Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finding A New Rig - Complete Frustration


As retirement nears, I continue to search for our next part-time rig. We won't be fulltimers at least not in the short term. Home is home here in Mexico and we all need a piece of land. I'm thinking that we will use the place in Allende as an rv parking spot between trips, home so to say. Construction sounds fun and all that but I think it is just too soon to even give it thought. We have kicked around home building plans and it would be a small 850 sq foot home, probably made from brick, sheet rock interior and heavy insulation, and a nice clay tile roof. Not big on space but big on amenities.

Remember we are boondockers. Getting into small places is our game and we have some pretty good luck with an SUV and our small 18ft Shadow Cruiser. But the over all length can be the size of a small motorhome.

We have owned two Trailmanors and low-profile trailering will soon be all the rage. We loved the TM so much we grew into the 3326 which is 33ft long opened with a dinette and a king size bed to boot. But again, way too big for what we do. I'm not sure a TM would hold up under our conditions for travel. The two we had did pretty well but were never used in Mexico.

So here is a sampling of what I have in mind. Quite a few photos but any feedback via comments or email would be appreciated. Please keep in mind we are small people and used to a small space. We have no intention in the near future of pulling a 40 ft fifth wheel although I would really dig it (can I still say that!).

Chalet XL Model with dormer. These models set up in less than three minutes. Chalet seems to have a better quality record than their counterpart Aliner. The standard Chalet A Frame sets up in 3o seconds and I have done it. Low profile, light, and within the constraints of our current length requirements.

Next is the Trailmanor 2619. This model is 19 ft long closed, well within our current measurements. When open it sports two beds, a dinette, a full kitchen, and a hard-sided bath. Yes, we know all about the recycling toilet and it worked well for us. We found the TM to be really roomy. One reason I like this unit is that beds are on the opposite ends and I am an early riser. So I can get up and don't bother you know who at the other end of the trailer. I have already contacted TM as they used to make the unit with a cabinet air. If they would do it as a custom job, one I could do myself too, it would add bonus points as I hate the droning and sound of a roof air.

Shadow Cruiser makes a 21ft unit, just three feet longer than our current model with a walkaround bed. This is a real plus. It could be custom into a twin bed model. It also comes with a sofa slide and we would order it with many options but without the awning and the roof air conditioner. Our practical on hands experience tells us a small window unit runs quieter and more efficiently.

Last but not least is the first rv we ever used. We rented this model in California many moons ago and it was a real hit. I liked the motorhome idea and the compactness of it even better. It has twin beds, a functional bathroom that worked for us for over a week. We also took it to the beach, the snow in the mountains as well as the desert. It worked well in all temps and had a built in generator. The plus about this is the overall lenght is just 22 ft. It is a Volkswagon V6 and although VW dealers in the U.S. were not willing to work on it under warranty here in Mexico any dealer or mechanic would be happy to do so. What is the downside? We would need a small toad or we would have to get use to picking up and taking the Rialta with us whenever we choose to go somewhere. And when we boondock we do that a lot. We lock up the Shadow Cruiser and take off for other destinations. It has always been a favorite though.

Dora - My Daily Inspiration

This is my friend Dora from the gym. We all call her "La Señora". Dora is over 75 and going strong. She is always the first one at the gym at 5:45 a.m. She works out everyday from 5:45 until 9 a.m. She takes a spinning class, lifts weights and then another class of either aerobics, spinning or body bar. I look up to her because she is a great example of what we should all be. She is kind, does things for everyone from birthday parties, to organizing the Christmas gift donation for the instructors, and our yearly Christmas party where she brings pan dulce, tamales, and leche con cafe. She is also very active in her senior citizen group, INAPAM (Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores). They have activities, field trips, vacations all sponsored by the government and most if not all of the activities are free or at a very low cost. She has taken trips with the group to Zacatecas, Guadalajara and Tampico just to name a few. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren't interested in the group or don't know about it.
Thanks Dora!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

$85,000,000,000 Dollars - Could This Plan Work?


****Looks like I made a mistake here by not checking my math before hand. Stills seems like a better idea than what the big shots have planned to "fix" a problem that those on top should be punished for. Imagine all the retirees or wannabee retirees who are being affected by the crash. I wonder how this will be remembered***

So I am deleting it, better to be honest than post bad information.

Festival de Santa Lucia - Monterrey, N.L.


What a fun weekend it has turned out to be. Friday I was pretty pooped out after giving these courses in OXXO. So I picked up a pizza to celebrate, just one more course on Monday. Comfort food, it really is something. The pizza came from CostCo. Believe it or not, I love the crust, one of the better I have ever had.
Saturday was a showing for the house. Turns out we may have the house showcased in a Monterrey real estate magazine this week. If it is, I'll post the information. The woman from the magazine fell in love with the place. Good news for me, I would like to have it sold by December. My secret project in New Mexico is calling me.

So later on we met up with Nils from Ohio Northern University. He was passing through Monterrey on the search for people to work in the university art projects which he manages. We went down to the Santa Lucia for the month long festival. We walked around a bit and came across a polka dance competition. Yes, polkas a major part of Mexico's folkloric dance history.

While everyone was watching the dance program I went around taking some fantastic shots of downtown Monterrey at night. In this picture you can see the Palacio del Gobierno on the left and our recently remodeled postal service building. (BTW, the Correo Mexicano is undergoing a complete makeover of the system guaranteeing major changes in delivery times and security of those deliveries, more on that this week).

This fountain is down from the street level and I have never seen it lit up at night. It sits in front of the Museo de Historia at the original site of the Ojo de Agua where Diego Montemayor declared the founding of Monterrey.

Later on we went for a walk along the river and found a great little sidewalk cafe and talked as we watched the boats go by.

My diet has been working but I guess the Friday night pizza was not a good idea. You can see in this picture I still have a ways to go. That jelly roll around my waist is a pesky feller and I will continue to work on it although I do have an October 15th deadline I obviously won't meet. That's okay, I'm a work in progress and am trying to defeat aging, gravity, bad genes, and my number one enemy, me!

Friday, September 26, 2008

On A Clear Day!


The weather has made a tremendous change and the sun was out all day. I took a couple of pictures of the mountains. Funny, most people never give them a thought and I see something different everyday.

Monies are already on the way to help recovery efforts after the horrific storms here in Nuevo Leon. Fonden, Fondo Nacional de Desastres (Mexico's FEMA) doesn't fart around when it comes to disaster relief. The money will arrive in the next week and clean up efforts are underway as we speak.

Tomorrow I need to head down to Allende and check the trailer. I have a feeling it took a little water damage via a bad seal around one of the slides. It was damp last week when I went and with the torrential rains it had to of received more water. I will post an update from there tomorrow.

Also, a visitor from the Comex group (part of the U.S. Embassy) will be arriving tomorrow for lunch. We will take him out, discuss some business and show him around the riverwalk. It will be an interesting day.

Monday is my last day of the courses I am giving in OXXO. It has been a tough week as I am not used to working this much. I has been fun but they wouldn't let me take my camera into the corporate offices. Too bad.

Telmex Special Pricing


If you are planning to live in Mexico full time or do now, check out the contract promotion for Telmex land line and internet good until October 15th. For 389 pesos you receive the land line, 100 local calls per month, 100 minutes long distance national calls, DSL high speed internet modem, connection and wireless adapter. That is a real bargain. I am paying 569 a month and I don't get the 100 minutes of national calls or the wifi adapter. I am going to call next week to see what I can do to change my service.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nuevo Leon - Taking a Beating


Monterrey and the surrounding areas including Saltillo are really taking a beating from the heavy rains. They should be lifting by Friday but getting there seems far away. Here on the ranch they have closed all the turn arounds under the highway as they are all built along rivers and streams. This is the one I used tonight on the way home. The police were there at the entrance just waiting to shut it down. Not a problem for me, another kilometer and there is an above ground return I could take.

In town today, coming home from the course I am teaching, I found these Mennonite kids selling their cheese and gorditas on the street. No wonder they exel at everything they do. They are willing to work under any condition and they seem to want to do it gladly.
I've never done it, but I always want to yell out to them, "hey primo" (cousin). We all look alike and could pass as relatives. We have had some not so pleasant encounters with them over the years as we rv around Mexico. Not bad events but they sure do keep to themselves and will defend each other to the death. Many are leaving Mexico this year since the federal government cracked down and told them they had to start pasteurizing their cheese products. I don't have statistics yet but it will be intersting to see.

On the various rving forums it looks like people are getting ready for their trip South to Mexico. Lots of information is being shared and I know everyone will enjoy being back. I'm hoping there are many newbees coming too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'll Get You My Pretty!


Sorry but I had to post this. I have the Wizard of Oz on DVD and VHS. It is showing now on Turner Classics. What memories! All of gathered around the tele at Easter time watching this classic. What a great escape. We only had a black and white set so it wasn't until later in life I saw the screen change from black and white to color. It still amazes me.

I thought of the Pie Lady in Saltillo when Dorothy finds the apples. "Look at all these apples". They would make one great pie, wouldn't they?

Anyway, back to the movie.

Durango Windshield Repair-Another Piece of The Puzzle

I knew when I bought the Durango it had a couple of chips in the windshield. I really noticed one yesterday on my drive to Allende. So I got out my Delta windshield repair kit and went to work. Yes, another missing piece of the puzzle. I took a course in windshield repair several years ago in Austin with the intention of doing repairs here in my spare time or in between my classes. I did and I did it well. Problem here is that the insurance doesn't pay for windshield repair only replacement and it is fairly cheap. So I still do it when I see a good one to fix I drop off a flyer and sometimes they call me. The Toyota dealership gives me a buzz from time to time when they get a trailer full of new cars and they have a couple of chips. Recommendation is my best advertiser.

BTW, if you live in Mexico and drive a Mexican-plated car, Mexican insurance is a real bargain. The big differences are; anyone can drive your car with your permission, tickets and accidents don't count against your premium. I pay 300 dollars a year on the Patty Wagon for liability plus some other goodies.

Sunday Carne Asada


Wow, am I a lazy guy. Yesterday I did absolutely nothing. I watched quite a bit of news about the recession in the U.S. and the 700 Billion dollar bailout. It can't get much worse than that.

I also saw an excellent interview on CNN with the ex-prime minister and now mentor minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. He is a very interesting person with some straightforward opinions on Asia as well as world politics. When asked about democracy he said, "show me a country that the U.S. has invaded with the intent of installing a democratic government and afterward turned to democracy, none. His take on Iraq was not a shocker. He agreed it was good to take Saddam out of power, but that in the end, all the money, troops, machinery, deaths will only result in the split up of Iraq into three separate territories. The Middle East is not a democratic culture. He went on to say that in Afghanistan the warring tribes enjoy their battles as they have for centuries and that it will continue for a couple of hundred more. That is why they are called warring tribes. Smart guy.

I drove down to Allende in the Durango. The truck is really growing on me. The highway from Santiago to Allende is curvy and winding. I set the cruise control on 80 kms and listened to a Chris Botte CD. It was a beautiful drive. The weather here is heading into fall and I am loving it.

In the afternoon I fired up the hibachi and we had a couple of steaks. Delicious, but that is my fill of beef for the month. I woke up this morning and felt like mooing and grazing on the grass in the front yard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lazy Saturday

This week was pretty rough considering Monday and Tuesday I was in Kansas City. I had quite a bit of work to prepare for the course I am giving. BTW, the course is rendering some interesting information about how lower-middle class Mexicans here in the North of the country live. I am compiling a sample from the more than 100 employees who will pass through my personal finance course. These people have an average income of 700 to 1500 dollars a month and it varies. They are paid a percent of total store sales minus waste and shoplifting. I will finish this course next Friday. Very interesting.

In the meantime, the weather is changing my way. It has cooled off considerably at night and the days are getting cooler. This is the time I love living here in the North. Winters are wonderful. We still have some color change on the leaves, lots of raking, but the smells of Fall and Winter will soon be here. Last night I got a bit chilly and had to put on my footies. I also need a new blanket. Not that I am proud of this, but I use a liner blanket from a sleeping bag. I got this used from staying at a friend's house in 1988. I fell in love with it. I sleep on top of the sheets and cover with the blanket. BTW, I use flannel sheets year round. So now the blanket is at least 30 years old and has turned into a rag. I feel like Linus.

This morning was a great staying in bed with the cold air coming into the house. It called for my favorite cold weather breakfast. Tamales with eggs and beans.

I also purchased this gizmo called an RCA player. Similar to an IPod. I got for a song and a dance and it holds 500 songs. I downloaded my favorite CDs and had the opportunity to download some CDs to my laptop that weren't in there. I want to start consolidating my stuff into the smallest possible space. My small Discman speakers work beautifully with this device so I can share the music while in the RV. All this is for my secret New Mexico project I hope to work on in the months of Spring giving the house sells this year.

This RCA player is really something. Super easy to use; downloading, sorting and playing. It also has AM/FM radio, as well as audiobooks. It came with three books already loaded that I may listen to sometime just for fun. I would like to put my Deepak Chopra and Conversations With God on there as well. So I spent most of the afternoon doing this.

If you wondered where I have been it has just been a hectic week with more work than I am accustomed to. So hang in there, I hope to get out rving one weekend in the next couple of weeks. I gotta get the hitch installed on the Durango.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guardian Angels - 4700 Terrace


On Sunday morning I had time to go for a drive around town. The Country Club Plaza is about a 10 square block area (correct me here if I'm wrong). From the hotel on Main St. to Terrace St. is probably a 30 minute walk. I know this part of town like the back of my hand and I used to hang out on the Plaza as a kid. Some things never change. I read the streets as I drove but always one step ahead of the signs. My dad started out as a postal carrier and I still remember the huge street map he had on a board in the basement where he had to memorize the streets for the big test before setting out to be a carrier. Even some small businesses are still there after 40 years. It just amazes me. The four-story building on the corner of 47th used to be a giant to me and after it was built we would ride the elevator up and down a couple of times acting goofy and jumping up and down until the doors would open and we'd act like nothing was going on.

So I get to the house and it looks even better today than it did when I lived there. Oh the things we did in that house. First off, it is a three bedroom one bath house and up to 11 people lived in it at one time. Three girls in one bedroom, four boys in another, and two in the downstairs bedroom. I slept in a day crib in my parents room until I was six. I remember dad throwing a light see-through blanket over the crib at night just before lights out.
In the front of the house on the second floor was the attic window. Neighbor kids believed we had a crazy sister tied up in the attic. My brothers would go up there and make sounds and the kids would scream and run away. One Christmas (I don't think my sister reads this blog very often so she can kill me later) my sister was cleaning the attic. Yes, all ten of us maintained the house as if it were a military installation. We had just put the tree up and I was laying underneath looking at the big old fashioned Christmas bulbs. Man those were neat. The two old maids from across the street came over to see the tree and say hello. No sooner had they come to the door and stepped in and ole big foot up in the attic took a a wrong turn and stepped between the rafters. Next thing I knew sheet rock, insulation and dust were pouring down in the corner and I could see a leg dangling in the mess somewhere. Physically hurt, no. But that old ego to this day hates to hear the story.

So I took a picture and went two blocks up the street to 4546 Liberty. There on the corner was one of several hideouts. My Aunt Ann had lived there and would invite me up to her house once in awhile to kind of get away from it all. She lived alone after my grandparents did. She worked for the Social Security Dept. She always knew how to cure my ills. If I remember correctly it was tuna casserole and tapioca for dessert. What I liked the most about my Aunt Ann was she would always make me lift up my shirt and she would thump my belly and say, "oh that watermelon is getting ripe". She was a good egg. She went to mass at Guardian Angels church everyday.

On Christmas Eve it was wine and homemade fudge at her house after midnight mass. Nobody made fudge like Aunt Ann.

Further up the street about four blocks is my church and grade school. The school in the picture below is the new building built in 1955. The other school was built around 1930. The church was built by the Germans who didn't have a place of their own to worship. My grandpa was one of the founders. On top of the church you can see an angel. One of my dad's wishes in his will was to redo the statue and we had it bronzed and put back up on top. My dad did a lot of work for the church. Each Christmas we would be in charge of buying the Christmas trees at the Farmer's Market down by the river. Dad would get a tree for us for free. Aunt Ann was a treasurer and helped to keep the books while Mom worked with the Altar Society keeping the church linens clean and pressed. All of us boys were altar boys. I remember they would look for me in my classes whenever there was a funeral or wedding. I loved to volunteer as I always received some compensation for what I did. Plus, I got to ride in a limo every now and then and felt like a big shot. I thought it was the only way I would ever get to know what it was like to be rich.

Back To The Routine


I'm back to my routine. I stopped by CostCo on my way home this morning to pick up my supplies for my diet. It really works well for me and I don't consider it a "diet". I have plenty to eat and I enjoy what I eat. I think it is more controlled in portion size which has always been a problem for me. I like chicken and I love to eat salad. The carbs are also an important part of the diet and I get my share, potatoes, wild rice, oatmeal and cream of rice. Here's what I bought today.

Later today I want to share my story of the visit I made to my old neighborhood in Kansas City. It brought back lots of great memories. I hope to have it posted later on today.
Also, I start my set of courses for the employees at the convenience store chain. I am really excited. I haven't given a seminar since April in Mexico City. I'll try to get some pictures of that too.

The Wedding


You can never accuse me of not being able to mingle. I never sat down the whole four hours at the party. The party was held in Old Westport, one of the first neighborhoods established in Kansas City. It was held at a place called The Record Bar. My godson works with music groups in Europe and has many contacts in the U.S. as well and he and his wife invited them all. I also visited with his godmother and many of my brother's friends that we all know. My sisters and two of my brothers showed up as well as nieces and nephews. It was really a great time as we get together and talk about old times as well as catch up on what is going on. The food was fantastic; an assortment of cheeses, humus and pita, german sausages and other odds and ends. It was an open bar and needless to say yours truly had a few drinks but not "a few to many".
The happy couple!

My brother Bill and me!

My sisters Cecilia & Monica

The godparents, godson, proud father and niece Laura

The Trip Home McAllen to Monterrey


Wow, I am really a lazy guy. More to come today! Arrived in McAllen right on schedule yesterday at 5 p.m. Grabbed the car, loaded the bags and headed across the border. The drive home was great and the Durango performed beautifully. I didn't do all the driving so I got the opportunity to climb around and get acquainted. Here is what I don't like; there is no ashtray (I don't smoke but use it for coins and things), there is no "hold onto" handle above the door on the passenger side, it is located on the windshield frame. That sucks. Other than that, I can see it will be a great tow vehicle for the trailer. We passed a Winnebago View owned my someone from Monterrey. That import cost a pretty penny.

You can see Cerro de la Silla in the distance.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Arriving In Kansas City


If you have ever been to Kansas City, it is known as the City of Fountains. Kansas City copied, purchased or stole fountains from around the globe. Kansas City is also the home of the first outdoor shopping mall created by J.C. Nicoles. The Country Club Plaza as it is known, has the largest Christmas lighting ceremony in the U.S. over 2.5 million lights adorn the Plaza area and are turned on every Thanksgiving with a crowd of over 250K on-lookers. A real sight to see and one that people make a pilgrimage to every year from around the globe.

We arrived to the airport which was relocated many years ago to the countryside about 35 miles outside of town. Same as Stapleton in Denver, Kansas City had a wonderful airport located on the Missouri River just along the edge of downtown. You could be there in just about 10 minutes from everywhere and the take offs and landings were truly a sight to see as you flew over the K.C. area. Now the behemoth which sits one hour from downtown sits idle. It was meant to be a hub for some major airline now defunct. In its beginning, it had parquet wood floors, three circular terminals, eateries and more. Today it is hollow and has just a couple of planes that adorn its many umpteen runways. What a tragedy.

The Homestead suites is always a very reliable place. Their king suites have a nice king bed, six soft and cushy fresh smelling pillows, a sitting area with ottomans and a very well-equipped kitchen. I just love it there and it sits right on the edge of the plaza. Everything is within walking distance.

Saturday night we visited with my brother Bill and his wife Kathy. They live in a high rise which overlooks the Plaza. We drove over although we could have easily walked. (never get a car at the airport without reservations, they put the screws to you).

We had quite an evening watching the sunset, chatting and our usual bullshit session, with laughs, jokes, stories and a few tears. All in all, it was a good time had by all. Take a look!

Monterrey to Kansas City


I'm back at the Kinko's. I went to the library and they are having glitches and I just couldn't get logged on. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.
The drive from Monterrey to the border was uneventful. I was concerned about crossing the border because of the storm and the recent rumors of not issuing permits. The Durango did a great job cruising along at 85 mph (I had to test it out). It drank the gasoline quite well and I could hear it slurping through to the engine from the tank. Towing will be great and I won't be a lead foot either.

At the bridge there was literally no traffic. We got in line for about 10 minutes and at the kiosk the agent checked us out and waved us through. We found the Super8 which was just up the road between the bridge and the airport. If you are a frequent visitor to the RGV or live there could you let me know why it is so difficult to find a liquor store?

The Super8 was awful. I will never go discount again. The room looked great but each bed received 1.5 pillows. The big pillow was foul and I tossed it over the edge. The little pillow let a crook in my neck the next day. I tossed and turned all night and even had a short nightmare which is not common at all for me. I felt the room had "mala vibra" and I will stand by that until the end. Do not stay at Super8 in McAllen in room 209.

Morning came faster than I had wanted but off we went to the airport. The U.S. is so strange to me now. I know it is home to over 300 million people but it is much different than the life I am now accustomed to. Not bad or good, just plain old different.

The airport was a trip in itself. Each of us is considered suspect until the very end. Why can't I take a bottle of water in my bag on the plane? A 3 ounce bottle of water, please! What happened to the sniff test? Since when is a computer more accurate than good old-fashioned mother nature. Well, we got through the detectors, half naked but they did allow us to redress.

Someday, all planes will go to the Southwest system. First come, first serve. There was more hop scotch going on than the man in the moon. "That's my seat", "what number do you have?". Take a seat and sit down for cryin' out loud. And please, do not complain to the flight attendant, that will grant you expulsion from the aircraft. After 911 flight staff got even with the traveling public. Enough bit-----, on with some sky shots.

There was no real lay over in Dallas as we had about 15 minutes to change planes. We were just three gates away and had time to grab a muffin for the trip to K.C.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Well, I Guess You Know What Happened With Ike!


Here in Kansas City. Lots to share with everyone about the trip and being here. The wedding is this afternoon. I didn't want to carry the laptop. Big mistake. The Kinko's charges 12 dollars an hour for internet. Yikes! At home it is .50 cents an hour.

So I will try to post later today from my nephew Patrick's house.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thinking Outloud - Animals, Hurricanes, and 9/11


When I can't get out and boondock, my mind starts to wander. So here goes. Today I heard three different conversations but all with the same theme in mind.

1) A friend at the gym works as a volunteer in an animal shelter. He says he has seen it all. Dogs that have been splashed with gasoline and set on fire, dogs raped by men, animals with their privates, feet or tails chopped off, and the list goes on. A bit graphic but reality. So if we treat animals like that, how can we expect to treat humans any better. I am sure there is a study somewhere that shows where those who mistreat animals turn out to be criminals and treat humans in the same fashion.
2) The hurricane. Watching the news the last 24 hours I have heard people say, "my prayers have been answered and the hurricane is headed somewhere else". Isn't that wonderful. You prayed hard enough that the powers that be turned the hurricane to spare you and then to destroy someone else. Do prayers and the amount of them really make a difference? Does the one above look down and say, "wow, they really like me so I'll save them, and those that don't pay much attention to me, I'll take care of them". Revenge?
3) Today is the annivesary of 9/11. Believe me, no one was more devastated than I was on that tragic day. It happened to us for the first time in a long time. Many people lost their lives, many suffer the consequences of that horrific day. But can we put it to rest? How much more can we drag it out? Let it go, no one will ever forget. Move on, heal, find solace in the fact that we let our guard down and since then have taken all the necessary precautions to not let it happen again. Life is for the living, don't forget the past, but don't dwell on it either. Many other peoples in many other countries throughout history have suffered the same if not worse. It's time to let go, remember our loved ones but the wounds need to heal but never will if we continue to focus on the negative.
Trust me, I have some distant but close experience considering I have no relatives on my father's side of the family. They were all killed in WWII. Even that event needs to be remembered, don't forget but move ahead. It is a tool for healing, learning and preparing for the future.

Progress Report Hurricane Ike


Ike has taken a turn, at least for now. So it looks like we will make it from McAllen to Dallas Saturday morning. Once we are off the ground I don't care where we land or how long we are there. Just getting out of McAllen is fine by me.

So today I have been running around like crazy. My friend Maggie and her husband will be staying here at Quinta Aruanda for the four-day weekend. I want the house to be spick and span as well as easy for them to be at home.

I got all the bed linen washed and changed out and am now doing some last minute wash. I want to pack everything tonight although I'm not taking off until tomorrow afternoon. It has been raining all day so taking my clothes down to the lake and pounding them on the rocks has not been very effective.

Missy is back to normal. I am a bit concerned about some small infection. The vet gave him a dose of antibiotic.
Tomorrow I'll do a trip report to McAllen as the whole world will be heading there from Monterrey. A four-day weekend of shopping, going out, and celebrating the "Big Scream" in McAllen or Reynosa. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to cross the bridge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Missy's Back Home

I went to the vet just now for Missy. He is under recovery and the doctor said all went well. He said that Missy will calm down and settle into home living. I told him it was too bad we don't do that to the human population, we might be able to eliminate a lot of violence and crime. He chuckled but admitted it was a good idea.

Here is the patient sniffing his favorite toy, a wadded up piece of paper. Interesting how cats and dogs are. Missy apparently didn't go to the potty for quite a long time. She did number one for several minutes non-stop. Amazing!

Rising Food Prices In Mexico


Lots of chatter on the news about removing the subsidy for fuel products here in Mexico by slowly increasing prices between now and 2010. For one thing, we have been increasing the price steadily for over a year in small increments of 1 centavo per month. How are we adjusting? Granted, I am speaking from personal experience living in/near a major metropolitan area. I see more 10 year old vehicle imports than ever before. And guess what, most are diesel engine pick ups. Owners of these vehicles may be in for a surprise in the near future.
Also, the news has been full of ever skyrocketing food prices. Click the link on the right "Who's Who In Food Prices" and choose a city and product category. Prices are remaining stable based on the factual information provided by supermarkets to Profeco, Mexico's BBB.
Tortillas can be found around town for as little as 6 pesos a kilo. One of the problems are small towns and the poorer Mexicans who are not accustomed to shopping in large supermarkets that can make lower prices available. Sorry, I can't help you there. It may take a cultural change to get people to go where the best prices are. Too many excuses are used to justify why people can or can't do something. In most cases, it is just the desire and will to make a change. The Mexican news media plays a big role in this problem by constantly picking out a few products that have skyrocketed like; cooking oil, grain products, and fuel prices. If you look at the over picture, eating fruits and vegetables in season, checking the weekly grocery ads will extend a paycheck budget considerably.
If you are coming to Mexico this Winter and want to help, give a few well-thought out talks in local churches and schools on how to improve your economy, how to shop and build a budget. Even if the person is a day-worker, with a little insight great things can happen. If we continue to give people things without having to work for them, things will never change. They will continue to show up for a hand out, and in too many cases, when the hand out no longer exists they will be in even worse condition.

Hurricane Ike Is Ruining My Weekend!

Ike is on my shit list! According to the weather service, Ike will hit Texas at 7 p.m. on Friday. We just happen to be going to McAllen on Friday to do some quick shopping and spend the night. Saturday we are off for Dallas and then on to Kansas City for my godson's wedding.

I wonder if they close the bridges at the border under severe weather conditions? Anybody know?

I'm hoping we can leave early enough to beat the storm before it hits the coast and make our way to the hotel hoping it will blow over by Saturday morning. Early bird flight at 6:30.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Missy Goes In For Surgery


The time finally came for Missy. As I told you before, it turned out Missy wasn't really who I thought she was. She was he. Missy is now 3 1/2 months old and time for fixing. I have had the good fortune that he hasn't marked anything in the last two months and the house is virtually free of marking. I didn't want to stretch my luck and he is getting really fiesty.

Today he went to the vet and will remain there overnight. I go to pick him up tomorrow afternoon.

A Run For Their Money

Since the march, Iluminemos Mexico, the police have been very active. Many kidnappers as well as drug cartel big shots have been arrested or killed. All of the gang involved in the kidnap and murder of Fernando Martí have been captured.

As I was recently told, Mexican police have the training, capacity and equipment. They lack the will to do the job. This is changing and I think we are on the road to somewhere better. We are now on day 83 of the "cien dias" to see change in the government and its laws regarding public security. Let's hope these recent events continue.

Increase In Tourism

With all the "bad" news going around, tourism has not seen a decline, at least in major Mexican tourism destinations. Cancun, Cozumel, Mazatlan and Los Cabos have seen some steep increases in passenger traffic in the month of August. Two major contributors; August is tradionally a heavy traffic month, and Europeans have taken the Americas by storm with the ever weakening dollar.

So not all is bad. I personally believe that the greater increase in tourism leads to a decrease in crime overall. JMTC

Monday, September 8, 2008

Interview With Bill O'Reilly and Obama


Don't know if anyone saw the interview with Bill and Barrack. All I have to say is one thing, who does Bill O'Reilly think he is talking to? He doesn't talk to McCain in the same fashion.

Bill needs to show a little bit of respect considering we are stil unsure who the next president will be. I believe Bill is way out of his "spin zone".

I think both candidates deserve the same respect! JMHO

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Art of Salsa Making


With my 900 calorie diet, I needed some extra umph to go with my food. The diet is pretty good and most of all keeps my mouth busy. If anyone is wondering, it is 130grams of carbs, 90 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat. No fatigue, more energy and it seems to be helping my workouts.

So last night we made pico de gallo. Or as my Texas friend Becky would say, "I'm fixin' a batch of my famous picadagaya! It's all chopping; tomatoes, chile serranos, onions, cilantro and smother with lime to keep it fresh. You can use it as a dip, in tacos, or even cook with it to make some great topping sauces for meats and vegetables.

Salsas in general have their bases in tomatoes and the flavor ingredients can vary. My simple red salsa is as follows:

4 red tomatoes
8-10 chili serranos (i choose the red ones out of the bunch and use 2 for each tomatoe)
1/2 onion
cilantro to taste
1/2 cube of tomatoe buillon
garlic clove (you can used powdered, I don't. For some reason powdered garlic makes me sick)

Preparing the tomatoes is a choice thing. Some like to roast them over the flame first, cook or stew them. I put everything in the blender raw, blend and cook over low heat. You may need to add some water to thin it out while it is in the blender.

Dried chiles make for lots of great sauces. Puerco asado is made by using the dried chile "ancho". Easy to prepare. Boil the chile, deseed and blend with water, salt and a good oil. I use olive. I made this dish for a family reunion. They've never stopped talking about it.

There are so many chiles to choose from in terms of color, taste, hotness, and use. Jalepeños, in my very humble and limited experience, are best used for chile rellenos (miniatures) just the right size for a flour tortilla and beans. You never know who will get the prize as jalepeños vary in degree of heat.
If I were a Winter rver in Mexico, I would try every variety of chile and salsa available. In Acapulco, across from the Fiesta Americana hotel is a restaurant that specializes in shrimp tostadas. Their menu is on a dollar bill with the owner's face on the front. They offer over 15 different types of salsas including some made from peanuts. You would be amazed at the flavors.
Another good treat is to slice chiles, jalapeño or serrano (get rid of those seeds, they are the next day burning materials), along with onions and saute with some olive oil and smother a steak or other meat cut. Yummy!
Check your local Mexican supermarket shelf while here and you will be amazed at the recent increase in variety of premade salsas. Some are creamy, some are filled with veggies, smooth, rough, chopped, it runs the gammut.

Sorry, I Can't Resist

When I heard these words, "fight with me, fight with me, fight with me", I knew they were words of desperation. Sad.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm Back!


Just got the laptop back and I didn't lose any files. All seems to be in good shape. I went for lunch at the lake which is overflowing with all the flooding. Took some pics that I will share later today. Nap time.

Went down to Allende this morning to check on the lot and the trailer. With all the heavy rains and flooding we sustained, I was a bit worried about how things were. The area drains well and so far since we purchased the place, we see no major issues with water. We took advantage of the trip and picked chilis. There are plants all over the place and they make wonderful salsa. Chile del Monte or Chile Piquin.
This is a pic of my neighbor's palapa. Now that is a well-constructed palapa. Very nice neighbors who will eventually build their house around it. Maybe I'll have one someday!
Stopping by the lake, Presa de la Boca, you can see how high the water is. They have opened the gates several times in the last two weeks. I was waiting for the laptop so I figured a shrimp cocktail was in order.

Man, was that a good cocktail. Geoff and Sandy ate here. The place was empty, as we are expecting more rain.
Well, it is good to have my laptop back. I have lots of activities, reading, work, the quinta, but I really like surfing the web and be a part of various Yahoo groups and rv forums. I was afraid my Sunday paper, RvTravel.Com would not arrive without my laptop. Well, I'll make sure the coffee is ready for tomorrow morning. Yippie!