Friday, December 30, 2011

Cost of Seguro Popular

(the following is a post from an SMA group that was denied so I am posting it here)

 No healthcare is free they all have a cost. If you look at the chart
  below you will see that those in the top income levels will pay more
  than IMSS for the services provided by Seguro Popular. Case in point, I
  doubt that there are any Americans or Canadians living in SMA with an
  income of less than 1000 dollars or roughly 13,000 pesos a month (39,000
  pesos per trimestre) , there are always exceptions. If you are earning
  this amount or show this as income on your FM2 or FM3 you fall into
  decil IX or X which has an annual cost of 4800 to 6000 pesos.
 If you work and earn pesos in Mexico, you may be able to reduce your
income amount through deductions of expenses but I am not sure if Seguro
  Popular looks at gross or net income.

 There are some people who pay nothing for Seguro Popular, those in very
 low income brackets. However, it is not free. We are all paying for
 those who cannot afford it via our taxes or the costs listed in the
 table below. If someone here is getting it for free, I would doubt the
 credibility of their application information.

 I think it would be wise to revisit which option of SP or IMSS would fit
 an individuals needs as well as private medical insurance.

Deciles de ingreso
Ingreso trimestral promedio por hogar
Cuota semestral
Cuota Anual

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hey, Lookin' Good Fufi!

I made up for yesterday's laziness by giving the trailer a good scrub and shine.  Croft is wondering where we will be going soon.  January 6th, we are booked for a month at an rv resort in Texas.

The purpose is two-fold.  One is to continue research on drop out rates in high schools and the other is to see just how frugal we can be while rving in the U.S.  The park we are staying at charges 189 for a one month special and it includes everything. 

One of my dreams is to travel in New Mexico state parks.  They offer a one year non-resident pass for 225 dollars a year.  That is roughly 18 dollars a month.  It only includes water but for an additional 4 dollars a day, you can hace electric.  So that makes the monthly total 138 dollars.  Now you can stay in a NM state park for up to three weeks before having to move on, so fuel savings are enormous.  Parks  in NM are fantastic and they cover dry desert to pine filled mountain parks.  (did I digress there?)

It isn't about being cheap, but to show that it can be done without suffering.  So off to Texas we will go to spend a month square dancing, playing shuffle board, and going to potlucks.   I love the snowbird crowd.  They may not take to us off the bat, but we have found after a few days we fit in.

Make a long story short and it may have been told before.  Back in 2000 we had purchased a new Trailmanor (boy do I miss that rv).  We didn't have a tow vehicle so we had it towed to an rv park in Mission, Tx.  We went up on weekends and had a good ole time.  However, no one in the park would talk to us.  Weeks went by, months went by and not a word.   We really felt like outcasts. 

Then one day, our neighbor Virginia was hanging clothes up on her line behind their fifth wheel.   She smiled at me and I smiled back and said hello.   Not a word.  Then all of a sudden she said, "Can I ask you a question?"  She asked what we did for a living.  When I told her we were teachers, she put her hand on her chest and with a sigh of relief said, "thank god, everyone thinks you guys are drug dealers".  Turns out, we were coming up on weekends, we had a black Pathfinder with black tinted windows (I mean really black), and Mexican plates.   We were only there two days a week and then we would take off to head back home always arriving to the park late on Friday and out early on Sunday.

After that the word was out and we became known as "the boys" from Mexico.  It ended up to be a good beginning to rving in the RGV.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Guilt I Am Suffering

Christmas went well and we continue to enjoy the holiday spirit here at home with music and a fire in the fireplace.  It has been colder than a well digger's arse in April and last night dipped down to -2C.  Our litte town of Santiago was on the news this morning as we had ice everywhere.

I had gotten up early and prepared my things for the gym when to my surprise the car door stuck a bit when I realized that ice had consumed my car .  The windshield was shiny bright and glazed.  I started the car and turned on the defroster front and back and went back in the house.  I turned up the heat in the living room and waited about 10 minutes before I went back out again.

I was a bum after that.  I came home from the gym and heated up two tamales on the comal and served those up with two fried eggs.  I tried to reach my nephew in Germany, read my emails and watched a bit of Judge Judy on the laptop to remind me what a world of idiots we live in.   Cable has been turned off and I doubt I will miss it.  We were gone so much this year and for what the cable costs, we could have funneled that into a month of rving somewhere.

I literally slept off and on all day.   Two naps, one from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again from 3:30 to 5:00.  I feel so guilty about doing nothing today.  I had hoped to wash the rv as we will be leaving on the 6th and it really needs a good bath.   I never made it.  We did manage to watch an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Tomorrow is another day and I am making the most of it

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It was a quiet evening by the fire last night.   Yesterday I fixed a baked chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy.  We had that for lunch.   After a very long nap we went to visit neighbors and took them a turkey.   They have a huge nativity scene every year with running water streams, animals of all kinds and a warm fire burning outside.  We chatted for a while and then headed home.  It was very cold last night, around 4C. 

Got the fire going, the tree lit up and had some great snacks and drinks around the fireplace.  We watched an animated Christmas movie and some more episodes of Breaking Bad.  I really love that show.

I guess I'm getting better at the retirement thing, we stayed up until 1 a.m.  I still woke up at 6:30 this morning. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas at the Monterrey Airport - Amazing!

This took place at the Monterrey airport.  Incredible.  I'm sure it is happening in others as well.   As Tiny Tim would have said, "God bless us each and everyone".

This is my favorite Christmas song.  Thanks so much to John Lennon and Yoko Ono for doing this, the message brings home the true meaning of what Christmas is for me.  Let's hope the new year brings this war to an end here in Mexico.








Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Comes Early!

All I have heard this week on the news is about all the price increaeses for the new year.  Happens December.  The local media really knows how to stir up the masses.  No doubt though that prices have and will go up but they don't tell the whole story.

Frijol went up considerably, sure it is a Mexican staple but the drought this year really did in the crops.  Milk and tortillas have gone up but again they twist the story to make it sound like it is the government's fault.  What really happened?  Again, because of the drought, corn took a beating this year.  Last year a ton of corn went for 3300 pesos, this year a ton is going for 6500 pesos.  All up in arms.   Well, that is how the world turns and people still aren't able to grasp it.  If bread is cheaper, buy bread.  Or even better, learn to be a good shopper.  All major supermarkets use tortillas as a leader item along with other basic products (canasta basica).   Tortillas at HEB, Soriana, etc. are going for 6.50 a kilo instead of the new price of 14 pesos.  They aren't making much on it but it gets people in the door.

I mentioned milk, why all the stink about milk?  Milk for the most part comes from Liconsa, a government agency that gives milk to families with kids for free.  Sad part is, grandma, whose kids and grandkids are all grown up, still stands in line with her card saying she had five mouths to feed and pays nothing for milk only to turn around and sell it.  Brother!

So how is Christmas coming early this year?  Thanks to my buddy and capitalist Carlos Slim, I received my phone bill in the mail today.  Yippie.  I hit the jackpot.  Calls made from land lines to cell phones will drop 47% starting January 1st.  Also, all regular service will see a 3% decrease in price.  Made my day!  Didn't take a government agency to screw everyone on price fixing, it took an entrepreneur to do something great.  Sad part is, you won't hear this on the news, or about the other products have lower prices this month.  Only the bad news.

Government needs to keep their hands out of people's business. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Posada Pictures 2011

A couple pics from our posada.  I was able to get these off of our Family Facebook album.  Just an example of what we do at a Mexican party.

Getting Ready for the Posada.

Asking for Posada, or a stay at the inn.

Once we are received inside, we share gifts.

Family meeting to prepare for 2012.

The kids are really growing up fast.

Some of the guys in front of the fire.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Posada

Last night was the Christmas party for our Mexican family.  60 people showed up, the weather was cold and wet but we had a good crowd.  We left the camera at home, sorry about that. 

We had lechon en ataud, baby pig cooked in a casket.   A big metal box with a removal lid was used, about 1.5 meters long by 1 meter high.  The top is set up for making the fire and the heat works its way down inside.   We also had chickens cooking inside and carne asada on top.  Very good food.

We had our usual piñata and the posada, asking for room at the inn.  We stayed out until 2 a.m.  I couldn't believe it.  Everyone also thanked me for starting the tradition of monthly parties as well as the traditional party last December and last night.   As a surprise to me, everyone gathered in a big circle and prayed for my niece Lisa who is under treatment for breat cancer.

It was really something.  Also, one of Juan's great-nieces invited everyone to partipate in bringing Christmas to the needy.  She and her friend, NiFe (name derived from chemistry) are putting this altogether and have already found a neighborhood and a list of children and their desires for Christmas from Santa.  The list has 130 names so it is quite a project.  We all agreed to participate and we will be visiting the children with gifts and food in hand.  This is all really coming along much better than I would have thought when we started this last December.

NiFe and Vanni

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let's See, What Do I Want For Christmas?

As I get older I find myself becoming more selfish.  I used  to wish for world peace and have now discovered that this concept is a big business and I am not part of it.  I can't move the masses and the expression "mi granito de arena" (my little grain of sand) is pretty much that.

So this year I want BIG.  However, BIG doesn't require money or gifts.  I just want to spend time with people I like.  Not sure what Santa has in mind, although I am flexible.  In my mind, it would be cool to spend a couple of days in Queretaro and then Christmas in a small town in Jalisco.  A few towns come to mind but something close to a pueblo magico might be nice.  Hmmm, let's see what Santa brings.

(The reason I have this wild hair is because I'm sick of people sending me emails with photos of them waving to the camera on some beach somewhere, or in a colonial town.  People call me to say "hi, just to let you know we are here in "X" town having a ball, ha ha".   Blogs of eco-camping, boondocking, need I say more.  And the culprits all know who they are.  Not fair. Not fair.  Why am I at home installing electrical outlets?  Bummer. . . . .)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So What's Wrong With China?

Every Sunday I look forward to my coffee and my favorite read, with Chuck Woodbury.   Today, Chuck posted a commentary Tis the season to help the Chinese build its economy!  (His readers have posted comments worth reading but will help to explain my post for today.)  His views are not new and for many years, in fact, for the last 100 years the complaints have been the same.   Sending U.S. manufacturing and goods production overseas.  In all actuality, one could say the global economy started with the first explorers; the Vikings, Aztecs, Mayans, Indonesians, etc.  who traveled the globe searching for new lands and on their way stumbled across all the good things we have in our homes today.

So why start picking on the Chinese?  China has had a long history of global trade dating back centuries.   Their population only warrants their ability to create new products, copy others, produce products that are far more cheaper than other countries which have been at it for such a long time.

Finally, some of the crumbs are being thrown to the Asians and now it has become a big problem.   I think the American mentality towards the Chinese is a bit skewed.  The mouth is talking but the brain in not thinking.   Many Americans became rich during the 80s and 90s with the concept of personal investments which nowadays looks more like or turned out to be get rich schemes.   People invested in just about every type of company, or holding that promised huge returns.   Well, some if not many of those companies belong to the very countries we now complain about taking our jobs and giving us back, what we call, low-quality, cheap or inexpensive products. 

I have yet to see a Walmart, CostCo, City Club or other big box store that didn't carry and sell the same products many people made their pensions and 401Ks off of.  In fact, all I hear these days on forums and groups is, "buy American".   I say, too little too late.  We screwed ourselves with too much government regulations.  Why didn't we listen to the Milton Friedmans of the world?   They gave us the answers we were looking for or maybe we  really weren't looking for them but we surely didn't want to listen at the time as it was contrary to the money we were putting into our accounts. 

Unions became too big also.  They started demanding so much that people literally quit buying up their products and turned to Asia for example, as a way to obtain similiar products.   However, we found the products to be of less quality.  They responded and now produce far superior products than we ever could have.  When you pay someone 25 dollars an hour to put on four lug nuts you can't help but wonder what the price of the car is going to be?  No wonder all major car manufacturers have made their home in Mexico.

There is one good thing about the above.   The car manufacturers have chosen Mexico which happens to be a North American continent.   Remember that we have a free trade agreement called NAFTA.  It was to have been the beginning of something big.  It is pretty big and Mexico produces or assembles quite a few goods along with Canada and the U.S.

It could be bigger.  But this isn't about how to beat China, it is about supporting our own first before going overseas literally.   The total population of the American continent is still less than 1 billion.  China is hitting 1.6 and growing, India has now gone beyond the 1 billion mark.  

People want to make a difference in their ecomony here and at home, maybe we should start thinking about what home is.   The Americas are home to 935 million people, all of whom, at some level are consumers.    31 countries make up the Americas.  We share the same land mass and yet we have no formal agreements between the 31 nations to handle our production of goods on a continental scale.  Doesn't this seem strange that we really have no enemies in the Americas, okay, Castro and Chavez aren't my cup of tea but their countries do import and export goods that could and are consumed globally.

You want to stop illegal immigration to the U.S.?   Something needs to be done to stop it.  Why?  Because of the abuse that not only illegal immigrants receive but the abuses that are caused by the illegals as well.  Imagine if we created a free trade agreement among the American continent and all 31 nations, talk about super powers!   I'm not talking European Union here, free and sovereign countries that rely on each other for goods and services. 

Every winter I here about the snowbirds and all the used stuff they cart down from their closets and how they think they are helping the poor.   That doesn't help the poor, it only gives them a tee shirt that says, "I'm With Stupid" written on the back.   Jobs, jobs, jobs.  But we cannot create jobs on our continent if we don't support it by manufacturing, buying and consuming continental products.  

In the end, you cannot stop China and I don't think anybody should.  China is finally coming into their own and deserve a few of those crumbs.  As for the U.S., worried about losing super power status, economy, jobs, and standard of living, can find the solutions right here on the American continent.  You don't have to go overseas, stay right here at home.   Instead of "super power", think "super continent", self sufficiency, reduced or completely eliminating the slave trade, illegal immigration, abuse of women and children.

Think "America first" but in a continental context.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finishing Projects

I get crazy at the end of the year trying to complete what we started or wished to accomplish for the year.  We finished the remodel for the most part.  The house had all of the settling cracks repaired, the stucco covered with smooth plaster and the false ceilings put in the bedrooms.  The painters finished this week, sanding the plaster and painting a nice neutral color.   We still need the baseboards done and the door and frame done for the third bedroom which was added.   It was a bitch but it is done.  The tree I posted last week is up and the fireplace ready for action.   Pictures need to be re-hung and the house decorated with less of what we had up.   I want to buy some wood for a fire tomorrow night, it has been cold and drizzling since yesterday.

The VW Pointer needed new tires and got that done today after shopping around.  We'll see how sweet the deal is that we got as the year goes by.  It included all the usual; balance, mount, valve, alignment plus four year guarantee against everything except earthquakes :), free rotation every three months, plus checkup, etc.   I trust no one.

The gardner who helps me came for two days, trimming everything that could be trimmed, raked a ton of leaves, sweeping and hosing down.  The quinta looks pretty good and will need one more raking next week as leaves continue to fall but it looks like the end and the grass may need one more cut before the year is up. 

I didn't get the outside of the house cleaned yet.  I don't have a water pressure sprayer or whatever you call it in English, we call it by what I think is a brand name, Karcher.  The paint is in good shape but because the blocks are textured, dirt and dust settles on them and mud dabbers attempt to build small nests under the eaves.  The windows need a good washing too so maybe that will still get done.  Oh the joys of owning a home, arghhh.

The camera chip was cleaned so I am hoping to retrieve photos and begin posting pics again.   Croft, Kevin and Les keep posting about how great the sun is in other places and tempting us to want to abandon our trip to Texas and head to warmer places.  It might happen but not quite sure yet where or what we want to. 

My trip to Baja next week was unexpectedly canceled and boy was I pissed.  I had worked hard, planned my course only to be told at the last minute the airfare was too expensive.  Sure was, because the d-bags always wait until the last minute to book the flight and the fares are way too high.   Of course, the head hauncho has part of her bonus based on expenses but it only includes air tickets.  We can spend endlessly on five star hotels, meals and taxis and no one checks that stuff.   However, I am an external consultant so I have little say.  It was a big chunk of cash I was going to earn so it really has me p. o.'ed.  Just a short rant.  I doubt anyone from the company reads my blog and I could care less if they did.   I'm ready to change to a new publisher anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Freezing In Chihuahua

I set the alarm for 3 a.m. this morning so I would get to the airport on time.  I woke up 15 minutes before and started the coffee.  The water in the water heater was still hot from the previous day so I didn't have to turn it on.  Got to the airport right at 5 a.m.  I had problems with my bag.  VivaLight doesn't charge extra for a carry on bag as long as it weighs less than 10 kilos.  When I went through the first inspection they put a plastic tie wrap on my bag so I couldn't open it.  I got to the scale on the way to the metal detector and the guy said my bag weighed 13.6.   I tried to explain to the d-bag that my winter coat was inside but he didn't want to listen.  He said I would have to check it and pay an after-the-fact fee of 500 pesos.  B.S.!  I attempted to break the tie wrap to no avail and finally I just walked away.  I'm to old for that cr--.   I passed through the metal detector and the security officer said he needed to inspect my bag.  So he broke the tie wrap.  I asked him, "So what good is it to put a tie wrap on a carry on bag if you're going to break it?"  He said, "yeah, right!"  Oh brother.

The flight was actually very good, they have excellent coffee but you pay as you go.  10 pesos but a huge cup like at Starbuck's.  It was funny though, we landed and got to the gate and the pilot said it would be a few more minutes before they could open the door.  We arrived too early! 

He also said, "it is -5C".  Ouch.  Good thing I checked the weather first, snow is on the way nearby in the mountains.

I got to the hotel where the event will be tomorrow (Tuesday).  Economical but very nice and excellent food in the restaurant.   I tried to take a nap but the heater wasn't working and at 9 a.m. it was still ice cold.   I went to the front desk and asked for a repair job on the heater while I went to the mall.  I had to pay my taxes and do some Christmas shopping.  This is too funny though.   I walked into the mall and there was a woman behind a kiosk that said "mosuleums and cemetery lots ".   She looked like the old woman from BeetleJuice and she kept smiling at me as I went by.   I was in the mall for about three hours including the trip to the bank and that woman was there everytime I turned around.  On my way out of the mall, she was waiting for me, she never said a word but just smiled and smiled.  Made me wonder, does she know something I don't?   Too creepy!

I have received instructions from Monterrey to buy some good Chihuahua rib eye and some coyotas to bring home.   Will do.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Happening Again!

We've been home for less than two weeks and in that time we took off for Thanksgiving but without the trailer.  Today we went for a drive to check on our land in Allende and the conversation came up about Christmas.  The plan was to spend December here at home for the holidays but it appears that hasn't lasted long.  We have a family party on the 17th just after I return from a week in Baja.  We are now deciding if we want to go to our club in Montemorelos for a couple of days (Kevin and Ruth stayed there their last time down) and then take the rv to McAllen to visit friends who used to live here 20 years ago.  While we're there we can search for our place for a month stay in January.  It just appears we have more fun on the road and there are so many influences that keep you going; Kevin and Ruth, Croft and Norma, Colin and Contessa, Tioga and George and so many others we follow.   My feet start to itch.

We put the tree up this week, great to have all the lights already set on there.  Artificial for us is best.   I had to laugh the other day.   I have a dislike for taking down the tree, I think we both do.  But many years ago when we lived in Monterrey, we had a 10ft artificial tree with tons of lights and ornaments.  I loved Christmas in that house, in fact, I loved that house period.   We had a guy named Rafael who worked for us.  He did everything and did it well.  He also had a peculiar talent for the occult and did things that no one else could manage much less in a very short period of time.

One day as the holidays were coming to a close we went out shopping.  He must of overheard us talking about taking down the tree and what a pain in the butt it was.   We came home less than two hours later and it was as if the tree had never been there.  I swear the guy could twitch his nose and make things happen.   Some spooky stuff let me tell you but better told around a campfire with cocktails.

Tomorrow I'm off for Chihuahua at 6 a.m. and the weather there will be -4 C tomorrow night.   Arghhh.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Can't Wait Any Longer

Too much to talk about without having a specific title and I have tons of pictures to post.  I wonder how much space I have left on Blogger to continue without starting a LivingBoondockingMexico Blog "2".  Hmmm. 

The big problem this week is with the video card from the camera.  Looks like it picked up a virus from the Estafeta office in SMA when we were there.  Now I can't open or download any pictures from it and that is why I haven't been posting.  I wanted to show off our lovely Thanksgiving dinner I made in San Antonio.  Here is what I started to write the other day.
We came back from San Antonio on the "libre" Sunday afternoon.  No problems crossing the border.  In fact, there were no U.S. agents checking before crossing into Mexico and on the Mexico side we slid right through although we had less than the franquisia of 300 dollars a per person.  The skies were clear, the views fantastic and the conversation the best!

That was as far as I got when I gave up on the pictures.   So here we almost a week later and since we returned home Sunday from our San Antonio adventure I went to Saltillo on Tuesday for two days to teach a course to state and federal teachers.  It was a blast, their English is fantastic, they love their jobs and were excited about having me.

I stayed at a nice hotel, Nuvó.  It is about 10 minutes from downtown and had everything I wanted and for a price of only 690 pesos tax included.  Very nice.  I took the libre to Saltillo also.  The drive is much more scenic than the autopista.

I'm now preparing for a trip to Chihuahua on Monday.  Another course and two days.  The flights suck but I have no other options.  The flight going stinks, it leaves on VivaAerobus at 6 a.m. and arrives at 6:30 a.m.  The return flight is great, on AeroMexico.

VivaAerobus charges you to make your reservation on line.   Plus, if you don't go through the menu correctly, they are now charging you 100 pesos for a calendar, the donations go to cancer.  I don't mind donating but don't try and skate me into doing it so you can say you raised so much money.  I called to make the reservation, and guess what?  They charge to make the reservation over the phone too.   So I went back to the internet.  Boy, they get you coming and going.  Still cheaper than all the rest though.

More to come. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving In San Antonio 2011


Hi all.  We had a great trip yesterday to San Antonio.  We decided take the libre instead of the toll road.  What a treat.  We used it coming back in September.  Free, free, free and in very good condition.   Unless it falls apart we will continue to use it and many other libres, as all of them are in better condition.

The libre running alongside the toll highway

 Top of my head.

Libre meeting up with the autopista.

We went for lunch once we arrived and today we are having our Thanksgiving feast.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lisa, This Is For You!

My niece Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago.  I shaved my head today to show support and solidarity for her as she goes through the changes brought about by chemotherapy. 

I am a proud uncle of many, many nieces and nephews but have lived most of my adult life here in Mexico.   So I haven't really been around much for them and haven't done much for them either. 

I hope this is a sign that I care about Lisa and all my nieces and nephews.  I love them all as if they were my own kids.  I know others in my family will follow suit once they see my post.   I also know that Lisa will get through this just fine.  I have lots of faith and prayers for her and her family.  

Lisa has a large support group within her family, two brothers and sisters (Mike and Anna) who love her very much.  She has a wonderful husband (David) and two beautiful children.   She is a good mother and wife and has been a good daughter to my brother Bob and his wife Barbara.

Get well soon Lisa!  We all love you very much.   Soon this will be a part of the past and things will be back to normal.  I'm sorry you have to go through this and if I could I would carry the burden for you.  As your Grandma Bauer used to tell me when I was a kid, "If I could, I'd make it all go away".   Lots of hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Only One Way To End It!

This song says it all about our trip.  Another good month on the road.  I will be posting our expenses for the month sometime in the next week.  Enjoy the video.

BTW, this was also going to be the theme song we were going to share with our good friends Chuck and Sam in San Antonio.  We had been friends since the early eighties when Sam sold me a house there.  The four of us did everything together.  We would visit San Antonio or they would come to Monterrey.  We spent holidays together, cooked together, just about everything.  It was a dream for all of us to retire and travel.  After we bought our first rv it was almost set in concrete that we would all rv together too!  One of our favorite holidays was Thanksgiving in South Padre Island.  We would all pack our cars with goods and head from the north and the south and meet in the middle.  We would rent a condo for the four days and fix Thanksgiving dinner.  Go for walks on the beach at night, look at the stars, ponder our futures.  It was really a time to remember.   Unfortunately, the last Thanksgiving we had in SPI was seven years ago when we scattered Chuck's ashes along the gulf shore.   Chuck had suffered from liver cancer and after only two chemo treatments decided to throw in the towel.  His decision and we stood by it.  I spent the last month with him and helped Sam watch over Chuck. 

I have always thought, "Chuck, why didn't you tough out the therapy, maybe it would have worked and we would all be here together now following "that detour sign"."  I guess I'm being selfish when I do.

We may surprise Sam this Thursday by driving up to San Antonio and fixing a Thanksgiving dinner.  They were really magic moments that we thought would never end.  Miss ya Chuck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Goodbye SMA - It Was Fun!

So much happened over the weekend that I didn't have time to post.  This will be a quick trip through two days.  Saturday afternoon we visited with our friend Susan who with her husband Carlos own JasmineDaySpa on Jesus St.  They do massage along with a list of other services.   They have two teenage daughters and have lived in SMA for 19 years.  Susan is a writer too and has written a couple of books about life in Mexico.  We chatted up a storm and then headed over to Weber's to visit with Les.  When we arrived, he was sitting in the sunshine reading a book.  What a life!  We were hoping to see the girls but they weren't there.  We talked about rving, Mexico, where we were going, who was coming.  It was fun.

Saturday night we were in the main plaza watching all the activities.   This weekend we celebrate two events; the Mexican Revolution and Buen Fin.   Buen Fin is a one-time weekend program to stimulate the economy, get people out shopping and spending money, and most of all to help create jobs.  This is done by merchant large and small, posting the sign in their window, advertising on television and newspaper, discounts they are offering for the three day weekend.  The president kicked it off with a shopping trip in D.F. on Friday.

SMA is packed this weekend.  A good sign for the city, Mexico and the economy.  Sunday brought us to a long tour of the botanical gardens.   We have been through the gardens many times but always rushing.  Yesterday we took our time and followed the map.   We also had time to take pictures of Land Art which is a mix of nature and art.  The park is beautiful and we are now yearly members.  The membership is 600 pesos for 15 months.  I encourage anyone who comes here to visit the park.  It is truly something. 

Last night we had dinner with our new friend Judy.  Remember we met Judy at La Gruta hot springs last week.   We had dinner at Socialité just two blocks from the center of town.  A fun time had by all.

We were also invited by Brett from Shanti San Miguel, another great spa in SMA, to Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  We graciously declined as we are heading back to Monterrey today.   We will spend tonight at the Las Palmas Hotel and Rv Park in Matehuala.

Pictures will be added later, I just discovered a threat in my camera card.  :(

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Day In SMA!

You've just gotta love this place.  We are really enjoying ourselves here in SMA.  Yesterday we found ourselves up at the crack of dawn, firing up the generator to charge the batteries and to make a hot pot of joe.  Checked our emails and off we went to the gym.  Here, I am not the oldest guy at the gym like at home.  

After, we headed for the hot springs at La Gruta.  But first, we drove into Atotonilco for one very special reason.  They make the best gorditas in this part of the country.  The best in Mexico are found at El Divisidero near Creel in the Copper Canyon.   The the town of Atotonilco recently underwent a remodel.  New facades on the buildings, new streets, and a place for vendors to sell their goods.  Delicious gorditas, one with picadillo and another with picadillo and cheese.  We also split a tamal from the stand next door.

After filling up, we headed to La Gruta again, but got side tracked.   We had stopped once in the morning leaving SMA to look at a new neighborhood, Villa Antigua.  Way out of our league, land at 300 dollars a square meter and the houses were 350K at least, small lots but very nice.   As we left Atotonilco we passed a quaint little neighborhood with only 26 lots.  Land prices are 75 dollars a square meter and it is  part of a hotel.  Owners have access to all the amenities of the hotel and the lots are huge.  It is so quiet out there, peaceful, and the neighbors are nice.  The owner of the hotel wouldn't let us go.  He is a very nice person who takes pride in his hotel.  

La Gruta was a trip.  We swam, waited for the water to shoot out of the wall at 1 p.m., I got some sun sleeping on a lounge chair and we met some really cool people.  We hope to be in contact with them in the future.   There are several pools, the tunnel which leads to the "room" and all of it is fed by natural hot springs.

Last night found us at a fund raiser for El Charco del Ingenio, the botanical garden where we are staying.  It was held downtown at the Posada Corazon B&B.  We had a great time and met tons of ex-pats, Mexicans, people from as far away as Australia who were just visiting.  The park needs new members.  Memberships are very in expensive and run 600 pesos for 15 months and you can bring two guests whenever you visit.  The park is a real jewel here in the heart of SMA.  Many people volunteer here at the park, there is hiking, birdwatching, lots of natural flora and fauna.  Even if you only visit here once a year, a membership is a good thing.  We drank a lot of wine,  and talked up a storm. 

Our friend and director Mario.

Artists responsible for "Land Art", using nature and its tools.

Those responsible for making the garden what it is.
Not checking for spelling or grammar this morning, gotta run to the gym.  Bye bye.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

So Much To See In SMA

Grab any local rag here in SMA and there is a list of things to do and see.  Today we set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. so we could go to the gym.  Yes I know, a bit late for me, but this week and next is the telenovela "El Encanto de la Aguila", the story of the Mexican Revolution.  It starts at 10 p.m. and is only thirty minutes long.  Not sure why it starts so late, you would think it a good thing for kids to watch instead of the normal crap they show on television.  But who am I to judge, I'm a crotchety old gringo who teaches morals and values.  

So the gym was a good experience, everyone remembers us and welcomed us back hoping we would stay for the winter.  We then took off for Weber's Rv Park or Tennis Club which is right around the corner.  We thought we would bother Les for a bit but he was already off on his motorscooter. 

Home we went for a quick breakfast and shower and then headed to Paseo El Chorro which is located at the top of the hill just below the Casa de Cultura.  It was the original station for the Spanish in 1550 and there still flows fresh water from an underground aquifer.  We walked up the hill and found a public lavadero or laundry.  I may take my personals there for an outdoor wash as the local laundries charge an arm and a leg to do laundry.  We did find one that was willing to wash our blankets for a decent price.  In Queretaro they wanted 60 pesos to wash our blankets.  Here in SMA it was a load for 12 pesos a kilo which came to 36 pesos.

El Chorro and the public laundry slots.

Looking up the hill at the Casa de Cultura.

The church above the Casa de Cultura

Somebody likes bugambilias

We headed home after our walking trip, picked up the laundry and took a nice nap.  After, I took the highway to Los Rodriguez along with one of the LP tanks for a fill up.  The station had closed already but the city delivery trucks were on their way back.  I waited for one of the trucks at the gate and they filled it up.

We headed for the mirador that is on the hill down from the Soriana towards the Mega (all local landmarks) and took pics of the sunset. 

A great bottle of wine with a delcious chicken and veggie dish and now it is time to prepare for the next episode of the Revolution story.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Settled In San Miguel de Allende

We got things ready to roll this morning.  I had just showered and as I was getting dressed Juan walked outside and exclaimed, "hey, it's Les".  Our friend Les aka The MexicoKid, dropped by on his scooter to visit us.  He arrived here this week too and is taking up residence this winter at Weber's Tennis Club, at least for the time being.

We chatted for a bit and if you check his website, The Never Ending Journey, you will see our photo there.   We made arrangements to get together once we are settled.  

We walked over to the office at the botanical garden to see our friend and director, Mario.  He was happy to see us and we were there to leave a donation.   We talked for quite a bit about our project and about his at the garden.  Before leaving, he said we could stay as long as we like realizing that it is a public place and they wouldn't be responsible for security.   We spend such a quiet and peaceful time here we aren't too concerned about that.  So, we have taken him up on the offer and will stay here through the weekend so we can visit some new sights we haven't seen. 

Just Itchin' To Go Outside

We mentioned to Les that we were actually on our way to San Ramon and would stop by the old Los Lagos Trailer Park that once existed down by the lake in the neighborhood of Los Frailes.   We ended up going for drive after breakfast just to check it out and it is no longer.  The land was purchased and a beautiful upper class neighborhood, Residencial Los Huizaches, is now in its place.  It must have been something in its day.  We still have the old edition of Mike and Terry Church camping book and they say in their description that it was a pine tree covered area.   We continue to lose rv parks in Mexico to new developments and highrises.  I guess that is progress.  If I only had a half a million dollars to lay out, I would build one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Short 65 Kms - The Remains of La Siesta (Pictures Added)

We finally left our resort dwelling in Flamingo Inn in Queretaro.  It was truly relaxing and we will go back for sure.   At 250 pesos a night you can't beat it although it isn't boondocking.   We headed north on Hwy 57 and took the  111 east to SMA.  We were there in no time, less than an hour.  We have been in the search for a gas adapter for our radiant heater.  I want to run it off of one tank with its own regulator and have the other tank for rv use.  No such animal here and we have exhausted our search.  We need to have a "T" connection put in under the stove and be done with it.  I just don't like the idea of cutting into an interior gas line.

First business of the afternoon here was to stop by La Siesta.  The office is still open but everything has been bulldozed.  The office checked with the owner if we could boondock there but the old fart said no.  He said there was too much large machinary passing in and out and he didn't want our rv to get hit.  It is really gone now. 

We took an hour looking at other rv possibilities in SMA.  One is a good idea for a one nighter, it is the El Cardo parking lot where the buses park during the day.  For one vehicle it is 16 pesos an hour, speak with Martin.  We could have left the rv at Mega during the day and then parked there at night arriving at 9 p.m. and leaving at 7 a.m. with a cost of 160 pesos.  It is secure, well-lit and open 24 hours.  From La Siesta drive four blocks into town passing the Real de Mina Hotel and the OXXO.  Turn left up a small incline and 20 meters on the right you will find it.  Good part is, you can leave your rv knowing it is secure and have fun at night in SMA.

We are now parked in front of the botanical garden.  We took a nap and were abruptly woken up when the rv began rocking.   I knew what it was, it was the same horse that we encountered last time getting a good back scratch on the slideout.  It is so quiet here I wish we could stay forever.

We already bought some good bread and are enjoying now during happy hour with cheese, olives, some turkey slices and a cold vodka with three ice cubes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Visit to Peña de Bernal

Yesterday we went out for Sunday breakfast.   Chilaquiles are very popular here and there are places that specialize in them.   We went to a place around the corner from the hotel where the restaurant is located in a warehouse.  The food was great and also very inexpensive.  The orders come in plain chilaquiles or with many extras and in three sizes; small, medium and mega.  We ordered a mega with papas and chorizo and split that with a cup of pretty good coffee. 

 We had been out late on Saturday night so we went back to  the rv and took a short nap before driving to Peña de Bernal. 

We were there with Croft, Norma and Les in 2009.  We climbed the big rock walked around the pueblo magico and had lunch back then.  This time it was for a stroll, shopping, and a coffee and gordita.

Quite a crowd showed up and there is a lot to do there in terms of sightseeing and shopping.  Restaurants are everywhere and there is a new hotel just about ready to open up and it is really beautiful.  Based on the construction technique, it will last for a couple hundred of years.

We walked all over the place, sat and had a coffee with a really good pastry.  Kind of like a giant cinnamon roll, but instead of cinnamon it has candied fruit inside and smothered in a delicious glaze.  Yummy!

We left for home around 6 p.m., the sun was going down and I don't like to drive at night.  I highly recommend this place as a day trip.  The road from Hwy 57 to Bernal is excellent and would be a perfect place to open an rv park.  Somewhere in between Queretaro and Bernal would be 20 minutes on either side.   Beautiful countryside and pristine vistas.