Sunday, August 31, 2008

Paseo Santa Lucia - You Gotta Come See Our Riverwalk!

Because they were expecting large crowds, I debated between taking the bus into town or driving. Monterrey is a big place with over 3 million residents. In the end, we decided to take the car and park it at Cintermex Convention Center which is located at Parque Fundidora at the South end of the riverwalk. We walked from the hotel to the river and saw the boats going by. The boat could take us all the way to the MacroPlaza but we decided to walk and a good thing we did.

The place is even better than when it opened last year. The riverwalk is well-maintained; gardens, walkways, grassy area, water. It is really a sight to see. I highly recommend all tourists and rvers that are passing by Monterrey to come a take an evening walk. It is safe, secure and clean. There are museums and restaurants along the route. A little of everything for everybody. Here, you be the judge!

Iluminemos Mexico! Exito - Success

The event started on time yesterday afternoon in the MacroPlaza here in Monterrey as well as 55 other cities throughout Mexico. People came from all over the metropolitan area to join in solidarity against violence in Mexico. Everyone was dressed in white carrying their "vela" or candle that later would be lit at exactly 8:30.

The march started out on the West end of the plaza at the kiosko and finished a kilometer away in the Palacio del Gobierno. Families, tv personalities, business owners, people from all walks of life chanted, Viva Mexico, Por La Paz, Seguridad. It was an amazing amount of energy focused on one main topic.
Arriving at the Palacio del Gobierno, we heard a five minute speech outlining the four main points that the march represents, lit our candles and sang the Himno Nacional. After, we all walked away in silence. Ya Basta! Regresa a un Mexico tranquilo, feliz y seguro. Viva Mexico y Viva la Paz!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mexico Maps - Prepare For Winter Travel

Don't delay in ordering your maps. It has become so easy now to order on line. In fact, Target is selling Mexico state maps on line. These maps are from Ediciones Independencia. I like them because they seem to show more detail than the Guia Roji and are easy to read. Here is a description of the maps from the Target website listed below:

Spanish-language map of Mexico with state boundaries outlined in color. Inset maps of greater Mexico City and 14 other popular tourist areas. Includes a comprehensive table of distances between major cities and a guide to highway/street signs. Scale 1:3,350,000.

Maps Gone Tomorrow offers both the Guia Roji and Ediciones Independencia.

Also order direct from Guia Roji. I don't know what their shipping charges are but I assume it is shipping direct from Mexico.

I did a survey here on the blog a couple of months ago regarding interest in purchasing maps from me. Just so you know, I am not selling maps although I would have sold the Ediciones Independencia. They are a smaller company and produce an excellent set of Mexico state maps and atlas. I always like to give the small guy an opportunity.

The Guia Roji offers their maps on CD and now have the IntelMap for major cities (very expensive at $1000 (u.s.) ).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Americans Living In Mexico

This morning I was listening to Imagen News with Ana Maria Salazar. Ana Maria is very interesting. She once worked in the U.S. as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support. She is now living in Mexico City and has a radio and TV show. Her show comes on at 5:30 a.m. and again at 11 pm. She also has a great blog, Mexico Today that is filled with great news on Mexico in English .

Anyway, they were talking about getting Americans to vote in the November election. Did you know there are over 3,000,000 registered Americans living in Mexico? Wow, what a huge number. Isn't that like 1% of the total U.S. population?

I checked the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración Mexicana) today and they have a webpage in English that answers the most common questions about working and/or living in Mexico. Check it out: As I said the other day, you can become a Mexican resident by showing a monthly income of $1500 dollars and even less if you own property here.

On another page, you can see the graphs and statistics regarding Mexican immigration as well as statistics for repatriated Mexicans (illegals that are returned to Mexico). You see them at the immigration offices at the border getting off buses and signing in. This number only shows those that are deported from the US. which is over 500,000 a year. What about all of those that have returned because of a slowing economy. They say it is over 11%. Statistics for 2007:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Little Sunshine - I'm Starting To Grow Mold!

I needed to go through our trip pictures to find some sunshine. It has been raining for over a week and will continue to do so. I'm getting moldy! Hopefully these pics will shed some light on the sunnier side of Mexico. I think I'll fix a drink, it's five o'clock somewhere!

Barra Del Tordo, Tamps

Emerald Coast
Galeana, N.L.

Retraction - Iluminamos Mexico

My friend from Merida questioned the comment I made yesterday about not being able to participate in the march Iluminemos Mexico this weekend.

I stopped by the Immigration office this morning and they said there was no problem as indeed it is not politically motivated. However, do not take my word for it. Check first with your local immigration office.

So I'll be there on Saturday, I hope I get pictures.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Bit Of Tension In The Air

In case some of you don't know, this Saturday, August 30th is the march on Mexico. The theme of the march is, "Iluminemos Mexico". This is a pacific march that will unite all Mexicans in cities all over the country to protest the violence that has taken place over the last two years. On this blog I won't go into details, you all have read the news there is nothing I can say or share with you that would make it any better or any worse.
Unfortunately, I have to remain at home that day. As a foreigner I am not allowed to take part in the march. "Iluminemos Mexico" (We light up Mexico) will involve lots of light, lots of silence and lots of walking. Here at home, since I can't participate in the march, I will line the front wall of my house with candles as a silent protest and involvement in the activities.
The Federal and State governments have promised to resolve this issue in the next 100 days. News media, actors, senators, representatives, people of power are making it a point to count down the days as a constant reminder that we are all waiting and watching.
The air is thick, we can all feel it. Life goes on and we continue to pray that the situation changes.
How has this changed my life? Without offending anyone, I now manage my life like I did when I lived in the states taking more precautions and being more watchful. This won't stop me from moving about freely or boondocking.
I have been looking for links that talk about the march, but most of them are junk that want to negate the positive side of the activity.
Today's Activities
The rain has really taken its toll. I did get out and cut the grass. I think I saved the pool from going green and did some general clean up outside. It was sunshine all day today. Now, as I write this, the wind is kicking up and the rain is moments away.
Faith and Solidarity brings everyone together. Like all things in life, this too will pass.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Diesel Price Hike

The Mexican government and Pemex have raised the price of diesel to 6.48 pesos per liter. This is a 10 centavo increase. I am also finding that the border price is set at 6.21 pesos per liter but I haven't confirmed that yet.

Transport companies and bus lines are complaining about the increase although city bus routes continue to have price increases on a yearly basis depending on the rate of inflation. This could push to make it go up again but it will be a minuscule rate hike for consumers.

Here is a link:

Thinking About Your Winter Mexico Trip?

Winter is close approaching and I am sure many people are considering their trek SOB. I wonder where everyone is going and what is their criteria for choosing their locations. A lot of people head to the West coast; Baja Norte and Sur, Sinaloa and Sonora. I know those areas only from work, flying in and staying a day or two and heading back out. It will be great in the future to be able to travel there and take advantage of the autopista that is under construction from Durango to Mazatlan. Until then, I continue to travel the Central and East coast of Mexico.

North of Tampico (Barra del Tordo & La Pesca)

Emerald Coast

Copper Canyon (Chihuahua)

It would be interesting if you would post your Winter destination in the comments section to give people an idea of where Mexico rvers are headed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stop The Rain, Please!

It has been raining all weekend and the forecast if more rain this week. I left the gym this morning heading to my morning classes and the rain just came down in sheets. Black clouds are hanging low over the city and flash flooding is occuring.

I had some trouble getting to the house. I past this creek about 5 miles north of the house. I found a way around it but I saw this guy coming through. The current was a bit strong.

So I started to get worried as there is a dry wash that crosses the road to my house. It was pretty high and I took the risk of crossing it.
So now I am at home preparing my classes for this afternoon. I dread heading back into Monterrey but the job has to get done. Now that I see out in front of the porch, I may need hip boots to get to the car. Last Thursday's Lunch With Andreina

I forgot to post the pic from last Thursday's lunch with my beautiful friend Andreina. She was here in town from D.F. for work and we were able to talk for about an hour. We met at the Fiesta Inn where she had stayed the night with the rest of her coworkers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Blast From The Past (A Real Shocker)

Now look at this adorable baby. Isn't he a looker! So what happened? Well, he grew up to be old and cranky but has his good days too when he can be a lot of fun.

So yes, I celebrated my birthday yesterday. Anyone else out there have their birthday on August 22? I was strolling or actually running down memory lane here as I went through the photos. Here is a shot of our gang from my school. From left to right, Steve Kovak, Kevin Hunter, Tim Murphy, yes that's me in the middle, Tom Carney and Mike Allen. We used to have a lot of fun running around the neighborhood. We lived near Westport in Kansas City and went to Guardian Angels church and school. My dad went to Guardian Angels too, and my grandfather was instrumental in the church construction completed in 1929.

Then I grew up and well, the rest of the story is all down hill. I'll end up just like I started in the beginning. This shot was taken around 1987 when we went to AstroWorld in Houston. That was a fun trip. We rented a car and drove up to Houston and stayed in the Residence Inn.

I received a gift from my sister Dorothy. She is the oldest girl of my 10 brothers and sisters. I know I have mentioned her before but she is a real hoot. She's fun to be with, always looks after me and is a great cook. She makes wonderful snickerdoodles and Waldorf salad. We like to rv together, although it has been a couple of years. She likes to walk and we talk and laugh about all kinds of things. She's like my second mom. Anyway, I sure love her a lot and she sent me a homemade soy candle for my birthday. Thanks Sis! That's her, second on the right with the navy blue T-shirt.

Another Gold Medal For Mexico!

Mexico has another gold medal winner! Maria del Rosario Espinoza won the second gold medal in Taekwondo. Congratulations to Maria, a woman wins a gold for Mexico. I am still looking for her picture so I can post it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Link - PEMEX ULSD Border Stations

I added a new link for Mexican border Pemex stations that are supposed to be selling ULSD diesel fuel. If you have problems with the link, please let me know. I tested it twice and works for me.

This information was received from Pemex via email based on a request I sent the end of June. I hope this helps and that they really do have the desired fuel. There are over 100 stations that stretch across the border.


Conocemos al señor don Alejandro Martí, su trayectoria, honorabilidad e ilusión al construir una familia unida, llena de amor, como en todos nuestros casos.Una tragedia que se vive hoy en día.¿Y tu, que haces para un México mejor?De que sirve una república con los poderes Ejecutivo, Legislativo y Judicial¿No somos una DEMOCRACIA y se nos considera a todos los ciudadanos?¿Hasta cuando seguiremos consintiendo un presidente legítimo y otro 'no legítimo'?Ayer, en la Santa Misa ofrecida por el jovencito FERNANDO MARTÍ, a la cual, por cierto, asistió el señor presidente Felipe Calderón se transmitió un mensaje, de todos conocido, pero que me gustaría se detuvieran el leerlo:'UNA TRAGEDIA DE MEXICO Y SUS FAMILIAS'Imagina este escenario por un momento. Piensa que eres la persona que está hablando, ponte en sus zapatos, solo el tiempo que te tome leer este texto.…….He sido muy afortunado. Dios me dio la oportunidad de tener un hijo, un hermoso niño que sólo pedía una cosa: cariño. Para eso había venido al mundo, para amar y ser amado. Lo acogí en mis brazos y crecimos juntos. Nos complementamos, yo tenía la necesidad de ofrecer ese cariño que él tanto requería. Tuve la oportunidad de darle algo mejor: una familia que vivía en armonía: una mamá, una hermana y un hermano.Recuerdo el primer día que me dijo 'papá' y sentí como el cielo se abría, los pájaros cantaban y el sol iluminó el mundo. De la mano íbamos a su escuela. Los primeros días se le llenaban los ojos de lágrimas, no quería despegarse de mí, pero pronto encontró su mayor interés por el colegio: sus amigos. Además se divertía jugando fútbol y adoraba la músicaJamás olvidaré su expresión cuando logró descifrar 'mamá', cuatro letras que comprendían el universo entero. Dios nos colmaba de bendiciones.Pasaron los años, me sorprendía ver como mi pequeño niño se hacía hombrecito, que maduraba a pasos agigantados, que crecía para ser casi de mi tamaño. Amando la vida.Cumplió catorce años, lo celebramos juntos, en familia con algunos amigos. La vida nos sonreía. Pero un día el cielo se nubló, los pájaros enmudecieron y la tragedia invadió nuestros corazones: en el camino por donde pasaba mi hijo, se cruzaron unos hombres desalmados, personas que no podrían ser descritas con un adjetivo porque no los hay para poderlos describir. Me avisaron que mi hijo acababa de ser secuestrado, ¿cómo?..., ¿cómo podía ser aquello?... iba acompañado de un chofer y también se lo habían llevado. Al parecer, los plagiarios eran o se hacían pasar por policías.La noticia me dejó pasmado. No tenía idea de como actuar. Por fin nos confirmaron el plagio y pidieron rescate. Sí, querían dinero a cambio de mi hijo, ellos decían que esa era 'la negociación'. También me dijeron que recibiría un presente para que supiera que hablaban en serio. De eso no cabía duda. Al día siguiente, el drama fue mayor, localizaron un cadáver en la cajuela de un coche, era el chofer, amigo de nuestra familia que cumplía responsablemente con su deber y que dejó en duelo a los suyos. ¿Por qué sacrificar así a un hombre inocente?Hasta aquí habla el padre de familia.Imagina un minuto lo que ese padre y su familia pudieron sentir en aquel momento, pasaron días en total incertidumbre, sin saber en donde estaba su hijo, si comía, si tenía frío, si era golpeado o amenazado. Peor aún, no sabían si estaba vivo o no. Pero la esperanza nunca muere y ellos esperaron cincuenta días que convertidos en horas podrían traducirse en meses, minutos que se convertían en años y segundos que eran una entidad sorda.Aquél padre pidió asesoría, no sabía como actuar ante tal situación. En realidad nadie lo sabe, porque en esas circunstancias las posibilidades de actuar son nulas. Buscó por todos los medios la manera de que su hijo volviera, se hincó ante las autoridades, pidió auxilio a la policía, visitó las oficinas de los procuradores y a los altos mandatarios, rogó a Dios mañana y noche, deseó cambiar su vida por la de su pequeño.Nada, pasaban los días y nada. Solo prevalecieron la esperanza y el amor, que lo hacían sostenerse en dos piernas.Dinero. ¡Qué poco valor puede tener el dinero si la vida de un ser humano está en juego¡Por supuesto, aquél padre pagó el rescate. Sabía que esas monedas eran tan viles como las de Judas, no tenían valor ni sentido. Supo que su hijo estaba vivo. Habló con él como prueba de vida y la esperanza volvió a brillar en los corazones de aquella familia. Pero después el silencio enmudeció al mundo. Pasó un día, otro, otro y otro, nada, no hubo llamadas, ni el timbre sonó, ni nadie llegó.Las suposiciones fueron limitadas. Creían que el día estaba cerca, su hijo volvería y gritaría: 'papás, acá estoy'. Sí, los santos estaban enterados, a todos les habían rezado; solo esperaban y mantenían la esperanza.Otra semana y el padre volvía a suplicar al mundo entero que le ayudara, pero el silencio se ahogaba en sí mismo. Esperaría toda una vida si fuera necesario, pero la incertidumbre de no saber en donde estaba su hijo agujereaba el dolor de aquellos padres. Habían pagado, ¿por qué no se comunicaban con ellos?... algo raro pasaba, quizá los secuestradores se habían peleado entre ellos, quizá habría pasado otra cosa, quizá, quizá...Por fin, recibieron una llamada. Quien hablaba no quería entrevistarse con el jefe de familia, pero el padre espetó: 'dígame, aquí estoy'; creía estar preparado para todo. El comunicante informó que habían encontrado el cuerpo de una persona en la cajuela de un coche y había que reconocerlo.No entraré en detalles de aquél hecho de horror, el cuerpo llevaba varias semanas metido en una bolsa de plástico, era irreconocible. Por la dentadura se logró identificar al muchacho de catorce años al que le había sido arrancada la vida, despojada debido a la desgracia que azota a nuestro país. Sí, a un niño inocente que tuvo la mala fortuna de pasar frente a unos sicarios por casualidad.Ponte en los zapatos de aquellos padres, que desean que nadie llegue a sentir lo que ellos pasaron en los últimos cincuenta días. Piensa que nadie en este país está exento de que le suceda algo parecido. Este crimen es un atentado contra cada familia de México y cada uno de sus habitantes. La muerte de este muchacho significa la descomposición social a la que hemos llegado, la lloramos todos los mexicanos que tenemos hijos y los que no los tienen. Todos nos unimos al dolor de aquella familia que también es nuestra.México no merece esta realidad ni que la vivan las próximas generaciones. Es urgente un cambio. La impotencia invade a la sociedad civil.Unámonos para exigir que nuestras autoridades de los tres poderes de la Unión, los estados y municipios trabajen decidida y coordinadamente contra la delincuencia y en favor de la seguridad de las personas, para que en el corto plazo todos los mexicanos podamos vivir tranquilos.Condenamos la impunidad y la violencia.... ¡Ya basta¡Mensaje dirigido por la familia de Alfredo Harp Helú y María Isabel Grañén Porrúa al final de la Santa Misa del día de ayer, martes 5 de agosto del 2008SI TE INTERESA TU FAMILIA, TU SEGURIDAD Y TU PAIS, POR FAVOR TRANSMITE ESTE MENSAJE A TODAS LAS PERSONAS QUE PUEDAS, JUNTOS PODREMOS EXIGIRLE A NUESTRAS AUTORIDADES QUE ACTUEN Y QUE PODAMOS VIVIR EN UN MEXICO SEGURO.Muchas gracias por la atención.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Naming The Durango

I've received some very good suggestions in the last couple of days about the name for the Durango SUV. This one, Charles Starrett, was a good one. Bob from Tlaxcala sent this to me. How many people remember him:

The Durango Kid

My friend Roc submitted this one which is also very original. Hemri! Get it? The Durango has a Hemi engine.

I'm still undecided and would like to see a few more suggestions.

La Mordida - Paying A Bribe

This has always been a bone of contention with me and I feel it is worth sharing. Bribing a transit official in Mexico has been common place since forever. However, over the last five years there has been a big push by the Mexican government; federal, state and local, to try and eliminate this illegal activity. There are many sides to the coin and I happen to have my own.

I have never paid a bribe. Well, that's not true. In 1986 I paid a transit official because I had Texas plates and I was stopped for not having a front plate on the car. He told me I had to pay him. I did. But that didn't last long. When I arrived at my friend's house he went through the roof. He took me down to transito and we asked to see the Comandante. He pulled out a large book filled with photos of all the transit officials and found the officials working in the area where I was stopped. I identified him, he was called into the office and had to return the money. Keep in mind that was 22 years ago.

I am here to tell you the truth. No one in a uniform can ask you for money. When you are dealing with a transit official, even less. There is nothing he can do to you but maybe intimidate you or threaten you with false possibilities. DONT PAY ANYONE ON THE STREET ANY MONEY. You have nothing to fear, there is nothing that the official can do to you. He can't take your vehicle for a moving violation unless you have had an accident and no one wants to claim responsibility. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, have hit a pedestrian, of course they can impound your vehicle. It becomes evidence.

Apart from being illegal and immoral, it makes no sense to pay a bribe. There are many solutions and in most cases, when the officer realizes you are not going to pay him money, the idea of him leading you through town with a rig and down to the station where he will have to explain to his superiors why you are there, he will think twice and let you go.

The issue that is created by paying bribes is that it sends a message to the transit officials. "We are foreigners, we have money, and we are afraid of you". By paying, it just gets worse. More and more rvers will be stopped and asked for bribes especially in areas where rvs are known to pass.

What I would like to see this Winter, is to set a standard for rvers coming to Mexico. Get the word out that we will not pay bribes. We are willing to take the time out of our day to pay our obligation whether or not it is justified. Spread the word to rvers and to those officials that attempt to extort money from you.

  • carry copies of all your documents, car title and license
  • do not hand over your license to the official (show it and hand him a copy)
  • be polite and friendly, do not get angry
  • do not be afraid (there is nothing to fear. They can't hurt you in any way.)
  • ask for his name, identification and his badge number (the passenger should start writing these things down)
  • offer to follow him to the office to pay the fine

In fact, only a police officer can force you out of your car. A transit official does not have the jurisdiction.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mexico Wins Olympic Gold

Alright! We got one! Way to go Guillermo Pérez. I'm singin', I'm dancin' and I'm jumpin' up and down. ¡Viva Mexico! This 5'7" 58 kilogram powerhouse won the gold Taekwondo medal.

Who's Who In Prices
If you are planning on wintering here in Mexico, you may want to check the link on the right "Who's Who In Food Prices". Click on a city from the list and then the food product type. This morning I was checking cooking oil prices. We use olive oil and HEB has their brand at 54 pesos. We don't fry anything and use PAM for eggs and corn tortillas. This is website will give you an idea of what to expect in the coming months as food prices have gone up globally.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Truck Without A Name . . . . .

Let's see how many family members see this post and send me an email! It's a done deal and I think we got a good deal to boot. The Durango is home safe and sound but the big dilemma is, what do we name it? By the way, you may wonder why we refer to our SUVs as trucks. We call the SUV in Spanish a camioneta? So in English that pretty much translates to a truck.

Take a look at this beauty with a 5.7 Hemi. Does it suck up fuel, oh you bet. But remember that the plan is to have the Durango as a tow vehicle. I'm a bit tired of being passed up on mountain roads by rancheros with sombreros riding their burros, and kids riding their bikes past me, pointing and laughing! The plan now is to sell Patty (please don't say anything as she is a sensative gal and I don't want any problems. She will most likely be replaced by a Chevy Pop or a Peugeot 206 or even a Ford Fiesta. Time will tell. Let's keep it a secret in the meantime.

Any suggestions for a Durango name send me an email?

Man, That Smarts!

I was out cutting the grass in the front yard when all of a sudden I felt a needle pierce the back of my calf. A wasp got, really good. I ran inside and made a paste of alcohol and aspirin and put that on there. It stopped stinging while I continued to cut the grass. Now that I am sitting down it is getting hot and red. I hear it can last for a day or two.
My friend Andreina from D.F. is here today and we are meeting for dinner and drinks tonight. She will catch me up on all the gossip from the Big Tamal.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Locked Out - Calling El Cerrajero

Came home this morning and unlocked the dead bolt on the door and pressed down on the thingamajig to open the front door and the dilibober broke. I couldn't get in the house. The side door still had a key lock on it from our trip and of course the key was in the house.
I tried several things to get in the house but to no avail. So off I went to Santiago and found Goya our local locksmith. He came right away and said he would have to pick the lock on the side door, break the glass to undo the security lock. He attempted to pick the side door lock first but with the security lock no go. We got in the house and he took the lock apart on the front door and gave me the damage report.
He is working on it now and I'll show you the finished work later. He is charging me $70 dollars for materials and labor. Is that a good price? It has been so long since I did anything like this and there is really no one else around plus my time to run around and get estimates.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Boondocking Mexico - What Do You Do For Water?

As much as I like to be on the road and away from it all, I like to shower everyday. For starters, we all know the different routines for conserving water when showering. In my case, I use the old Navy method. Rinse, soap up and rinse again. I guess I'm still pretty brave, but I even take advantage of the first spurts of water that come out even though it can be mighty cold. So a lot of people ask me the question, "What do you do for water?". Not a tough one but most people are afraid to hear the answer. The fear of contaminated water is associated with Mexico. Does it exist, you bet it does. Checking your sources first is the best idea. (I have had tap water from every hotel and restaurant in Mexico over my 15 years traveling with the publisher, not one problem yet. A lot of people who get the crud think its the water. Think again, bad food handling).

We start out our trips with at least 1/2 a tank of water. We also care a five gallon jug of well water from the house or filtered water. We never buy bottled from the store. Okay, call me cheap. Water is water and it has been around for bazillions of years. We p--- and moan about the cost of gasoline but I never here anyone complain about the price of water. Maybe we need a site like to monitor water prices,
I will say that I like my coffee brewed with filtered water. So we go to these filtration stations you see around supermarkets. We found them pretty much all over on our trips. The price for the 5 gallon fillup is 10 pesos. You can't beat the price.

I keep saying I am going to collect water samples one trip and see what comes up. That would have been great on this last trip but time is my enemy. Never enough. So here is what we do when we are running low and need a fillup.

We usually fill up the fresh water tank at a Pemex. I don't use the squirter hose they have for filling the radiator. I find the "toma" or "llave" de agua and ask if I can connect my hose. I also ask if they drink the water from the line. Will I get an honest answer? I think so. But without going into a rampage on bottled fashion, just about everyone here in Mexico drinks bottled water. As poor as we are supposed to be, we pay 8 to 15 pesos for 350 mls of water. Sad consumer statistics when we know a glass bottle (envase) filled with agua mineral (club soda) is highly purified water and costs 3 pesos.

We also fill up at schools, churches, and even restaurants. Asking permission first is a must. If you just hookup and fill don't be surprised if you get a "¿que estás haciendo?". We don't want that. So far we have never been refused water. Even at city parks and plazas the gardner will give us a fill up. What other options are there if you are on the road and boondocking. It is just a matter of asking. Remember, almost all of the places above receive their water from the government or better yet, paid for by the government. My 120 liters won't break the bank and we always give a tip for the use of the water. Good customer relations!

Follow a few safety tips:

  • smell, taste and spit
  • use a filter system on your rv (cheap from Home Depot, you can buy them here too)
  • Brita pitcher model for drinking and coffee brewing
  • use your own hose

  • add chlorine to the tank (one teaspoon for every ten gallons)
BTW, I never buy a bottle of water. When I was a kid and we were out shopping or whatever we looked for a water cooler or we waited until we got home. Bottled water now costs on the average $23 pesos a gallon here in Mexico and those are the cheap waters. They recently discovered that some of the fancier brands use filtered New York city water.

So wherever you are in Mexico, just feel free to ask for a fill up and you will always be granted your wish!

Globalization-CBS Sunday Morning

Sitting here watching Sunday Morning on CBS. They're talking about the decline of the U.S. economy. An expert said, "I am afraid that in the future history will tell us that the U.S. was responsible for globalizing the world, but forgot to globalize itself".

I think that the playing field is being leveled and I don't see it as a threat. Isn't what we have been fighting for to equalize economies, reduce poverty, eliminate hunger? 179 countries have up and rising economies. I think we should celebrate their success and also praise the economic powers who have had a hand in the process. I don't want a world of have-nots, my wish is that everyone is prosperous in whatever way they choose.

Instead of Viva Mexico!, God Bless America and Oh Canada, we change that to God Bless The World and all human beings.
Visit To Allende

I hadn't been to the house in Allende for a couple of weeks and wanted to check on several things. One, we had ants the last time we went. I also wanted to do some cleaning and to make sure the grass was cut. Everything is fine and the place spic and span. However, the central a/c keeps popping a circuit breaker although nothing else is on, not even the refrigerator. This week I'll have to give Rene the electrician a call.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's Official - Quinta Aruanda Is For Sale - Remax

The meeting went well today. The contract has been signed with the Remax agent. Martin came to the house this morning at 10 a.m. right on schedule. He took more photos, listed all the amenities, drew up the contract and it was signed on the dotted line.

Let's see what happens. He is first listing it online with Remax, sending it to other realty companies and after two weeks will start listing it in the paper and the El Norte online.

It's been a lot of fun here. Super quiet and private but now it is time to move on to the final destination.

The History of "Aruanda"

Many years ago on our first trip to Maui, we had the great fortune of finding Astrud Gilberto. My brother had loaned us his condo and his music chest. There we found our first Astrud CD. In case you don't know who Astrud is, she is the "Girl From Ipanima". Buried down in the CD was this fantastic song, "Take Me To Aruanda". The lyrics described the place I always wanted to find. Well, I did find it here in the quinta, hence the name "Quinta Aruanda". The new quinta will become Aruanda II. Here are the lyrics and you'll understand my feelings about where I live.

There's a land, Aruanda

Diamond sand, Aruanda

Silver stars on the hilltop

Take me to Aruanda

Lots of fish in the stream near,

Lots of dangers to dream there,

Golden sun in the valley

Take me to Aruanda.

There where nobody worries,

There where nobody hurries,

Easy life waving your welcome,

Take me there.

Leave my sadness behind me,

Let sweet paradise find me,

Heaven waits over yonder,

Take me to Aruanda.

Friday, August 15, 2008

La Quincena - Remax - The Weekend

Today is la quincena, payday and it happens to land on a Friday. You want to see a city in chaos, come to Monterrey on this day. People in Mexico are paid on the 15th and the last day of the month, not every two weeks (general rule). And in this town, restaurants, bars, theaters, department stores and the avenues will be full of people waiting to "spend that dough". I try to make it a point to be home on Fridays before three in the afternoon.

Remax is coming to the house tomorrow to take pictures and to finalize the contract. Wow, things are really starting to happen. I never thought retirement could be so exciting. Bigger and better things are yet to come. It will be a new beginning for me.

So basically, this weekend will be a relaxing one. I have my work cut out for me today and I hope to get it all done. I really am good at doing very little but not for very long. Give me Saturday afternoon and Sunday and that will be pretty much all the inactivity I can take.

The physical therapist really helped me quite a bit last night. I went to the gym this morning and did the exercise routine they gave me before taking the spinning class. My foot and leg feel much better and walking is easier. If this keeps up, I may be back to my old self soon. Pain is a terrible thing.

I really shouldn't bring this subject up, but the crisis in Georgia has really put me into a funk. Powerful people are scary, we have seen them work throughout history and it appears something big may be on the horizon. It may also be a good thing that Iraq is occupying the U.S. military and their allies. I would hate to see this escalate from a skirmish gone wrong to something bigger. History repeats itself.
Forgive me for saying this, but I kind of get a bit bent out of shape when the U.S. makes the decision to tell people what to do. Too much power is a bad thing especially when your own house is in such a disarray. JMHO

Found a coral snake in the pool last night. There were problems trying to save the guy and get him out of the pool. This snake is very poisonous and I was worried the cats might find it and play with it. Needless to say, the snake is no longer living. It hurts me to have to do that but I feel I had no other choice.

Okay, on to a lighter note. I took a follow up picture of the bridge construction. As you may or may not remember (something so important as this little bridge near my house, ha ha) it took three months to complete one side. Well the other is going up even faster and traffic is flowing "just like butter". Take a look.

Please Don't Forget To Take The Survey

Someone suggested I use an online translater. Sorry, but they can't do the work of the human mind. It cannot digest culturally sensitive words or Mexican Spanish.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

English/Spanish - What Do You Think?

Don't forget to take the survey question in the upper right hand corner!

I'm getting lots of requests from local people about the blog. They say they like the pictures but they don't know English. Should I publish the blog in English and Spanish?

Today I will post a survey question and I hope all of you will answer. One good thing is that I can boost readership about rving, camping and tourism here in Nuevo Leon even with Mexicans as many don't know much about what is around them. The other is, for those you are interested in learning Spanish, here is one more avenue to read in the target language.

Keep in mind, I am a pretty good Spanish speaker. A writer? Now that is another question.

Autopista Durango - Mazatlan

The target date has been set for the termination of the Durango-Mazatlan autopista. According to Presidente Felipe Calderon, the highway will be in working order in 2012. It will contain the largest bridge in Latin America. It will be over 1 km in length.

The problem with this highway has been the obstacles of the canyon (400 meters deep) and the many mountain passes that stand in its way. It will include dozens of smaller bridges and tunnels. In the end, the road will take you from the East coast (Tampico) all the way through to the West coast in Mazatlan.

There are several videos in YouTube under the search of "Carretera Durango Mazatlan".

You Don't Need To Look Very Far . . . .
Tonight I had my appointment with the rehab people to work on my hip problem. I thought it was sciatica but it appears to be a soft hip muscle that is not supporting the hip joint. The treatment was great, I feel like a million pesos. The therapists are from Cuba and worked in hospitals there. They gave me exercises to do everyday to strengthen the muscle in my left hip.

On the way home I took this picture of sunsets. We used to think the only place to see a sunset was in Maui. But after a couple of trips there, we discovered that the sun always sets wherever you are. You just need to look for it and appreciate it. Find a spot, fix a drink, put on Astrud Gilberto and sit back and enjoy. I took this tonight on my way home. You be the judge! Click on the picture to get a better look.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Breakfast At Sanborn's

This morning I met with a friend, Robert, at Sanborn's. Sanborns's is famous for their Enchiladas Suisas. They are chicken enchiladas covered with a fresh green tomatillo sauce and Swiss cheese. No, I didn't order that. We each asked for a plain old omelet.

I met Robert at one of the companies I teach in. He was working in an institute at the time. I had promised myself that when I was nearing retirement I would find someone to carry on my work and to teach them the best way to make money as an English teacher here in Mexico. Most institutes charge companies lots of money for many years and offer bad service by hiring people who speak English, not teachers.

Well, I saw something special in Robert. He is from Panama but is also an American citizen. We began talking one day and he seemed interested as well as a good teacher. I asked around town about him and only got good reports. So now he works as a consultant and makes much more money than he ever thought he would. He recently married Brenda and they are starting a life together and I wish them the very best.

Today we got together to continue working on his business plan. He is young and has good ideas. I know he will do well. He recently got married to Brenda and I wish them the very best.

Sometimes you have to pass on your good fortune to others, it only seems right.

Still waiting on an answer about the Durango. My way or the highway!

No News On The Durango

As of this evening, the price has dropped on the Durango an acceptable amount. As for the price to trage the Nissan X-Trail, we are at a standoff. So far, I'm not budging. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Back Now - Internet Problems

I have been without internet since Sunday afternoon. What a bummer! I just got it fixed and will be reporting soon.
Yesterday, I made an offer on the Durango SUV. I took it to Syma a well-known mechanic shop on Fleteros and Gonzalitos. They work and look like a dealer but their prices are much better. A complete check up on the car; engine, wheels, brakes, lighting, interior, exterior, etc. came to 575 pesos whereas the dealer charges 2100 pesos. The Durango came out with an excellent report. The front bumper had been dented and repainted once, the side door with a small crunch, needs a minor tuneup and a good waxing (Syma also has body and interior detailing shops and car washes).
Now we play the cat and mouse game. I came in low he came in high. He says it is on consignment and he won't make any money. Right!!!! Either it happens right or I walk away.
The pool went green for a couple of days and I fixed that with clarifier and cleaned it all up. Chemicals are added and being adjusted as the day goes by.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Speaking Spanish 101 - Can I Learn Some?

Most people worry about whether they have enough Spanish-speaking skills to travel comfortably in Mexico. Like my new friend Beth, she started taking a class two hours a day in Saltillo. I think that is a wonderful idea. Spanish is a language that travels just like English. Did you know most Europeans speak Spanish? Wow, I didn't realize how much my Spanish came in handy until I started to travel in Central - South America and the Caribbean. It opened up a whole new world. I now had a whole continent in which to travel freely and without worry. Why even in Brazil many people speak Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese is very Spanish to begin with.
So what if you are going to be here in Mexico for the Winter? Most people come here for the sunshine, food, beaches and most of all the camaraderie of other rvers who like to test the traveling waters outside of the U.S. That leaves a lot of free time during the day to maybe take up a hobby, like Spanish classes. I'm not saying you need to dedicate your whole Winter trip to study, but just imagine how much your doors would open if you could bargain in the markets, make more personal selections in the supermarkets and maybe get those Mexican rv park owners and maintenance people to do a little extra??
Just about every language institute in Mexico also offers alternative language courses besides English. Look for a course that is a couple of weeks and at least 1.5 hours three times a week. This gives you time to practice in between your class days and return with those frustrations of communication that your teacher can help you with.
I developed a simple study guide for my English students several years ago. This study guide is simple but encourages the student to be involved in the target language throughout the whole day. I now have the study guide available for Spanish language learners. The key of language learning is to have it in your mind 24/7. If you already speak English or French as a native language, trust me, you will never forget it. Focus on Spanish; make your grocery list in Spanish, watching the local weather in Spanish, find some music you might like and find the lyrics on line and follow along. Also, use a dictionary, paper version or an on-line dictionary. This is the one I use, but there are many to choose from.

If you are interested in my study guide tip sheet, send me an email.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Off To Laredo, TX

Getting ready to leave in a few minutes for Laredo, TX. The mailboxes office in Laredo closes at 1 p.m. I checked yesterday with Federal Express and the MAF sensor had arrived.

It looks like a great day for driving so I will be taking pictures.

Back From Laredo

Turned out to be an interesting trip to the border. Beautiful scenery on the way up.
As we got to the toll booth half way through our trip up Hwy 85 and the price has dropped from 192 pesos to 177 pesos. Amazing! A little extra pocket change.

Got to Nuevo Laredo and decided to take the Commercial Bridge bypass which turns to the right before getting into town. It passes a Holiday Inn and the Nuevo Laredo Golf Club. So we come around a curve and I said, "watch out it looks like an accident, change lanes". It was a speed trap and they were using radar. The right lane is 70 kph, and the left lane is 50 kph. So during the lane change we were clocked at 60. So we got stopped. They were going to take the license and we would have to pick it up after 3 p.m. I was determined to get my MAF sensor and head home. So after telling this guy how it was going to be (in a polite and respectful way) he went and got his Comandante. The comandante came and explained the situation. I told him, we aren't from here so we don't know the road, we thought there was an accident, you have set up a speed trap. He insisted there was no speed trap and that the flashing yellow lights warned us. Well, guess what Señor Comandante, the flashing yellow lights aren't on. Bingo! Gracias Señores, tengan un buen día! Off we went for the bridge, no ticket. Thank You.

We stopped by Walmart and I saw an office for the "manifiesto". Manifiesto is a system where the state of Texas returns sales tax to Mexican nationals and Mexican residents, FM2. You pay a percentage of the total tax for the service. This 8.25% sales tax return can help offset any tax you pay going into Mexico for declared items.

And get this. Here we are at Walmart picking up vitamins and I hear some calling me. I turned around and it was a friend, Walter, from Mexico City. Walter works for the U.S. Embassy and also for a publisher. I hadn't seen him for a while because he was working in Ecuador. He is now back in D.F. and came to pick up his U.S. car to do the temporary permit. I told him to use the Columbia Bridge for faster and more corteous service. Then we ran into a couple from Monterrey. Of all places to meet. Small world.

Heading home I took a photo that may help to clear up any confusion. As you come to the Mexican checkpoint, KM 26, there is a split in the road. The signage can be confusing as it is in Spanish. Well, unless you are an over the road driver and have an 18 wheeler, stick to your left.

My Friend Geoff Sends Me Information

Geoff, of Geoff and Sandy, sent a comment listed below the blog for today. He says the Durango with the 5.7 Hemi should be good to go for up to 8900lbs. That's what I thought and he is doing some checking. Thanks Geoff.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Visit From Remax Mexico

This morning I have an appointment here at the house with the Remax real estate agent. He's coming at 10 a.m. to look at the house and talk about a possible contract to sell it. I won't go to the gym this morning but will be here getting things ready.
I checked with Federal Express this morning and it looks like the sensor for Patty will make it to Laredo today. If it does and I can confirm it, I will drive up to the border tomorrow and pick it up. It is being delivered to my mailbox at Mail Boxes Etc. Remember I have a Laredo address and they send down the mail the next day after arrival. This part however, would have to go through customs and that takes an additional 10 days. Also, they will charge me the import tax and the mailbox will charge me a percentage of the total value on the invoice.
This gives me an opportunity to cross the border and pick up some things. What those things are I don't know because we never really buy anything in the states unless it is rv related.
2005 Dodge Durango
Put down a deposit today on a 2005 Dodge Durango. I have been looking around for quite awhile for one with the Hemi engine. This would be a second vehicle meant for towing the Funfinder, thinking about upgrading that too by the end of the year to the Funfinder 210WBS. This one is at a dealer down the street from the old house in Monterrey. It is Sand color. Very nice with leather interior, in very good condition. I put down the deposit to hold the Durango until Monday to have it checked out by the dealer.
One thing I need to check is the tow capacity. On the door of the truck it says 6600 lbs. My understanding is that the tow capacity with the 5.7 liter Hemi is up to 8900 lbs. So I have this weekend to do the research and also ask the dealer when I go on Monday.
If anyone has any information on the tow capacity, please drop me an email.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Off To The Chiropractor/ I Smell A Rat!

After my class this afternoon I am stopping by the chiropractor to see about getting massage and manipulation. My sciatica is really acting up to the point where I can hardly walk. It has been progressively worse over the last month. Running on the treadmill this morning at the gym helped quite a bit but the pain in the bottom of my foot is just about unbearable. It was very difficult sleeping last night.

After they finished the grout work on the pool I had two boxes of material left. I'm stopping on the way into town to get that returned.

One good thing came out of the pool repair, at least I am hoping not to speak to soon. There was a leak that was eating up about 1 inch of water a day and part of that due to evaporation. Since I finished filling the pool, it seems to be holding its own and at the same level.

I also owe readers a an updated picture on the bridge progress. I am happy to report that one side is finished and in use and the other side is well-under way. Give these guys a big hand as they have worked in over 100 degree heat and also at night to do their best to keep the highway open and flowing. It is a huge improvement for Mexico in terms of public works projects; cost, quality and delivery time. Good on ya.

So I will post photos later this afternoon. Have a great day!

Solar and Wind Power

When I returned the grout to Gilsa, I stopped by this place next door. I pass it everyday and it has been on my "visit" list for about two months. They sell solar and wind power. I talked to them about the new place in Allende and ways to manage the electricity. They gave me great news. Now, the CFE will allow wind power in conjunction with the electric grid. So I can actually sell back energy to the CFE when things are going well. I'll tell more as I get the information. The owner is going to set up an appointment for us to talk. This is fantastic news!

I Smell A Rat

The last two days I have come home and smelled a faint odor. Not strong but it was for sure some kind of funk. So this morning I went through the refrigerator, cabinets and checked the trash can in the kitchen. Couldn't find a thing.

This afternoon after my doctor's appointment I came home and it was a bit stronger. So I started looking under all the furniture with a flashlight. To my surprise my housekeeping skills are quite good. Spic and span, but that's beside the point. I went over to the living room with my good sniffer and it was getting stronger. I looked behind the bookcases, I moved some things and nothing. What else could it be???????

I moved the sofa and lo and behold, there was the evidence. A big mouse in a not-so-good state of decomposition. Gross. Now it all comes back to me. Last week I caught the cats playing with a baby mouse. I took it outside and got rid of it. Then came another toy and I took that away from them. Little Bit has a habit of opening the patio sliding door. I close it at night before going to bed but last week I forgot. Mama must have come in and gave birth and the cats got the babies and momma died under the sofa.

The house is now decontaminated and smelling like "home sweet home"!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beth from Saltillo - A Good Time Had By All

I met Beth at Starbucks and we talked for three hours. We had a coffee, chatted for awhile and went for a walk through the mall to Sanborn's where we bought some state maps for Nuevo Leon and Coahuila from Editoriales Independencia.

Beth has a blog and she makes pies. Check it out.

So the plan is to get together sometime soon probably in Saltillo. I told her though how much I just luuuvvvvv apple pie with lots of cinnamon. I was hinting at anything though.

She sent me this photo of their trip to Potrero Chico this last weekend. Her husband road his bike and she went running. They enjoyed their trip out there.
It was a great afternoon. Thanks Beth.

Busy Day - Missy Really Isn't Who You Think She Is

I really have a full plate today. I have been working with the pool getting it filled and the water stabilized. It was filling all night. I went out this morning around 5 a.m. and it was almost full. I decided to wait until it finishes filling and then I will start the filter to mix the chemicals.
After my second cup of coffee, I looked at the bedroom window and to my surprise, Missy jumped in the water. She was in and out of the pool while it was empty and I guess she didn't realize what the water was all about. Do you think she learned her lesson?
Missy Really Isn't . . . .
who you think she is. For the last couple of weeks I have been keeping a secret. On the big trip I discovered that Missy was hiding something. Missy is really a "he". So now the dilemma is, how do I handle this? I can't change he(r) name and I won't keep using parenthesis to talk about he(r). (S)He has become accustomed to things around the house and the big cat, Little Bit, has taken he(r) in as a child. Great, Little Bit is a boy too and he is acting like a mother. What have I done? Thank God I don't have kids, could you imagine how they would have turned out! Scary, huh?
Starbuck's And A New Friend
I received an email from Beth about a week ago. Beth and her husband recently moved to Saltillo from the U.S. for work. She sent me an email about the blog and we started exchanging mails. She is taking Spanish classes and that is a great thing. Most foreigners just don't do that. So Beth sent me a mail and we are having coffee today at Starbucks. I will update you on our meeting and visit.

I love it when people stop by for a visit and I am always willing to help newcomers or rvers when they come this way.