Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dallas Bound


Took off this morning at 6 a.m. heading for McAllen.  I had a flight at 12:30 and wanted to do a little shopping beforehand.  I came across some beautiful sunrise pictures.

I pulled up to the bridge in Reynosa at 9:15 and the wait was about 15 minutes.  I was waved through without any questions.  They checked the trunk and that was about it.   I headed for Walmart, HEB and then looked for the long term parking at MFE.   No issues, walked right on the plane.  I got there as they were boarding.  I hate getting there hours early.  I've never been refused as long as I don't have any bags to check.  They checked them at the plane anyway and it saved me the $25.

Picked up my rental and headed for the office to pick up books and materials and then off to Kaufman, Tx.  I spent an hour in traffic going through Dallas.  Way too spread out for me.  Bumper to bumper the whole time.   

I finish at 3 p.m. tomorrow and then head for the airport.   Late night flight to Corpus where I will get another rental, teach on Thursday and then drive the rental back to McAllen where I pick up my VW and head home.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Got A Weber!!!!


We finally did it.  Found a Weber 1000 at Home Depot on sale for 2600 pesos.  The same price as the one I have had in my Amazon cart for the last two months.  We still need the hose to hook it up to the rv tank.   There is a grill store on the way to Monterrey where I purchased the hose for the Mr. Heater.   We'll check there this week.  We can give it a try when Ruth and Kevin show up.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Notes From My Road Trip


First, I found this in the McAllen Monitor the day after the shooting in Oregon.  The front page is a story related to Dia de los Muertos and down in the bottom right hand corner a small blurb about the mass shooting.

It was a good week but I'm glad to be here at home writing the blog.   Monday afternoon was the drive to McAllen.  I went in the afternoon and waited on the bridge for an hour.  Great border guard, didn't detain me and off I went.  I had a reservation at the Victoria Palms Rv Park and Hotel.  It's well-located and reasonable in price.   

Tuesday I went to the office to load up materials, boxes and boxes of books.  Filled up with gas and headed for Port LaVaca.   Good hotel, good food and a good sleep.   Worked in LaVaca on Wednesday with a group of 100 students who were great kids.  Either they're farm families or their parents work for Alcoa or the refineries.   Texas kids have Texas names such as; Zane, Sage, Gage, Brook, Chase, and Koo.   

Headed out for El Campo which was an hour away.   I took the counselor's cue and headed for the backroads and it was a pretty sight.  I didn't take any pictures as I was too tired and wanted to take a quick nap.   Found the hotel right away.  Small town of about 12,000 mostly run down and forgotten.  Some nice areas around the downtown section.   Thursday I was at the school with another group of 100.  Best students ever and we hit it off.   I was expecting mostly Hispanics but it was an even mix of whites and blacks.  Again, heaving in farming and cattle.  The counselor dragged me over to meet a student.  She said, "Mr. Bauer meet Bauer".   I said, "oh, so your a Bauer too".   "Nope, my first name is Bauer".   His parents used his mother's maiden name as his first name.  Good kid and we hit it off.

Long, long drive back to McAllen that night.  Almost five hours.   

1) Cops follow me on the highway.  One policeman followed me for 10 miles with only one car length between us.  We even passed a semi that had some type of explosion and smoke was pouring out of the engine like it was on fire.  He continued to follow me before turning back.

2) In Falfurrias the same thing happened again.  This time before turning off, he passed me and nodded his head.

3)  When you go to pass a car on the left, the one that is a quarter of a mile away speeds up.

4) I've said this before.  In McAllen, they drove slow on city streets.  They have streets that are 45, 50 and 55 mph zones and they drive like snails.   OTOH, on the highway through the valley they drive like nuts going 80 and 85.   I think it is because there are so many illegals.  A new strategy is to keep Border Patrols close to city police so that when a stop is made they can try and catch them.  Very illegal.

5) I now send my reports via USPS in a $5.75 overnight envelope with a tracking number.  I got to the post office before 8 a.m. so I could head home.  They don't open until 9 a.m. and then the clerks take an additional ten minutes to set up.  Wow, things have changed.  There was a line all the way through the building.  There is a postal workers union, right?

Rvs rock and I say that from experience.  Hotels are mediocre.  They could do so much better.  These are not five star but ones in the $100 range.   Still quite a bit for an eight hour sleep.  The hot breakfasts they advertise suck, the carpets are usually dirty and well I could go on.  But that's what I do and until I can drag along the travel trailer that's how it will be.

So, Tuesday I fly from McAllen to Dallas to do this all over again.   Kaufman, Tx and Corpus Christi.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sitting In Victoria, Texas


I made my way to McAllen yesterday afternoon.   I have two courses this week and two next week.  Tomorrow's course is in Port LaVaca and Thursday in El Campo outside of Houston.  I spent the night at Victoria Palm's Rv Park and Hotel in Donna.   That's where I stayed last year for a month while I was working.   I went to the gym this morning and a lady walked in and said, "long time no see".   I was surprised anyone would remember me.

I stopped by the office and picked up 300 sets of books to be used between the two schools.  This course is for the SAT and it is much easier and an hour shorter than the ACT.   I took off up Hwy 281 to George West and cut over to Victoria where I am spending the night.  Not sure why they booked me 30 miles from the school but that's not up for me to decide.  

It was tense going for the first 100 kms getting through Brook County.   I was truly shocked I wasn't stopped today.  It happens 80% of the time.  They see this gringo in a Mexican plated car filled with boxes so I guess that looks suspicious.  I made it through the northern checkpoint with a few questions about my work and off I went.   After George West it was smooth sailing. 

Tomorrow in the afternoon I'll be heading to El Campo to spend the night and work there on Thursday before heading home.  The company has made one good decision.   We no longer deal with money and the schools are billed directly.   It was a hard thing to do because most people in the border area don't manage bank accounts.  Imagine if I had ever been stopped and searched and had to explain why I was carrying 200 envelopes each with $39.  It was far from safe too having to carry all that cash around.  Glad that is over with.   Maybe some hanky panky was going on there, not for me to say.

Next week I return to McAllen to take a flight to Dallas, spend the night and work the next day in a town called Kaufman.  After, I fly to Corpus for another event and then take a rental car back to McAllen airport.

That should pretty much be it for the fall season but the Spring is booked solid.   That will be a good thing because we can come up and vacation with the rv.  

At home the battery terminals were changed on the SUV.  Total cost, 50 pesos or $3 at the current exchange rate and freon was also put in at 400 pesos.   The roofers did the tarring of the roof but haven't come back.  Yesterday was Monday so we can understand that but today was a big let down.  Anyway . . 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

One Of Those Weekends - Off To Texas


The weekend was really going full steam and it was a fun one.  Sometimes though, there are trabas obstacles in the way and we need to overcome them.

Friday was a great evening at home.   I started happy hour at 5:30 shelling peanuts and watching PBS, my favorite news channel.  We shared a slice of pizza from Costco along with a salad and wine.  Slept like a baby.   Saturday was working around the house as usual and doing maintenance.  

Last night we attended the Festival Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia is our riverwalk) and we saw a Siberian dance troop perform.  The esplanade was packed with a few thousand people and about half got there early enough to want to stand in line for a seat.  We opted to watch standing along the sidelines.  Very good show but it was a bit too long.  One hour and thirty minutes.   Make it an hour and cut out the goofy stuff, but who am I, definitely not a dancer.  hahaha.   We ran into a couple we know who had taken there kids for a ride on one of the river boats and we talked most of the show about what was going on and catching up.   Got home in time for SNL which as usual now is a real let down.  Bring back the old days I say.

This morning we went out for breakfast because we are looking for a good place to take Ruth and Kevin when they get here.   I know Sherman can fit in the driveway.   I hope it's cool at night so we can share an evening by the fireplace.  So much to catch up on and talk about.   

I am getting ready for my work in Texas.   I have two events this week and two the following.   This week is lots of miles to put on the little car but the pay is well worth it including mileage.  The following week I will be driving to Corpus for one event and flying to Dallas for another.  When I return to Corpus I will take a rental car back to McAllen.  Sounds confusing and it is.   There are a lot of changes in the company along with several deserters.   I may be next.   I had to take a psychological test that proved that I was; overly motivated, highly managerial and a moron!   At least they were 3 Ms, hahahaha.   There is someone new in the company that is doing stuff we did 15 years ago like the Japanese 5 Ss.   Big deal.  I'm a teacher not a salesperson and we have new names.  Sales people are "advocates" and teachers are now called "coaches".   

So here we are getting ready to settle in for a nap and the refrigerator goes on the blink.  It's freezing everything so I am sure it is the thermostat.  I discovered the batteries in the rv aren't charging.  I thought I had found the problem but no go.   Kevin can maybe help me out when he gets here.  Then, Juan goes to wash the truck and the battery is dead, dead, dead.   We took off looking for a place to get a charge as the jump didn't work.   I think we need a new battery but who am I to say.   Came back unsuccessful as today is Sunday.  We have a LTH battery that comes with service.  However, the battery is three years old and the replacement is 62% plus service call.   

Sitting here trying to figure out what to do and it dawned on me that we have Autozone in Monterrey.  Yeah!!! And then another revelation, we have a new Autozone in Santiago.  The battery is there now being charged and we pick it up in an hour.   Nice people and they don't close until eight.  We still need to find out what happened to the battery.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Return from Zacatecas, and I Thought The Roof Goes On Top


Wednesday night I was invited out to dinner by the embassy staff.  I recommended the Italian restaurant I had gone to on Tuesday.   It was a hit and we stayed until almost midnight which is not my style but we laughed so much it was worth a couple of glasses of wine.  The next morning I had to get up to go the airport so it didn't really matter as I couldn't have made it to the gym.

Here is a video spot of chef Luciano and the restaurant To-Tlalli.  

A quick stop by the theater for a tour before going to work on Wednesday.

Arriving in Mexico City for my connection to Monterrey I saw this sad sight.  Aviacsa was one of the first discount airlines to enter the Mexico market but it wasn't meant to survive.  They had excellent service and the best in-flight lunches.

The new AeroMexico terminal.

Now to the roof on the floor.  You can see the workers have removed all the tile from the front half of the roof and are getting ready to put down the water proofing material before replacing the tile.  They were able to save the majority of it and it was power washed and stacked.  We need to buy 20 meters to complete the job.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Visit To Zacatecas


This was my veggie burger at Chili's while I was waiting for my flight in Mexico City.  It was a portabella mushroom burger served with baked french fries.  It was really delicious.  I'm getting back into the swing of things.

Arrived to Zacatecas late last night.   Air traffic  was heavy in Mexico City and I got to the hotel after midnight.  I got up early though and took advantage of the morning taking pictures and walking around.   My budget is in dollars for this trip and I can understand why Americans and Canadians like Mexico.  Based on the current exchange rate things are very affordable; food, hotels, transportation.  Amazing.  

Zacatecas is a wonderful colonial city with beautiful architecture, good food for those on a budget and most of all it isn't crowded.   The weather is cool and fresh and the air is clean.

Hotel Emporio where I will be staying until I check out Thursday morning.  Very nice hotel.

There was an advantage to arriving late at night.  Zacatecas uses a lot of lighting (LEDs) and it has a magical effect.  There were little to no people or cars on the streets and made taking pictures easy.   Colin would have a hay day here.

My course started at 2 p.m. and I finished at 6.  It gave me time to roam around a bit and to figure out what I want to do tomorrow morning.  One thing is to ride the teleferico.   Tomorrow I'll tell you about one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever eaten at and I encourage anyone passing through to stop by.  That's all for now.