, and Sope Stand

Corner Taco, Enchilada, Quesadilla, and Sope Stand

It’s just the typical Mexican taco-cooking paraphernalia and a few tables and chairs in the street. This type of enterprise goes on all over. One of the first things I did after moving in was introduce myself to them.

Just around the corner, and over the backyard fence, so to speak, lives Geri, a hardy Gringa who just bought her house, and moved in the same weekend I did. She’s been busy busting up an old kitchen with a sledge hammer (it was all built with cinder blocks) to put in a modern one.

Geri's Backyard

Geri’s Backyard

She also has been trimming a big avocado tree in her yard, and planting a 20 foot palm tree. Other than dropping it in by helicopter, the tree needed to be brought through the front door of the house to the back yard. Geri’s an artist and she plans to install a fountain and, of course, paint the walls.

Well, this being Mexico, many neighborhoods are prone to losing electricity. Sometimes it lasts a few minutes, and sometimes it last for many hours. Spikes wreak havoc with American appliances. What I’ve recently learned is that appliances made for the Mexican market handle the irregular voltage found here – high and low – better than those made for the US.

In fairness, when I lived in Needham, Massachusetts, we had power outage 2-3 times a year. This went on for years. Most of the time, it was after a storm. Sometimes it would happen out-of-the-blue. You always knew the power had been out because you’d return home to find all the digital clocks blinking. The outages were always caused by the same transformer, and usually plunged hundreds of homes into darkness. First Boston Edison, and then Nstar must have thought that regularly dispatching repair trucks was more cost effective than actually fixing the problem.

Last Tuesday evening, I lost power. This never happened in my tony Ajijic neighborhood. When these “crises” occur, they provide an opportunity to form a bond with others in the same situation.

On Wednesday morning, I stuck my head out of my door to the street to see if anyone else had the same problem. That’s when I met my neighbor, Alejandro, who told me that he was informed that electricity would be restored “around” 10. He didn’t say whether that was a.m. or p.m.

Anyway, my encounter with Alejandro proved fruitful. About an hour later I was walking up the hill to catch a bus to Chapala, and Alejandro and his wife drove up and asked me if I needed a ride. They both work in Chapala. It was very nice of them, and it gave me a chance practice my Spanish and for them to correct me. Since many Gringos don’t make an effort to learn or speak Spanish, Mexicans are usually surprised and appreciative when they find a Gringo who does.

I got home to see a bucket truck at work around the corner. It was “around” 1 p.m. Everything was honky-dory until Friday night when we had a major storm roll through (more about that later). San Antonio was undergoing a week of revelry celebrating its patron saint (guess who?). The plaza had been transformed into an amusement park, and really awful bans played until 2 am every night. The only saving grace last Friday, was that the power outage affected the power to the loud speakers.

So Saturday morning, I’m trying to figure out what to do. Stepping out of my compound, I venture across the street, and introduce myself to Martin, the owner of a farmacia.

Martin" Farmacia

Martin’s Farmacia

He has power, and tries to find a number to call CFE, the electricity company. Every other utility in the area is listed except CFE. They probably know that half the population of San Antonio has food rotting in their refrigerators, so why bother with a couple thousand people calling in panic. Anyway this happens all the time.

So, after talking with Martin, I checked with the taco people. Yes, they had power. Up on my terrace, I accosted Geri who was having coffee and taking a break from swinging the sledge hammer. She didn’t have power either. Geri’s house is wedged between the taco family on one corner and a corner store, called an Abarrote, on the other. Geri told me that she had talked with the owner who said the problem would be fixed around 10 a.m.

Jesus behind the counter of his corner store

Jesus behind the counter of his corner store

So I take a walk around the corner and introduce myself to Jesus, the owner of the corner store. Jesus truly looked distraught. Because of the festival, this is probably one of the biggest weekends for beer sales (sort of Christmas season in June). What would he do without cold beer?

Around 3 p.m. the power goes back on. Can this really be true? How long will it last? So I hike over to Jesus’ store. The coolers are humming and Jesus has big grin.

I give him a thumbs up in universal sign language.

Escaping from the Automobile

It looks innocent enough.

Mr. Benz’s monster. It looks innocent enough.

For millions of years, homo sapiens, and their ancestors survived with four appendages – two arms and two legs. In 1885, Karl Benz invented the first automobile with an internal combustion engine. I’m sure he never expected it to become man’s fifth appendage attached at the rear-end.

While the automobile is a rarity in some parts of the world, until recently used mostly by privileged classes, in the United States it has become the equivalent of a fifth appendage, quickly being joined by a third ear called a cell phone. These are appliances anyone living in the U.S. these days can’t live without.

So, when going abroad for extended periods of time, Americans often find a unique opportunity to escape the clutches of their automobiles and take public transportation or use their feet as a mode of transportation. Since I already enjoyed walking, I have embraced the opportunity being car-less affords me.

Two years ago, when I wintered in Belize, I spent three month experiencing the joy of being car-less while my fifth appendage sat vestigial up-north. Lo and behold, I rediscovered walking – Walking in 90 degree temperatures; Walking in 90 percent humidity; Walking in the rain; Walking with the sweat gushing from every pore; Walking at night as a myriad of constellations and stars danced above; And yes, walking by the aquamarine bay at dawn as the brilliant golden sun rose over the horizon and thousands of birds sang their morning song.

When I decided to spend a winter at Lake Chapala, in Mexico, it was to be car-less again. Plenty of people bring their cars down here. But for 6 months, I knew I could tolerate a bit more exercise. Besides it’s relatively expensive to maintain a car here. If I needed to go beyond the confines of Ajijic and San Antonio, buses and taxis are cheap.

Most of us without cars spend a lot of time on-foot. Most car-less people down here claim to do 3-6 miles a day. And it’s not an easy 3-6 miles. You might as well be on a mountain trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire climbing over the remnants of the last glacier. The streets in Ajijic are built with what looks like granite stones. They are not the neat cubic cobblestones we have in the states. They are stones of various shapes that make walking in sandals quite tricky. Forget about high heels!

Sidewalks are not much better. There are curb-cuts for garages. There are steps on the hills which are easy to trip over or fall off. At your own risk, enjoy the gorgeous views of mountains to the north, the lake to the south, the colorfully painted walls and murals, and flowers bursting out everywhere.

Then there are concrete sidewalks, cobblestone sidewalks, sidewalks with tree stumps sticking up, and sidewalks with sleeping dogs sprawled across them. You literally risk life and limb if you let your eyes wander.

When I lived in Ajijic, on some days, I did the half-mile sojourn from my apartment to the town plaza 4-6 times a day – round trip. Most of the time I actually had something I wanted to do. But, other times either I forgot something – as us older folk are known to do – or I was the victim of the serendipity of Mexican store hours, and the establishment I wanted to visit on my first trip wasn’t open.

Other than the fact that I don’t have a choice, I really enjoy my walks. Now, for me, this has posed a rather pedestrian quandary regarding what one calls “a person who likes to walk” other than a happy walker. It seems that those of us who like to walk have been unfairly maligned.

You see, a person who likes things British is called an Anglophile. A person who likes things French is called a Francophile. A person who likes motion pictures is called a cinephile. The prefix “pedo” has its root in Latin as “relating to the foot.” It is used harmlessly as a prefix in pedometer, pedestrian and pedicure. But when you use it as a prefix, in any form before “phile” – pedi, pedo, pedia – it doesn’t work.

I recently read that Mexico deported a registered sex offender from the states as an undesirable person. Just because I like to walk, I wouldn’t want the Mexican authorities to think I’m an undesirable person. So what are us happy walkers to do?

Photo Attribution: “Patent-Motorwagen Nr.1 Benz 2” by DaimlerChrysler AG – Mediaseite der DaimlerChrysler AGfirst upload to de.wp: 15:48, 18. Dez. 2005 by de:User:Cete. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patent-Motorwagen_Nr.1_Benz_2.jpg#/media/File:Patent-Motorwagen_Nr.1_Benz_2.jpg