Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Friends - And Snow!!!

We had snow last night.  Actually, it was more like sleet.   Covered everything and it was a real surprise when we woke up at 5 a.m.  The pic above was taken at 10:30 and as I write this in the afternoon it's still 1C but the snow is almost gone.  Plenty around for the kids to play with after school if they even went today.  They announced that all schools were open but parents make the final decision.   Last night it got down to -3C here at the house.

The arrival of bloggers to were a surprise too yesterday.  Bill and Bonnie came by and stayed at the weekend resort we belong to in Montemorelos.   They have a beautiful new motorhome that is just the right size or Mexico, 26ft with two slideouts.  We met them in Allende which is 20 minutes south of here.  They came through the Pharr bridge and down the back way to our place.   We met, chatted or a few minutes and they followed us down the highway.

At the club, they were told to park anywhere they wanted.   As soon as they were chosing a spot, the manager who lives on the property that Croft and Norma met last April came driving out.  He wants an rv and he goes nuts when we show up especially with someone who has an rv.   He loved it and had them park close to the clubhouse so they could plug in.  It's only 15 amp but it's good enough to run the furnace at night.  Bill got things setup and we had wonderful heat within minutes.

We stayed for about four hours drinking wine, talking about rv travel and Mexico.   We had  a great time and I wish we had taken the trailer down there and spent the night.   Problem is, we don't have the charge controller yet and I was afraid being winter we would get there and not have any electricity in the palapas.  Apart from that, I had to take the VW in for new rear shocks and today was the opportunity.   I am without wheels as I write.

I haven't heard from them this morning so I assume they got out okay and the roads are clear as they start their trek to Durango and on to warm Mazatlan.  I told them about Colin and Contessa and I am sure they will be knocking on your door.  Bill and Bonnie are great folks and I know we will keep in touch with them in the future.   They also gave us the okay to stop by on our Great North America Tour and I know we will.   A good time had by all.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Great North American Tour Route Map

 This is the first draft of our trip.  The spots marked aren't all stops and are not the driving distances either (used just to make the map).  We can say though, that some of the stops so far are:

  • Del Rio, Tx
  • Guadalupe Natl Park, Tx
  • Phoenix, Az
  • Temecula, Ca
  • Yosemite Natl Park, Ca
  • Coos Bay, Or
  • Campbell River, BC
  • Kingston, NS
  • Cincinnati, Oh
  • La Grange, Ky
  • Kansas City, Mo
  • San Antonio, Tx
If you appear on the loop or nearby and would like a visit for a coffee, chat or overnight let us know.  We can start adding to the list.  Our email is always at the top of the blog  or here

Sunday, January 26, 2014

EcoVia - Monterrey's New Public Transport

In addition to the Monterrey subway system, the new EcoVia has come on line this weekend.   The system covers 32kms.  The concrete lanes have been built down the center of major avenues and include a total of 41 stations.   The EcoVia links up with the Metro subway system at various points and also works along with the feeder routes that take people to the subway.

This weekend is free and provides trial runs.  The buses were packed with people who used it as an opportunity to pass the day riding from one end of the line and then back again.   It was a bit overcrowded but those things will all work out once it goes into service on Tuesday the 28th for paying customers.

The buses are equipped with air conditioning/heating, security cameras on the buses as well as in the stations and the big draw for customers is wifi.  This will bring in the younger set of students and workers.  The system is expecting 160,000 riders per day.

Considering the crowded conditions today, it will be a big success here in town and once the bugs are worked out it will win over ridership.  Just like our Metro line in the beginning, it took riders time to adjust to the system.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Route Planning

I spoke with my brother and SIL in Boise this evening about our trip.   We are planning on meeting them in Coos Bay, OR.  They have a new rv, Class B+ and they just installed solar.  They are really excited about not having to stay in campgrounds as Idaho has lots of BLM land.   I mentioned to him that the next step would be radiant heat for those cold nights as an additional savings to the batteries.

I have sent Croft an email, this ferry thing is all new to me and I'm not sure about how we should approach visiting Campbell River, BC.   I hope we can find a place to drop the rv and take the SUV onto the ferry and then find a place to stay nearby.   

My sister and BIL who live in Reno, will most likely meet us in Yosemite.  Not sure on that yet as we will be taking the coast route up California.  We don't have a problem getting off the route but we don't want to have to back track if possible.   I lived in San Francisco when I was . . . well, a long time ago but I know Juan would like to visit there and I want to show him where I used to live.  2275 Sutter.   Amazing memory.

I am committing to producing a route map by next weekend.   We are sitting down over the next few nights going over it and there will be lots of changes and flexibility as the weeks go by.  

I may have mentioned this the other day, I am was having cold feet about our trip.   I worry about leaving the cats in someone else's care should something happen I couldn't forgive myself but hey, I need to keep an open mind and be positive that when we return, they will be here at home safe and sound.   They have weathered our week-long trips in the past but this is a long one.   My concern is that LB is 13 years old.  Maybe I'm just a nut over animals but they get lonely too.

We have an appointment with a real estate agent here in Monterrey this week.  I also have scheduled phone time with a realtor in San Antonio.   New motto, "Get'er done"! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Solar Update & Blog Improvement

I dropped off the charge controller the other day to have it checked out.  I got back an answer via email today saying it is bad.  He wanted to know if I had gotten it wet.  The answer is no as it's in a dry place and well-protected.   He said he will give me a new controller, let's see what happens when I go on Monday.

On the blog, I changed the "comments" section below so it now includes a "reply" function.   It took me awhile to get it figured out and in the process I lost my Google Ads.   I need to work on that and get them back on line.  This gives me a chance to answer questions publicly and for you to do the same.

Many people on Facebook ask me why I am complaining about the cold.  They say "it's Mexico".  Geography lesson please!   Last night here on the ranch it was -2C, I know that's not like Wisconsin or Ontario but for us it's cold.  Cement houses aren't well insulated.   We have gas radiant heat in the livingroom/kitchen area and highwall units in the bedroom.   We use electric blankets under the sheets and that works quite well.   There is another cold front (number 29) coming on Monday as well.   We have snow up on the moutain about 25 minutes from here. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Canada - Getting Things Ready

Over the weekend we received the first of many mods to the rv for our Great North American Tour.   I had ordered this fan when I was sitting here at home and it was delivered via slow boat to a friend's house in McAllen.  They had another friend bring it down to us.  This other friend lives here in town and was happy to do it knowing what it is like to import stuff.   

I also took the charge controller in to have it checked.   Jerry suggested I take the whole trailer or have them come out but that was too much hassle.   I was hoping they would give me a loaner in the meantime but that didn't happen.  Too bad, we could have eliminated to things at the same time.  They did say that there is a board inside that can go bad and they will let me know by tomorrow.

The lists are growing for our trip; trailer, SUV, mods, maps and routes.  In fact, David gave us a map of Ontario when he was here over the weekend.  I want to get cameras installed so we can monitor activities from the house via internet.  The joke now that we have running is that we are sitting in Nova Scotia and checking the cameras on line via internet, " oh look, someone is running out of the house with the television".   I want it more to keep an eye on things that need to get done and make sure the cats are being well-taken care of.

Croft sent me an email this morning.  I had  told him we hadn't heard from Jonna and Mimi in over a year and a half.  He received a mail from a friend who was in Merida and they met up with the girls.  All is well and she no longer posts her blog.   Good for her, along as they are healthy happy and still living in Mexico.

We need to set a rondevue date and start a count down.  My idea of a pin map isn't coming together as I can find anything like it.   Others say it is a good opener for spammers.   

Another pic for the day, el maestro at work with teachers in Matamoros.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Changes To Our Electric Bill

Big changes are coming to our electricity from the CFE (comision federal de electricidad).  They are now introducing a chipped card that will read the new digital meter.   There is no charge for the new meters or the card.   You can choose the day of the month you wish for billing.   There are certain days of the month that you can choose;  1, 5, 10, 15, 20 or the 25th.   So now, billing will be every month instead of every two months.   

There will be no more meter readers or estimated billings.   You are responsible for reading your meter.   The meter will have a green LED that flashes showing that service is working.   On the chosen billing day, the light will remain static signaling it is time to read the meter.   You wave the card over the meter and it takes the reading.   You have 10 days to pay the bill in any of the CFE offices by inserting your card into the machine.  When the LED turns red, your service has been suspended for lack of payment or service has been temporarily suspended.

Now the questions I have to ask next time I go to the office:

1) When will this be mandatory (as of now it is optional)?
2) What usage are you permitted per month under the monthly billing ( now it is 800kwh per two month billing period)?
3) What is the cost of the card replacement in case of loss or damage?
4) What happens if you are out of town on vacation or work when your billing is due and there is no one to read your meter?

This will be interesting to see if they can answer these questions at my local office.  I am anxious to find out about the kwhs per month because now if we go over the 799 per two-month billing cycle, we are forced into the commercial rate of 30 cents per kwh for six months if we reduce consumption below the 799 for that six month period.

The current prices per kwh are:

KWHS      Price in pesos per kwh
    0-150     0.786 
151-200     0.957 
201-799     2.799  

Our bill is always under the 799.   The October to December was 431 kwhs and cost us 621 pesos.  Makes you wonder how we use an electric blanket, pump our water from 60 meters down, run the pool filter everyday for 1.5 hours, and all the other consumption we have.   Check your bill!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mountain Drive - Laguna de Sanchez

This was a going home sort of trip for Juan.  After a great fire in the fireplace last night with David and Cam, we decided to take a ride this morning to Laguna de Sanchez.  It is 35 kms from the house to the top of the mountain with spectacular views.   

First off, Juan prepared a great breakfast of huevos rancheros this morning.  Showered up and we headed out for the mountains.   It is a good road that has recently been paved although with new rains there were some minor slides that they have since cleaned up as well as one very small part of about 20 meters where the road was down to one lane.   We made various stops along the way.

 First stop was a lookout along the road.  The pines were just starting to appear.

If you are into mountains and rushing streams, this is the place to be.  There are so many pictures that I can't show them all but you will get a good idea of what the ride is like.   Many people who have stayed with us have wanted to go here but the roads at the time weren't in good condition.

Cam doing some mountain viewing with his binoculars.


Yep, some people still ride and use burros and these guys were free to roam on the road.

 Now a bit about Laguna de Sanchez.   The town sits atop the mountains at 2200 meters with a population of 230 people.   They have electricity now but still cook the old-fashioned way on an open fire in the kitchen.   There is a lagoon there that has been dry for many years.  When we took my oldest brother and SIL over 10 years ago, there wasn't any water in the lagoon and up until a few months ago it was used for planting as the soil is very rich.  But thanks to heavy rains this last year, the lagoon is full again and a real sight to see.  I can't wait to get a picture off to my brother.  Here is Juan, David and Cam in front of the water.  (you'll want to click to enlarge)

I included myself in this picture.   The people in Laguna de Sanchez are farmers mostly and some sell to tourists; things like homemade membrillo wine, empanadas, and mezcal!   There is a bus that goes down in the morning and one that goes up the mountain in the evening for those that go to Santiago for market on Tuesdays. 

We took a small detour to a town called San Sebastian.  This is the first school Juan worked back in the late 70s.   It was a one-room school house with 22 students from first to sixth grade.   We have visited in the past but the last trip was over 14 years ago.   As we arrived, we discovered the school is no longer in use except for community meetings.  However, the people across the road recognized the "maestro".   We began looking for the family of Doña Mari who took care of Profesor Juan Manuel back in those days.  Juan lived in a one-room house next to the school with a fireplace for heat and a mattress made out of Spanish moss.  We found our way to Mari's house only to discover she was still there and her son, Juan's student, was busy building a small chapel with other neighbors.   It was a great reunion of friends, I am almost in tears writing this as I know it meant so much to Juan to go back again.   They were so happy to see him and as always Mari fixed us coffee, beans, tortillas, rice and mole.   We had a great chat over lunch and I think David and Cam enjoyed the opportunity to be with true Mexican mountain folk.   We also went to Chuy's house (his student) and met his wife and kids who also invited us for coffee.   I can't wait to go back.  There is still snow on the mountains.

Here is "el maestro" next to his first school.

We had a great day and the trip back home was full of memories and conversation.   We passed this waterfall on the road.   We are so happy that David and Cam came by but sad that Marina, David's wife wasn't here this time to share the experience as I know she would have loved it.   

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Friends Come To Visit

Our friend David (from David and Marina) is here for a visit.  He is with a friend Cam and his VW Westy.   They drove down from Ontario this week.  They spent the night last night at Potrero Chico on the north side of Monterrey.   They will be here for the week.

David will meet his wife Marina in Oaxaca in 10 days.   She will be flying in.   They were here last year and spent a couple of days with us.   We went on some hikes here in the area and our national park Chipinque.  

Marina sent us a nice gift.  Knowing we will be in Canada this year she sent a care package with a map of Ontario and a very cool collapsible JavaDrip coffee maker with filters.   They had one when they were here last year and we told them how much we liked it.   Thanks Marina, we love the gift. 

Now it's time to do some sightseeing here in Santiago,  a nice happy hour and maybe even a fire.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Drove Home In The Dark

We were in different cities this week.   I finished around 2 p.m. and hitched a ride from a teacher to the mall on the outside of Reynosa where the 85 intersects with the 2.   I found an internet cafe there and did some work.   Juan finished at the same time in Matamoros and the teachers wanted to take him out for lunch.   He came by the mall around 4:30 as Matamoros is about an hour away.

We headed out for Monterrey and just missed rush hour traffic.   The company paid our expenses so we took the autopista.  Lots of stories to share on the way home about our three days although we were in contact everyday.   

The ride home was great.  Again, I'm not a very good blogger because I didn't have the camera with me.  The sun was going down over the mountains in front of us and the almost full moon was coming up behind us.  Truly a beautiful sight.   We saw a couple whose SUV had broken down on the side of the road.   We started to pass them up but went back.  They apparently had a bad valve that was blocking water from getting to the system and causing them to overheat.

 The toll booth was right around the corner about 10 kms away.  We took the wife to the toll booth, found the guy with the tow truck and he took her back to her husband.   They didn't have a cell phone with them so we lent them ours so he could call his son.   After we dropped off the wife we remembered they were on their way and gave them a call so they wouldn't pass the toll booth where the tow truck was taking them to avoid paying the toll.   I'm sure it all worked out and they got home safely.

We drove the last 45 minutes in the dark until we got into Monterrey.   We hit some rush hour traffic but it wasn't too bad.   We got home and had a quick bite to eat (huevo con chorizo) and I went to sleep at 9:30.   Today I am back to my routine and I am off to the gym.

I ask myself one question:   May I please get back to planning our Great North American Tour?

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Are We Teaching?

Contessa asked what we are teaching this week here at the border.   We are working in a state high school program and there are four consultants in each of the following cities;  Reynosa, Matamoros, Tampico and Ciudad Victoria.

Like teachers in the U.S., many are trained in cooperative or collaborative learning.  It requires managing students in groups.  Sounds fairly easy but in larger groups teachers think it is very difficult to do.   In reality it is easy and teachers do reduce work load and can focus on student learning.   Students aren't very good at it either because they need to be trained and they don't receive the training in their classes.  Juan and I have devoted 20 years to this type of work and are, I guess you could say, known here in Mexico for what we do.

In addition, we are also bringing on line a reading program via internet.  It consists of leveled readers or books from a major publisher that have vocabulary, grammar, and skills work based on six student levels which have been determined by the CEFR (common European framework), UNESCO and it's 21st century skills better known as life skills (based on the Four Pillars).   

The reading program requires that teachers use the above method in their classes to reinforce language learning.  As in the SAT/ACT tests in the U.S., student scores are falling in the reading section of the test because no one likes to read anymore.  Mexicans are not big readers to begin with so learning a foreign language at the same time makes it pretty difficult.   

In the training teachers are creating on line reading courses providing  log ons and passwords for their students as well as the administration tools.  Teachers can monitor student online work, create reports and also grade student work.   Sounds simple but there is a lot to work on.   Eight hours a day for three days is a lot for people to participate in.  We make it dynamic by having teachers work in groups and pairs creating presentations, projects and learning aids, all of which exist in their school program and on line but it helps us to reinforce the information and also shows us teacher knowledge sets and skills.

Probably not very interesting to most but that's we do!   So there you have it in a nutshell.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

At The Border This Week

This morning we drove up to the border to teach a three day course.   Fun trip up.   It's always interesting to be in the car together sharing stories and sometimes talking nonsense.   Juan played his solitaire on the laptop while I sang my own lyrics to just about any song that came on the radio as I changed stations.

Uneventful to say the least although it rained a bit off and on.   The road was pretty quiet and we did see a caravan heading south of about five rigs.   I assume they were from Quebec, not many others travel in small packs much less a caravan.

We arrived to the shopping center at the intersection of the 85 and Hwy 2.   Juan dropped me off with a taxi and he drove on to Matamoros where he will be working.   The taxi driver wanted to charge me 150 pesos when we got to the hotel.  I said to him, "you've got to be kidding".   He said that was the rate and I told him he could do better.  He then said, "well, what about 100 pesos".   I answered back with 80 and he smiled and we were both happy.

I'm at the Holiday Inn and it, as always, is very nice.  The food in the restaurant is pretty blah so tomorrow I will be eating out.   

I want to thank both Bill and Croft for the suggestion on the muffin fan.   I guess I can pick up any old used one from a computer guy at home and stick it in there.   What a novel idea.   I went ahead and ordered the Fantastic Fan this afternoon and it will be delivered to a friend's house.   We are going by to pick up mail but I doubt that the fan will make it.   I will be back the first week of February so I can get it then.  

Off to bed, tomorrow is a long day and I want to go to the gym first.  Running on the treadmill is a good way to get things in order for the day.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our North American Tour

Now that we are home I am making all kinds of crazy lists.   The most important are the SUV and travel trailer mods and repairs.   I know nothing about trailer brakes or bearings and am now posting on the Funfinder Owner's Group and have started to ask questions.   Our motto this year is "Get 'er Done!"  That includes many things we have danced around for the last couple of years and I won't mention them now until they start to happen but I am sure you know us well enough by now to know what they are.

On the mod side of the rv we need to do the following:

  • Replace bedroom roof vent with a reversible Fantastic Fan or similar brand
  • Replace the burned out bathroom vent fan
  • Cabinet doors for the unused entertainment center where the television should go
  • Dinette table and chairs
  • Sofa arms
  • New mattress
  • Larger inverter to make all outlets live
  • Purchase LEDs for all the ceiling lights (we have them in our table lamps)
Interesting stuff and as time goes on I will explain some of them and post pictures.  Some are crazy ideas but here in Mexico everything is possible.  

The SUV needs some work.  New discs, brake pads, two new tires (we have one new set but need another replaced).  Some cosmetic stuff too such as replacing the headlight lenses.   We tried the system to renovate the plastic but it still turns crummy after awhile.   The driver's side has a broken plastic casing on the side that looks like crap and I found it on Ebay for around 20 bucks.   I also want to buy a new GPS, preferably the Garmin that Brian and Sue used when we went to Guadalajara last week.  

After the four days of heavy rains in Hacienda Contreras, I learned that we need to be prepared.   I won't leave home again without our generator.   No need to suffer if we already own one (Honda 2000).

I will probably repeat myself over the next few months so hang in there.  One of them is the interactive pin map I am looking for so we know who is on the route we will take and are interesting and available for a visit as we pass by.

We are getting excited about this and as always, getting there is half the fun.   The preparation will be a trip in itself.   We have lots to do about crossing into Canada and what we need to do to apply for visas.  I hope they don't read the blog because we don't want to get turned away :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back Home and Warmer Days Ahead

Back home safe and sound.   We ended up spending the night in Matehuala.  It was freezing last night and dropped below 0C.   We had use of the electric blanket and heat while we stayed at Las Palmas Hotel and Rv Park.   In the evening a van with a travel trailer pulled in next to us.  Too cold to venture out, in the morning we met our neighbors.   Al and Marilyn are friends of Jerry and Paula and Ken and Kris.   Small world.  They are headed down to Patzcuaro for five months.  Sounds good to me.  Here are pics of our trip home today as we passed through San Luis Potosi and our great state of Nuevo Leon.   Now it's time to start working on our US/Canada tour.   You'll be hearing a lot about it and we will be posting maps, routes and stops as we plan our trip.  Stay tuned.  Thanks to everyone for a great Christmas and New Year.

Yep, we had snow in Nuevo Leon.  This is at the intersection of Hwy 57 and the San Roberto interchange or Hwy 55 which crosses over the mountains to Linares.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Almost Home - Change of Direction!

 I said we were going to stay in Guadalcazar after leaving San Miguel de Allende.  Plans change and things happen.  We went to bed early last night because we received a call that we needed to participate in a web conference at 11 a.m.   We didn't want to hang around in SMA and at Guadalcazar there is no internet signal.   We decided to head to San Luis Potosi to the Paradero Potosino where we were able to connect and participate in the conference.  So our next choice was Matehuala and when we arrived the temps were dropping and will may be below 0C tonight.

We opted to check into the Hotel Las Palmas rv park.   After arriving, we hooked up our electric heater and took a nap.   Next thing we know there is a travel trailer from Oregon pulling in next to us.  We haven't seen the people because it is too cold I guess.   Then some of our Quebec friends showed up.  There are three class Bs and an A frame travel trailer.   One of the class Bs is a Safari Condo and I am waiting to see if they put up the roof to find out if it is the canvas model or the hard-sided pop top.   Here is a shot as the sun went down over us.

Paula, upon our departure from HC, gave us some homemade pasta sauce.   Juan was being a real trooper and he made a great dinner complete with brocoli, and the fresh corn that our friend Sandy gave us.   With a glass of wine, this was a great dinner after driving all day.  

We are expecting guests when we get home.  Derek, Teresa and Cassia will be heading our way and they are going to stay with us for a few days.   I also saw a comment from Wandering Mike who said he was heading down Monterrey way and I hope my email reached him and we will be expecting another guest.   Lots of room at the ranch.   Instead of swimming in the pool I think we will be ice skating!

We are missing our friends at Hacienda Contreras.  I guess there is a "come down" period after having so much fun.  I was going to say "drying out" but that implies other things!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Getting Ready To Head Home

We went down to the lake yesterday after the market.   When we got to the car though, we realized the keys were in the ignition.   We flagged down the police, they radioed for a locksmith but the only one in town was gone.  So they knocked on a neighbor's door and asked for a coat hanger.  They popped open the lock within 5 minutes and we were on our way.

Last night we had a surprise party at La Troje in Mazamitla for Heinz and Jerry's birthdays which fall later in the month.   This is the same great place we celebrated Sal and Barb's anniversary lat year.   They didn't know what was coming when Paula gave them their birthday hats.

The mariachis played all afternoon and I cried along.  Mariachis always get to me especially when they sing the song made famous by Luis Miguel, "MEXICO".

Here are the guys in front of the restaurant before we went home.  L to R, Heinz, Darrel, Jerry, Yours truly, Sal, Peter I, Brian, Peter II and Juan.

Ladies here from L to R, Sue, Paula, Sandy, Linda, Madelaine, Barbara, and Ulli.

We're now at Sal and Barb's house for happy hour and then we are headed back to Portal de Angel in the square for enchiladas.   We should be taking off for SMA around 9 a.m.   More later as we head back north.   We did get lots of good Canada info and I will be posting a lot about what our plans are and the changes we will make to the blog.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Sun Really Does Shine

As you can see by the pictures below, the sun really does shine on Hacienda Contreras.  Yesterday and today we have had the good fortune of having the sun on our faces.  

Yesterday we drove with Brian and Sue to Guadalajara.  They had asked us to accompany them to the Zertuche store where they make hydraulic hoses.  Brian has a leak in one of his stabilizers and the hydraulic fluid was leaking out.   He had been to the store in the past and knew exactly where to go.  When we got there we showed them what we wanted and they began building the hose and the connections.  These were the exact specs and parts that were received from the motorhome manufacturer.   We were in and out of there and our way home in fifteen minutes.   Amazing that you can find everything you need in Mexico if you know the language and where to find it.

After a long day on the road, we stopped for a quick lunch in La Barca.  Nice restaurant, good food but a bit pricey.   We took the opportunity to shop at the Soriana in Sahuayo where we returned a purchase that Jerry had made.  He had bought a small radio USB speaker but a cable was missing.  Years ago this would have been a nightmare and we weren't sure what to expect from a small town.  We walked in with the receipt and stopped by the guards desk to get permission to enter the store with the product.  A clerk was standing there and asked us what was wrong and we explained.  She asked us to wait a minute and when she returned she had the same speaker in the box, opened it, took out the cable and handed it to us.  Deal done, no questions asked.  Now that is a major change.

We arrived to the rv park just in time for happy hour.  Our first outside since we arrived last week.   Wow, what a change to sit outside under the sun.  Here is part of the group.  From left to right, Peter, Peter, Sandy, and Darrel.  Heinz and Ulli invited everyone over to their place and we sat around and had a great time telling jokes and sucking up the sun.  

Peter I 's wife Linda and I doing what we do best.  

As the sun went down, Paula was able to capture this fantastic picture of the sunset over Fufi.

We are in town right now at a cibercafe and not sure what we will do.  I am working on the solar, it is working but something isn't quite right.  Batteries look full and according to the charge controller they are.  However, the digital plug in read out we have inside the 12V outlet in the rv is reading 12.1 and we were on electricity for the last few days so the batteries should be completely full.  I changed a cable terminal the other day that was bad and it helped to improve the power coming in to the house.  Hmm.  I'll keep you updated.