Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Nobody Leaves Without A Mention

Our good friend Norma always tickled us when she said Croft had many imaginary friends.  Imaginary friends are our blogger friends.  People, many of which we have never met and most but not all are Rver's.

Well, I had the great opportunity to make contact with "Our Awesome Travels".  Suzie and George full timed for 14 years.  Imagine that.  What a life that must have been.  George discovered this last year that he was sick.  

He spent the last couple of months in a wonderful hospice in Canada where his wife Suzie, family and friends stopped in daily to visit him.  He always had a smile on his face and was given the royal treatment.  He had wonderful meals and snacks every day and also had a beer or two as a relaxer. 

I admire his strength, and ability to spread that smile all those days that he probably didn't feel very well but did what he had to do for himself and his friends and family.

Goodbye George.  You always had wonderful posts, great cookouts, and some wise words. Blessings my friend.  Enjoy the eternal fulltiming. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

IMSS ISSTE INSABI - A Visit To The Doctor Today

Apart from being sick, the above title is all the rage with ex-pats as our illustrious president decided to cancel the program Seguro Popular which was designated for the poor but many ex-pats found a way to get into the system.  How did they do that?  It is open to the public but was intended for the poor and those who were not formally employed and registered with the government to pay their fair share of taxes.  Many ex-pats got in on the cheap by using facilitators or as we call them in Mexico, coyotes.  Facilitators have contacts in government offices and use those contacts to get things done.  Many ex-pats shy away from doing it themselves for lack of the language and knowing how the system works.  That said, all of those services are free from the government and no one has to pay to do the paperwork.  

IMSS is the national healthcare system that is available for those who are registered workers be it in a company or independent but they pay taxes.  It's a huge system that cracks under the weight of millions of "derechohabientes" and their families.  In the case of a worker, be it a professional or blue-collar worker, they receive healthcare benefits via their employer which is required by law.  Along with the registered worker are their spouse, children, parents living in the same domicile and sometimes, disabled family members. Because I am an independent worker, I pay 10,000 pesos or $500 U.S. per year.  

Most but not all of the hospitals and facilities are in disrepair thanks to the IMSS workers union which makes it impossible to fire a person who reports to work but does nothing.   As of this year, there are no medications or very little, no supplies, as for chemo treatments forget it.  The president disqualified the providers because he said it was a monopoly(there were three major suppliers who submitted legitimate bids each year) doing this before finding replacements.  He went as far as to send a delegation to France to find cancer medications for children only to save 17,000 pesos, or roughly $1700 U.S.  Some children didn't make it while waiting for the medications.  

OTOH, there are good facilities and one of them is in Ajijic.  Also, specialty hospitals for cancer treatment, preemies, transplants (Mexico last year alone did 1600 kidney, 1300 cornea, 40 liver, and 23 heart transplants), dialysis, and bypass are top drawer facilities.  One of the issues is that the facilities are overrun with family members.  They are jammed packed with people waiting to visit relatives and they bring the whole family.  It's overwhelming in addition to unions and corruption.

Now to my visit this morning.  I have suffered from a severe head cold for six days going on seven.  I try to handle these events on my own but I guess old age is kicking in.  Funny, last six years I worked with 160 children ages 2 to 6 without any issues.  I decided it was time to get this fixed and go on.  I was missing the gym and when I went I was very limited.  

This morning was the day and off  I went.  The office is five blocks from the house and I arrived just after nine a.m.  Concerned that I was from Monterrey and not a local, they took me right in.  I have my carnet (an official booklet that records my visits) and I handed it to the nurse.  She asked me to take a seat and she would call me.  There were seven other people waiting and it was pretty quiet.  It is a nice facility, it could use some TLC but when you ask a union IMSS worker to paint they just slop it all over and it looks like shit.  Sheetrock ceilings need replacing in some areas but overall it was in good shape.  

The doctor called me and in five minutes he examined me and said my throat was very swollen, no congestion, but lots of guck.  He ordered a shot to reduce the inflammation, gave me antibiotics, pain medication, and two liquids to take for the next two days.  One is an expectorant and the other is cough syrup.  The total cost of treatment and medications that are good for two more years, ZERO.  I was in and out in 45 minutes.  

As for the new program INSABI, people are already reporting that they are being charged thousands of pesos for treatment and there are still no medications or supplies.  Typical of this president.  Instead of improving an already existing system, out of vengeance for his opposition, he has to relabel, recreate and remake it all with his mark on it.  Well here we are, now there is no reliable healthcare for the poor and indigenous.  Bless you, AMLO.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

I Think It's Time To Go Home Now

It's been a long two and a half months.  I've given notice that I will be leaving SMA on the 20th of January, which will make it a little more than ten weeks here.  

We've made the decision to get an appraisal on the house and put it up for sale.  Not much can be done if you don't have cash in hand and here in San Miguel money talks.

We're not sure what to do with the cats just yet.  We can't take them home but here there are some good home options available, or catteries as they are called and we are checking on them.  I've notified a relative so things are in the works. 

I just didn't know how long this would be and it has extended much more than we had planned.  We're not bailing ship but rather looking for alternatives until the owner can come back to SMA.

We need to also use our Aeromexico miles for a trip to Spain that is long overdue.  Too much time here to think about what to do, how to do it and when to do it.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year 2020

To all our friends, rvers, and family we wish all of you a wonderful new year for 2020.  We look forward to some new adventures, major life changes and of course, good health and lots of wealth.  

We spent a very lovely evening.  We went out for dinner to the Trattoria Italiana on San Antonio.  I'm sure most people know where the place is.  It is on the fork in the street heading down the street from the Mega or La Comer to centro.  We didn't have a long wait and the food was very good.  Carpaccio de atun, a salad, fettucini alfredo and a small pizza de cuatro quesos.  We also ordered a bottle of wine and to our surprise, the bill was very, very reasonable.  Barbara had dinner with us.

We went home and sat on our rooftop and watched the fireworks in the Parroquia.  Believe it or not, I stayed up until 1 a.m.  For me, that is a real challenge.  I was also reminded that when we lived in the city, I was a pretty good runner, running 10K every morning before work.  On New Year's Day I would go out at 6 a.m. to start off my year.  My oh my, how things change.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Day Hike In San Miguel de Allende

The weather has been cold here especially at night.  Saturday night it was 1C here at the house.  The days are sunny and warm, warm enough to move around without a jacket. 

We spent Christmas Eve with friends, having a fantastic dinner of baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, green beans with bacon, mushrooms and small potatoes and a wonderful black cherry dessert from Julia Childs.  The conversation was the best, meeting a new to us friend.  We were in bed early and up early on Christmas Day.

Good friends are hard to come by.  Barbara found us and took us in.  She's something special.  

Somebody has to carve the ham.  I have no idea what I am doing, but the ham was delicious!

Manón, a new friend, helped me pop the top on the champagne.

 There is never enough to talk about especially when it is happy hour.

First order of business was to go for a hike around the lake at the botanical gardens.  The water levels are the lowest we have ever seen.  Water has become a big issue here.  Many would like to put the blame on the housing boom although most of the housing is being purchased by Mexicans from Queretaro and Mexico City who only come occasionally or on weekends.  The big issue now is corporate agriculture.  They are literally pumping the life of the aquifers and some wells are now as deep as 500 meters.  There are two sides to every debate.  On one side, Mexico needs food, the exportation of agricultural products, supplying jobs to local farm workers and on the other hand, we need to think about the local population and housing is a good thing also supplying jobs and the sell of construction materials, furnishings and the like.  We're not attempting to look for a viable solution for both sides.  Sides are now pitted against one another pointing the blame on the other.

The egret wouldn't raise its head.  We waited patiently and quietly to no avail.

Sad to say, three of my brothers are avid birders.  I have all the books but either I don't have the true desire or I'm lazy.  

Such beauty and it's right there on the edge of town.  10 minutes from the main plaza yet hardly anyone goes there.  So disconnected from nature.

There are plenty of birds to watch and identify.   We also came across a huge flock of sheep grazing and being moved by two shepherds.  We didn't actually enter the botanical gardens because we haven't paid our yearly membership plus the fact that there is some construction going on and we didn't want to see the mess.  The hike is worthwhile and the views are incredible.  So much to see and the air yesterday was clear with cottony clouds and blue skies.  What is even more impressive the fact that there is little to no trash along the trails.  One thing we have noticed during our stay here is that you can see down into the city drains and they are free of debris.  In other cities in Mexico, the problem with flooding during heavy rains is trash accumulating in the sewer drains and clogging them up.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Santa Claus Is Close

We're still here in SMA and Juan returned Friday morning early.  This year we won't have a Christmas tree.  We were hoping to have one here but there isn't one and we didn't want to spend the money on things we would have to cart back home and have more of what we don't need.  I decorated the fireplace.  Juan brought the lights from home and I purchased the paistle or musgo (Spanish moss), the garland, mini piñatas, and the baby, Jesus, for 200 pesos or $10.  This is our Christmas tree this year.

We went to the artesian market which is about ten minutes away from the house.  We went there for lunch with our friend Barbara.  This is one of the best Italian restaurants we have been to on our trips.  In addition, it is one of the best priced.  The chef and his wife run the small restaurant called "Andrea's".   Really good food and the couple is very nice.  We split a chicken parmesano over a bed of pasta with mixed veggies.  Barb had salmon that was truly flavorful.  (I share our money, our home, and anything else except for food.  But, you have to taste other people's food).  

As we walked through the market people were selling like crazy, lowering prices and the Christmas spirit was on high.  Like in all markets, we passed the altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The streets in this section are exemplary of what San Miguel looked like 300 years ago.  With the exception of some changes in the streets including repairs, the houses and shops are pretty much the same.  There is one exception though, the electric company, belonging to the federal government, found a way to put a semi-modern structure right in front of the restaurant.  I guess most people would hardly notice.-

Back home it was time to heat up the fireplace.  It was 1C last night and the days are wet with light rain and heavy clouds.  The house gets cold without it but during sleep, we turn off the fireplace and turn on the electric blanket.  

Juan took this before leaving home the other day.  It was a picture of the last sunset from home for this year.  I'm missing the place but not so much the house, just being in our own digs, going to the gym, neighbors, shopping and the like.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dog Rescue - Cell Phone Pics - Short Commentary

Short Commentary

Blogging and YouTubing have become big business.  Each and every click counts.  Over the last six weeks, I have watched Rv'ers come and go from the botanical gardens.  Some are in caravans and others by themselves.  Several have their blog or YouTube name or address on the side of their rigs.

I have checked a couple only to find out that they "have just discovered a new find",  the best boondocking spot in San Miguel de Allende.  I beg your pardon.  We have been boondocking since 2001 and I surely can't lay claim to any boondocking site.  That said, there was a boondocker from California that sent me a message last year asking where the botanical garden was and where they could park.  I sent them the information and lo and behold, a month later I read their blog and the same thing, "Wow, did we ever find an unknown boondocking spot".

Give credit where credit is due.  I'm not looking for anyone to praise me or thank me but I believe it is a courtesy from one blogger or YouTuber to another.  The reason people don't mention another blog is that they will lose those precious clicks.  I don't do my blog for money as I don't think it is interesting to know that today I swept the porch and did my laundry.  That said, others provide good information but none the less, blogging isn't what it used to be.  I have always given credit as well as provide a link to another blogger's website.  One last thing, even though the land does not belong to the botanical garden, be a good neighbor and buy a membership as a group or at least visit and pay the measly 50 peso entrance fee.  We always offer to pay wherever we stay if it is next to a business, restaurant, wherever.  

Last Friday, I was driving down the libramiento from Dolores towards La Comer.  There in the middle of the highway I saw what I thought was a dead dog.  As I drove by, it lifted its head.  Cars were driving over it and I turned around as quickly as possible.  I grabbed the dog and put her in the car.  She was in complete shock.  To make a long story short, many pesos later, she had x-rays which showed two minor fractures; one in the hip and one in the last vertebra.  She is now walking a bit and out of the vet.  I found a temporary home that was willing to take her in.  She is a real keeper and I know would give lots of love but we can't have any more pets.  It was worth it though.  You can't just let that happen, if you do, you also have little respect for life in general.

I haven't been posting much because I couldn't figure out how to download pictures from my new 900 peso cell phone.  I went back today and they showed me what I was doing wrong.  Something new to learn every day and now I will be posting more of what is going on around town.  Juan comes back Friday morning and we will be celebrating Christmas and taking some day trips to other towns nearby.  Too much gringo for me, I need a break!