Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm down here in Mexico where it's WARM! Survivor Puerto Vallarta, Episode 7

December 15: "The problem with your knees, Jane," said the woman who was performing massage therapy on me up on a mountaintop in Yelapa overlooking the ocean on one side and a gorge with a waterfall on the other, "is that you walk on the inside of your feet and not on the outside. If you just walk on the outside of your feet, the pain will stop."

What? It's that simple? I've endured five years of knee-pain hell that could have easily been avoided if I only had walked like a duck instead of like a chicken? I don't know whether to be completely ecstatic or completely pissed off!

Then I ran off to catch the boat going from Yelapa to Puerto Vallarta. I was carrying 40 pounds of luggage but still remembered to run like a duck.

You know what? Yelapa was heavenly but Puerto Vallarta is really nice too. What's so nice about it? It's WARM. You go out at night here in the middle of winter and it's WARM. All those illegal aliens who move to the States? Their motivation is purely economic. Take it from me. No one in their right mind would ever leave Puerto Vallarta for, say, Chicago -- unless they were starving to death. Why? Because down here it's WARM.

I just finished reading the AP news headline, "Big Winter Storm Pummels Northeast". AP then went on to inform me that, "The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings from Michigan and Indiana all the way to Maine. More than a half-foot of snow had already fallen on southern Michigan and meteorologists said accumulations of up to 14 inches were possible there by late Sunday."

I'm trying really hard not to do a chicken dance here. Yes, I know that people are dying up home and I am truly sorry for that -- but still and all, it's hard not to gloat. And thank goodness I don't live in Boston. Living in Berkeley during the winter is bad enough.

Walking through the 75-degree evening streets of Puerto Vallarta, alongside the River Cuale? Heavenly. No wonder Mexicans seem so happy. Even the freaking dogs down here are happy. It's the warm. I want to spend every single winter for the rest of my life where it's WARM. Yeah, I know. Global warming will give me that chance if I just wait out a couple of more years in Berkeley. But aside from that, warm is far better than cold. All you residents of New York and Alberta and Finland, eat your hearts out.

And as for all you guys who have been warned about global warming and/or global cooling for the last 30 years? Don't even talk to me. You had your chance back in the day when the process was still reversible. Spend the rest of your lives in an oven and/or an igloo. See if I care! It doesn't matter to me. I've already lived my life more or less. But I do feel sorry for my grandchildren.

Speaking of grandchildren, my latest grandchild, Baby New Year, is due in just 17 days. On January 1, 2008, the ball is gonna drop in Times Square and Baby New Year is gonna be born too!

December 16: Last night I had a large glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice while sitting on the beach and watching the sunset. This morning I had tacos for breakfast at the stand across the street from where I'm staying -- they already know my order by heart. Lots of guacamole, no beans. Then I went searching for pie (The Yelapa pie lady has a branch here at 137 Avenida Constitucion). And this afternoon I want to attend Rick and Sarah's exotic and psychotropic plant sale ( And sometime today I plan to spend at least two hours worrying about the Great Depression of 2008.

Geez Louise! If I'm not worrying about global warming, gas prices, the idiots in the White House or the "war" in Iraq, I'm worrying about how to protect myself from having to sell apples on the street corner and learning to commune with the ghost of FDR! Listen, if any of you have anything else out there that you want me to worry about, let me know. I'm on a roll!

My friend Joe Thompson just e-mailed me, "Jane, the cold hard facts are that it's truly going to be a credit card Christmas this year. And then the layoffs and inability to pay off the cards will come next. I'm looking for the real crisis to hit sometime in March after Christmas has settled out and the bills come due from Christmas shopping. The only thing holding off a full-blown recession now is Christmas shopping.
But the real crunch will come when all those fantastic pension funds begin to dry up and people's pension checks are suddenly downsized. Places like Florida will be in some real deep crap." I feel you, Joe. Even in PV and Yelapa, the endless stream of American tourists is already drying up.

Then I got an e-mail from my friend Claudette. "Jane, I wouldn't say that the economy has been destroyed, but anyone with a living brain cell would admit that our economy has taken a serious wound, inflicted by the current housing problem. I was just at a conference in Miami, where a representative of the Federal Reserve Bank was on a panel discussing the trends in the local real estate market. She said that one needed only to look at the number of high-rise buildings in downtown Miami that were completely dark at night to see the problem. Developers are slowing down their development so that they can keep their construction loans in place because they know there will be no sales at the end of the development phase." So it's not just me? The Feds are worried too?

"Another panelist -- a real estate broker -- said that in the Miami area there are over 40,000 listings," Claudette continued, "yet they only closed 600 transactions in the past month. That means that there is already a six-year supply of housing, using simple math: (40,000/600)/12. But that's only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. People have been using their homes as ATM cards, refinancing in order to get cash out as values increased. With real estate values falling, people will no longer have that ready source of cash to finance other major purchases." A credit card Christmas? Even that might not happen.

"Families will find themselves in a position of being unable to sell their homes, either because the sale would not generate enough cash to pay off all the liens against the property or because there are no purchasers, because credit has tightened." I don't have to worry about that. I don't have any outstanding debts on the one hand but no one is standing in line to offer me credit cards either. "We are just beginning to see the ripple effect of the sub-prime mortgage problem, and it is not going to be solved quickly."

I'm in freaking Mexico. On the freaking Mexican Riviera! I gotta stop worrying. Time for a siesta.

"No, Jane," replied the voice of my conscience. "It is time for you to start making preparations for the Great Depression of 2008 so that when it arrives, I won't have to listen to you complain and whine all the time about how you had known that all this was coming for at least a year and yet had done NOTHING to prepare for it."

So. What can I do? What can I do to prepare ahead of time for the Great Depression of 2008? I mean besides hiding out in Mexico and pretending that what is happening to the rest of my country isn't happening to me?

PS: Here's a photo of me holding one of the most rare flowers in the world -- the bloom of the Ayahuasua vine. It usually only blooms in the Amazon rain forest after the vine has climbed up to the top of the canopy and so not very many people have ever seen it. But apparently this vine got confused and thought that Rick's roof was the top of the rain forest. Whatever. It bloomed. And I grabbed the photo op.