Monday, November 16, 2015

Canadians Heading South Stop By For a Visit

We had received a couple of emails in the last months asking about stopping by for a visit.   Majorie and Bob, Sue and Jerry are couples we met last winter while in Mazatlan.   We kept in touch and here they are.   Actually they arrived on Saturday and left early this morning.   We offered them posada at the resort we belong to in Montemorelos.   The manager loves rvers and was very happy to see two huge rigs lined up along side the pool area.  

They beat us to the resort.   Most people drive like snails and take a day to arrive.  Bob was in the lead and his GPS and my maps got them here in record time.  We had some wine and conversation and then headed home for the evening.   

The call was early up on Sunday and out for a tour of Monterrey at 9 a.m.  We arrived, they were ready and off we went.  This is a holiday weekend for us, three-day and also Buen Fin where Mexican merchants attempt to compete with the U.S. and Black Friday.   However, the weather this year may be against them.   It has been drippy, cloudy and foggy since our guests arrived but we wouldn´t let it stop us.

We went for a walk on the Paseo Santa Lucia.   There was a line of at least 100 people waiting to take a boat so we opted to walk the river.   Lots of conversation and I think they are impressed with our great city.   

We had lunch at the famous Taqueria Juarez downtown before heading home.   

We dropped everyone off for a nap and headed home only to return to a fantastic steak dinner with great salad, wine and bread.   Thou was seated next to me.   Great fun had by all and we just sorry that the weather wasn´t on our side and that they couldn´t stay longer.  But hey, I don´t blame them, their headed to the beach!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Convention In Cancun

Little Bit was interested in going and hopped in the suitcase right away.  As we pulled out of the driveway Wednesday morning he sat on the porch with his head down.  I felt bad, still do.

I'll be short with some pictures.   The weather stinks.  It has rained in downpours everyday and the humidity is the worst I have ever experienced in my life.

I posted this on Facebook and it wasn't a shot that was planned.  As a side note I said, "and mine are real".

The hotel is right across from the beach.   It's one of the less-expensive places here.  It had been closed for a few years and recently reopened.   Mediterranean style, you enter through what appears to be a series of boutiques.  They are mostly empty.   There are 20 suites in total.   The room is huge, all marble floors and bathrooms with columns and arches.   A living room is on a lower level and the bedroom 6 by 6 meters.  Very comfortable but as for the rest of the hotel it needs updating.   We always book a room for the convention and arrive a day early to search in person.   Sorry, but who would pay $450 U.S. for a hotel room?  Not me.  Cancun has never impressed me.

My publisher's stand in the exhibition hall, University of Dayton.

The convention is a success with 3000 teachers in attendance.   The convention center is one of the better layouts in the country and can accommodate our large group easily.   BTW, the best part of our hotel room is the two-block distance from the convention center.   

In between is a huge three-story Chedraui super store that has incredible food to go or eat in.  High class and all prepared on-site and at the moment; pasta dishes, pizzas, sirloin burgers, vegetarian, oriental and more.   There is a huge wine selection that takes up one third of the second floor.   One thing I've never seen is a wine dispensing machine.   A stainless steel wheel with a ten bottle wine selection inside.   Crystal wine glasses sit on white cloth napkins.   You insert your credit card, make your wine selection and choose 1/4, 1/2 or full glass.   Meals are served with dinnerware and silverware.  We've eaten there all week and have yet to spend over 150 pesos for the two of us.  Yesterday Juan had four-cheese penne that was incredibly good and I had oriental rice and chicken. 

I had my workshop yesterday with over 100 teachers in attendance.  Staff from the University of Dayton in Ohio attended to see how I work.  They are offering me a contract of some kind in the next few weeks.  I'm still in the dark so that is up in the air.   Anyway, my talk was a success and everyone was happy.   

I had dinner with the authors, Mexico City staff and people from Ohio last night. 

Good fun, people and drinks.  Juan has his presentation today and that will be my focus.   We don't recognize many folks here anymore.   They're all retired and now we're the old folks.   

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cancun Here We Come!

Cancun!  Sounds great, doesn't it?  It is great but we both will be working at the national convention.  We are both speakers at the event where we expect 3,500 teachers.  

I'm sure we'll have some time to be tourists.   We leave tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and come back Sunday afternoon.  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's Good To Have A Tight Rear End Again

The SUV needed some pretty heavy-duty suspension work done this last week.  The rear end was loose.  We found almost new used parts of a Dodge Durango that had been wrecked sometime ago.  Worked like a charm.  What a big difference.  We're trying to get a headstart on Christmas vacation and get things ready.   There is a bit more change to spend.   September and October were good to me this year and the money kind of rolled right on in.

I'm sure you're aware that Ruth and Kevin are into their first days of Colombia.  Give them a click and see what South America is all about.  I love it there and wish we were with them.  I posted on their blog today that when their six weeks are finished they will be hoping to find a way to get Sherman, their motorhome there.  We will purposely go out and buy a used Class B so we can tag along.  

Now for some pics of what has been going on.  Well, the roof was finally finished and I may have mentioned it.  The painter has returned.   I dare ask him why he hasn't brought his raggedy ass back or answered our calls over the last two weeks.  I do know because that's how things roll.   Give them 50% down and they start work.  Then they find another job and you are left holding the brush, at least in this case.   Time to do some interior work.  I had hoped to get it done before we had company but there is a lot of movement in the soil here and there are some interior cracks I wanted to have done and replastered before Ruth and Kevin showed up.  That's next and we are thinking of new kitchen tile and counter tops.   Easier when sell time comes.

Took this pic of the moon on the way to the gym in the morning.

And this one that evening.

Altar del Dia de los Muertos at school.  Monday is a holiday in some other states because they dedicate more to this celebration than we do here in the north.  No holiday for us.   In this small town all the people in the photos are related in one way or another.  As we say, "pueblo chico, infierno grande".  

Caught this van in the shopping center of HEB.  Times they are a changing.  Now you place your grocery order on line.  Same day service and it is delivered to your front door.  You can see the pickers as they move up and down the aisles of the store.  They are trained on how to pick the best produce as well as substitutions when the customer allows them.   What next?

Still no firm decision on vacation.   Maybe we'll stay home for a change.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

They Left Us With A Hurricane

Too much has happened this week but I'll try and get it all on paper.  As Ruth and Kevin were arriving I was leaving for the border.  I had an event in Roma, Tx and I took off about noon.  Those guys arrived in time for happy hour.   I missed the first night.  As luck would have it, my event was cancelled one day before.   The owner of the company I represent was in McAllen and invited me for dinner.  No problem, I spent the night and did some early morning shopping before heading back home.  All expenses paid plus a cancellation fee.  First time a school has cancelled in my fourth year.  They just couldn't get the money together in time.  

Bustamante, one of the small towns on Hwy 1 come out of the Colombia bridge.  They have a fantastic cave system that is world class.  They also sell pan de Bustamante.  Famous for bread making and sweet treats.   From the bridge down to Monterrey there are five small towns that offer great boondocking and one state park with electric and public restrooms.

I did the usual purchases of shave cream, deodorant and gel.  I also stopped by Goodings Rv and got a latch for the screen door which was broken earlier this year by a guest and an LP hose for the new Weber grill which came in very handy this week.

Excited to get home I made it in record time.  The border was the usual bore as I have never seen any action that is  supposed to be a daily event according to some people and social networks.  Oh well, for the better I guess.

Came home and we put a beautiful chicken Ruth had bought at Soriana.   It was our first grill on the Weber and it was amazing.  I can't believe we waited so long to get one.  We've eyed one for years but we just don't cookout.   Weird, I know considering we live in Mexico.   I mean yes, we grill when family is here or the monthly rib eye but it's a pain in the butt for two steaks.  Not anymore!!!!   I attached the hose to the tank on the rv and it started right up (after Kevin turned on the tank valve).  

Nothing to show from the ribeye dinner but Kevin did a great job grilling.

We spent a pleasant week with those guys.  They are great house guests and know their way around the house and town.   I dropped them off at the river walk downtown on Wednesday and they posted some wonderful pictures on their blog.  I never understand why people pass up the border states.  You have to go through them anyway.   I've had people tell me they "beat feet" across the border.  We have mountains, rivers, waterfalls, grutas or caves that have cable cars to get you there and best tour guides in the world.  Truly first class.  If you come across Colombia, you just head straight into Nuevo Leon on Hwy 1.  You pass small colonial towns with lots to offer.  

So they left Friday morning and they also left Hurricane Patricia.  She did wreak some havoc on the coast, Guadalajara had record flooding and got some light rain all day Saturday.   This morning was sunny and cool and dry.   Texas has been hit hard by the flooding though save our house in San Antonio with no water damage.

Still debating about Christmas though.  We're kind of set on Mazatlan but in the poll process someone said it's too bad that the noseeums come out at sunrise and sunset.  That's the part we don't like and is stuck in my head.   We'll see what happens.  Gas is still cheap in the U.S. so that is another possibility.  Decisions. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Big Things Coming Tomorrow!

Leaves are falling here at the ranch, the air is cooler at night and the water in the pool is good for a couple more swims before we decide to drain the chilling waters and do repairs.   It has been a relaxing weekend and we are preparing for two events this week.  One not so great and one fantastic.

We took advantage of the weekend and did the usual household chores, did some laziness activities and watched the return of Tracy Morgan on SNL.  I quit watching the show as it has pretty much fallen into, well, beyond sad conditions.  With the return of Tracy Morgan it seemed to pick up a bit last night and we enjoyed the first half of the show.

This morning we putzed around until 8:30 and decided to head to Monterrey for the book fair.  The convention center was packed.  Not only is the book fair going on but so is the October Horror Fest, and the Tlaqueparte which is an artisan exhibition.   We chose the book fair as we are readers and teachers.   We saw a few teachers we knew, talked to the Mexican Japanese association who had a large and interesting booth along with a book display, presentation and bonsai.   The guy who formed those little bonsai has been gone for ages but those 70 plus year old trees continue to grow today.  Amazing.

I forgot that we stopped for tacos on the way in and they were pretty darn good.   What taco isn't.  I'm in and out on the vegan thing, I maintain six days a week which is very good to say the least.  Hey, we all need a day to be human.

The mega event this week is the arrival of Ruth and Kevin.   They will be coming here on tomorrow but I will miss them.  The second event is my workshop in Roma, Texas.  I may just pass them on the lonely bypass highway from Allende to Cadereyta.  Anything is possible.  They will stay for a couple of days and I will be back on Tuesday night.   Can't wait to see these guys.  A select few of the fish that never seem to stink after three days:)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Internet In The U.S.

There is a thread on Rv.Net about a person who will be fulltiming in the next five years and was wondering about how to connect to the internet.  This is my response below.  We did find internet but found it difficult to say the least.  I won't go to extremes to find it and if it doesn't come to us I usually give up easily.

I haven't lived in the U.S. for over 30 years and find this thread interesting. I live in what is considered a very poor, antiquated country. That said, we traveled four months in the U.S. and Canada last year. Internet was a disaster. Good luck finding a place where you can sit down and send documents and heavy files. One such place is Kinko's FedEx. They charge .49 a minute. That's almost $30 an hour and I have used them on several occasions only to say their wifi isn't any faster than that of an rv park. Many libraries we found had a secured signal and had us sign up for a card which was very time consuming, and in some cases charged a fee. We found only one town on our trip that had open wifi everywhere and that was in Canada and if memory serves me correctly it was Merritt, BC.

The rv park signals were pathetic. I don't care what cost is, how many users are online it stank. After all, we are in the age of YouTube, live-streaming and sending files, online banking and "innovative" technology such as Skype and Facebook face talk. Somebody is not doing something. We found our trip, in terms of internet, frustrating to say the least and when you are being charged almost the same price as a discount hotel it is not acceptable.

In Mexico, this poor, poor little country where people still ride burros and use smoke signals, we actually have internet cafes that charge a less than a dollar an hour, you can sit in front of any public educational institution and connect free to the internet, governemt offices, and our home internet provider including landline, free long distance to the U.S. and basic Dish cable charges us a measly $38 a month.

The U.S. has a long, long way to go to get people connected without gouging the consumer to use a service that is available for little or no cost in most of the world.
We're watching last night's Democratic debate on YouTube.  The U.S. is a capitalist country by every sense of the word.  The debate was broadcast via CNN and not local networks.  How can you interest people to vote in their country if they don't have access to the information.