Saturday, May 27, 2017

Medical Care In Mexico

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After you read this post, please answer the poll in the upper right hand corner.  How much do you think my blood work up cost for the items below in U.S. dollars?

Things just seem to coincide, don't they?   Yesterday I went for my blood work up.  This is the one I do in between my yearly physical and I do it on my own.  I had the following exams for a total of 36 different items:

PSA

Glucose

Complete Liver Profile

Cholesterol Profile

Minerals and Metals

I use a well-known clinic, Laboratorios Dr. Moreira.  We have a lab here in Santiago and it just happens to be two blocks from the gym. They are located throughout northern Mexico and open at 7 a.m.  Top drawer facility (except for the fact that it is located next to our town's funeral home) with well-staffed nurses and lab technicians.   They only take walk ins so it is  on a first come first serve basis.   I arrived at 7:15 and was out 20 minutes later.   All the latest in administrative and medical technology.  The results are available by 3 p.m. on line or a printed format from the office after 4 p.m.  You also receive a card for record keeping and earn points for discounts.   The results are easy to read showing the score as well as the norm and ranges high to low.   Easy to read.

I mentioned coincidence only because I belong to a Facebook page for ex-pats.  It always surprises me that many foreigners have such little faith in medicine outside of Canada and the U.S.  Many doctors in neighboring countries study medicine in Mexico and I know many of the readers here can attest to the great work done by dentists.

You've read my post on my chest pain that I suffered and the great work and specialists I was able to see for literally next to nothing.   I've had some minor cosmetic work done as well and the prices are so reasonable that if I received my pay in dollars I'd be looking like Michael Jackson.  So on this FB page for ex-pats I read about people who fly home to see their doctors and pay outrageous amounts of money for medical care.   Again, the praises of Mexico come out of the woodwork but when it comes down to brass tacks then it's, "I gotta fly home, I'm not feeling well".   I do realize that most if not all of it is the language barrier.  However, most foreigners in Mexico don't speak the language but don't realize that a good portion of Mexican doctors speak English.

You need to do due diligence just like you would with any doctor when you move to a new location or snowbird for any length of time.  Obviously, you can't just run your finger down the pages in the phone book under doctors to find a good medico.   

The same goes with prescriptions.  No wonder so many Americans cut their prescriptions in half to save money or even go to a doctor to begin with.  Most of what ails human beings is lack of exercise and diet not to mention bad habits such as smoking and heavy drinking.  Gulp.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Most People Are Pigs And Other Things

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My meat for the month of May celebrating Teacher's Day!  We also had a great salchicha along with the burger and the bun was a wonderfully fresh baked margarita.   Delicious.


We sat out on the porch after a swim and watched the burgers cook.   Lots of fun and very relaxing.


As I mentioned, we are enjoying the last of three-day weekends in the month of May.  It's been great.  Two rv outings and this weekend was pure relaxation.  The heat is coming and it's been 35C to 37C so taking the rv out was kind of silly when we have a pool in our backyard.   

We did some odds and ends around the quinta; yardwork, laundry, grocery shopping and a to do list for the rv.   I saw a really cool makeover of a van dweller.  She built overhead cabinets but the doors have picture frames with artwork in them.  What a cool way to add art to the rv.  Hanging things on the walls always brings up certain issues like drilling holes, tearing the paper on  the luan board, etc.   Personally, we haven't done it.  It always seems to be an issue when you decide to sell.  The artwork might be the trick though for our photographs we have collected from our trip.

When the gym is closed, like the last two days, I go for my morning 8 km walks.   Sometimes I take different routes and sometimes I stick to the highway with its series of walking bridges, five in total.  Like today I stuck to the highway.  I was out at 7:30 a.m. and there was literally no traffic (holiday).  As I pass a bridge I go over the bridge to the other side and keeping walking to the next one and switch back.  I do that three times around and that gives me the eight kilometers.  

It embarrasses and pains me to post these pictures but it's the awful truth and those who are Mexiphiles know the reality. 


This pile was left by a group of men who sell birds that are probably exotics and mistreated.  They stand on the corner and eat and drink (discretely) and throw their sh#$ on the ground.  Pigs.


These three-day weekends really bring out the tourists and with them their trash.   I don't think we will ever get the idea of putting trash where it belongs.  For a Mexican guy, it's a macho thing.   Only a sissy would walk over to a trash can and to dispose of their trash.  In fact, this morning as I was just getting on my route, a car with three guys passed me on the lateral.  As they made a right turn down the road that goes behind the lake, the guy in the back seat threw his candy wrapper out the window.  I was steamed.   We have litter drives at schools, we have Art, Civics and English projects about the environment and the kids still do it and sometimes at school right in front of me.  I ask them to pick it up and the first thing they say is, "it's not mine".  "Well, pick it up anyway".   "Why?"  "Because I said so, it's the civic thing to do.  Remember the value for the month, respect?"   If there is one thing I don't like about Mexico it's the litter.  

Okay, I'm done.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Enjoying Three-Day Weekends

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I headed out Saturday morning.   Friday was meant to be a lazy day and it was.  Lots of internet and odds and ends around the quinta.   I left around 9 p.m.  All was quiet in the neighborhood so getting the rv out was a breeze.   I took it to a small commercial center nearby while the technicians checked the security cameras.  We needed a new DVR and one camera replaced.   They had some difficulty getting the program to accept remote internet access.   It's more peace of mind than anything else.

Here I am sitting and waiting.  Good wait though.  I read the newspaper, worked on reading a book and listened to some music.  Just as I was ready to call home to find out what was happening here comes the straggler walking into the lot.   The camera guys nice enough to give Juan a ride so that meant I didn't need to loop around.


While I was waiting I also finished a long wanted modification.  The trailer has a 600 watt inverter it isn't tied into the converter.   In the entertainment center between the living room and the bedroom there is the antenna booster with a 12V outlet.  I have a small inverter, 150W, and use it to power the LED television and the two table lamps in each room.   I put in these great little cable openers (don't know the name of them), one in each room.  Now there are no messy cables.


Saturday night we finished the steaks we cooked on the Weber from Friday.  They were great served up with some fresh asparagus and a bottle of Merlot.

Later in the evening we had a campfire and a movie.   It was a great time and it looks like we will do the same this next weekend. 


It was also Mother's Day celebration.  All the mothers in the resort were invited for a lunch complete with live music and great service provided by a catering service.  They also walked away with raffle prizes as well as a rose.   All the men looked on with envy :)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Two Three-Day Weekends In A Row

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That's right, two three-day weekends in a row.  We took the rv down to the resort again.  Parked and enjoyed the hot weather.  The nights were really cool though and great for sleeping.  Although we have electricity in the palapas I never bothered to connect.

The place was packed and we stayed down by the presita (lake).   It was quiet during the day as everyone was at the club and the pools.  I did my walking everyday, read a book and a half and watched a really good movie called Last Passenger.  Sat outside a lot and watched people come and go.  As evenings came people came down to the lake.  There are only five palapas so people sat up tents.   Noisy with lots of music but at 10 p.m. silence falls over the park and people sit around their campfires.  Truly amazing that people stick to the rules.

Back home now and tomorrow is a work day.  In the afternoon I head to Queretaro for two days as a judge in a poetry competition.   I'll come back home on Thursday night and Friday we'll head back out to the resort for a couple of nights.  I'm determined to get that rv out more often.

I'm looking for a house sitting job for the summer somewhere in central Mexico.   Has anyone joined Trusted House Sitters?  I think Les did but it seems expensive.  Maybe I'm being cheap.  My godson is coming for a week in July so we may rent a place in SMA.



Well, as I said, the pool is fixed and the leaks were in a wall and a pipe.  All if fine now.  That has been on my mind for so many years and we could never find it.  Solution, just start digging.  And we did.  Now we are adding a new palapa.  A real one not a Home Depot gazebo.  New deck covering and tile for the palapa and we're done.  Amazing how little money these things cost in Mexico.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Our Hardly Used Resort Stay

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I've posted about this place before and each time we go, which isn't very often, it gets better and better.  After we had crossed the mountains and stopped for lunch at the city park in Linares we headed for Campestre Monte Sur.  It's truly a lovely place and has become a very nice city getaway.  The drive from Linares is less than an hour so we arrived for nap-thirty.   

The concept is very common in Mexico.  You join a club, pay for a lot and a membership.  It gives you rights to the whole club for a low monthly fee.  I think we pay around $30 a month.  We actually pay a yearly fee that is discounted.   There are three swimming pools, a three-story toboggan, lots of palapas with 20 amp electricity, grills for cooking, a club house with cable television, and new dressing rooms with showers and a sauna on the men's side.  


Parked up near the club house we stopped to check on some rules for construction on our lot.

One of the three swimming pools.  There are also tennis courts and a fire ring where they meet on weekends with live music, story telling and singing contests.   

The dressing rooms and showers for members and guests located at the club house and pools.

An aqueduct that takes water over the top and creates a fountain in the pool.

One side of the club house.  There are several big screen televisions.  People like to gather and watch soccer games.   No one is there except on holidays and Spring break.  Other times we watch other things such as news on the screens.


We went for a walk, took pictures and had a great happy hour.  We can pick up some digital television stations from Monterrey so we can watch the news.   I love news and love watching it.  Local, national and international.  

A neighbor's new cabin.  More and more people are building now.  There are a few abandoned constructions that look like they are worth buying and finishing and/or fixing up.


Considering it was still Spring break we had expected a real desmadre (disaster) with kids, noise and trash.  No one was there.  Quiet all night.  We sat out in the palapa we were parked in front of for happy hour.  The water in the pool was still too chilly for me.  The next day we headed home and I backed the trailer in on the first try.   It was a good trip but way too short.

Any of our readers are welcomed to stay here when you are coming or going from Mexico.

We've got the leak in the pool fixed.  Now we are redoing the deck this week.  A beautiful blue light (4W LED) lights the pool.   We spent the rest of the week doing things around the house including cleaning the trailer and the house.   School starts tomorrow and I just received a message that there is a teacher issue going on.  I love it.  

On the downside, we will probably go to San Antonio the next weekend.  The central A/C in the house is shot.  We tried to get it fixed and two different people, who we trust to give us a fix, said it's too far gone.  There goes another $3500.   I wish we could import three mini-splits.  In the U.S., mini-splits are three times the price of the same brand here in Mexico.  Supposedly they are banned from U.S. entry without importation taxes.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

San Luis Potosi to Matehuala

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We packed up on Sunday to head back home.   We went for a dip in the hot springs pool first before getting cleaned up.  The water felt so good.  When you´re boondocking the showers are very short.  I like showering in the trailer and not in public places, not because people pee in the shower but because I like my house that´s why we drag it around wherever we go!

Off we went saying goodbye to the nice people who cared for us at the San Diego balneario.  The road to Matehuala was great.  There was one section that was a bit rough but we enjoyed the morning.  As we pulled into the Oasis Hotel around 2:30 we couldn't find anyone there.  We set up in our usual spot.  Nap time rolled around and after we went for a walk into town.   We got lucky.  This was the last weekend of the Charamuscas festival.  




We stopped by the cathedral to take a peek.  This was built in the 1800s and remodeled in 1974.  The first cathedral built in 1850 was made with poor materials not to mention poor architectural design as well. It was demolished.  The new cathedral was designed by Adamo Boari who also designed and built Bellas Artes in Mexico City.  Truly amazing work and a wonderful feeling it gives you when you walk in.



As we walked around town we looked for the plaza where the Charamusco festival was held.  Found it by asking a few people on the street.   Amazing how much sugar must have been used to create all the candy in that one place.   Here's a pic to best describe a charamusca.



While we were gawking at all the stands a guy approached me.  He said, "are you Maestro Bauer from UDP?" Turns out he was at my conference at last year's national teachers convention.  He took us to his stand to introduce us to his mother and sisters.  You never know who's watching.  Back home for dinner and off to bed with a good movie.



Up early we hit the road with the idea that we would spend a day and night at our rustic resort.  Many rvers have stayed there over the years.  It was Semana Santa that Norma and Croft were with us.  They were heading home and we met there.   Rained all week.  We had fun though.   Sure hope they return to Mexico soon.

Recent rains have brought out the best of the desert.  We captured this picture of flor de palma, actually yucca, that is used in many Mexican dishes.  I love it with eggs or beans and chorizo. Delicious.



After crossing the mountains we stopped at the El Nogalar in Linares for lunch.  Great park and although the hours are from 7 to 7 the tourist office is there.  Upon request, they will let you stay overnight although you'll be locked in for the night.  Safe, clean and great for an evening walk around.  The Soriana is a few blocks away.



Made it to Montemorelos before a huge storm set in.  The rest tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Villa de Reyes, San Luis Potosi

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The main plaza en Villa de Reyes.


Wow, not having internet can be a bummer these days.  I had access via my cell phone but that's way too small of a screen and keyboard to do the blog.   Here's how things went down.  I can tell you that we are home now but I will have another blog post or two regarding the trip.   The trip was a text book case, not a hitch ( no pun intended), not a problem, no transito issues or towing issues.   When we arrived home today at noon I backed that puppy right into the driveway on the first try (I almost always do).   Steve, I don't know how, but I have a good eye for getting the rv into the driveway.

After we left Mexquitin, we headed down Hwy 49 towards San Luis Potosi.   A short drive to the periferico which is Hwy 32.   We took a bit of a short cut after stopping twice to ask questions.   The periferico goes around the city of SLP to the north, northeast and then south.   We wanted to be on Hwy 57 but there is the business loop and the interstate (so to speak).   I know from working in SLP over the years that you cannot take the business loop with an rv. 

We started out on the periferico.  Peter had told us that they may, not always so don't take this as bible, stop you looking for something wrong.  I was a bit paranoid but we headed out anyway.  Based on what we had hoped was good advice from a parador gas station, that the bridges were taboo and to use the lateral except for the third bridge.  "Take the third bridge because the lateral is being worked on and you can't get through.  Transito knows this so no issues".   That's exactly how it went down.  We continued on to Hwy 57 business loop and it is clearly marked for "trafico pesado" to take the laterals.  We did and had no issues.



Villa de Reyes is about an hour and a half (driving 80 kms as I do now) from SLP.   It was a leisurely drive and the signage is well-marked.   From the 57 to the town of Villa de Reyes is 30 minutes.   All great road and no issues.  

 A huge camping area that can handle any size rig through the gates.  Buses came into to unload youth groups.   They sell gorditas for eight pesos, tacos, beer and you can have your own fire or grill.

There are several pools.  All of them are drained and filled everyday.   The water is hotter than that at La Gruta in San Miguel de Allende.   This pic was taken in the early morning hours so it wasn't full of people yet.  Very relaxing though and I have to say that the kids were well-behaved.   



Upon arrival we knew we were heading into the heat of Semana Santa and three well-known balnearios.   We did and we visited each one to check them out.  The first, Centenario, did deserve a stop.  Second up was San Diego.   We liked it but went on to the third, El Gogorron.   Very nice and I wish we had stayed there but it was 300 per person.  High season and they get it.  The placed was packed.  It has a hotel which is 2800 pesos per night family of four all meals included.  The hotel had been booked for months.   Top drawer. 

We parked on the far left side of the field.  It was quieter and I slept pretty good.  We were parked under some huge eucalyptus trees.   Good thing because Saturday late afternoon we had a hail storm.  I had disconnected the SUV from the trailer so when it started I moved it under a fuller tree.  The hail turned out to be between pea and gumball size.   No damage but a lot of commotion.



We headed back to number two, San Diego, and it was perfect.  Still pricey at 140 per person camping and balneario included.  We couldn't boondock with the cat and also do any exploring.  I didn't care much for the raza (the local people).    We had a great time and the price actually dropped our second night as things were winding down.   The aguas termales (hot springs) were the best.   Crowded as it was, as noisy as the music was, I slept well both nights.   The place is very nice and I am sure when it is low season even better.   Good thing I didn't have a sledge hammer though.  One woman had a speaker that is called the 2500 Watt and is good for up to, get this, 300 meters or 900 feet.   She played that damn thing 24/7.   She smiled the whole time.  Needless to say there was no conversation at her site and we were far away.  I don't get excited much anymore with those things.

The town of Villa de Reyes is very nice although the people are a bit stand offish.  Maybe cause I was the only gringo there and at the balneario.  I did get a laugh though in the pool when Juan took my picture and I jumped out of the water and he yelled, "boobies".   The girls thought it was funny.

Typical town with its cathedral and main plaza.   We did a bit of window shopping, sitting in the plaza and walking around.   We try to get 6 to 8 kms of walking everyday apart from general moving around.   Nice place but San Luis outside of its mountains is not my favorite state.   Xilitla, Aquismon, Tam Lajas, those are places to be seen and cherished.   

I think this area is worth a visit and the balneario San Diego is too.   Great camping and with little to no crowds it is very attractive not to mention the lower off season prices.

To end this blog post for today, we arrived home at 11:30 this morning.  I'll explain all that later.  At 6 p.m. I still haven't seen Little Bit since we got home (he traveled with us).  I found him sitting in the rv and he hasn't moved yet.   Hmm, maybe if I do that someone will get the idea about traveling more frequently.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Town of Mexquitic

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(We have been without internet for a few days.   Traveling to Villa de Reyes and staying at a balneario.  It was a typical Mexican Semana Santa but I'll tell you all about it next.  This is Mexquitic)


History is amazing.  No matter what town you visit in any country there is a story.  The same is true here in Mexquitic.  It looks like any other Mexican town.  It has a church, town square, old cobblestone on some parts of the streets, old men sitting around chewing the fat, and kids playing in the street.   Venders are ever so present and they sell just about everything under the sun.  



On this day in Mexquitic the venders were selling pan para bendicion or bread for blessing.  It´s a round bread, not very sweet and the town´s people carry on the procession through the streets as they stop at each of the stations of the cross that have been set up in front of people´s houses.  You can eat the bread but it is more of an offering.   We were there as the town passed along the streets.   A monstrance is carried on a litter (like that used to carry a pharoah)  The priest leads the group and at each station he removes the monstrance and places it on the small altar.  He begins to pray and the crowds follow along.  He then spreads the smoke from the incense burner.   

The back part of the church which was the original part of the convent.  Makes you wonder what went on 350 years ago.



Funny how culture and lives can be changed by the invasion of a few Spanairds.   The town of Mexquitic was ¨founded¨  (if you can call it that) by a group of nuns.   Founded in 1590, a convent was the new beginning for the Chichimecas.  Also, Mexquitin is the home of the first constitution of the state of San Luis Potosi.

The walkway across the dam.


We bought some veggies at a local store (aborrotes) and went for a walk to the dam that crosses the now dry presa or reservoir.   The presa is dry because they discovered a huge crack in the dam.  The dam was built in 1928 as part of the reconstruction after the revolution.  

This is the lake today.  Empty and dry.  You would think it to be full of junk and trash but it isn't.


Not a lot to do in the little town but it deserves a walk through.  It´s obvious that most if not all of the town is indigenous and they live, work and also die there.  I was told too that when the presa was drained they had to remove sand and dirt to make it deeper and also get to the bottom of the dam.  The local indigenous people said it was their dirt and refused to let them continue work.  After some months of negotiations they agreed.  That said, they lost out on valuable rains that would have helped considerable to fill the lake again.  Now, the businesses that relied on the lake to bring tourists on local holidays are all closed.  Just like the rv park, it´s empty now.

Beautiful sunset on our 6 km walk around the outside of town.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tour of San Luis Potosi

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Interesting that this may look like Ku Klux Klan week but it's not.  This is a costume used during the procession of Holy .   The costumes represent different religious brotherhoods and was started during the colonial period by the Carmelites.   Kind of scary though when you come from a culture where this costume represents racism to its extreme form.


The kiosk in the main plaza de armas.  Beautiful plaza full of life during this vacation period.


The theater of the city built in the mid 1800s.  Used today for local and city events as well as concerts, symphonies and theater play productions.


Would you believe that this was actually someone's house?  It was constructed by Don Ramon Marti.   After he passed away his children lost interest in the place and sold it off to the city.  In 1982 it was restored to its original condition.  The first floor had been used as city offices but upstairs remained in its original state.  The museum now houses a series of Mexican masks from around the country as well as the world.  We paid 10 pesos for a private tour.  Very interesting and informative.  There is also a mask museum in Zacatecas.  I'm investigating exactly who Don Marti was.  I am assuming he was a cattleman or owned a family mining company.

Too many pictures to post.  This was the family living room.  Can you imagine the wealth of this family during the 1800s.  Incredible. 


Like all Mexican colonial cities, they are formed around cathedrals, convents and monestaries.  So many examples here in San Luis.  Amazing the art work and craftsmanship dedicated to detail.

May be hard to see but you can click to see the details.  The buildings in the back show the architecture of the 1950s.  On the left is the Sears building.  Very similar to the Sears in Mexico City located in front of Bellas Artes.


This is a side vestibule in the main cathedral downtown dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.


We've decided to move on tomorrow for Villa de Reyes.  This town is located about an hour and a half from Mexquitic where the rv park is located.  Villa de Reyes is part of the Parque Nacional Gogorron.  There are three balnearios we will check out that all have hot springs baths, swimming and camping.  We will call again in the morning before heading out.  We tried today but it was after six. 

This rv park is nice for a night or two.  Too far from the city to make the trip everyday.  There is public transport but it takes forever.  The San Luis is worth the trip.  Apparently, the Easter celebration is a big to do here.  Tickets for seats along the procession route cost up to 200 pesos for the best seats.  Balconies can be rented also.  We may come next year but stay in a hotel downtown. 

Tomorrow I'll try to post about Mexquitin.   It has a wonderful history including the story behind the presa or the lake that is now dry.

San Luis Es Bonita

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"San Luis es bonita".  That's how the song goes and it's pretty much on target.  Like all big cities it has its good, bad and ugly sides.   

We found our way to the rv park although we had to take a short trip via autopista but it appears it is the only route to get there with the rv.  We are checking again today.  We took the new libramiento which is free but from there we entered the quota to Zacatecas.    

We found the park although it is a bit obscure.  It is called Peter's El Faro Trailer Park.  We stopped and asked twice and no one knew about it until we said Don Peter.  Then it all came to light.  The "faro" or lighthouse does exist but it is inside the park.  You can't see it from the road.  Easy access though and all the highway and streets in the town are in excellent condition.  There is a presa or lake next to the rv park but it is dry.   No visitors this year for Spring break.\

We settled in and set up the rv.  The owner wasn't here at the time but his daughters were watching the place.   There are some permanent rvers here but I don't know yet if they are in storage, out of towners, or Mexicans who own rvs.

After a nice nap and check of the web, we headed into town.  Very easy to get to the "centro"of San Luis Potosi.   A direct shot but it is 25 kms and takes about half an hour.   Not for us.   Heading downtown we could see storm clouds brewing.   Paid parking is everywhere and reasonable.   We found one, parked and began touring the main square.  Lots of activities going on for the Semana Santa crowd.   Churches are full and the square teaming with activities.

With the threat of a storm we didn't stay but more than two hours before heading back and it rained like a slow divorce.   It took us an  extra 10 minutes tour get back home where we had a nice happy hour and a rice dish for dinner followed by a couple Golden Girls episodes.

This morning we will head back down to centro to visit some museums and take more pictures.  The plan after that is to come back early afternoon to check email (the wifi is pretty good here at our site) and then check out the town of Mexquitic and then off to bed.  We'll head out torrrow for parts unknown.   I'd like to stay longer and tour the  city more but the park is too far away for our liking.  We can't boondock because we have the cat with us and don't want to leave the rv parked alone near a big city.

San Luis is worth a visit though and I'll be posting more about it this week.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Hotel Oasis Matehuala, SLP

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Up and out early this morning.  We hit the road with the rv in tow around 8 a.m.   Surprisingly, there was little to no traffic in Santiago considering it is the beginning of Spring break.  The usual stop for gas and up the tires and off we went.   Gray skies all the way across the mountains.   

Most of you know the route we take and you´ve probably taken it going from Linares across to Hwy 57.   As always, clouds or not it was a relaxing drive.   I´ve learned to slow down since we aren´t in a hurry much anymore.   We stopped at a stand in Iturbide,  Nuevo Leon halfway across the mountains for a mid-morning snack.   The best gorditas we´ve had in a long time.   We each had two. 

Parked in front of was once a tequila producer in Linares.  We stopped in front of the city park, El Nogalar, located on the right turn off of Hwy 85 heading into the mountains.  The park is open to the public, has a swimming pool, palapas, a tourist office, and you can spend the night for free.  Don't forget that we have a place in Montemorelos with three pools, tennis and a club house.  Always open to rving friends with no obligation.   


Little Bit slept most of the way.   Like I´ve said, at 17 yrs old he has his good days and bad days.   Now that we´re parked at the hotel he has lots of energy to go out and explore.  Funny kid that one.  I guess he takes after me.   Coming down to San Roberto and Hwy 57 the sun came out in all its glory.  There were lots of Federales on the prowl stopping speeders and cars without plates.  I kept the speedometer at 80 kms all the way.

The hotel charges 150 pesos a day and includes electric and wifi.  We are on the owner´s terrace enjoying a full-blown signal.   Las Palmas is much nicer with the  pool and the secret garden next to the rv parking lot but I just can´t see paying  so much.  Last I heard it was above 400 pesos for the night.  Good restaurant and some good times had there though.



Kind of sad to see the three other hotels; Oasis, Pedregal and the Capri so run down.  They must have been something in their hayday.   I stayed at Capri during the summer and it was very shady with lots of trees but no wifi or electric.  I had to plug the coffee maker into an outlet next to one of the rooms.  All nice people though.   Too bad I´m not a millionaire, I would take one of these and turn it into a grand hotel and rv park.  They all have enormous pieces of land.  

We're here for the night and in the morning we will head to Peter's El Faro Rv Park.  I gave him a shout out the other day and he assured me there would be room.   We will spend a few days touring the state capitol of San Luis Potosi.   I have a return route that might take us off the beaten path if we have time.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Heading To San Luis Potosi

living.boondockingmexico@yahoo.com

Landing in Tampico, Tamaulipas


Friday was the last day of work.  It was a tough one.  I went to Tampico Thursday morning for an event at 3 p.m.   That all worked out great.  It was the delay to return to Mexico City to spend the night.  I got to my hotel room at 1:45 a.m.  I set the alarm for 4:15 a.m. and went to sleep.  Got up, coffeed, showered, dressed and headed back to the airport.   I had asked for a room at the airport but the secretary doesn't travel and I guess doesn't understand what an extra hour and a half of sleep means when you're on the road.  Oh well, I survived.  I went to school after arriving in Monterrey but only for a couple of hours.

So now, I got a bug up my butt about not going to SLP with the rv.  It all seems to be such a hassle anymore.   I think we need a new rv, like a Class B van.  On our Christmas trip we were stopped three times and harassed.   It's not worth it anymore.  They see our Mexican plates and think we will pay them out.  The other issue is the swimming pool.  We had the tile work grouted, searched for a leak, fixed it, added the new blue light kit and filled it up.  Still leaking somewhere.  I'm ready to fill it in but that's not a solution.   We need to be here with the workers.  I hate wasting water. 

I found a hotel in SLP that allows pets.   New, clean and very economical.  It's only 350 pesos a night and a 50 peso deposit on the cat.  It's in the centro and within walking distance of everything.  Cheap if we take the VW which gets 34 mpg.   I'm still undecided.  I spent the weekend get the rv ready just in case. 

Funny story.  I sent Robin and Steve a FaceBook message asking where they stayed in SLP last year at about this time.  Steve said, "you're asking me, you live in Mexico",  I think we both got a chuckle out of it.   We will stay at the El Faro should we make the rv the travel choice.   



I wanted to share this picture with you.  I took this on the way to the airport last Thursday.  As you get into Monterrey from our house the rush hour traffic is horrific and sometimes, if there is an accident, there is no other exit and you have to sit it out.   They have come up with what we call "contra flujo" or against the flow.   The highway has a grass parkway which divides the roadway.   They opened up a crossover and each morning and evening (reversing the traffic)  they start at 6 a.m. setting up cones on the opposite side of the road going into town to create an express lane.   Save a ton of time.   I'm sure they do this in most major cities in the U.S. and Canada but it is new for us.  It works so well they are doing it on more major avenues.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sightseeing in Bogota, Colombia

living.boondockingmexico@yahoo.com

That's me standing at the entrance to the Banco de la Republica Botero Museum next to one of Fernando Botero's sculptures.
Before I get started, I would like to say that all of the cities I know in Colombia are extremely clean.  All major cities have natural gas networks, excellent quality water so that you rarely see bottled water for sale.  Hotels, restaurants, schools, public areas all have water from Colombia's water system.  The streets are extremely clean and public works is constantly upgraded and repairing things and they do a great job of it.  For example, I saw some city employees painting a light post.  They had cardboard cutouts on the ground around the post so that paint wouldn't be left on the sidewalk.  That's not something you see here in Mexico.

My visit was short and I arrived back home last night after midnight.  My flight from Bogota landed in Mexico City 30 minutes early at 18:05 but because of Interjet flight delays it was a long evening.

The flight from Cali to Bogota on Thursday morning was a short 45 minutes.  Avianca is known for its service and it shows.   On time flights, good in-flight service (more on that later).  We headed to the hotel in Bogota and I rested for a few hours.  The hotel, Lancaster House is truly a piece of art.  With art deco interiors there are a set of five flags flying in front:

Israeli for the owners
Chinese for the workers at the Huawei office towers in front
U.S. for American tourists and workers
Colombian for obvious reasons
Russian as there are people working in various companies


Hotels aren't any cheaper here than anywhere else but the publisher takes very good care of me.  UDP/SM has over 150 employees in Colombia providing religious texts, Spanish and English texts.  Quite an international organization.  Arriving early to the hotel no rooms were ready and they asked me to wait up to four hours.  What?  The gentleman, Christian, who was the customer service desk waved me over and we chatted for a few minutes.  After I explained that I was speaking at an event at his hotel he hopped up and go things going.  They upgraded me to a one bedroom suite complete with kitchen and a garden patio.  He really knows about customer service to the point that he pitched in to get the room ready.




If you know me, you know what came next.  A darkened room to take a nap.  It was great.  They have a wonderful Claro entertainment system with surround sound in the bedroom.  

The event was a success.  I shared Social and Emotional Learning with them.   They hadn't heard of it as it is relatively new in teaching in Latin America.   The pic below shows some of the group I was able to catch on the way out as they were going to the salon for the luncheon we had set up.


We had fun and shared experiences during the presentation and the luncheon.  A group of teachers at one school are all motorcyclists and came on their big bikes with their helmets.   That evening I kicked back and had a couple of beers in my room and that was it.   Liquor is expensive in Columbia.  A pint of Smirnoffs is $11 where in Mexico it is less than half of that.  

I was free Friday morning and one of my coworkers offered to take me out.  It was fantastic.  We headed downtown but we took the go around through the mountains and passed the in-city national park.  Colombia has 35 national parks in their system.  




First stop was my favorite and I'll try not to bore you with all the pictures.  We went to the Museo Botero Banco de la Republica.   Fernando Botero was a famous Colombian artist known for his "fat" paintings.   He offered the country all of his art works under the condition that the museum would always be free and it remains that way today.   I was in heaven seeing his actual works.  My first experience was in the Ciudad Antigua en Cartagena over 15 years ago.   His sculptures were on display there.   We're definitely going back to Colombia.   Along with his paintings in Bogota are Monet, Degas, Picasso and Salvador Dali.   I put up a few so you can get the magnitude of this museum.  I never use the word but here it is, Awesome!


Fernando Botero's works take up many rooms in the museum.

Girl Walking Along the River, Botero

Salvador Dali

Naked Woman, Degas

Pablo Picasso 

 Okay, so on with the tour.  We headed down the street to the Mexican-Colombian Cultural Center where they share a bit of Mexico with Colombians, offer classes and connect people with Mexico.

This is the main square in downtown Bogota.  The buildings you see are the Justice building, the Senate, and the President's residence.


The main cathedral dating back to the 16th century.  My new hobby is studying the life of Simon Bolivar.  That guy really covered a lot of territory in his short life.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit his house which is exiting the city and heading into the mountains.  Remember that Bogota sits at 1640 meters (8600 feet).


Walking the streets of downtown you see mostly college students and executives.  All of the universities are located on the top east side of the city and do a wonderful job of maintaining the streets, grounds and the national park.


We made a pit stop at the home of the 1810 Colombian Revolution.  From the balconies the Creol leaders of the revolution ousted Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother).  
 
And finally, waiting at the airport for my flight.