Friday, May 18, 2018

Rv.Net Mexico Forum Is MisInformation

Over the last several months, a few old hang on members of the Rving In Mexico and Central South America forum have been posting some false information regarding Mexico.

They are doing quite a bit of damage to the image of Mexico and rving in the country.  This affects any newbies who would like to rv in Mexico and use the forum as a place to glean information.

Please do not guide prospective rvers or those who would like to live in Mexico to Rv.Net. 

I find it very hard not to post there as it is an injustice to Mexico, its people and those of us who love rving in Mexico. 

Two recent posts involve the use of ULSD in the country and the recent hacking of the transfer system (SPEI) which the Bank of Mexico (Fed) uses to for inter and intra bank transfers.   Very false information which would make anyone who wanted to visit Mexico shy away for fear their cards would be hacked at an ATM or Mexican bank.

Very unfortunate. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Very Rare?

I happened to be at the bank today and asked them if they had any commemorative coins on hand.  She said she had a handful of 100 pesos coins from the 100/200 anniversary celebration of both the Mexican Revolution as well as Mexican Independence.  The coin above commemorates the Independence and is marked with the escudo or shield of the state of Guanajuato where Independence actually took place in the town of Dolores Hidalgo.  There are 20, 50 and 100 pesos coins in circulation but not common in use.  Imagine the weight of a 100 peso coin?

A good friend is going through chemo for breast cancer.  She has done extremely well.  Her hair has returned, she's in good health and is now under chemo maintenance.  I asked her for this picture as it represents universal or free health care in Mexico.  She belongs to IMSS just as I do and says she couldn't be happier.  She says the hospital, number 25, is top drawer and the nurses and staff the best ever.  She says it's important that people understand that the local sniffle and sneeze clinics are overrun and abused by the IMSS members but should not judge the hospitals that provide specialized care for cancer treatment, dialysis, chronic heart disease and bypass surgery.  That's her arm at the bottom of the picture.  

Today, Kevin posted on the cost of lettuce in Canada.  I believe it was over $3 for a head.  I posted that HEB has it for $.45.  However, we picked up a few items at a local supermarket, Comercial Treviño just a few hours ago for less than $.30.   Truly amazing.  As Kevin said, "how do people survive in Canada".  Minimum wage in Canada isn't much higher than in the U.S. and we think groceries in the U.S. are outrageous.  While we were in Canada on our trip in 2014, we shopped the 50% off baskets for produce and meat, mostly chicken.  It wasn't easy.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Thinking About A Project 

Several things have been going on recently and I guess I need to get off my behind and start blogging on a regular basis.

Conference in Merida

My very comfortable room at the Holiday Inn.  The food service stank.

For one thing, I recovered from my Ecuador trip and looking forward to getting paid.   It was only two days later that I went to Merida for an overnight and spoke at a conference on Social and Emotional Learning.  I had a good crowd for a smaller city and most them are university text material users.  I didn't hang around until the end.  I booked an early return as I figured I don't get paid for just hanging around.  I doubt people were to thrilled with that but I arrived in Monterrey at 6:30 p.m.  Flights to Merida are twice a day as far as nonstops.   Until the new Mexico City (Texcoco) airport goes online I will try and avoid stops there.   If our Socialist candidate wins, he vows to end the new airport construction.  It shows you what a fool he is, after all that investment and only two years to go, he would scrap it all.  It will be the largest airport in all of Latin America bringing jobs, money, tourism, and business.

I still have four more trips to take before June 6th, including Saltillo and Puebla and then it will be time for summer vacation.  We have another holiday next Tuesday the 15th of May celebrating Teachers Day.  The 1st of May was Labor Day and we had the day off but no four-day weekend.  Same with this next one but we have decided to make it one.  The trailer will go somewhere.  I'm still a bit skittish after the breakdown we had during Spring Break.  That was a real bummer.

Insert:  Sorry No Fat Pic!

One of my projects is to lose 10 lbs.  This is my 60th year and I haven't been this big in years.  What happened?  A vegan diet is what happened.   I need to eat, I like eating and yes I like comfort foods which include carbs.  You know, pasta, freshly baked bread, etc.   Well, I packed on the pounds the first four months of this year.   Before I die, I will be thin.  It's not my body type I've been told over the years but I really don't give a S!"%!   I still go to the gym every day and do 40 minutes of intense cardio and 50 minutes of weights.  The daily 10 km walks didn't help much because it made me really hungry.  I guess I need to live in a forest and forage for my food!

Second project.  I receive a feed on my Facebook page of called Market.  Market allows you to offer things for sale including rentals.   I am surprised by all the inexpensive rentals that are available in Monterrey.  They are not the most luxurious areas by any means but do provide good and comfortable housing albeit with some lower income areas.  Some of you may remember Lee and the house she had in Mazatlan.  This is the level of home I am referring too called casas de interes social.  They are homes built for lower middle to lower class incomes provided by government-backed home loans.  Some of these homes sell for as little as $10,000 after a $5000 subsidy from the government.  I'm doing research now and the idea is to share with those who may be on a very limited income of $1000 or less a month a way to be comfortable by living in Mexico.

BTW, I checked my social security account in the U.S. and it went up another $100 a month when I'm 62 so that is around the corner.  I finished all the paperwork for my SS here in Mexico and can now make contributions.  I will have a meeting with the consultant who will advise me just how much I can contribute on a monthly basis to beef up my account.   Mexican SS allows up to a 50,000 peso a month benefit and gives you your last four years before retirement to make contributions.  More on that later.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

1870 Earthquake Quito - Then and Now

I had said that I found a picture of the 1870 Quito earthquake at the Cuena museum and that I was going to find the street and take a current day picture to see if it was the same.  You be the judge.


April 2018 looks the same.

I would think that most of us associate our Mexico experience with the rest of Latin America.  Mexico has a thriving economy no doubt but also has its downside such as corruption at the citizen level not to mention a litter problem.  As I have mentioned several times so far, Ecuador is one of the cleanest South American countries I have seen.  People don't tolerate litterbugs and aren't shy telling them either.

As for transit police, yes they exist but they aren´t out on the hunt.  The system is technologically advanced.  Cameras exist on all major highways, towns, and cities.   As you commit an infraction, points go on your record.  Collect 30 points and your license is revoked.   Drunk driving is immediate incarceration.  Should your license get revoked, it is six months of classes to get it back.  My coworkers in Mexico are known for speeding.  Of the eight that chauffered me around in Ecuador, none took the chance of speeding.  Truly amazing.  

Oh, and did I mention the fines?  For the first 1 to 10 km over the speed limit, in addition to the points, $180 (u.s.) fine, and for every 10 km more it continues to double.  Do 140 km and you lose your license.  

More pictures to come.  I´m just unpacking and yet tomorrow I fly to Merida where I will speak to a group of 150 teachers.  I'll be back home Saturday in time for happy hour.  Of course!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Winding Up Ecuador

We were a success in all the cities we visited.  Lots of great schools, teachers and students.  Both conferences were big for the country and cities, 175 in Quito and 85 in Cuenca.   We're not very popular yet in the country in terms of English.  We are better known for our texts in Religion and Spanish.

Yesterday and today we visited schools in Amabato.  Great town but known for its severe earthquakes.  The last major quake in 1949 pretty much leveled the city.  It was rebuilt in two years by the government and the citizens.  Very narrow streets and sidewalks but what do expect from a city founded in the 1600s.   I didn't have much of a chance to get out but last night I went for a brisk one -hour walk and this is what I saw.

Cathedral Our Lady of the Elevation in the main plaza.

Taken from the lobby of the hotel so you can see how narrow the streets are.

The drive back to Quito this afternoon was amazing.  Dark clouds hovered overhead and rain storms threatened between breaks in the clouds.  The country is a virtual garden with greenery at every turn.  The countrysides look like a place where I would want a cabin with solar, pump my own water and have a couple of cows and a vegetable garden.  

I enjoy watching cows.  These guys are happy to be free roaming in the cool air.

Provincia de Tungurahua is the route for four volcanos that are still active.  Signs on the highway warn of impending ash fallout and evacuation routes.   One volcano has a small hotel with rooms facing the cone so tourists can watch the lava flows at night.  Ash has been known to go as far as the coast which is 270 km.

You can see we reached 3400 meters or 11,150 ft.  Walking up three flights of stairs is harder than you think.

Imagine fuel prices like this.  Diesel is $1 per gallon.  That would make anyone switch to a diesel class B motorhome.  
More tomorrow, I have my flight to CDMX at 8:35 and then home to Monterrey.  I want to share this quinta experience where I am staying now and also how vehicles and drivers are charged for violations.  Very interesting.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cuenca - Saturday Afternoon

After returning from the museum and ruins, I took a short nap.  My short walk to the main plaza was about 3 km.  Nice walk but coming home it was raining pretty hard so I took a taxi, $1.50.  Just about everywhere in Cuenca is less than $2 for a taxi.  

What a surprise!   The centro area of Cuenco is amazing.  Reminds me of a much larger SMA but a bit more updated and well-maintained.  Cuenca is considered the most European style city in Ecuador with its 16th and 17th-century Spanish architecture.   It was founded a few decades after Quito and Guayaquil by the explorer Gil Ramirez Davila.

Let's face it, and I hate to, but Mexicans are litterbugs.  Here, you can spend all day looking for something on the ground.  A stray would have a hard time getting fed and you don't see any strays around either.

                                      Stopped here to people watch and have my coffee.

I stopped for a coffee and headed to the zocalo to find a seat.   Beautiful gardens and friendly people.  A couple of shoe shiners, someone was selling popcorn and a woman took pictures of people with her Saint Bernard next to them.  Beautiful dog and I bet he enjoys the cool evenings.  

My friends having chips.

I kept asking for a tiendita, or tienda de conveniencia, you know an OXXO but didn't get a response.  Then I saw two teens having a bag of chips in another plaza.   I asked them where I could find some chips and they said, over there in the dispensa.  Who knew!

Rain clouds looming overhead.

I also found some nice shops for souvenirs.  I'm not saying what I bought so far but they are things for the house.  Every time I visit a country, first time or more, I always pick up something for the house.  

I'm back in Quito.  My flight left at 9 a.m.   No one could get to the airport because they had the streets blocked off for a cycling and running event.   Eight of us taking the same flight had to walk about six blocks to get a taxi and then we got into an argument with a transito.   I spent the afternoon here in Quito exploring the downtown area.  

Up at 5 a.m. tomorrow for a trip to Latacunga to visit a university there.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Inca Ruins - Cuenca, Ecuador

Finally, a day to play tourist and what a great day it has been.  I set the alarm for 6 a.m.  Got up, showered and off I went on a hike up to the lookout, Mirador de Turi.  It overlooks the city and has incredible views.

Cuenca´s original name is Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca.   Four rivers pass through the city.  

I had checked the route on Google Maps so I knew where I was going.  It was six kilometers round trip.  The only thing that made it a hard start is that most hotels in Ecuador don't have coffee makers in the rooms like in Mexico.  I have been going without coffee until breakfast although I could order room service then you have to get dressed and make the room look halfway decent.

Off I went watching Cuencanos going to work, opening shops, riding bikes and running.  Cuenca, like Quito, has wonderful bike riding lanes, bidirectional and blocked off with a curb so cars can't enter.  Lots of bike riders.  I crossed the bridge where the river flows in the picture above.   As I've said before, this is the cleanest Latin American country I have ever seen.  I bet I could fill a small plastic bag with trash on the street is a day's walking.

These women are called Cholacuencas.

One of the many bike lanes.

I could see the mirador in the distance and continued walking down the street.  Then came the climb.  

It's not easy when the city is at 2580 meters or 8500 ft.  Even the locals are huffing and puffing but I was surprised to find myself passing many people much younger than myself.  I wasn't in a hurry but didn't feel the need to stop.  Even my coworkers who live here are always stopping to catch their breath.  I guess they don't exercise.

Made it to the top.   Now I was stopping to catch my breath.  That was a climb.   This was halfway up.

And this is from the top!

Looks like a really big city but as I said the other day, it is only 500,000 but it is crowded together.  As always, there is a church at the top.

Imagine living in this luxury cabin at the top of the mountain!  

Made my way back to the hotel and had breakfast.  Great breakfast buffet included in the price.  I showered again, and off I went to the Incan ruins that are here in between the rivers.  That's for tomorrow's blog post.   After, I came back to the hotel, walking, and took a nap.  The centro area is much further and it was raining, so I took a taxi.  

The photo below is my mission for tomorrow when I return in the morning to Quito.  This was taken two days after the earthquake of 1870.  I saw an exhibition at the museum I visited also.  I guess I really packed it in.  Anyway, the mission is to find the location and take a picture of the street today.

Ecuador suffered a major earthquake two years ago last Thursday.   

I could easily live here.  Looks like we need to find a house sitting job!