Saturday, September 15, 2018

Illegal Immigration - The Rush For The Border

I've discussed this in the past but it seems the problem is getting worse and Trump is losing ground.  Illegals are swarming to the U.S. border by the truckload and that term is literal.   This week on the toll road between Monterrey and Reynosa, Mexican immigration stopped a semi loaded with 336 people.

That's not a typo or a stuck key, 336 human beings herded into a trailer comprised of men, women, 31 children and two pregnant women just days away from giving birth.   They are safe now and housed in the shelter for illegals with food, hot showers, beds, and blankets as well as clean clothes.   The 31 children have been turned over to DIF (National System for Integral Family Development) whose job it is to care for as well as provide psychological evaluation and reunite them with their parents.

This cargo had a value of over $ 2,500,000 U.S.  Each person paid over $7500 to be taken from the Guatemala/ Mexico border to Houston, Tx.   This isn't a once in a lifetime trip, this trip is constantly being made through the Americas delivering people, not to the border, but to cities inside the United States.   Keep in mind, many people pay just to make it to Mexico which for many can be just as safe and lucrative in terms of improving one's condition.

How long did it take some or all of these people to raise $7500?  I ask that question because that is a lot of money.  When was the last time you spent that much on a trip?   We didn't even spend that much on our four-month-long excursion through the U.S. and Canada when fuel prices were at one of their all-time highs.

In Mexico, a person with a high school diploma who makes 10,000 pesos a month is doing extremely well.  With that 10,000 pesos a month you have socialized medicine for yourself, your spouse and your children until age 18.  You have access to a government home loan with a fixed rate.

85 sq meters (765 sq ft) 2 bedrooms, one bath.  Not a big house but a good starter home.  Imagine if the spouse works also and makes around the same.  Not a bad life.

So this blog post has been delayed for a week due to the fact that a certain cat strolled across my keyboard and erased this part of the post.  I couldn't retrieve it.  Too bad but my point with this topic was that I am not sure why people, especially Mexicans, risk their lives and families, not to mention their families money, to do something that they could easily do at home.  

Not sure why the United States doesn't just tell people not to come as the "dream" really doesn't exist and it's something they can do at home.  How many have died?  How many have never returned home to their families because of a change of plans, they had started a new family and forgotten the other, or ended up in prison?  

With the exception of those from Central America, a place that has no real future that I can see, who seek refugee status.   Central America is one of Mother Nature's mistakes in terms of human existence.  Battered yearly from both sides by cyclones, hurricanes, and heavy flooding.  No wonder those countries, although beautiful and I know a few, are so corrupt and crime-ridden.  

Just my take on this as we see them pass through Monterrey on their way north.   Stay home, get a good education, find a way.  There are solutions and as frequent visitors to Mexico, we can all help.  Used clothes and tips aren't the answer.   Help provide a good education and support for a family.  So when you come this winter, find someone to help, not with money with a better future.

Monday, September 3, 2018

It Finally Happened

It's not what you may think but it is certainly good news.  The rains have come and the temperatures are dropping.  I don't expect the heat to stay away for long but we will see a gradual decrease over the next few weeks.

Coming off the road after some hectic weeks and trips.   Oh the stories I could tell about almost having to turn Saturday night's flight around because of a drunk guy who locked himself in the bathroom, people listening to videos on their cell phones without using headphones,  kids running up and own the aisles (I guess if you are a grandparent that may sound cute), people attempting to stuff an oversized (supposed) carry on and being told it just won't fit and raising a stink and then almost breaking the compartment door clasp.  Oh and I didn't mention the flight delays that they continue to blame on the Mexican president's plane landing at the CDMX airport.   Not true, there are large posters in the airport dispelling the myth and showing a pie chart of the actual reasons.  The most common is that discount airlines have very few or no extra equipment so that when one is taken out of service unexpectedly, it throws the rest of their system off.  

So the drought has been broken or at least for now.   The lake is slowly filling and we seem to always make the right decisions sometimes at the last minute but right on time.   I was never happy with the gutters we had on the front of the house.  First off, they were ugly PVC gutter material and second the water came off the roof and over the gutters.  I found a great place that makes all aluminum gutters and they installed them on Friday.  As we say, "justo a tiempo".   The downpour lasted three hours and the gutters did the job.   They came back today to do some touchup and adjustments.   It rained again this evening and all is well.  Imagine, they brought a one-piece 15 meter gutter all the way from the northside of Monterrey.

Looks like I may be moving on from the school.   It appears they are not going for a bilingual program based on the demographics in the area.   Not a bad thing but I worked very hard to get where we are today and there have been some amazing advancements.  If the board decides to change its strategy I always have other things to do for the next year.  One is a course I am writing for the U.S. Embassy.  I'm just getting started and the pay is great.   The university publisher keeps me busy enough as it is and as December rolls around I think we will be rving much more.  

That's it for now.  I could go on but . . . 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

After Two Weeks On The Road . . . Working


This is the high season for visiting schools.  My trips took me to the following cities but only for a night and a day.  It wasn't possible to do any sightseeing and there wasn't much to take pictures of except for schools and airports.

2 days in Culiacan
1 day in Guadalajara
2 days in Queretaro
1 day in San Luis Potosi
1 day in Queretaro 
1 day in Garcia
1 day in Guadalajara

Unlike other consultants, one in particular who traveled throughout the state of Sonora by car, I was confined to basically boring trips.  I made money though and that is a good thing.   Come two weeks, I will have one more year before taking my U.S. pension and I think I will be finished with the daily grind.  It's not really a daily grind.  I go to the gym and then work from 8:30 to noon and do things around here or traveling for work.  Not bad but it's not being on the road.  Mexicans need their feet planted in the soil.

The weather has really sucked here at home at still hovers around 100F everyday.  The electric bill just came in and it was the highest ever in my Mexican history.  1449 pesos for two months, which comes out to $39 a month U.S.  I refused to not use the air conditioning and turn it on after 4 p.m.  

As a welcome home dinner tonight, I grilled a couple of steaks and some shrimp on the barby.  Very tender and delicious not to mention the shrimp.  

My little brother is coming in October for a 10-day visit and then I hope I am off to Ecuador.  

I have a couple more tasks to finish to make the rv ready for our next trip.  New batteries moved indoors plus some other minor things.  

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Social Media - It Could Be So Much More

Eygpt used social media to start a revolution that brought about change.  It was very dramatic and took off like wildfire.  It seems to pretty much end there.

I find social media sites, such as FaceBook which is the largest, to have evolved into a space for social disconnect as well as business.  It works for both of those things but I believe many, like myself, had hoped for so much more.

It seems like things happened many years ago and we've forgotten about them.  You know, things like world wars, holocausts, fascism, starvation, and hunger.   Where did those things go?  They've gone nowhere and still continue to this day.  It's as if we live in a world of fantasy and we have put those things in the closet in hopes they won't rear their ugly head again.   But, they will.

My grandparents were immigrants of the poorest kind.  Tenant farmers who had no education whatsoever spoke a dialect that was ridiculed and came to the U.S. looking for that freedom that everyone speaks so highly of.   My father started school at age 8 not speaking English and was bullied for it as well.  However, this isn't about me or what my family or many others go through.  

Facebook, with over 2.46 users, is a free social media site.  If you can connect to the internet you can become a member.   We have over 1/3 of the world posting and reading the website.  In addition, there is YouTube, Blogger, Wordpress and many others.   Just like myself, we post daily activities, pictures, and videos of places we've been to or seen.   Take a quiet scroll down your Facebook and see how many of those posts you read really have anything to do with change.   I still associate Facebook with the Austin Power's movie where he shows Beyonce arriving in the future.  He gives her a look at social media and it's a video of a monkey in a tree scratching his behind.  Isn't that cute!  But hey, that's where social media has gone.
It didn't take long for users to get into the business side of the website.   Now, everyone is selling or hawking something. Clothes, houses, vacations, used items, why even Facebook has MarketPlace where you can advertise just about anything new or used for sale.  It's a good thing and I'm not knocking it and I know many people who use it for advertising what they sell.

What I am knocking though, is a simple fact that we now have a global medium in which we can make a change.  Yet I see very few people post anything that is world changing.   Facebook has pretty much gone silent on the political state of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.  That should be raising an early warning flag.  It's not about bashing the politicians or countries, it's about making people aware of what is going on and the opportunity to change the world.   Remember hunger and starvation?  Maybe, just maybe, we could have an impact on some of those issues.  Then again, most people are fearful of social discourse, afraid someone might say something against them or start an intelligent conversation other than LOL, OMG, WTH.

I posted this definition the other day; 

Fascism - a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

Either people didn't read it, are ashamed to admit that they've read it and understand it, or they simply think it will all go away.  If a person has any education at all, along with an understanding of world history, we should all know that it really is true that history is repetitive.  The U.S. may be experiencing some of this and Mexico appears to be heading in that direction.   They said after WW I it could never happen again, well, it did, WWII.  Recently, a standing president made a comment regarding the possibility of WW III.  And here we all thought it couldn't happen again.  

Isn't it strange that after WWII, a small group of my family from Europe came to visit?  Why was it such a small group?  Read your history books.

To make a long story short, this is one of the reasons why I don't post much anymore.  If it isn't all roses and happy, happy, or funny and amusing, or some sort of consumerism, no one seems to be interested anymore.  "Let's not worry about tomorrow", or, "there really isn't much I can do about it anyway", "who cares, I'm retired now and will just sit back and watch the show". 

Even though technology didn't exist back then, whichever back then you're currently thinking of, just remember that it can happen again and we can all help to make a change, any change.  Spread the word.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tuesday Market - Trip To Atotonilco

Yesterday was another busy one.  I still get up early but we don't seem to get out of the house until 9:30.  We're relaxing and I enjoy watching the news, reading, and using the internet.  Tuesday market at the top of the hill is a gringo day as well as locals.  It's much bigger than the Sunday market but what makes it different is all the characters that show up.   I don't know if they flock to SMA because they're different, odd or interesting but I usually don't see these people in the U.S. unless I'm never in the right place at the right time.  People watching is fun and I could do it all day.

We had a light breakfast there with a quesadilla topped with a bit of asado de puerco.  It was delicious.  Just enough to get in a good walk around the market, pick up and look at stuff and then put it back down.  That's what people do when they shop.   The used clothes market is really something.  There are tables for 10, 20 and 30 pesos per item and now I see quite a bit of Chinese imports that sell from 1 to 10 pesos.  1 peso?  I mean really, people will buy anything.

Heading out to Atotonilco, I remembered we had gone as a group with Norma, Croft, Claudia, and P.J. several years ago.   Atotonilco was established over 300 years ago.  A Padre Neri claimed to have seen a vision of Christ telling him to build a place for penance and meditation.  Another version says that the terrain around Guanajuato looked similar to those lands around Jerusalem, I am assuming he had read about it in his studies or had seen drawing and painting of the Holy Land.

The church in Atotonilco is also known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas.   It took the artist 30 years to paint the interior.   This was also the first stop for Hidalgo on his march for Independence in 1810.  The church underwent restoration in 2010 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Independence.  Several major issues were discovered and they all had to do with humidity and minerals that were being absorbed by the walls from the aquifer that flows below it.  This is the water that goes to La Gruta where they have thermal water pools.   So not only are there minerals that affected the structure also the steam from the naturally heated water did its job as well.  Walls were sealed, paintings restored and sealed and an addition added in the last 100 years was torn down as it blocked sunlight from entering and keeping the walls dry.  Atotonilco is listed on the World Monuments list.  Well worth seeing.

Monday, July 16, 2018

I Walked A Thousand Miles - SMA

Some things never change and others seem to be under a constant morphosis.  We always find something new going on and yet you can always count on the World Heritage Site maintaining the historical and architectural side of the city.  It continues to grow and I'd say by leaps and bounds.  Traffic on Sunday was a bit hectic even walking.   It is summer and vacationers are here from all over and as I said yesterday mostly Mexicans.  One huge downside that has turned me off completely is the introduction of RZRs.  They are like dune buggies but much more sophisticated and extremely noisy with huge speakers attached to them with the boom, boom, boom.  

First gas station in San Miguel de Allende.

Today was a marathon.  We walked, almost non-stop from 10 a.m. until we stopped for linner (combination lunch and dinner).   Lots of steep streets and rocky roads but we saw many things we had never come across before.   Mostly neighborhoods that are off the beaten path.  One of our goals was the Mask Museum.  That was a one-hour walk from our house and it took us to some new streets; Homobono and Acamapixtle.   Homobono was a canonized a saint in 1199 for his good works and deeds just as his name translates, good man.  He apparently had a vision in front of the crucifix in a local church.  Acamapixtle was the king of  Tenochtitl├ín in the Aztec period around 1375 and ruled for almost 20 years.  As for the museum, it was a flop.  In my internet research, it says it is open daily until 3 p.m. but no one answered and we saw a small, 4 X 4-inch sign that read, "by appointment only".  

See the sheet music attached to the back of the kid in front!

Bummer, we started down the hill and decided to take a bus further up the hill to the Mirador.  We gawked at the sights and watched tourists getting off and on the trolley and buying their mugs of something that was quite expensive.   From there we walked around the Parroquia and just happen to catch a procession.  Look closely at the picture and you can see a hunched-over man with a homemade cane and his wife tailing behind him.  They must be in their late eighties or early nineties and they just kept right along.   We watched the procession for a while and then attended a funeral in the cathedral.  Well, we didn't stay long but we did see the cuerpo presente  (coffin with the body).  

Lots of shops looking for a lamp for a friend to put in his new house.  It started to rain but we kept on until we arrived to the Dragon Chinese restaurant just down the block from the Canadian bakery.  That was our linner.  We split a plate of dumplings and hot and sour soup.  Very good restaurant but lacks any interior design.  I think that's where Les plays cards in the winter.

Walked home for a well-deserved nap and now we are in happy hour.   Sorry to see what Trump did today.  I think we're all in for some trouble in the coming years, here in Mexico too.

Visit To The Market - Evening Walkabout

Had a great sleep for the first night.  This is a very quiet neighborhood and the bedroom is very comfortable.  The rest of the house is so-so, but again, you get what you pay for.  It's well equipped but could you some basic maintenance.  Talking to the guy who rented us the place, he and his parents have several rentals.  Paint and some details would work well.   

Yesterday started early with the World Cup match between France and Croatia.  Good game and it was a great way to start a Sunday.   We headed out on the bus to the market.  The bus passes right in front of us where the Cruz Roja is located.  It takes you all the way to the market.  Parking is usually a problem but it seemed as if the market has lost some of its pizazz.  They used to have three covered areas and now there are only two.  One of those has a very nice permanent structure or roof that makes it very light and airy.  Once we meet up with our friend Barbara, she can fill us in on all the changes we are seeing.

Of course, the market is for buying produce and food.  So we had a slice of very good pizza and shared 30 pesos of borrego which easily turns into four very full tacos along with homemade yellow corn tortillas.  Very good salsas along with sliced cucumbers, onions, and pico de gallo.

Lots to see and do and I bought a Stilson, as it is known in Mexico but to gringos, it is a pipe wrench.  The old one I had finally fallen apart after more than 30 years and it was used, to begin with.  Tons of used clothing which comes from the U.S. in bails.  You probably know that these used clothes make the rounds and go all the way through Central and South America before becoming those famous rag rugs that they sell at the dollar store.


After a well-deserved nap it was off to the Parroquia to see all the tourists and their antics.  Mostly Mexicans, there were all kinds of activities going on.  A band played in the kiosk while people danced, children played with their balloons and taking pictures with mojigangas.  Walked there and back.  You just can't get lost anymore if you have a cell phone.  The GPS works great so we were able to take many back streets we haven't been on and still found our way home.