Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! Off We Go!

The season has started. Here in Mexico it's business as usual although you can find turkeys and all the fixing in the supermarkets.

We head off for San Antonio in just a bit and will celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with friends. It will be a casual affair, we are all wearing pajamas for dinner.

In Kansas City this is a special day that brings back memories. The lighting of the Country Club Plaza. One of my brothers lives on hill overlooking the area and will have a spectacular view of this evenings events.

Although I come off as a bit of a grouch I am a soft-hearted person and the holidays really choke me up. I miss all nine of my brothers and sisters and am happy I have such a large family. I can choose who I like and don't like :). Seriously though, mom used to really put on the spread and always waited anxiously for as many of us to show as could based on circumstances. And we did! She made a mean pot of mashed potatoes and turkey gravy not to mention the bird basting in the oven. I sure miss mom and dad but the memories are forever.

I'm thankful for all my 50 some odd years and I wouldn't change a thing. My life in Mexico has been rich, filled with wonderful experiences that I can cherish for a lifetime. I am also very thankful for my SO who has been by my side all these years and tolerated my quirks and wierd ideas on how I think the world should turn. I have been gifted with good health and rotten teeth but I will find my way to chew through Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Oh the wonders of modern dentistry!

And thanks to all the people who share my blog and I hope have enjoyed reading it over the years. I know it has run pretty slow in the last months but will pick up again in December as we head out on our trip to San Miguel de Allende.

A special Thanksgiving wish to my friend Patricia in California, my sister Dorothy who loves me a lot, and my two cats Little Bit and Missy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Accomplished Another Thing Today!

Got another part of my list done today. The guys came to clean the three carpets, living room furniture and the dining room chairs. They took everything outside on the patio so when they were done it would dry. They finished around noon and said things should be ready to bring in around 4 p.m. I went into town to send my honorarios to the publisher. Before I left, even though it was before 2 p.m., I just didn't like the idea of leaving everything outside (thinking about the cats, etc.). I put my butt to work and got everything back in order before leaving. When I returned home at 3 p.m. I was caught in the middle of a downpour that hasn't stopped and it is now 7 p.m. I called Juan and he says it is dry as a bone in Monterrey. Imagine that, 20 kms away and not a drop of rain. I bet the pool filled at least 4 cms in this time.
Tomorrow they start work on the road and I am really excited about that. Also, if it isn't raining, a construction worker will come to fix some cracks in the backyard wall so that I can paint. More on that later.
The cleaning today cost 900 pesos or $68 (u.s.).
There's lots of talk on the about the cost of rving in Mexico. I think it runs the gamut. Just like fulltimers in the U.S., from 500 dollars to 5000 dollars a month. Our expenses are fixed and very low including insurance for all things, home, cars, rv, and medical. I don't think I could afford to return to the U.S.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Travel Trailer Makeover Underway

I got the chairs back and they look brand spankin' new. With the new throw rugs the trailer looks more open and light. Lots left to do though. We are headed to San Antonio on Thursday for Thanksgiving and we will buy a new bedspread. I still haven't decided what to do with the curtains, I want to remove the color and make them a dark beige, but some people have said they may be a poly fiber and not work well. I still plan on taking a piece and trying it anyway. Worse case is I find something that matches the rest and have them made.

The chairs are beige although with the curtains as they are they look more like a light green. Tomorrow I will check the water heater and furnace to make sure they are working properly. I am also in the search for a radiant heater, I'm tired of the sound of the furnace.

The time is drawing closer and I am getting more excited to hit the road. If we were going to spend more time in San Antonio we would take the trailer with us, but for three days with all the things happening at the border, it just isn't worth it.
Oops! I left my drink on the table in the picture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Only The Good Die Young
Over the weekend an 18 year old kid from Veracruz was hit by a drunk driver from Germany just up the road from our house. We saw the news and I knew then it was Rolando, a member of our gym. Rolando came to this area from Veracruz to earn money to go to school. He wanted to be a professional chef. His boss said he was a hard worker and had great aspirations.

I saw him at the gym in the mornings. He was a shy type of guy, "penoso" we say here. You could tell he was from Veracruz not only by his appearance but by his mannerisms and actions. He was quiet, didn't bother anyone and kept to himself.

The sad part for me was that I always wanted to talk to him. But here, you don't just walk up to someone and strike up a conversation. I didn¡t want anyone to get the wrong impression. Now it's too late.

A good guy who would have grown up to make a fine Mexican. His family came for the body and took him back to his home in Veracruz. I'll bet they are very proud of him. Q.E.P.D. Rolando.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting My Projects Done

The chairs came back yesterday fromt the upholsterer and we had the wiring fixed under the trailer that the dogs had chewed up. Pups are gone now, all to good homes. The momma dog is still in need of a new home though.

Juan found a handyman who came and fixed the wiring on the trailer and also fixed the hot water heater. We leave it on pilot during the hot summer months and solar energy kicks in as the sun hits the water heater all day long. We have warm to hot water all summer. Now with the cold nights coming that isn't true. I thought the problem was with the pilot so I cleaned all the orifices and still it wouldn't ignite. The handyman disassembled the regulator and found it was clogged with spider nests and bugs. That did the trick. Three hours work on both the heater and the trailer, total cost 350 pesos.

I got the well painted that sits in the front yard and I will start painting the front gate and wall this week. I met with the new Secretario de Ayutamiento this week at the mayor's office. They sent out a crew to evaluate our road and hopefully they will start work this week.

We are narrowing down our trip for December. Looks like the Mexico destination is San Miguel de Allende. From there we will head north across the border to San Antonio for the big RV show January 7th. After, we will fly to Naples, Fl. to spend a week relaxing in the warm sun.

Today is Sunday and we are headed to the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, 3.99 per person. Eggs just the way I like it. Then we are heading to Monterrey to do some grocery shopping and find a new bedspread for the trailer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lots Of Activity

Things are started to happen and I am in high gear. I've been working on the trailer makeover and doing some minor repairs cleaning out the burner on the water heater and the refrigerator. The trailer is five years old and still in good shape. We did have a small leak in the front that I was able to find and stop but the damage, little as it is, was already done. Our next rv will get a leak test before leaving the dealer. This was a quality control issue, a small spot on top where a screw hold the side trim in place was not caulked. Water trickled down the front side and settled in a middle corner spot. If you press on it you can feel it. It is about six inches square.
I also have a list of house things to get done before we leave; have the living room furniture and carpets cleaned, paint the underside of the overhang of the house in front, paint the base of the house (trim) and the front needs a touch up, paint the front wall of the quinta and the gates, paint the top metal plate on the well. I also need to patch up the sheet rock around the bases of the columns on the front of the house and put up a gutter.

Any rvers looking for free hookups in exchange for some handyman work?

I'm a little upset with the amount of emails I have been receiving since the incident at Ft. Hood. They all range from Christianity versus Islam to Obama speaking in Arabic quoting the Quran. Add all the b.s. going on in the U.S., not an example for the world to follow. All it does is feed terrorists.

I'm still convinced it is time to take care of our continent first, then worry about the rest of the world. Enough said.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Started Preparing the Trailer for December 2009

Finally, I see some action. I took the chairs out of the trailer and took them to be reupholstered. They are two swivel rockers that we purchased from an ex-Trailmanor owner. They fit beautifully in the Funfinder. I am having them done in a beige textured fabric. They will be ready on Thursday. The cost is 1100 pesos or 82 dollars including new foam cushions, etc. Is that a good price?
I am washing all the throw rugs as we don't have carpet, reorganizing the cabinets, and doing a general cleaning. I've checked all the systems; furnace, water heater, batteries, refrigerator and I need to repair a cable underneath that the dog got ahold of.
For those that are good at curtains, we have great curtains but they are butt ugly. They are a dark green and some kind of tie-dye deal. So, I am a RIT man. I dye just about everything from my black shirts to bathroom rugs. This looks like a tough job because if I screw it up I am screwed. I am thinking about using the RIT color remover first, and then dye them in a darker beige color and then buy a new bedspread. If anyone has RIT experience, let me know what you think.
As for the road, the destination is unknown. Where is everyone going to be? I would like to receive some feedback as it would be nice to hookup with some of you while we are on the road in Mexico as well as Texas.
We may take a short four-day weekend with the trailer to San Antonio for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

No Transit Officials In Monterrey

This is day five and the streets are empty of transit officials. Last week, our new mayor made the decision to remove all 1,100 transit police from duty. They are undergoing a series of five types of psychological exams. During this time the official has the right to resign with full benefits if they so desire. If they are found inept or corrupt they will be let go without any benefits whatsoever.
The plan may change as they are concerned that those who are corrupt could become involved in illicit activities. They may be give lesser city jobs to avoid involvement in other activities.
So who's watching the streets of Monterrey? The new policia municipal. There are 185 patrol cars that have been awarded to those outstanding police men and women who have served the community with a clean record. We have had no major issue that they haven't been able to handle.
The new transit officials or those who remain, will be offered a better salary, additional training and benefits.
One major change that has taken place is that your vehicle cannot be taken away for a traffic violation. You can pay your fine at the local transit office or an OXXO convenience store.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Great Fire of 2009 - Los Cavazos

It was a big one. Fire trucks came from Santiago, Allende, Montemorelos and beyond. It doesn't look like much but it took out 12 furniture businesses who dedicate their work to making rustic furniture. It started sometime early morning on Saturday. I heard the sirens at 5 a.m. but thought it was an accident on the highway. When I left for Monterrey at 7 a.m. there was still lots of smoke and burning embers. At that time, no one knew the extent of the damage.

Estimates have it at 6 million pesos between the 12 stores, most of whom make their own furniture. None had insurance althouI'vegh insurance in Mexico is cheap. About 1000 pesos per year per 500,000 pesos of value; building and contents. Some of the owners blame the lack of fire hydrants but you can't spread to much blame for lack of city services when we really don't live near a city and most of the owners are probably not registered and thus don't pay any taxes.

Local government has already promised very-low interest loans to help rebuild and get store owners and employees going again. We have a new mayor and he is a real go-getter.

Dental Work

I'm in the process of replacing two crowns. I've had them for over 12 years and they were ready for a change. My local dentist is charging 3600 pesos or 275 dollars for the two crowns and three office visits. He gives great injections and it wears off by the time I get out of the office. I hate the injections with a passion. I'm a happy patient. So is that a good price for two crowns?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day of the Dead - Halloween

Halloween has reached it peak here in Monterrey. Apart from our traditional Day of the Dead where we visit the cemetary, clean up the graves and have a bite to eat with the dead, trick or treating is really the rage.

As we were coming home from Santiago last night we saw many trick or treaters out on the streets knocking on doors and screaming, "Queremos Halloween". Kids dressed as their favorite super hereos, brides, scary figures gathered their candy and headed home only to take the advice of local physicians on how to handle the candy to avoid contact with the H1N1.

In the plaza of Santiago, we did a quick walk around the plaza to see the advance of the remodeling project. The walkways are being replaced with hand-laid stones and it is coming along beautifully albeit quite slowly.
The church in the main plaza of Santiago, N.L.

Day of the Dead display in the main plaza. Notice the shoes and boots!

At the Secretaria de Educacion (the state education department) an altar was set up to honor the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead. As you can see by the pictures below, the tradition is strong as ever and yesterday as well as today the cemetaries are packed with families bringing food, drink and flowers to the graves of their loved ones.