Saturday, August 22, 2015

Great Day In Many Ways

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Enjoying a wonderful birthday today.  I can't believe I'm this old.  When I thought fifty was going to be a really old time in my life, when I finally hit it, it was just like any other year.  I have a good life and I couldn't ask for more unless it were to do more with the time I have.

Juan came back today from Arizona.  He flew yesterday from Phoenix to Los Angeles and then on to Mexico City.   He had a flight planned for Sunday but couldn't wait to get home and to make a change in his flight or buy a new ticket was way too expensive.  He decided to take the bus and spend the night sleeping.   He arrived this morning exactly 12 hours later after leaving just as they had told him.  He said the bus had personal flat screens, wifi, food service, individual a/c vents and lots of movies, music and video.   We kept in touch via WhatsApp on our cell phones.  Cost was $69 U.S.  In two more years we will receive a 50% discount with our senior cards.  

First stop was downtown for some real Mexican tacos from Don Pancho.   Even for me it was a real treat.  Headed home, picked up some rib eye for dinner (vegan diet on hold until Monday) and we had a great afternoon catching up on all the stories we had been saving.

One funny thing I want to share and it shows us how the TSA system works in the U.S. and the immigration and security system works in Mexico and around the world.  He was really lucky to not have any problems.  He accumulated a lot of team T shirts, souvenirs and other stuff from the university as well as the program.  He went to a thrift shop and found a great expandable canvas suitcase with wheels to pack everything in.

As he was unpacking this afternoon he came into the kitchen and said, "when I bought this bag I got back to my room and found this tin in the bag.  I don't know what is, can you tell me?" 

I'll show you the pictures and you can decide.  



It will be disposed of tomorrow. :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

This Is Peak Season For Me

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I haven't posted because this is the busy part of the year for me.  School starts next week in Mexico and schools are scrambling for help with their programs.  I have work with the publisher, consulting on my own, and then the courses in Texas high schools and now I can add a week in Zacatecas with the U.S. Embassy.  

This week is a marathon as I will be working with private schools from all parts of Monterrey in teacher training programs.  It is managed by text and by level and starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m. for the next four days, two here in Monterrey and two in Saltillo.  

This season is really starting off big and I have had many calls for asking for consulting.  Even though the dollar is expensive, it hasn't stopped schools from spending.  Of course, I don't charge in dollars, I get paid in pesos but it just shows that the economy continues to grow.  Enrollment in private schools is growing as in the U.S.  Believe it or not, we have schools that cost up to $1500 U.S. per month and there are lots of them, churning out future Mexicans who will run companies and start carry on family businesses.  Public schools are showing quite a bit of competition as the state of Nuevo Leon is investing heavily in the future of Mexicans especially in the area of technology.

Anyway, that's what I have been up to.  Apart from the heat, I have accomplished quite a bit here at home as well, cleaning out closets, kitchen cabinets and improving the yard.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

When Will It End?

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Not much to tell at this point other than it’s hot.  It seems most of North America is suffering.   It was up to 40C this week and has settled down to 37C.  The temps will rise this week and we can expect another three weeks of this.

Since I’ve been home I’m up at 5:30 and start work.   I water early in the morning just as the light of day appears and do it in sections for short periods.   I’m trying to skip a day in between to not waste water as well as the electricity to pump it.  I’d rather use my Kwh allotment for the A/C in the afternoons.   I don’t turn it on until 2:30 and then turn it off by bedtime.   By ten it’s cooling down enough that with the house open and a fan in the bedroom window I need a sheet to cover with by around 2 a.m.

Squeaky clean windows!


I’ve had a lot to do around here.  This week was getting the gardener to do his job.  I guess he didn’t expect me home so soon and it was a surprise.  The place was a mess.  The grass hadn’t been cut, watering only took place in one spot and there were lots of other details that are just to bothersome for me to even write about.   I guess his time is coming to a close and he really doesn’t need the work.  The problem is finding someone who can come and do it that lives nearby.  The pool I can handle, all the yard work I just won’t do anymore.  That becomes a marriage and I’m divorced from that.


Even with the heat it is amazing how many people are coming out to the area to spend the day.   I went to Monterrey early yesterday in search of vacuum cleaner bags.  The pretty much don’t exist anymore unless you order on line.   By the time I shopped around downtown and found not even a something close that I could modify it was already 12:30.   I should have had the camera handy because downtown is always a hub of excitement.   On the way home the traffic was like rush hour traffic on a Friday payday.  I think it’s nuts to get in a car and sit on a highway so you can squeeze yourself into a small parking area next to a lake with a bunch of drunks and super loud music but hey, who am I anyway?


Today I got a super early start and washed the windows, screens and protectors.  It was a four hour job and I also did some house cleaning, grass trimming, and washed the SUV.


I have some school visits this week but they are local; Allende, Montemorelos and Monterrey.  The following week I will be in Tampico two days, Saltillo two days, and a small town out in the middle of Tamaulipas.  I jokingly asked the coordinator of events if that visit includes combat pay.

With all I did today, it's time for a cool drink and reading blogs!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The story of how things went down with the SUV

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The story of how things went down with the SUV. 

I left Dolores Hidalgo on Sunday at 8 a.m.   Smooth sailing all the way.   I was waved through several federale checkpoints along the route.   I was on schedule, had my day planned to arrive in Matehuala at 1 p.m.   I had planned to set up the rv  and then take a taxi to centro for lunch and a walk.  It wasn’t meant to be.

I was listening to Astrid Gilberto on the stereo.   60 kms south of Matehuala the SUV lost power and coasted to the side of the road.   I attempted to start it several times and I knew this sound from other people and one event in my life 30 some years ago.   It was a fuel problem and probably the fuel pump.  I found the fuel filter and it looked good.  Maybe an O2 sensor but the Durango has three.  Remember that the Durango is 10 years old and has over 200, 000 miles on it.   Something was bound to happen.  I also thought about the fuel pump but the AutoZone was in Matehuala.

I had the hood up and flashers on sitting on the back bumper looking for help.   In thirty minutes federales had passed three times.  I waved at two and they just ignored me.  After 45 minutes here comes a Green Angel.   I felt relieved.  I wasn’t worried or panicked but the heat and sun and Little Bit was in the car.   It was getting hot.

He turned his truck around facing mine and we chatted while he checked things out.   There was nothing he had on board to fix it so he called for a tow.   It was $2000 pesos for both vehicles.   The wait was an hour but the Green Angel stayed with  me.   It was towed just on the north side of Matehuala.   The guy tested the fuel pump and it was dead.  We called AutoZone and it would be Tuesday before they had the part.  All the local shops were closed.

The only thing that went through my mind was a horror movie where the couple gets towed to a salvage yard and they stay forever.   There were lots of old cars around the shop.  He said that Mexicans living in the U.S. come in these cars that are basically junk.  They breakdown, ask for an estimate and never return.  He can’t do anything with the vehicles for two years. 

This is where they had parked the trailer.


They set the trailer up in a field about 100 meters from the shop.  Their house is behind it.  Pretty nice too, they make a good living probably just towing people.  They were always on the go.  The guy who did the towing is the owner’s son.   He invited me to have carne asada with his family.  His sister and her kids were visiting from Colorado.   I asked the kids which they liked more; Mexico or Colorado.  They all screamed, “Mexico”.   There dad wasn’t too happy me asking them those questions.   He likes the money he makes in construction.

Monday came and we went looking for the part.  No one had it and we had to order it from San Luis Potosi.  Got all that done and it was already noon and they were hoping to have the part by 3 p.m.  It didn’t make the bus.   We waited to see if it would come at 7 and no one called so I settled in for the night.  A knock on the door came and Carlos said, “let’s roll”.   It was 8:45 and we went to town to get the part.  I slept well knowing it was time to take off.  

They were up bright and early and I was on the road at 9:15.   Arriving to San Roberto there was a 2 km checkpoint that took 45 minutes to get through.   They had military and ministeriales and they wanted to check the serial numbers on the trailer versus the paperwork.

No problem but they were local yocals with very little education and asked me for money to buy tacos or give them a dollar.   I told them to bug off.   Then they came back and wanted to see inside the trailer.  They were nice guys but very low class.  I got rid of them and took off over the mountains.  It was good to be in my home state.   As always the scenery was incredible and the drive the best.  

I arrived to the house at 2 p.m., backed the trailer right in without any guidance and no audience.  I planned on a Tuesday arrival because everything here closes on Tuesday so there wouldn’t be any traffic on the road.


Just in time for my nap.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back Home Now

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The part arrived by bus from San Luis Potosi last night at 9 p.m.  I rode along with the mechanic and his girlfriend to pick it up.  He started on the SUV at 7 a.m. this morning and I was on the road by 9:15.  I got home right at 2 p.m.  in time for a nap.

Great drive home and all the details tomorrow.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Matehuala

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Broke down about 50 kms south of Matehuala.  Four federales passed me up without help.  Green Angels came to the rescue.

Bad signal so this is short.  I was towed, at a mechanic just north of the city, bad fuel pump and we will replace it tomorrow.

The trailer is fine, LB is fine, and so am I.  This may make for an interesting story as usual.

Typical rver who broke down and parks behind the shop.  More tomorrow if I have good signal.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday in Dolores Hidalgo

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I finished the night last night with a Mad Max movie.  Not a bad movie at all and then I went to bed.  I overslept until 7 a.m.  I watched the news, used my Telcel stick to check my mail and Facebook.   Showered and headed to centro for a walking tour, a stop at the Independence Museum and the Bicentennial Museum.  Both are great venues and the the second museum is well-designed and was obviously done to celebrate the bicentennial. 

Before that though while I was walking around, I stopped in the local Mercado and had a breakfast quesadilla with chorizo.   It was delicious, filled with cheese, chorizo, lettuce and tomato.   Going home will be hard to readjust back to my diet.   Oh well, that’s what vacations are for.

Dogs getting their Saturday baths!


I stopped in many shops and a couple of veterinarians to look for more of Little Bit’s special diet food.  Not here in Dolores Hidalgo I was told my several.   I can get it in Monterrey when we get home, I think they have it in Costco.



This weekend is la quincena, or payday weekend.   90% of all Mexicans are paid via direct deposit so those that don’t manage their bills on line, pay for items with debit/credit cards, go to the cajero automatico to withdraw their money.  This also includes pensioners and families who receive money from the government in form of welfare.   Seniors over 65 also receive a stipend for groceries, about $100 dollars a month which helps quite a bit if you know the cost of produce and other food products in Mexico.



I ran into a quincenera at the parroquia (parish church).   This one was a bit different.  The theme was mariachi.  It was really good but you don’t want me around mariachis, they always make me well up in tears.   Don’t know why but they do.  I didn’t stay long as it was their event not mine.   Good music though.

When I bought my Telcel stick yesterday I noticed coffee and tea selections another of their glass displays.  I was pretty curious and when I went back today to pick up my official factura (invoice), I asked about them.  They are a brand called Organo which stand for organically grown.   Instant coffee and tea bags that they sell individually or in a pack.  I decided to try one after my afternoon nap.  I just finished a wonderful cup called, Organo Gourmet CafĂ© Negro.   I may stop and pick up two more for the road. 


I’m ready for the road tomorrow.   I’ll set the alarm, have coffee and shower before taking off around 7:30.  I’m a bit excited to really drive somewhere.