Lesson learned - a question of who to trust

Yesterday as I picked up a few essentials at Super Lake, bemoaning the fact that I had thirteen dollars left until my pensions come in at the end of the month and wondering how I was going to make it, and, yes, feeling sorry for myself, when I came out of the store I noticed a young girl standing just outside the entrance. She had a crude cardboard sign with English and Spanish scrawled on it saying "please help me. I need food for my baby".

It's a sad fact of life here that Mexicans are forced to beg. Kids are often trying to sell you something. Ladies sit outside places like Super Lake with a cup in their hands hoping you will give them a few pesos. The vast majority of Mexicans live in abject poverty.

As I came out I reached into my pocket and gave her the few coins I had planned for the bus. I couldn't carry what I had on the bus so I was going to need my driver to come and get me, something I could ill afford.

As I stood outside waiting for him I watched person after person just ignores this girl, not even returning the hello she said to them. They saw her sign but just walked by her. As usual with Super Lake, there were no locals coming out because they can't afford to shop there. I wondered if local folks would ignore a woman begging for food for her baby?

After a few minutes watching this I couldn't take it anymore. I asked her to come back to the store with me to get some food for her baby. I told her I was not a rich American so I couldn't get her very much but I would try. She got bread and some small jars of baby food and I treated her to some chocolate for herself. It was only a couple hundred pesos.

She was thrilled at this very small gesture. She told me her name was Melissa and she showed me a picture of her baby, Daniel Alexander. I gave her my card and told her that if she ever faced a day when she had no food to come to my place and I would feed her something. She couldn't stop smiling and even helped me with my groceries when my driver arrived.

My point in telling this story is simply to encourage you to give when you can, especially if you have more money than you need. The locals are an admirable, warm, proud people, happy with little but when someone like Melissa needs our help please give. It will make you feel very good, as it did for me.

As that old radio program used to say, "And now for the rest of the story." Oh, and this is a good one. If all you get out of it is how stupid I am, well, you are SO right.

First, Melissa called me yesterday and asked to meet me at Super Lake so I could buy her more food for her "baby". I told her it wouldn't be much because I don't have it to give her but I would buy some for her. I said I would be there around 3:30 and we agreed to meet. She wasn't there but called me later to tell me she was now at Super Lake and expected me to come back. I said no but told her if she came to my house I would give her a little money. Big mistake!

She showed up a while later with a friend in tow, no doubt because she didn't want to be alone with a man in his apartment, regardless of the fact that I could be her grandfather. So be it. I understood. I fed both of them. Her friend and I went out on the terrace to have a smoke and Melissa asked where my broom was because she was going to do some cleaning for me for the money I gave her. Nice, I thought. Then she said they had to go because her "baby" was sick. We said our goodbyes.

Oh, read on. This gets a lot juicier. A little while later her friend came back alone. Needless to say, I wondered why. I thought she might have forgotten something. She then tells me that Mellissa had shown her my diamond ring and said she was going to sell it! Sure enough, I checked and it was gone! This was the thanks I got for helping her?

We called the police who showed up fairly quickly. They took all the information and then told me to call Uber to take us to the Chapala police station where they would meet us and then go to Melissa's house together. When her friend and I arrived at the police station it was closed. No sight of the two officers that came to my apartment. An officer outside said we couldn't do anything more tonight and we had to come back in the morning.

I figured that my thousand dollar ring would be sold by then so I convinced her friend to go to her house and confront Melissa to give back my ring or she could deal with the police tomorrow. She didn't answer the door and when her friend called her on my driver's phone so she wouldn't recognize the number she hung up on her. Now the plan is to go to her house in the morning with her friend and the police to confront her to get my ring back. No doubt she has either sold the ring by then or will simply deny she stole it. The police believe her friend who Melissa was dumb enough to show the ring to and tell her she was going to sell it.

We gave her the chance tonight to just give my ring back and be done with it. No police. No charges. No possible jail time, but she refused.

The bad part of my story is how stupid I was to trust this girl. It turns out she has five children, all of whom have been taken away from her. For me, as dumb as I know I was to trust her and try to help her, the good part is that I know her friend could have simply gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, she came back to my place to tell me what happened and then she spent hours with me dealing with the police, going to Chapala, confronting Melissa, and now she's doing it all again tomorrow.

I have hesitated to name her until this is hopefully over and maybe I get my ring back, but she works at Super Lake and I hope to be able to disclose this amazingly honest girl's name so you can tell her she did the right thing when you see her.

I pray that tomorrow will bring a better ending to this story. Even if she hasn't already sold my ring and gives it back I don't know how things work here in Mexico. Will she still be charged with theft now that the police are involved? Do I have the right to stop her being charged if I get the ring back? Do I even want to? She's clearly a thief and I don't want her doing this to anyone else. I am trying to warn anyone who sees her begging at Super Lake to avoid her like the plague.

Live and learn.

Just when you think it can't get any worse....

After the police station was closed last night my driver, Salvador, suggested we go to the police station at 8:30 when it opened today. I handed my phone to her friend to make arrangements to pick her up this morning. When she hung up I asked what time he was picking her up and she said 8:00 o'clock. I asked if she had given him her address and she said yes.

This morning I'm anxiously waiting for them to show up at my place. It gets later and later and she has to be at work at Super Lake at 10:00 so I begin to panic. I text Salvador asking where they are? He calls and tells me he is in Chapala, knows nothing about picking her up and doesn't know where she lives. By now, with all this total screw-up, Melissa has had plenty of time to sell my ring. The police no doubt wonder where we are and drop the case.

A very bittersweet end and a huge loss for me. A thief gets away with it. and will no doubt do it again? For me, my trust is gone. Never again will I try to help a local. Expensive lesson learned.

A final note. Just when I thought Melissa's "friend" was so wonderfully honest and was being so helpful, she told me she worked at Super Lake and was working 10:00 until 2:00. My very confused driver, Salvador, and I went to Super Lake to see if Estafan could come with us to the police at 2:00 when she finished work.

Yup, you guessed it. She doesn't work at Super Lake. Although I am still absurdly confused as to why she came back to tell me that Melissa had stolen my ring, I guess she was in on it from the start. Maybe she came back to see if she could steal something else. I'll never understand all this. I'm out my ring and there's no hope I'll ever get it back And the little thief gets away with it.

If you are at Super Lake and see a girl holding a sign begging for food for her "baby" rip the sign out of her hands and tell her to scram!

For the death of me

Back in April of this year, after the love of my life, Elba, and I returned from what can only be described as a nightmare of a trip to Canada, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, I thought I was going to get to actually realize my dreams of life in Mexico. I could not have been more wrong.

Maybe I was blinded by love, or, like most men, just clueless, but I knew something was wrong the day we got back.

The plan for months had been to find a place to live together because they had increased the rent on where we were living by almost sixty percent and we could not afford that. We had looked at a couple of places before our trip but hadn’t found anything suitable for us. Elba had an apartment in Guadalajara which had turned into a nightmare for her when her ex-husband had not paid the mortgage as he had agreed to in the divorce agreement for twenty years! Not only that, but the minute he signed their divorce agreement he had divested himself of all assets, even including his cell phone. She had no chance of getting any money out of him.

Her original plan was to move in with me and give her apartment to her son, Kevin and his girlfriend, partly because in the divorce agreement the ownership of the apartment had gone to Kevin and her other son, Jonathan, with the agreement that she could live there. Making matters all the worse she had just spent twenty thousand pesos repairing her apartment from a water leak above her, for which she got no compensation from anyone. Now she learns that she owes over three hundred thousand pesos or she would be evicted. Even though it was a dump of a place in a very bad neighborhood I advised her to sell quickly, pay off the debt and move on. Instead she hired a lawyer at great expense to sue her ex. I told her she had zero chance of getting a dime out of him so not to waste her money on a lawyer. She paid no attention to me.

The day we got back the plan was to hurry up and find a place to live because we were out of La Floresta at the end of April. The first hints that something was wrong were two things. First, she told me she wasn’t coming back to Ajijic because she had yet another meeting with her lawyer the next morning. When I protested, again telling her she was wasting her time and money, she told me to go ahead and find a place on my own. I told her that I would never agree to rent a place that she hadn’t seen first. I guess it was our language difficulty because what she meant was to find a place literally “on my own”. The first sign that things were not as I believed.

She said she was still coming to Ajijic on Monday night with Jonathan, as usual, but she would be coming to our apartment early. I had gone to play pool with Jonathan as usual and when I came home she had some suitcases packed. When I asked why, she lied and told me that because we were going to get a smaller apartment she needed to get rid of some of her clothes and her many shoes. Made a little sense to me so I bought it.

That night at Adelita’s where we had met and spent so many wonderful nights for six months now, including the night people thought I had proposed to her when all I was doing was giving her a better ring, things were very different. Normally we sat together and were very affectionate with each other, kissing and hugging. It was why so many people said we were so much in love. It was nice.

This night, first she sat on the other side of the table from me, for the first time. Not good. Then when we danced, which wasn’t often that night, instead of laughing, smiling and dancing together better than anyone, she kept looking at the floor, not meeting eyes with me. Even when we went for a smoke, as only she and I did, and was how we first met, she said she was fine when I asked her if something was wrong. The capper was that I had assumed she was coming back to stay at our apartment so we could get to work finding a new place to live. Instead she told me she was going back to her place to, again, meet with her lawyer. This was the very first time I sensed she was lying to me, possibly about everything. In our hours and hours of talking about relationships she had always agreed that honesty was crucial, along with trust and unconditional love. I thought we had it all. She constantly told me she loved me and that she had never been happier in her entire life. I felt the same way.

Despite praying that none of this was true my senses told me otherwise. I knew something was very wrong but I had no clue what was going on. I had hoped that we were going to talk when she came back to our place after Adelita’s which didn’t happen. Then she sent me a text message that nearly destroyed me.

A simple text message, in Spanish, saying she was, ”terminating our relationship”. No explanation why. Naturally I called her, admittedly crying my eyes out, and asked her why was she doing this? I begged her to talk to me, hoping that there was just some misunderstanding that we could get past. She agreed to come and talk so I was hopeful.

Instead the next day she sent a series of very cruel text messages talking about age difference, our language difficulties and even my ED. Our age difference had never been an issue and we had talked for hours on end, only once and a while needing our translation on our phones when things got complicated. She had always understood my ED was a result of my diabetes and she had even come with me to the doctor who had discovered I had very low testosterone levels, for which he had prescribed medication. Despite my ED our sex life had been incredible. She was a typical passionate Latin woman and I never failed to satisfy her. Making our sex life even more magical was how much we loved each other. Now she refused to tell me why all of this suddenly meant nothing to her and refused to even talk to me.

She said she wanted to come and get the rest of her stuff and did say she wanted to talk to me to explain why she had ended our relationship, but there was no sign she wanted to make up, although she did say she might be making the biggest mistake of her life. I just couldn’t face the thought of watching her taking all her stuff and leaving me, so instead my friend Jack took me on a drive to the other side of the lake while Elba got all her things.

Soon I fell into the worst depression of my life. I couldn’t stop sobbing and crying. I had gone from feeling on top of the world because of how wonderful she treated me. How she always said how handsome I was when we got dressed to go out. How great it was when I cooked for her and we ate together. How everywhere we went was such a joy. How we lived together as happy man and wife. I remember going on this crazy ride at the Plaza which nearly killed us. It was so fast. Stopping at the top of the Ferris wheel, looking out over Ajijic. It was all so romantic. We had sat down on a bench at the Malecon one night and just sat there in silence, enjoying each other’s company. So much in love.

A huge part of our relationship had been her family. I knew Jonathan before I met her and he seemed very happy with me, even calling me his “new Dad”. At Christmas I went to Guadalajara and met her other son, Kevin and his girlfriend, Sarita. He also said he liked his new Dad. Over Christmas we had visited so many of her family, especially her mother who I was very nervous to meet, but she also told Elba she liked me, which was a huge relief. Her entire family, which was huge, all treated me so well. Her brother had even said “welcome to the family” when I met him.

A big part of meeting her family was my own family situation. I hadn’t spoken to my son and daughter in years. No idea why they cut me out of their lives. I have five grandchildren, four of whom I had never even met. I had lost both my parents and was feeling so very alone. Her family, especially Kevin and Jonathan, made me whole again. I was part of a new family now and I loved every minute of it. When we went to a family birthday a while later her sister, Gloria, chided her as to why we weren’t already married. I didn’t know that the culture here in Mexico was after you proposed you were supposed to get married right away. That had always been fine for me but Elba was never so sure. Now I saw why.

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Now that she had ended our relationship with a simple text message it was a very dark time for me. The worst of my life. I had faced challenges before but I was a fighter and always refused to let things get me down. Many people in my life, on learning what I had been through, expressed amazement that I was still hanging on and was so optimistic despite everything being so negative. For the first time I felt totally worthless and saw no point in going on. My thoughts turned to how I would end my life. I thought of swimming out in the lake, far enough that I could not make it back, but drowning seemed like a painful way to go. I started researching if an insulin overdose could kill me, but it was inconclusive.

Luckily, I guess at the time, two friends intervened when they learned how desperate I was. Don and Violeta. They both chatted with me online telling me that I wasn’t worthless and I had many friends who would miss me. They managed to convince me of the old adage that time heals all wounds and gave me hope. I only got over my severe depression thanks to them.
Fast forward to mid-October. Despite months of grief with my new idiot landlord, who refused to do much needed repairs, left me with no hot water for days on end and just made living here pure hell, I survived. It was difficult not being able to go to Adelita’s which had been such a big part of my social life, but I knew I could not face seeing Elba. That was made all the worse when she and Don hooked up. He had always told me that he had a thing for her but knew she loved me so he had stayed away from any thoughts of being with her. As soon as he learned she had broken up with me he moved in. Now the thought of seeing them together made going to Adelita’s even more impossible.

Not only Adelita’s was a problem. Everywhere I went in town just brought back memories of being with Elba, the wonderful times we had and the fact that it was all over now. Broke my heart. I wandered around on the verge of tears everywhere.

A new club had opened in town, The Spotlight Club, and I started working with the owner, Mark Rome, promoting the club by doing videos and taking photos of the bands that were playing there and posting them on my website. He was most appreciative and told me I was welcome in the club anytime. Although I didn’t get a table and spent all my time working, it was nice to get out of the apartment once in a while. One night when I wasn’t working I got to dance the whole night, something I hadn’t done in months.

Then yet another problem arose. When I came back in April I had managed to see my nurse and get six months of my critical diabetic medications. Now I was running out of them and had no clue how to get more. My blood sugar levels were hovering in dangerous territory at thirty, which put me at risk of a heart attack, stroke or lapsing into a diabetic coma. Because I live alone no one would find me until it was too late.

The final blow was when I learned I had only twenty-eight dollars in the bank and a lot of month still to go. I admit that I had lost track of my finances a little, with purchases from Amazon for stuff I needed, but also because of some fraudulent charges from my hosting company, who charged me to renew hosting on sites that were long dead and not to be renewed.

With everything piling in on me I was very depressed. About a month before this I had adopted my best buddy, Rollie, who was so much fun and had made me feel less alone. One fateful night I had been drinking far too much, something I never did, plus I hadn’t eaten all day. I was chatting with my friend, Christine, who sensed that I was in real trouble. She sent over a doctor and two of her colleagues who managed to talk me down. The doctor said she would get me financial help for food, even offering me to do some website work for them. When I told her they had threatened to take Rollie from me she said she would talk to them and make them understand that this would be the worst time to take him from me.

The next morning, without warning, they came and took him from me. It broke my heart. The doctor who had made so many promises suddenly disappeared on me so there went the help. Thanks to Christine I got a call from John Kelly, the President of the Canadian Legion here in Chapala. We had a long talk in which he offered to take me to what’s called Seguro Popular where I could get my meds. We also talked about them giving me a loan to help me through these tough times. I had some renewed hope thanks to him.

John took me to their office in Chapala to apply; however, I didn’t know that they wanted everything but your first born child to apply. I didn’t even take my passport, so the trip was a waste. We did get a list of what they needed so I spent the next few days copying all the documents they wanted. That first day we went to their office I had met a guy who helps people apply. He picked me up and off we went to the office again. Although we got through the application process there was no doctor available to see me. He said he would go there first thing in the morning to see if he could get me an appointment.

A couple of days later he phoned me in a bit of a panic to say a doctor could see me that day. We arrived at about nine in the morning and he left me there to check-in. It turned out my appointment wasn’t until noon so I wandered off to get a coffee somewhere. When I came back for my appointment the doctor took one look at my list of medications and said they couldn’t help me. Came as quite the shock, of course.

So now I faced having no medications critical to my health. I have been trying desperately to get my medications renewed in Canada, which will need the help of my nurse who has to agree to renew my prescriptions without seeing me, of course. A friend back in Canada has offered to pick them up for me and ship them to me. A lot to ask but it is my only option other than dying.
Even if I somehow solve my dilemma with my meds I face yet another challenge soon. This month I went through hell when two of my pensions were not deposited on time. Umpteen emails back and forth with my MP and my bank manager and I finally got them, just in time or I would have starved. This brought to light the fact that I will soon lose what’s called the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) which is the pension you receive when your standard government pensions aren’t considered enough to live on. The problem is that it stops after you have been out of the country more than six months, which I have. The GIS is almost five hundred dollars a month, or about a third of my limited income, so surviving without it is almost impossible. My pensions are in the lowly Canadian dollar so what I get is tough enough to live on, let alone when I lose the GIS.

So, here’s a recap of my current situation.

  • If I can’t get my meds from Canada it will all be academic because I will die. Even if by some miracle I do manage to get them renewed this time I will face the same situation again in six months,
  • Due to my current health situation I have been too disabled to go anywhere. My peripheral neuropathy in my feet makes walking so painful. Without my meds to control my blood sugars this is only going to get worse,
  • When I faced all this depression I posted for some help on Facebook. The result was a slew of attacks, like “suck it up”, “stop whining”, “stop posting” and “grow up”. People obviously don’t have a clue how their cruel comments hurt someone who is already suicidal,
  • The website business I have worked so hard on for a year and a half has so far not earned me a dime and just recently I barely managed to pay for hosting. When I first came back in April I knew that I would be losing one of my pensions in six months, so I hoped to replace this with advertising revenue from my website.

To get paying clients I always knew that I needed someone to call on potential clients. My Spanish isn’t good enough for that so I have been trying to find someone to work with me. Elba was going to be my Sales Director but all that fell apart when she dumped me. To date I have interviewed seven women, none of whom have understood the opportunity to make a lot of money.

  • Before I left Canada they had discovered a bone spur in my right shoulder, probably because of my decades of playing tennis, squash and racquetball. The specialist in Belleville gave me a cortisone shot, hoping to avoid surgery, but it did nothing. Given the short time I had before leaving for Mexico and the lengthy delays for surgery I couldn’t do anything before leaving. I hoped that this type of surgery was cheap here and I could get it done. Quite obviously there hasn’t been any money for surgery so I still suffer with the pain.
  • Although things have gotten a little better with my apartment, after months of pure hell, with no hot water for days on end, an infestation of ants and cockroaches, no electricity, no internet, no repairs done for months until I threatened not to pay the rent and dealing with an asshole landlord, full of excuses and telling me this wasn’t a “hotel”. Now the manager of the new restaurant, which is being converted from the main part of the house, has proven to be more helpful than my landlord, but my lease is up at the end of April. The new manager has already asked me if I would be agreeable to paying eight thousand a month instead of the current five thousand, so I may well be out of here. Right now it is virtually impossible to find an affordable apartment anywhere in the area. Someone suggested a room in Chapala but it was $450 USD a month just for a room. Not possible, especially after I have lost the GIS. I may well end up homeless.
  • Not being one to give up easily I tried to start a fund raising campaign, first to help with my urgent needs. Not only my meds but I also have about forty thousand pesos in urgent dental work I need. Back in Canada I lost a crown I’d had for thirty years and they wanted a thousand dollars to replace it. Cheaper here but still a lot of money I don’t have.

My goal was to raise a hundred million dollars. Maybe sounds absurd but I had seen so many posts on Facebook that had been viewed by sixty and seventy million people, many of whom had commented. I wondered if those same people were asked to donate just a single dollar would anyone respond. It was worth a try.

Mexico is a great country but there are so many needs, from education to housing to clean water to good paying jobs. I had shared a lot of ideas with my former good friend, Jack, about things like building a solar panel manufacturing plant, hydroponics and building social housing. If I did manage to actually raise a hundred million dollars just think what I could do for the people here. It was dream.

After spending hours developing my campaign on GoFundMe I learned that their minimum donation was five dollars, so there went all that work down the drain. I connected with yet another fund raising site, Ketto, who turned out to be an equal disaster. After again submitting my campaign details they rejected the campaign because, believe it or not, the “recipient was not an Indian”. Seriously?

Still not willing to give up I’ve been designing my own website, called, surprisingly enough, justadollar.com.mx. The site is almost ready, but as is typical in Riberas where I live, we haven’t had internet for two days now, so the site is not finished. I have no idea how I am going to market the site but I’m hoping that friends around the world will have enough faith in me to get the ball rolling by donating just a dollar. I hope that as soon as people see that others are donating that they will jump on board. Who knows? I can only try at this point.

  • In terms of emotional happiness, despite the tragedy of Elba I am still a hopeless romantic and always have been. It took me several months to even start getting over Elba, which was made all the worse because she refused to answer me when I texted her about anything, at one point telling me to “just disappear from her life”. Nice. More war wounds thanks to her cruelty. There are so many gorgeous women here in Mexico. It’s hard to ignore them. One day when I was walking Rollie I saw this absolute vision of a woman coming towards us. Thanks mostly to Rollie we got to chatting. Before long I had asked her she liked to dance and when she said she did I asked her if she wanted to come to Adelita’s the following Monday. To my considerable surprise she agreed. We had a great night together dancing and soon I hoped for more, but it was not to be. She just wanted to be the dreaded “friends”.

Probably because I am hardly what you would call good company in the state I’m in, both physically and mentally, I haven’t found that special woman. I’ve come close chatting with some women on Facebook but it never gets to meeting each other. Without a special woman, or a special dog anymore either, to share my life I am one lonely guy. In my whole life I’ve never once enjoyed living alone and it’s no different now, despite all the romance challenges.

  • As has been discussed a lot lately on Facebook the Christmas season is a particularly tough time for people who are alone. Many have strong and emotional memories of previous seasons spent with, most importantly, family, and friends. I remember many a Christmas dinner when someone would invite a friend who was going to be alone on Christmas. I’m sure they appreciated it a great deal. Who knows? Maybe some of them managed to avoid the suicidal thoughts so prevalent on this, the worst day of the year for suicides.
    I know all too well how this feels. Even in Panama and Ecuador I had never been alone on Christmas. Last year of course I spent Christmas with Elba’s entire family so it was wonderful. They were all my new family and made the Christmas season so very special.

I had also been planning and shopping for weeks to get Elba special and meaningful Christmas gifts. Let’s just say I burned my credit card badly. I got her an Amazon Fire HD 10 which had only just came out in the US and would not be available in Mexico probably for years. I got her a beautiful purse at LCS. I got her a new gold colored case for her cell phone and a personalized case for it, with Elba monogrammed on it. I got her some beautiful jewelry showing just how much I loved her. I got her a gorgeous long dress to wear on New Year’s. I also got her a special little gift I can’t disclose other than to say I bought it at El Dildoria. I’m sure you can figure out what it was. I also bought her a silver scorpion anklet. She loved everything, although she ended up returning her engagement ring, her watch and a bunch of the jewelry when she dumped me. She kept the tablet, the cell phone case and the anklet.

[ngg src="galleries" ids="4" display="basic_thumbnail"]So, this year I am truly alone. For whatever reasons I’ve lost most of the friends I made here. Jack, who I lived above at La Floresta and who spent a lot time with Elba and I with morning coffee and late night drinks, attacked me brutally on Facebook after I posted something on my personal website, garycjones.ca, which I’ve had for ten years. It’s a diary of sorts, done mostly if my family ever showed any interest in me. He told me to “stop f*cking posting” as though I was suddenly somehow accountable to him now for my own website. Such arrogance! After I told him I was never going to answer to him that was the end of our friendship. I’ve had to block him on Facebook because of the mean things he continued to post.

The same thing happened with my dear friend, Francis. I met him over the internet before I even came here and he was instrumental in getting me the apartment in La Floresta. He went over and met my landlord, toured the place and took photos for me. More importantly he recommended I take the place and make a deposit, which I did. When I arrived and saw the place I was even more impressed with it. I could not have been happier with everything at that point.

Over the course of the next few months Francis and his wife, Anastasia, took me everywhere, introducing me to a host of people who would become good friends. I thought. Francis started giving me advice about my websites which was welcomed since he had been here since 2010, but he treated me like I hadn’t been building websites for some thirty years or hadn’t launched city portal sites before in both Panama and Ecuador. He had never built a website, ever. I’ll never know what I said or did but he sent me an email saying that he was “done with me. Period”. I haven’t spoken to him since and he stopped sending me his weekly newsletter to post on my site. If you check out my site you’ll see that I have created my own events calendar, called Encore, plus I have a section called Ajijic Now devoted to promotion of local clubs and bands. I built it when I started working with Mark of The Spotlight Club. It was going very well until my health prevented me from going out to the venues. This year I missed the entire fiesta season that I so thoroughly enjoyed last year.

Some folks have suggested returning to Canada to get my meds. Although, yes, that would solve that problem, there are a host of reasons I can’t do that. First and foremost I can’t pay for my flights, obviously. Second, I have nowhere to live. I overstayed my welcome at the group home, so that’s not an option. Third, although yet another long story, I no longer have my laptop computer. I now have a desktop computer and large monitor which I obviously couldn’t take with me. Assuming I’m coming back I would need to leave it here and do without a computer while I was in Canada.

The biggest issue with this is whether or not I plan to come back to Mexico. Even with everything that’s going on I would hate to give up on my dream of living out my life in Mexico. I just have too much invested in living here. My business would be gone and I know, despite the many challenges, I would forever regret leaving Mexico.

With the dreaded Christmas season fast approaching the thoughts of major depression are front and center. As hard as I try to find a glimmer of hope in anything I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Bad as things are right now I think that they are only going to get even worse.

Back in October things were so bad that I wrote up an agreement with my friend, Christine, at the time to dispose of all my things. Knowing what an asshole my landlord was I also wrote up an inventory list of the things that were mine to avoid any problems for Christine. Eventually he signed it without even looking at it and I don’t trust him. Depending on how I go, whether because of my health or intentionally, I can see him locking the doors and claiming everything here is his. True to the way my life has been Christine has joined the chorus of people who’ve dropped me and I haven’t heard from her in weeks. My friends from Canada, Arnie and Barb, who are about the only ones I have left here, have agreed to handle things in the event of my demise.

One invaluable lesson I’ve learned through all of this is that all those posts on Facebook about who your true friends are and who are not has become painfully clear to me. People I honestly believed were good friends who would support me instead either attacked me or just ignored me. Virtually no one, with the exception of a couple of friends back in BC who wished me well, showed one iota of concern that I was going to end my life. Not one. Some folks on Facebook who I had never met were more supportive, telling me not to give up.

Family were non-existent, of course. My son, Chris, had blocked me on Facebook years ago, for whatever reason. My daughter, Heather, hasn’t spoken to me in twenty-five years so I highly doubt she bothers to follow me on Facebook or my personal site. Only my darling Mackenzie, one of my son’s daughters have ever had anything to do with me and even she didn’t seem to care. My other son, Andrew, originally promised to send me a photo of him and Chris for a page I was doing on family, but he dropped me just as fast. I don’t know if he has ever read anything on my site about his mother or him. I doubt it.

Okay, so I’m gone. Who gives a rat’s ass? In all honesty I think it will be that old adage if you think you will be missed stick your finger in a bucket of water then pull it out and see what difference it makes. There you go. Nothing. Like most people I’ve always wanted to make a mark in my life and do something to make the world a better place. Not a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs kind of thing. Just something to be remembered by.

At many stages in my life I thought I had finally discovered it. Decades ago I invented what today we call the “cloud”. I had assembled a group of very important partners who all agreed to the concept and were willing to invest heavily in it, but we needed Microsoft to be part of the plan. They refused, destroying the entire idea. Naturally years later they announced the exact concept I had proposed to them. My ship had sailed without me.

Throughout my life I’ve always worked very hard and had lots of really good business ideas. Many people have said I was always just too far ahead of my time. That proved to be very true when many of my ideas became reality years later, such as the cloud. I can only imagine how different my life would be today if I had made millions off these ideas at the time. All I know is that I sure would not be in the mess I’m in today, consumed with thoughts of ending it all just to relieve the pain I’m in. Maybe with all that money I wold have just had other issues but I highly doubt that having money would have turned to thoughts of ending it all.

So, what will Christmas Day bring? I’ve realized I’m too much of a coward to swim out in the lake or jump in front of a bus. With my luck someone would rescue me in the lake or the bus wouldn’t kill me and just put me in traction in a hospital I can’t afford. No guarantees with either. My thoughts right now are to tell the pharmacist I am having trouble sleeping and get some pills. You don’t need to see a doctor here to get medicines other than opioids, so that might work. At least I get to decide when and how I go. Peacefully.

Unless something changes dramatically in the next few days to give me hope I don’t see any other options. I’ve been working furiously on my fund raising site, www.JustADollar.com.mx, in the hopes that people will donate, literally, just a dollar to save me and allow me to go on. Here’s hoping that works.





THE END, literally.

Beyond Frustrating!

Our trip to Canada has taught me a new lesson - some people are just too stupid to deal with!

First, my least favorite airline in the world, AeroMexico. After months of fighting with them, filing complaint after complaint, all of which were ignored, they did us in. The agent in Guadalajara took our passports, our boarding passes, which I had printed out before we left, and my tourist visa. Elba and I were talking and not paying much attention to him. He handed our passports back to us. Only when we headed for the gate did we realize he failed to give us back our boarding passes. We raced back to the luggage check-in where they searched everywhere for our boarding passes, finally finding them. Off we went to board our flight.

Our first flight was to Mexico City and then on to Toronto. When we went to board the agent would not let me on because I didn't have my tourist visa to surrender. I had to race to Immigration to get a new visa (535 pesos); but they only accept pesos. I had changed what pesos I had to Canadian dollars for our trip. Off I raced to the exchange to get pesos again, then back to immigration and finally doing my best O.J. Simpson run back to the gate, only to watch our plane pulling away.

We went to the AeroMexico.ticket office where they informed us that we had to pay another 19,000 pesos to catch a later flight. They also had only one seat left on the flight. I blew a gasket when Elba suggested she would fly back to Guadalajara and I would go on alone. Not a chance! I finally found a wonderful supervisor, Erica, who arranged for us to fly at the same price we had paid, plus she put us on standby for the 1:00 a.m. flight. We spent the next several hours praying that we would get on the plane. After everyone else was on the plane they called us and not only got us on the plane; they got us sitting together! Relief.

We were now arriving very late for the train to Belleville, which we had paid for and tickets were non-refundable. A very nice agent arranged for us to catch a later train at no extra cost. One of the good guys and not one of the stupid people.

When we finally arrived at the hotel we ended up dealing with the most offensive, ignorant, confrontational manager. It made our stay intolerable. At one point when we desperately needed our credit card in Toronto, he had processed four hundred dollars in new charges to our credit card without notice. We kept getting declined at places like McDonald's because I had four dollars of credit left thanks to him.

I had tried to reactivate my Canadian telephone but had lost my SIM card. Chatr Wireless told me to go to any 7-11 and buy a new SIM card for $10. We found a 7-11 in Toronto and asked for a SIM card for Chatr Wireless. No problem, well, except that the stupid person I dealt with gave me a SIM card for a 7-11 phone, not Chatr. Never did get my reserved Canadian number back.

We needed a courier envelope for my passport and visa to be returned to our hotel on Friday or I would not be able to fly back to Mexico. We went to the Purolator office on Yonge Street and asked for a next day delivery envelope. They didn't have any, but told us to go down the street to the Shoppers Drug Mart to buy one. I clearly told the agent there that I needed a next day Purolator envelope. I paid him and left the envelope with the lady at the consulate.

Thursday she emailed me telling me that the package would be ready at 4:30; but then asked me what she was supposed to do with the Canada Post envelope I left with her! That led to an unbelievable back and forth with her and Purolator trying to get the right shipment organized. I finally got a simple email from the consulate saying that "the envelope is gone". That led to total panic thinking I might not get my passport back in time and would not be able to fly.

Friday late morning Purolator showed up with my treasured envelope. Thank you, God!

Now we just need the taxi to show up on time. The train to run on time to Toronto. The UP shuttle to run on time to the airport. AeroMexico not to again screw up our flights back. Hopefully we'll arrive back in Guadalajara tomorrow morning to be picked up by our good friend, Jack. No more stupid people!



Reflections. Too trusting or too stupid?

As yet another year draws to a close it's time to reflect on life so far and try to improve in the future. In reacting to some of the truly bad things that have happened to me many people have said that I am just too trusting. Although that may well be true I think trust is an interesting issue. I have always believed that trust must be earned, but the other aspect of this is do you not trust new situations because of someone else's abuse of your trust? For me this usually revolves around money and to me it's simple. If you ask to borrow twenty dollars do I refuse because of the people who previously never paid me back? Is that fair to you to punish you for the actions of others? I don't think so. You earn my trust by paying me back because that means I will always lend you money if I can. Burn me once and, no, you will never get to burn me twice. I've learned that you can't be trusted.

It also depends on the circumstances and whether or not it was intentional. For example, a good friend of mine, who at the time was very drunk at the Corral, asked to borrow twenty dollars, obviously to buy even more alcohol that she didn't need. If I refused based on how drunk she was then I am passing judgement on her which is not my place. I gave her the twenty dollars hoping that she would use it for a taxi ride home, which she did. What she forgot was who gave her the money to take the cab. She never paid me back.

Another time my very best buddy asked to borrow fifty dollars because he had to go to a hospital in Vancouver to check out problems he was having with his heart. I was worried I might not ever see him again so obviously I gave him the money. Thankfully he returned to Kelowna and he was fine, but he never paid me back either. Do you hold something as small as fifty dollars against a friendship of years? No. Again, based on these kinds of experiences do you then refuse to lend any money to other people? I don't believe that's fair. Everyone deserves a chance to either earn your trust or lose it.

When I questioned my in-laws somewhat strained relationship with my mother's sister and her husband I learned that they had loaned them nine thousand dollars for some project and had never been repaid. I wondered how they could ever socialize without this subject coming up but that was their decision and they had to live with it. They're all gone now so hopefully they aren't arguing about it in heaven.

Sometimes it doesn't directly involve lending or borrowing money. It's more a case of morality. When we were ready to sell our first house we contacted a Realtor at what was then Canada Trust, a company my father had worked with for years before. We weren't thrilled with his performance on marketing or showing our home and figured we would not renew the contract with him. Just before the listing was about to expire he approached us to buy the property himself, excluding his company in the process. I asked him what would happen if his company found out the property was sold and we didn't pay them their commission and he told me not to worry about it. I did worry and refused to accept the deal. I also wrote to the manager of the company telling him what had happened. Sometime later this guy was charged with fraud and lost his license. Good thing he didn't take me down with him.

As I grew older I learned to trust people a lot less and ask more questions. I guess I should have included family in that. My brother from BC showed up at our door one day, needing a place to stay. We happened to have an extra bedroom downstairs so we let him stay with us, much to my ex-wife's chagrin. He started having questionable women stay overnight, which was hard to explain to our kids. After a couple of months living on our dime I suggested he needed to get a job if he was going to stay in Brampton. He did find a job, surprisingly at his age, but he needed transportation to get there. Again much against my ex-wife's wishes I co-signed for a loan for a motorcycle for him. Sixteen hundred dollars. No sooner had he supposedly gone to work for a couple of days then he took off back to BC, taking the motorcycle and sticking me with the loan. We had borrowed the money from our local bank, who also held our mortgage, so there was no question that we had to repay the loan. Thanks bro!

My twenty-three year marriage was never great for many reasons. More than once we talked about splitting up but I could never do it because of the kids, which was another huge mistake on my part. I should have left long ago, like maybe a year into it. Any time the subject came up, usually in an argument, my ex always agreed that it would be a fifty/fifty split. I was never overly thrilled by this because she had never lifted a finger to help in any way with all the renovations I did on all of our houses. I had single-handedly increased our original one hundred dollar investment in our first home to around a hundred thousand dollars, all by extensive renovations and smart buying and selling. After I had finally had enough and moved out I still paid for everything for the house for almost a year because my ex chose to sit on her ass not even looking for a job. When I had asked her about her employment insurance she said she still had the reporting card in her purse, SIX MONTHS after she left her job. I was done being abused.

When she finally realized I was serious and not coming home she suddenly changed her tune. No more fifty/fifty. Now because she knew I hated lawyers and would never waste money on them she played the guilt card. She needed the money to "support our daughter". After a lot of back and forth, none of it good, I got to keep my last paycheque and she got everything else. Not only did she get all the money I had earned over the years she also took all of my Rosemond prints that I had been collecting for twenty years and she took the thirty-five Charlie Brown books I had also collected. She had never even opened one and never understood the humor anyway. So much for trust, even with someone you've been married to for twenty-three years!

Okay, so now I'm finally free. I can think only of myself and my kids. My dear mother had been diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma and given less than six months to live. Her and my Dad had moved out west in 1970 and I hadn't seen them very much in more than twenty years. I decided that I had to spend whatever time she had left with her so I went out west in 1993. Along with my clothes and a few things I took my very expensive DJ system thinking that I might be able to setup a DJ service in Kelowna. I had made hundreds of tapes, yes, tapes, of every kind of music imaginable so it was an idea. When it turned out that I needed the money more than the equipment I talked to a guy who owned a music store, Musicplex, in Bolton, Ontario. I think he had sold me the tower speakers or the mixing board. Don't remember. He said he would sell it for me for three thousand dollars with a ten percent commission which sounded reasonable. I also missed my daughter and wanted to see her so I called her and she was excited to be going to see me. So in the middle of January, in the depth of winter, off I go travelling across the country taking my life in my hands. It was no fun.

After I dropped the system in Bolton I went to Brampton to see my daughter. I never saw her but that's another story not really related to the trust issue. The gist of the story here is that the bugger sold my system and never paid me a dime. So much for that trust issue.

There were certainly trust issues in my fourteen years spent in the Okanagan. Some small. Some large. One that comes to mind is about family again, my sister. After my Dad passed away in May of 2005 I was the only one who volunteered to care for mum who had advanced Alzheimer's and could not be left alone. Caring for her was the hardest thing I've done in my life. It was not made any easier by my brother and sister being completely useless at helping me. Neither of them ever understood what caring for someone with this disease is like.

The only break I ever got was when her caregiver would come for four hours during the week. This allowed me to go shopping for food and run any errands, but it never gave me my own life back. The only time I ever left mum alone was to go and do some paid work for a friend. A neighbor called me saying that she found mum wandering around the neighborhood without a coat on looking for me. I rushed home and found the front door wide open.

So Christmas was approaching and I knew this was going to be tough for mum without Dad. I had also been invited by my then girlfriend, Sylvie, to spend Christmas with her. My sister said they needed to celebrate Christmas a day ahead of the twenty-fifth, which I wasn't crazy about, but I went along with her knowing that I was going to get away for a few days, something I desperately needed to do. They actually showed up a day even earlier than planned and informed me we were doing our gifts now. When I asked why she said they had to get up early the next morning because they were going to Vegas for a week! So much for my planned break from caring for mum. Did I trust anything my sister said after that? Not a chance. She made things even worse when she took mum out of a care facility I had taken me nine months to get her into and put her in an assisted living place in Revelstoke. She drove them nuts there because they were not equipped to handle someone like mum. At one point she was found wandering around Revelstoke with no coat on. Luckily someone knew she was my sister's mum and took her to her store.

The next one doesn't involve trusting a person per say but more trusting that something will go as planned. When I moved to Panama I sold most of my things, like tools and furniture, but I was left with a lot of personal things, five bins full, in fact, that I didn't want to part with. I left them with a good buddy, thinking that I would have them shipped when I got settled in Panama. A couple of months later my buddy phones me to tell me that his mother's place had been broken into and all my stuff was gone, most of it not replaceable.

When I made the plan to go to Panama, partly because I had not been able to sell my house, I offered to let my former electrician stay in my place for just the pad rent. He and his wife had split so he needed a place to stay. Before I left I made a point of warning him about the roof. Although I had reinforced it wherever I could and put on a new coating to waterproof it better, it was a roof on a mobile which can't handle a heavy snow load. My Dad had shoveled the snow off their mobile's roof for thirty-five years. Sure enough my buddy calls me to tell me that this guy had paid no attention to the roof and it had caved in under a heavy snow load. It would cost at least twenty thousand dollars to replace it. So much for trusting him.

In doing my research about Panama I had made contact with a very attractive girl who offered to help me with relocating to Boquete. After a couple of weeks talking to her online she said that her mum and dad owned a small house that might be good for me. She said she would talk to them to get me a good rental rate. She came back at three hundred dollars which I thought was good based on the photos I had seen of the place. I sent her the three hundred US dollars to hold the place for the day I arrived. Big mistake!

After a harrowing trip only because my first plan was to drive but they wouldn't let me in at the border so I had to go back home, sell my car and get a flight to Panama instead, I landed in Boquete. I met up with her and went to the house, which turned out to be a disaster. It didn't have a fridge which she knew I needed because of my insulin, so I had to spend three hundred bucks to get a fridge. Then there's no hot water, which I also told her I needed. I had to buy an instant on hot water heater and pay to have it installed, all on my nickel. Then I came home to find the house in darkness, the only one on the street. I learned that not only am I supposed to pay the electric, which was supposed to be included in the rent, but I am to pay for the previous tenant's bill! I also learn from a neighbor that the previous tenant was paying one hundred and twenty-five dollars rent, not three hundred! So much for trust.

Why was I forced to come back to Canada? Well, here's a trust lesson for you. I've gone into great detail on how I was ripped off by a girl who worked for me and for whose family I gave shelter to so that they wouldn't be homeless, so I won't go over it all again. Save to say that she ripped me off for my brand new cell phone, my brand new camera, all the things that belonged in the penthouse I had let them stay in, told the police that I was in the country illegally, that I was a drug dealer and that I had raped her, all of which came far too close to me spending the rest of my life in a Panamanian prison.

The next trust issue was in a relationship. I have always felt that the two most important factors in a good relationship are respect and trust. Without those you have nothing. I am the first to admit that I am a hopeless romantic so I am often less cautious than I should be. I also believe in love at first sight which can be even more dangerous.

While I was staying at my cousin's place in Toronto I met a girl on an internet site. We ended up talking for hours on end, even at one point for the whole day while she was at work and her boss was away. She was married but very unhappily, in fact she had left him for several months earlier but gone back which she regretted. She wanted to meet so she came to Toronto. For me it was love at first sight. No question. She was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I ended up moving to London to be with her.

Long story but it was a challenging relationship. Although I had eventually met her daughter, Emily, who I loved like my own, she didn't want me to meet her older son and daughter, which I always had trouble with. Something wasn't right. Finally she lied to me about going to visit a niece in Toronto when she had actually flown to Ottawa to spend the week-end with yet another guy she had met on the internet. Broke my heart. I swore I would never trust another woman, certainly not with my heart.

On to the whole Ecuador thing. Although I did a ton of research before making the decision to go, the biggest factor was the advice of my dear friend, Heather. We talked for hours about all the pros and cons and it basically came down to her saying I was basically "molding" in London, waiting for my kids to change their opinions and contact me, which might never happen, or just to die. She said if I didn't go I might spend the rest of my life regretting not going, which was very true. So off I went.

There were enough trust issues in Ecuador to fill a book, not one of them good. The first was meeting Anna on the internet and believing that she was going to work for me on my websites. Let's just leave it that it was a disaster. Next was my landlady on the cabin I rented. Originally I had only booked it for a week until I found an apartment, but it was nice and I wanted to stay longer. I brought in Anna to translate and hammered out an agreement for rent that included morning coffee, meals, utilities ( including DirecTV) and firewood. At one point she asked me to prepay two month's rent because "they needed the money". I wasn't cray about that so I paid a month in advance. Long story short, again, the coffee was sporadic, the meals were pathetic (they mostly ate the food I bought), no DirecTV, horrible internet and they let all the other guests use the firewood load that I bought.

Things were not working out and after the panic trip to the hospital she asked me to move out. I totaled up my prepaid rent, the two bottles of rum they had drank on me and the firewood they had let everyone else use, total two hundred dollars. She said they would pay me the day I moved out. The taxi was loaded with all my stuff on my way to Cotacachi and I asked her for my money. She said she hadn't been to the bank yet. I offered to give her a ride on our way. Now she said they were waiting for a check but assured me that she would bring my money the following Monday to Cotacachi. Despite unbelievable efforts I still have no money from her. Burned.

Then there was my "driver", a friend of Anna's, who had picked me up at the airport in Quito. He agreed to do my shopping runs to Ibarra for the big supermarket. On one of our trips I asked him to stop at the bank first and I took our three hundred dollars, not knowing what I might need to pay for in cash. I did spend some of the cash. I figured about eighty dollars but I put my food shopping on my debit card. When I got home I checked my wallet and discovered I only had twenty dollars. He had stolen two hundred dollars from my messenger bag while I went outside the van for a smoke. This from a guy I had paid handsomely for the trip from the airport and other trips around town. Nice!

Next was my lovely "facilitator", a person who helps you with your visa applications, who came recommended by a group called Visa Angels. She was no angel. After following her recommendation to travel to the other end of the country to file my application in Guayaquil and paying her handsomely for it, she said she need the three hundred and fifty dollar fee for the government, which I sent her. Then things fell apart on me with getting my meds so I had to cancel my application. I explained it to her and asked for my deposit back. She kept it inventing some lame ass story that she had made more trips for me, even though she had done nothing. I went to the police but they said I gave it to her willingly so there had been no crime. Nice!

In Cotacachi there were a number of little trust issues, but the biggest was with who ended up for a time being my fiancee. When I first met her it was love at first sight for me, no question. I asked for her phone number and she put it in my phone as Patricia Esposa, which means "wife". We had a whirlwind romance, at my expense of course, but I was already planning to return to Canada because I could not afford to stay in Ecuador. I left planning to return as soon as I could to marry her. It was tough trying to maintain the relationship at a distance, especially with the language issue, but we tried. She was struggling and so was I because I had not yet started receiving my other pension. She had found a new apartment she called our "love nest" and was busy decorating it for us. It seemed that every month she had something she needed money for, like she couldn't pay the rent or the electric bill, so I sent her whatever I could even if it meant I was eating at the Salvation Army kitchen because I had no money for food.

At one point I sent her a hundred dollars American to repay my good friend, Dutch, money that he had loaned me. She said she desperately needed it and would talk to him to pay him later, a little at a time. She never talked to him. We had also started a crowd funding campaign to get me back to marry her and a friend had graciously donated fifty dollars. It was in my savings account that I told her we couldn't touch because we would need to give the money back if we weren't successful. She took it out anyway. In the end when everything fell apart and we were no longer engaged she had taken me for six hundred and fifty dollars American, something I could not afford. Nice!

Women or culture in Ecuador or maybe me?

Anyone who has been following me knows that I intended to move to Ecuador back in December of 2014. I had done months of research on where to go to live out my life. I knew that I could not survive in Canada on my limited pensions so I had to find a country with a lower cost of living. I was also a little sick of winter so I was looking for a good climate, not too cold or not too hot. Ecuador appeared to fit the bill on just about everything. I knew that there would be culture shock, but I felt that I was prepared from my time in Panama.

Even with the much lower cost of living in Ecuador I still needed to find a way to earn some money, partly because I would lose one of my pensions, the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) after six months out of the country. I knew that Ecuador was becoming a retirement destination for Canadians and there wasn't a lot of good websites with factual information about Ecuador so I created a website, WelcomeToEcuador.ca. I intended to sell advertising on the site to make a little extra money, plus I hoped to travel the country taking photos and writing a blog. That was the plan.

Prior to actually leaving I met a women on Facebook, Anna, who initially offered to help me find a place to live. Over the course of several messages she eventually expressed an interest in working for me on the website. I knew that I needed someone who spoke Spanish to deal with clients so it was a good fit for us to work together. She arranged for a driver to pick me up in Quito and because her English was very good we kind of hit it off. She was also very attractive which was a bonus. She ended up helping me with things like going shopping for food and dealing with the person who turned out to be my landlady, Jessica. I had only booked a week at Balcon de Lago but ended up making a longer term deal when I could not find an apartment in Otavalo. More on this later.

Since the first day we met I had been asking Anna to come over so we could discuss the business, but she kept delaying it saying she was busy. Finally we set a date and time for her to come over in the morning, but she never showed and never called which I wasn't impressed with. Then we set another day for her to meet with my landlords to discuss the longer term arrangement. She said eight o'clock in the morning and I reminded her that she wasn't all that reliable that early in the day, but she insisted. Eight o'clock came and went with me sitting at the table with a bunch of people who spoke no English, awkward to say the least. Then Anna shows up an hour late. She comes in like a queen with no apologies for keeping everyone waiting an hour. All I could think about was if she would pull this with clients. I questioned if this was actually going to work out.

The meeting with my landlords involved me telling Anna something in English and then she would translate. I had to trust that she was saying the right thing to them and that they understood what I wanted. After I thought we were all in agreement apparently we weren't. My landlady came down to my cabin in tears because she and Anna had quite the argument on the phone. Somehow she understood that Anna was just trying to find me another place to live which really upset Jessica. I knew that this was the end for Anna and I. I emailed her my concerns and that ended us.

Fast forward a couple of months of things not going very well with my landlords. Among the many issues was the situation with the fire. My place was freezing and I could not work without having a fire going constantly. I had expressed concern about the lack of ventilation and they were going to install a fan but nothing was ever done. One fateful night I felt tired and thought I would just lie down for a bit. Big mistake! Jessica came down, which she had never done before, and tried to wake me, which she had also never done before. When she could not wake me they called an ambulance and rushed me to the local hospital in Otavalo. I woke up some three hours later and remember the doctor saying that I would have been dead in twenty minutes from carbon monoxide poisoning. It's a close to death as I had ever come and certainly freaked me out. Apparently it also freaked Jessica out because she asked me to move out, and in only a couple of days.

At one point she had come to me and asked me to prepay two months rent because they "needed the money". I wasn't crazy about that because things were not going well so I agreed to pay her one month in advance. When she asked me to move out we had a discussion about the rent she owed me, the firewood I had paid for, the two bottles of rum they had drank on me, the DirecTV I had paid for that I never got and we agreed on her giving me two hundred dollars. When my taxi was loaded ready to go I asked her for the money but she said she had not been to the bank. I offered to take her to the bank but now she was apparently waiting for a check from someone. She said that she would come to Cotacachi and pay me the money. She never came and that was in February 2015. She just ripped me off.

When I planned to move to Ecuador I had gotten a six month Visa in Canada, planning to file for my residency when I got to Ecuador. I was going to pay for my residency with the money from my GIS pension, which I had been told I would receive by the end of January. That did not happen. It took me months to finally receive the GIS, which caused me a lot of grief. I had to go to Guayaquil at the other end of the country to apply for my residency. It was around this time that I realized the issues I was going to have getting my meds, most importantly my insulin. Obviously I could not survive without my insulin so it looked like I had no choice but to return to Canada. The Canadian dollar had also crashed and I was already struggling to live so paying for my insulin was out of the question. I had sent my facilitator, Katty Fajardo, three hundred and fifty dollars, the government fee to get my cedula but had told her to hold off until I knew if I was going to be able to get my insulin. I emailed her that I could not and would need to return to Canada so I could not file for residency. I asked her to return my three hundred and fifty dollars along with my passport so that I could fly back to Canada. She refused to return the money or my passport. I had to jump through all kinds of hoops and get a temporary passport so I fly. Although she did return my passport it had been cancelled. So she ripped me off for my three hundred and fifty dollars and cost me a lot of money to get another passport.

Shortly before all this happened I met a woman who I admittedly fell in love with at first sight, Patricia. Our short but passionate romance was amazing and we planned to marry as soon as I could return to Ecuador. I was going to be back in Canada for what looked like six months and we knew it would be hard to keep our relationship strong but we were sure that we could. We talked just about every single day on Facebook and things were going well between us. She was struggling financially and of course I was living on only my pensions so it was very difficult for me to help her, but I did. I had sent her my bank card and every month I sent her money that I really could not afford. Before I knew it I had sent her five hundred dollars US, money that she agreed to repay me when she got her twenty thousand dollar settlement from her ex. I also sent her a hundred dollars to give to my friend, Dutch, but she used the money saying she would pay him back. Then she took the fifty dollars from the fundraising campaign account, saying she would return it. Then she moved to Quito out of the blue, blocked me on Facebook and will not respond to my emails. Total ripoff six hundred and fifty dollars American.

So my question is if all this was just the different culture of Ecuador, the wrong women or was I responsible? If it's my fault what exactly did I do wrong?

Life Lessons Learned Too Late - irreplaceable things.

Several times in my life I moved to start all over again. Back in 1993 after my marriage of twenty-three years was clearly over and my mother in BC had been diagnosed with fifth stage melanoma and given only a five percent chance of surviving more than a few months I decided to move to BC to be with her during her remaining time. Our last matrimonial home had been sold and my parents and I had driven my van down from BC to Brampton to get rid of everything left in the house. Despite the fact that my wife had always agreed that it would be fifty/fifty if we ever split up that soon changed. She had rented an apartment for her and our daughter so she wanted pretty well everything out of the house for the apartment. I had a lifetime loathing for lawyers for good reason so I always said that we would never resort to lawyers if we split. By my accounting she got about ninety-five percent of everything we had, most of which was from my hard work over the years with zero help from her. I wasn't planning on taking any of the furniture all the way to BC anyway so she got all that. Two things that really peeved me were that she wanted all the Rosemond prints that I had carefully collected during our marriage plus she wanted the thirty-five Charlie Brown books that I had also collected, not one of which she had ever opened a page on. As annoyed as I was it wasn't worth a legal fight so I let her have them.

Flash forward to 2007 and the disaster that was my renovation in what was Westbank at the time. My doctor was very clear in telling me that I had to get out from under all the stress I was dealing with and I had decided to move to Panama. I sold off thousands of dollars worth of stuff, mostly all of my very expensive tools, but also some things like furniture, dishes, small appliances and pots and pans. I still had a lot of personal stuff left, actually five large storage bins worth and I left these with my buddy Wade to ship to me when I got settled in Panama. He had moved them to his mother's ranch and when she was away her place had been broken into and everything, including my bins, had been stolen. Among my prized possessions were two framed prints of those you get done where you dress up like the old West, one with my parents and brother and sister, and one with my wife and kids. They were both awesome and irreplaceable. The other thing was a large (about three feet by a foot) framed print of both my kids when they were young that Tracy had given me as a gift back in 2000 and it read "a father holds his children's hands for a while, but their hearts forever." Again, irreplaceable.

After I was forced to return to Canada I eventually moved to London, Ontario and started building up possessions all over again. Over the years there I went from things I had got through welfare to having my own decent furniture, a big screen TV, a nice bike along with some biking equipment, a great car (yet another Honda), appliances and so on. When I planned to move to Ecuador I donated a lot of clothes to Value Village but I also managed to sell a lot on Kijiji. Again I was left with a lot of things, like tools and my bike that I didn't sell. A friend at the time offered to sell everything for a commission so he took several bins of stuff. Over the next few months while I was in Ecuador he sold a lot, including my bike, but never paid me a cent. I only found out what he sold from people who wanted to buy whatever it was. He refused to answer my many emails and let me know what was going on. Eventually he stopped responding to people who wanted to buy stuff. Just a total crook and at a time that I was desperate for money in Ecuador.

When I was forced to return to Canada, again, I had to sell everything I had acquired during my time in Ecuador. I had a number of small appliances, like a coffee maker and toaster, a really nice large screen SONY 39" monitor, an EPSON printer I hadn't even used and a bunch of dishes and pots and pans. I sold a lot of it for decent money but got nothing for things like my Logitech wireless keyboard that I paid a hundred dollars for and my brand new leather cowboy boots that I paid three hundred dollars for and never even worn because of my foot problems. I gave Patricia at least a hundred dollars worth of food and things I had left. She also managed to score my cooler bag that I had used to carry my insulin to Ecuador.

The point of my post is to do whatever you can to protect the things that are irreplaceable. I had every opportunity to scan the two old West photos so I could have reprinted and framed them again. Both photos were very special because my parents are both gone now and I have no relationship with my brother or sister, plus obviously I am no longer married and my children have decided to have nothing to do with me so there won't be any more photos. I might also say that back in the day we didn't have smart phones or digital cameras for photos and video, so we took pictures. In my younger days I never realized how important photos of my kids would be now that I'm older or even video of my son in his hockey years before he gave it up. My ex got all the photos when we split so today I have nothing. I did scan and post a few photos that I had, but not nearly enough for the twenty-three years that we were together. I would encourage everyone to take as many photos and video as you can. Someday you will treasure the memories, believe me.

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A near death experience changes your perspective on life.

Last night was as close as I ever hope to come. My cabana is freezing so I have a fire going constantly while I work on my computer. Every once in a while my landlady will come down to deliver a meal and she'll comment on how much smoke there is, something I don't often notice. Big mistake. Last night I thought I was just tired so I laid down on the bed for a quick nap. The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital with the doctor and the family all crowded around me. To my considerable shock when I asked what time it was I had lost three hours.

Life is timing. Apparently my landlady had brought down my dinner and found me unresponsive. They had called an ambulance and rushed me to the hospital, according to the doctor, within a scant twenty minutes of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Way too close for comfort.

To say that life has been challenging since making the decision to move to Ecuador would be a gross understatement. I could write a book on the factors that led me to this life-changing decision. After five years languishing in London, Ontario my dear friend Heather put it best. She said I was basically molding waiting for things to happen. My biggest wish after landing in London had been that my kids would reconnect with me and I would get to meet my five grandkids. Heather made me realize that I could well spend the rest of my life, living in a place that I loathed with a passion, waiting for something that would never happen. If I at least focused on me and did what I wanted to do and went to Ecuador and then the kids had a change of heart there's always Skype and I have a return ticket to visit if that was in order. Made sense to me.

As I said, there were a ton of other factors that led to the decision. My finances were in a total mess, with the house of cards I had built about to collapse on me. I had been drawing ODSP and not claiming the money I was getting under the self-employment program, meaning I would need to repay my support payments. I also had not been claiming my self-employment benefit to my landlord, who would take thirty percent of it. That was all about to get matched up through the government and would leave me in a mess with huge debts I could not pay back. Add how much I hated living in London and it was clear I had to get away.

It came down to moving back out West or moving to another country. My life out West had been amazing but I realized that my deteriorating health would mean that life would not be the same. My parents were both gone and I was estranged from my brother and sister, for good reason. I didn't have any boats or dirt bikes or snowmobiles and living on my meagre pensions I never would. I wouldn't be roller-blading or cross country skiing or hiking in the mountains. I couldn't even dance for hours at the Corral, something that was a huge part of my life. Many of my wonderful friends from those years had moved on and it was clear that life would be a hollow shadow of what it was before.

That left leaving the country and the question was to where? My time in Panama convinced me that there was no way I would ever go back there. I started researching various countries in warmer climes and settled on Ecuador for a host of good reasons. My research showed that Ecuador was positioned to be a prime tourist and retirement destination for Canadians. I felt that if I built a website dedicated to Canadians I could generate some extra income from the site. WelcomeToEcuador.ca was born and has consumed my waking hours since arriving in Ecuador. In my research I met Ana, a lady who lived in the Otavalo area and she offered to help me to get settled. She also expressed some interest in working for me and she was bilingual so that showed promise. It also helped me to decide on living in that area. The mountains were spectacular and reminded me of BC. The climate also seemed ideal. I booked a week at what looked like a fabulous cabin, intending to look for an apartment while I was staying there.

The cabin turned out to be more than I could have wished for and the family greeted me with such warmth that I thought of staying there longer term. With Ana's assistance we sat down and negotiated a deal for me to stay on a month to month basis. It was to include all meals, firewood, my washing once a week, DirecTV, cleaning and, most importantly, hi-speed internet for my work, for $350 a month. Looked like a good deal at the time but I soon learned that things are different in Ecuador.

When we first discussed me staying more long term I asked what current bookings they had. They only had two nights in February that had not been confirmed and they said they could put them in another cabin anyway. No sooner had I paid the rent for a month than they told me I had to move out to the main house for two nights. No sooner had I got settled back in than she tells me I have to move out yet again for two nights starting today. Not exactly what was planned or agreed. Added to this was she came and asked me to pay another month's rent to "help them out as a friend". This certainly caught me off-guard but I found myself explaining that because of the $1,200 for the hospital visit I had no extra money to "help out". That didn't go down too well. No sooner had I dealt with that than she asks me for $200 to pay their taxes. I've already paid the rent two weeks in advance, which I probably should not have done.

There's a lot of other things that aren't going according to plan. My cabana is freezing and they don't have the promised firewood, so I had to go and buy my own. My meals have basically been rice and salad and I've spent a fortune at the SuperMaxi in Ibarra on real food. No sooner do I give it to her to put in the fridge than someone in the family eats it. For New Year's Eve I bought two bottles of Bacardi Rum, but because I was feeling so lousy I only had one drink. The next day I discover that they have drank both my bottles and I'm still waiting for them to be replaced. Not only did I get to buy the rum but I also got to pay for the taxi even though they spent hours shopping. I seem to be the "cash cow" for everything. Oh, and my washing once a week? I have to beg for underwear. Cleaning? I get to do the cleaning. DirecTV? Still waiting even though I paid an extra $10 for it. Hi-speed internet? Still waiting and now they inform me that I have to pay an extra $20 for that. Time to move? You bet.

Living with pain

Not that long ago really, in terms of a lifetime, I was in great shape and very healthy. During my years in the Okanagan I was incredibly active. I ran a hiking club, year round. In the summer months every Sunday, weather permitting, I would roller-blade usually for several hours. I had several boats and went water-skiing at every opportunity, even learning to slalom. I biked the Kettle Valley many times. My Dad and I dirt-biked all over the Okanagan and in Revelstoke. I played tennis, although not as often as I would have liked. I even para-glided, which was awesome. In the winter I downhill skied, cross-country skied and snowmobiled. I played racquetball three times a week, including Sunday mornings which usually ran three hours or more. I danced for hours usually once or twice a week at the Corral. Most of my many good friends were twenty years younger than me because people my own age couldn't keep up. I was a very fit one hundred and seventy pounds and, despite the fact that I smoked and ate my fair share of fast food, I had all kinds of stamina and energy. I slept like a baby and was rarely sick, usually a cold once a year or so.

Things changed in 2004 after my dirt-bike accident where I tore up my foot pretty bad. The doctor said I had to stay off my foot for probably up to a year because if I re-injured it I may never walk again. I heeded the advice and basically sat around eating and watching TV. Soon I had ballooned to two hundred and twenty pounds. Suddenly I had all kinds of health issues, like acid reflux, and I couldn't walk up the stairs without puffing. When I went to my doctor he was shocked at my weight gain and bluntly told me I had better lose the weight or I would probably have a heart attack. This was also when I was diagnosed as diabetic.

Over the next few months I managed to lose the weight and gradually returned to my active lifestyle. I felt so much better and my diabetes was controlled by only Metformin and nothing else. After my Dad passed away in 2005 I moved in with my mother to care for her because she had Alzheimer's. This was a twenty-four seven job so I had little chance to do anything that meant leaving her. My brother and sister were useless in giving me a break. I did manage to do a lot of work around the house and I completely rebuilt the beach area and added a new dock.

After my sister took my mother to Revelstoke I sold the house and moved to a place that I basically took over the mortgage on and worked my tail off for a year and a half gutting and rebuilding. Seven days a week I worked very long and physical days. One consequence was that by the end of the day I could barely walk because of the pain in my feet. I had plantar fasciitis big time, but I found inserts called HeelThatPain which worked really well and I still wear them today. At one point, after things fell apart with the reno, I was under such stress that my sugars were off the chart. My doctor put me on large doses of insulin which brought down my sugars. He also told me that I was a poster child for a heart attack and I needed to find a way to get out from under all the stress. This is when I moved to Panama.

In Panama I got involved in the renovation of a multi-apartment house for a guy back in Kelowna and again worked long days, seven days a week. In the sixteen months I was in Panama I took one week-end off. My meds continued to be Metformin and reasonably small doses of one kind of insulin. Then I had my gall bladder attack and my emergency surgery in a third-world hospital that nearly killed me.

After I was forced to return to Canada my first doctor was horrified at the twenty year-old type of invasive surgery I had and which would not bode well in the future. I still managed to remain fairly active in Toronto, mostly biking and some roller-blading. Then I moved to London and soon the downhill slide would start. I did continue to bike the trails around London and get in some roller-blading and ice skating before I started having issues with my feet. This started after I worked four months at Home Depot, walking the concrete floors in cheap work boots. By the end of even a four hour shift I could barely walk.

The pain in my feet continued to get worse and my doctor suspected I had peripheral neuropathy, which was soon confirmed by an EMG at the hospital. Not only did they confirm I had it in my feet, but it was also starting in my hands. This was particularly disturbing because I spend twelve hours a day on the computer. As my sugars continued to deteriorate my diabetic specialist doubled, then tripled my two types of insulin. This, combined with a total lack of exercise resulted in putting on thirty-five pounds. The acid reflux returned along with a host of new ailments. Just recently an ultrasound confirmed that I have what's called an incisional hernia as a result of the botched surgery in Panama.

So, today this is my life. I am already on the maximum daily dose of Gabapentin, the pain killer for my neuropathy. Despite this the pain is twenty-four seven. I walk with a cane because the pain makes me lose my balance. The pain in my hands is now getting worse by the day. My hernia is painful, but the surgeon can't operate until I somehow magically find a way to lose weight. My shoulders, which were diagnosed as "frozen shoulder" are painful, especially when trying to put a coat on. My knees are starting to ache like I have arthritis. I have to take a sleeping medication to stay asleep at night. I can't eat anything without it causing unbelievable flatulence and belching. Because my sugars remain high I am having trouble with my vision, especially first thing in the morning. I have to magnify my windows to be able to read on the internet. I need a nap every day mid afternoon, partly because I have sleep apnea and also because of the meds I'm on.

There are days when I don't think I can take it anymore. I just came out of fourteen weeks of counseling, which helped but offered no solutions for my situation. My therapist couldn't believe what I have been through or how much I am dealing with now. My mental health is about as good as my physical health. The horrible situation with my kids, realizing that it's been twenty years since my daughter had any contact with me. I have five grandchildren I've never met. I live in a city I loathe. I have no friends and no social life. Life is really taking a toll on my sanity right now. I am usually such a decisive person, but right now I am adrift. My quality of life is diminishing rapidly.

Life Lessons Learned Too Late - How one mistake can ruin your life.

When you are young and foolish you make mistakes in judgment that are just part of growing up. Sometimes you "get in with the wrong crowd" with peer pressure to do something you know is wrong. If you get away with whatever stupid thing you did, well, that's just exciting, right? If you get caught; however, that's a whole different story. Especially these days with so much video being shot of those dumb moments, like the riots in Vancouver. In Kelowna there was the case of the kids who stole an SUV and trashed it, recording every moment of their crime like idiots.

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