Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where Would You Go?

So many variables; weather, distance, boondocking, security.   Here we are entering the month of May and July 8th is right around the corner.   All things considered, where would you recommend we spend three to five months of summer?

We are open to ideas.  It could be here in Mexico or the U.S.  Like all rvers, the limiting factors in terms of expenses are distance and fuel cost.  We will always look for boondocking spots, but at the same time we are open to pay sites as well.

Take advantage of the comments section and say what you like.  I can't see any reason to delete any comments, we are open to all suggestions.

Fire away!

Friday, April 29, 2011

In Recovery Mode

We made it home safe and sound and it turned out to be a fun day yesterday.  After hanging around the airport in Culiacan for an hour I said, "that's it".  We hired a taxi and went to the movies.  The movie was "Battle of Los Angeles" and boy did it stink.  It had a great story line though;

A Marine Staff Sergeant who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty in order to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders.

It was pretty much korn.  Some of the acting was the worst I have ever seen but the writer had a good idea.  The movie was entertaining and it was nice and cold in the theater so that was the most important.  After we headed out for an ice cream.  We wanted one all week but either got side tracked or the ice cream shop in Loreto was closed.

Got back to the airport and boarded the flight to Monterrey.   As we landed Juan called the  parking service and they were out front waiting for us.  They delivered us to the car and off we went for home.  I realized I was driving to fast and back in my "Regio" mode.   I am going to make an effort to slow down and drive safely.

So that is the story of our trip to Loreto and now the goal is to get the rv on the road.  It is still up in the air on where we are going for the summer.  I attempted to do some searching on Couch Surfing but I must be doing something wrong.  I only get one hit from a family in PV.   I need to talk to Kevin and see if he can help me out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leaving La Paz, Heading Home

Goodbye Loreto, it was a blast!

Got to La Paz around 6:30 last night.  Great bus ride and a real tear jerker of a movie we watched.  Found a nice little hotel behind the bus station for 69 dollars.  New, small rooms but excellent wi-fi, cable and good air conditioning which we really didn't need.

After getting settled we went for a walk around the malecon and local restaurants.  Personally, coming into town and being in town, La Paz is a bit dumpy.  I know there are nicer areas and I have seen them but it appears that the locals don't treat tourists very well.  No smiles or greetings.  

Two restaurants nearby were recommended and we walked by to check out their menus.  Wow, a 300 gram ribeye was 275 pesos in both restaurants.  Talk about pico los ojos!  We found a great place on the malecon that had great tacos de arrechera for 20 pesos each with a great view of the ocean, palm trees and setting sun.

We are now sitting at the airport for a long journey home.  A short flight to Culiacan and then a six hour wait to get on a plane to Monterrey.  Yikes!

It was the best trip of the year so far and we had a great time with my brother Steve and his wife Michelle.  Both are great traveling companions, kayakers, conversationalists and adventurers.  I hope we all meet up again soon. 

I also learned a lot about Baja Sur and the fact that it gets pretty darn hot here in the summer.  Hmmm.  So where shall we go?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day Trip To Mulege

Took off early in the morning for Mulege.  My brother and his wife were in awe with the scenery.  The mountains really show off the majestic colors not to mention the elevations.  We were stopped by a military checkpoint which was something new for them.   They were surprised how nice and friendly yet professional the soldiers were.  We ran into a bit of road construction and we had to wait a few minutes here and there as they let one side go while the other waited.

We stopped several times for resfreshment and Steve got a bit impatient when I kept saying "Mulege is just over the next hill" or "around the next curve".  We saw several small oasis on the road also which were quite interesting. 

Once there we followed the signs for "el centro" and with everyone hungry I yelled out that we were passing a great little restaurant, "Danny's".  It turned out to be very good too.  We ordered quesadillas with carne asada and some fish tacos with corn tortillas.   Delicious.  We headed for the mision which was up on the hill and to our surprise a huge oasis.  What a beautiful sight to see.   We were amazed that no one was in the water, the temperatures had reached 95F by early afternoon. 

We walked around downtown and talked up a storm before we got back in the car and headed back towards Loreto with the idea that we would stop at some of the beautiful beaches where we learned you can stop and set up a camp just about anywhere and at no charge.  Of course there were plenty of small rv parks and beach areas that offered overnighters for a small fee.

We finally decided on one of the many beaches.  They charged us 50 pesos and the guy at the gate wasn't very friendly.  I felt like putting a curse on him but it wasn't that bad.  We found one palapa but it was covered with a blue plastic tarp.  If it hadn't been for the breeze we would have cooked to a nice medium well.  I slept for about 20 minutes enough to recharge the batteries.  The water was crystal clear as you can see and very warm.  

We headed out again and stopped up the highway for a cold drink and then headed back home.  On the way we stopped in Loreto and picked up some avocados and made some mean guacamole with tostadas, beans and cheese.  We went for a dip in the pool and I savored a delicious tequila on the rocks.  

Packing now and heading to Loreto for one last lunch together and then on to La Paz.  It has been a great week and we have had a super good time with Steve and Michele.  Excellent traveling companions and I hope they think the same of us.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dinner Out - Loreto

We've done a lot of cooking at home as well as eating out during our stay here in Loreto.  We bought a kilo of fresh shrimp the other day and made a pasta dish with shrimp and fresh vegetables and the rest we used yesterday for tostadas.

Last night we decided it was time for a nice dinner out.   We had heard and read about the restaurant Mita which is in the main plaza.   We headed down there and found there was no place for us to park.  Turns out that the new mayor was being installed in the town and a big event was taking place.   We finally found a place to park nearby and walked over to the plaza.  Kids playing, dignitaries ceremoniously arranged at a long table with ribbons and table coverings and hundreds of chairs set up in the plaza filled with anxious citizens who had voted for the change.   Loud and noisy is the definition of this event.

We went to the restaurant and started off screaming at each other over the noise coming from the loud speakers as we sipped on freshly made margs, mango and strawberry.  We ordered an appetizer with clams in a delicious butter and wine sauce and manchego cheese.  It was a large plate enough for four people and with a salad that could have been dinner.  Price, 85 pesos.  Then it was back to the menu where we decided to split.  The fish of the day was sea bass and it was cooked in olive oil and a cilantro crust served with pasta and fresh veggies.  We ordered wine by the glass so we could each get what we wanted.  By this time the mayoral event had come to an end and we were listening to  Huapango de Moncayo.   We finished off dinner with a strong french press coffee.

 We headed home for a short talk and off to bed.  Today we head for Mulege and the beach there. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kayaking In Loreto

What a cool way to spend the morning.   We got up around 6:30 and watched the sun come up over the mountain that sits in the bay.   Breakfast was eggs and beans with flour tortillas, salsa and coffee.   We suited up for the beach and headed out to rent a couple of kayaks.  I had spoken yesterday by phone to the rental guy and we agreed on 9 a.m.   He didn't show up so I walked up to the front desk at the hotel and they sent someone to help us.  He explained that Javier wouldn't be coming in.

A real deal, we rented two double kayaks for 330 pesos.  We were out for about an hour and forty minutes and took a tour of the coast heading south.  Being a first time kayaker,  I found it is very easy and anyone can get the hang of it.  No fear of tipping over, losing your balance, although I'm sure it could happen.  We saw fish meters down in the water it was so clear and spied on pelicans up close and they didn't seem to mind much.  Again, as I said yesterday, the water is crystal clear and you see zero trash along the shoreline.  Someone is making a real effort to keep the bay in shape.

Net fishing was banned a few years ago and I'm sure that along with constant patrolling has helped to keep things in order.   Today the beach was pretty much deserted and so was the hotel.  Easter holiday is over at least for working folks and kids still have another week of vacation.

What's next you might ask?   Off to take a nap in the cool breeze coming off the water and then dinner out in the town square tonight.  Looks like a meeting of snowbirds takes place there so we will check it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lazy Sunday in Loreto

Got up late this morning, I purposely slept in until 6:30.  Coffee was ready and I got up the troops.  We piddled around the condo for awhile and then headed into Loreto for a walk through the Sunday market and breakfast.   It's after noon now and we are just getting back.  Sunny and warm, about 28C degrees and a cool breeze blowing through the house.  No screen are needed here and you can sleep with everything open.   Makes for great sleeping.

At the market located off of Miguel Hidalgo all the way to the end passing the railroad tracks, there are all types of vendors.  Mostly used clothes and household articles but quite a bit of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Much better than in the little supermarket El Pescadero in town.   We found fresh frozen shrimp as well (oxymoron).   

Brother Steve has a swollen foot, a problem he has that comes and goes.  It has something to do with a tendon.  We found him a good walking stick at the market and he hobbles much better now.  We found everything we were looking for and worked up quite an appetite.  We headed over to Los Mandiles for breakfast, a typical Mexican restaurant where we had fresh Mexican bread made on the premises and huevos rancheros, omelet, chorizo and eggs, and motule├▒os.   Coffee was excellent and the service friendly but a bit slow.

Now we are Skyping family in the U.S. for Easter Sunday.  What's next?  A nap and then over to the Loreto Bay Inn Hotel to see what is going on there, a dip in the bay and reading under a palapa.  Now I understand the life of a snowbird wintering in Mexico.  This is addictive.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Early Morning Walk - Loreto

Set the alarm and woke everyone up at 5:30 so we could go see the sunrise (Jonna I won't wake you up in Merida).  We made coffee and headed down to the beach.  The air is cool and fresh and the days aren't hot and muggy like at home.  This is truly paradise.  We are lining up a massage and then a kayak trip, not in that order of course.

Brother Steve and I.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Loreto Day Trip

Here we are settled into Founder's Neighborhood.  We took the bus north from La Paz.  The scenery was fantastic and I got a good taste of the Hwy 1 to Loreto.  The highway is in good condition and I wouldn't hesitate to drive it with the rv.  The mountains, desert and small towns make it a real adventure.  We rarely stopped on the trip and had a great bus driver who let us get off before Loreto here at the village.   He pulled into the front gate and got our luggage out of the compartment from under the bus.

Our condo is very comfortable and only 10 minutes from downtown Loreto.  Loreto is still a small laid back place where fishermen still work the bay waters and there are lots of places to drink a cold one, eat enchiladas, fish, fish tacos, and buy souvenirs.  I got up early this morning around 5:15 (I overslept a bit), had coffee while watching the sunrise.  I headed out the door to go running and got to know the compound.  Lots of construction going on and I would say that of the renters that are here it is about 30/70 Mexicans and Gringos.

We walked around town most of the morning stopping around noon to drink a beer.  After that we stopped and had an early lunch that was typical of this area.  I had enchiladas rojas, brother Steve had tostadas, Michelle my SIL had flautas and Juan had papas con chorizo and fresh flour tortillas.  After we headed to the small supermarket, the only one in town and picked up a few things to get us through the weekend.   It is a holiday here as well so things are a bit shut down until Monday.

Got back to the condo and I took a nap.  I need to get some sun screen as I got a bit red being out in the sun but not enough to make it hurt.  Here I am now working on the third story palapa that overlooks the neighborhood and the ocean.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Our Way To Loreto

Got up at 4 a.m., had coffee, showered and headed out for the airport.  We left on time and are now waiting for our connection to La Paz here in Guadalajara.   We leave in 30 minutes.  We arrive in La Paz at 10:40 PDST and head downtown to get the bus to Loreto.  Should be a pretty drive going up highway 1.  I estimate we will arrive at Founder's Neighborhood by 5 p.m.  Let's see if I am correct.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As If It Were Yesterday

Yes, an old cliche but so true.  As I stood at the window above this morning drinking a cup of coffee, it all came back to me.   Today is another 104F degree day.  The heat is overwhelming, but after watering the grass last night the air has that coolness that you can smell.  The breeze is so slight that the vertical blinds barely move and you might think it your imagination.   

When I was a kid during summer, we would wake up and watch the curtains in the breeze.  My dad had installed a giant attic fan that would draw the air in at night.  We didn't have air conditioning then and we played outside until it cooled off enough to go to sleep.  Those mornings were special.  That feeling of being free from the fears of not doing all your homework and the bully at school was put at bay for a couple of months hoping in your mind he would never return.   The smell of toast that my dad had just eaten for breakfast made its way up the stairs.   But those curtains moving in the breeze, just enough to make you want to believe it was cool.   That smell of air that can only be shared if you are there it is so hard to describe.  Mrs. Cowdry across the street scratching that damn metal grass rake on the pavement.  She did it just to annoy us.  I don't think she liked the fact that there were always 10 kids running around playing on "her" street.  That was over 40 years ago.  It makes me weep to think so much of my life has gone by.  Yes, I know, there is more but we never know when or how.  I miss those days although I am happy where I am now.  To think that my worries then weren't worth a penny and that boogie man who lived in our attic never came out to get me.  Yep, just like it was yesterday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Happened To My Dream Catchter?

Getting things ready around the house today.  After going to the gym I trimmed the yard, cleaned the cover on the palapa and did an overall cleaning.  The house was tidied up and cleaned as well.  Nothing worse than going away and leaving the house dirty.  Coming home is a pleasure when you know things are in order; clean sheets, dusted furniture, etc. and you can just flop on the bed and relax thinking about what a good time you had.

These two guys show you just how hot it has been for the last two weeks.  Today we hit 104F for the third day in a row.  The pool has come in handy.  We normally don't use it much but for a quick dip in the evenings.  Now that I am home alone most of the week I never use it.  I keep it clean and the chemicals refreshed but being in there alone just isn't a lot of fun.  The cats spend the mornings on the porch and then sleep the rest of the day.  With the tile roof, the house stays pretty cool even in this heat.  Tonight we may turn on the air conditioning.  Watering the grass cools things down quite a bit.  This morning it was 15C here at the quinta.

Today I made the comment that I haven't been dreaming as much as usual.  I usually have three dreams a night.  They come in segments and are sometimes related and sometimes not.  I can wake up and go back to sleep and fall right into the dream again.  Juan said that the dream catcher was attached to the headboard of the canopy bed.  It is sitting out on the porch waiting to be delivered to the house in Monterrey.   So this afternoon the dream catcher made its way back into the bedroom.  During my afternoon nap I dreamed that I was on a plane with two giddy blonde haired female pilots.  The movie showing on the plane was "Serpico y Yo".  Whatever that means????

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vacation Time

Took me all weekend to recover from my trip.  I left Ensenada Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. on the bus to Tijuana.  From there I headed to Mexicali.  The bus pulled into the depot at 8 p.m. and I took a taxi to the airport.  I should have headed to the movies or dinner as the airport was closed until 11 p.m.  There are few flights in and out of Mexicali.  Everyone just kept pacing back and forth.  I used the internet but it was difficult as I left my glasses on the bus.  I hooked them onto the curtain track as I was reading and watching a movie.   So to see the internet I had to increase the text size, although that wasn't much help either.

The Aeromexico ticket counter opened at 10:30 and I checked in along with all the other 130 passengers.  The restaurant opened at 11 p.m. so I had a couple of arrachera tacos and a cold beer.  That filled my hunger gap as well as my wait time.  Finally at 12:30 a.m. we took off for Monterrey.   I got to the house after 6 a.m.   I felt like I had been walked on, put through the ringer and dead tired.  My taxi driver had just gotten his new Chrysler Charger and was afraid to take a bump.   I thought I would never get home.

Overall, it was a great week and I was completely relaxed.  I had a fun time with the teachers and most of all watching the scenery as I moved from town to town.  Can't wait to get back with the rv.  I came up with a three month trip plan but we need to discuss it.  July we head across the U.S. southwest to Calexico and then down the Baja in August heading across the bay on the ferry (if we can find the cheap commercial line) and using the month of September to visit Nayarit and Jalisco before heading home.

We are getting things ready here at home for our trip this week to Loreto.  I spoke with my brother and we talked about our arrival times, what things to bring, and the activities we want to do.  Sounds like we are going to enjoy the resort.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ready To Leave Tijuana

It was a good day and I worked my butt off.  This takes a lot out of me.  This week we are working with games and activities in kindergarten and primary.  So we do a lot of singing, dancing and playing games.  The teachers here in Baja have good language skills but lack teaching skills.  There program is improving every year and continues to expand with great success.

Here are some pics from yesterday and today.  I'm pretty pooped so I won't talk to much.  Although I have to say that this evening I have done quite a bit of on line searching for routes and stays for the summer trip.  There is no set plan in concrete and we may head across West Texas.  We love Hwy 90 and the stays in Sanderson, Marfa and Marathon.  There are also great desert state parks along the route including Hueco Tanks, Balmorhea, Seminole Canyon, Lake Amistad, Franklin and Guadalupe Natl Park.  

This provides me entertainment and also relaxes me.  I also ran across a great 12V meter that you just plug into your 12V outlet.  Don't know how good it is but I just need something that will tell me we are good for the night.  We can always recharge going down the road and also with the Honda generator.

Teachers in Tecate

Tijuana teachers demonstrating activities

As the Tijuana teachers look on!

 Paisaje going to Tecate

 My room in Tijuana.  That way people at home know I'm in good hands.

Tomorrow morning I take a taxi to Rosarito and then spend the night in Ensenada.  Looking forward to some shrimp salad or fish tacos. Mmmmm, yummy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traveling In Northern Baja

It gets a bit hectic but I enjoy running around here from one city to another.  Yesterday I left Mexicali and took the bus to Tijuana where I will stay the week until Thursday where I then go to Ensenada and then back to Mexicali.
Yesterday afternoon was a great trip on the bus.  The bus only had thirty seats and they were all living room size recliners that turn into sleepers.  They gave us sandwiches and drinks along with a good movie that I had not heard of before, "Gran Torino" with Clint Eastwood.  What a cool movie!  It was dubbed in Spanish but dubbing has improved over the years.  Traveling over the mountains from Mexicali to Tijuana was breathtaking.   I think in the fall we should travel the Baja.  I know it pretty much although the central part was logged in my memory over 35 years ago.

I thought I had recorded a video but I guess I was too busy watching the movie and the camera wasn't really on :).  This video I took this morning on my way to Tecate.  The weather was beautiful; clear skies, crisp air and I feel so relaxed here although it may just be a false sense of security but people tell me that things are good here in Baja. 

I'm sure you have heard now about the invasion of the bad guys into the U.S.  We all knew it was happening but just like here in Mexico we all turned a blind eye hoping it would all go away.   The news this last week has just been devastating for all of us on both sides of the border.  However, now the word is out about all the cities they are into in the U.S., maybe it will get some more attention.  At least people will see what suffering we are going through and how much more we will have to endure.  

A return to civics and ethics in the classroom would be a good start.  I had a group of 220 teachers yesterday in Mexicali.  There were about 20 that were just finishing their studies.  You could really see the difference in their upbringing, education and overall "affect".   I have learned to become a good reader of people.  Back to basics is a cliche to most but to me it is real, true and much needed.  

I belong to a group on Yahoo about life in Mexico.  We have had quite a discussion about what is required by companies here in Mexico in terms of a job interview as well as a good candidate.  Many say that we should "accept" people for who they are, not how they dress, act, or think.  Well, good luck convincing the business community of that.  Same rules apply; people skills, ability to work together, well-dressed, groomed, shoes shined, resume in hand.  Not a hard act to follow.  Come dressed in Gothic and you just won't get in.  I won't say anymore and I won't go there.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Working On The Road

A busy week coming up.  I flew to Mexicali this afternoon.  I arrived around 3:30 PST.  The weather here is great, a cool breeze is blowing and it's sunny and clear.  I checked into my room at the Crowne Plaza and then went to Office Depot to print the handouts for the week.  I will have 220 teachers tomorrow here in Mexicali and then I will travel tomorrow night to Tijuana where I will set up base for the week.  Tuesday I'm off to Tecate, Rosarito, Ensenada and Tijuana where I return every evening.  The flight was over three hours and a bit uncomfortable.  Aeromexico Connect now uses the smaller Embraer that holds 50 passengers.  No food service and no liquor, beer only.

The weekend was short but it was relaxing.   We swam a lot, talked a lot and I got things ready for my trip.

They announced yesterday that all bus service in the neighboring state of Tamps has been discontinued until further notice. All bus lines have suspended service. Too many hijackings.  That should tell us something.  What next?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Took A Drive Today

Got up early this morning and read my mail.  That's when it dawned on me that I had checked up on our land at the Terlingua Ranch.  I sent off an email to my friend and neighbor Kathleen who now lives full time at the ranch.  She is two places down the road from us.  She lives in a travel trailer and has a container on her land that she remodeled and uses for an office.  She is going to walk down the road today and check on land and give us an answer.  The ranch has had its ups and downs over the years and now it seems to be back up.  Tne club house, rv park, showers, laundry, pool and restaurant are open and running.
After breakfast we decided to drive to Allende to check on our land.  Kevin and Ruth stayed there a couple of times.  The land is still there :) and a couple of neighbors have some construction going on.  The other day I said that the area was a hot bed.  Not far off.  From the house to there we passed several  military convoys and saw helicopters flying over the area.  For those that have seen the place, off of the main highway they are building an overpass.  Looks like our road which crosses the highway is being widened and extended to San Antonio (ejido up the road).  The street from the highway has been paved now for over a year and it is four lane with a well-manicured parkway with street lighting.  So there is some good news.

I need to start packing for my week long trip to Baja.  Monday will be a long day, working 8 to 5 with a group of over 225 teachers.  But I am looking forward to it.

I'm sure some of you have read the new warden's message from the consulate.  Not good news. 

As a side note and not related to us, I was reading the headlines in La Reforma on My Yahoo webpage.  As you scroll the cursor over the headline it gives you a tidbit of the news.  I saw one that read "balacera en n├ípoles" which is a colonia in mexico city, upscale area where my friend Andreina lives.  The cross streets were on the corner of her block.  I instantly sent her a message and she said she saw it happening as she was pulling in the driveway last night.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Was My Glass Half Empty Yesterday?

Yesterday was not a good day for me as you could see by reading my post.   I think the glass was half empty.  Today is a different day and my glass is now half full (geez, I sound like another blogger).  Anyway, it is like I said and the truth is the truth.  I hope I didn't scare off any rvers, that was never my intention and still isn't.

We are going to rv, we don't feel that rving is a threat and when we do it will not be along the northeast border states.   I still feel that there are some good boondocking opportunities and that is what my blog was about originally and before last year we really did quite a bit of it and went to some pretty cool places.

When I mentioned land sales yesterday, I meant here in my area not Monterrey.  New home sales in Monterrey couldn't be better.   However, they the trend is gated communities even in lower income housing areas. 

I do tend to keep out of our town other than going to the gym and after Spring break that may come to an end also.   I still need to see my accountant there every month but that is not a big deal.  My point was for us to remain low profile.  Also, our street has no outlet, I may have mentioned that yesterday and that keeps us safe in the sense that it is not a good hideout.  What has been going on has been taking place out in the boonies. 

Take my message yesterday with a grain of salt, do your own research. 

The Bad Guys Take Houses in Nuevo Leon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Guess I Haven't Been Very Truthful

When asked over the years how we're doing I have always answered, "things couldn't be better".  My mom always knew it wasn't the truth as mothers always know.  This last year has been one of those years where I have intentionally told everyone that "things couldn't be better".  It isn't a lie but I haven't come out with all that has been going on.  Is it important?  Well, I can't tell you how many times in the last two months I have sat down and started to write a letter to my family.  I think they believe that life for Chris in Mexico is just a piece of cake.  It was, and it still is a great life but our lives have changed drastically and we don't know when it will return to normal, or if it ever will.

We have been living a nightmare.  We made the decision in December of 2009 to retire.  We went ahead with it.  Our house was up for sale, we had several bites, our financial plan was on target but we hadn't planned for this.  In ruins? Sometimes I think so.  I've never been an optimist but more of a realist.  We have a pension and we are both working, mine is part time but the pay is good.  

The problem is that we feel trapped.  We can't sell the house and I'll try to explain why.   We live in a municipality that is mostly rural.  Monterrey began invading the city limits and it was a good thing.  Housing prices were going up, construction was at an all time high and then the bad guys started coming out of the woodwork.  As you all know, our mayor was kidnapped and killed along with most of our police force.  The rest ran away in fear and we are left holding the bag.   Construction and land sells have come to a halt.  To make matters worse, the bad guys have started a new trend.  Where we live, for those that don't know the area, there are quintas or fincas.   These are large lots with country homes, pools and palapas.  Most people use them for weekends, holidays and vacation.   Many are left empty during weeks or even months at a time.   The bad guys now bust down the gates and move right in.  When the owner does show up, or the caretaker calls them and they come to their property, they find someone else or many people have now taken it over.   They tell the owner that they are now the new owners and may stay for up to six months and not to come around or tell anyone.   Should they tell someone, well, you know the consequences.  This has happened so much that in fact an article appeared in the newspaper.   You can easily be traced down by papers you have left in the house, utility bills or the caretaker.  Once they're gone, the place is left in a shambles.  Now, how can we leave our property alone to travel much less sell it?

Some people claim that prices have dropped by as much as 70%.  We can't take the chance and advertise our property either.  Why?  Because they hunt down people selling, buy the property, obtain the title and then turn around and kidnap or use extorsion to get their money back since they know how much has changed hands.  We're trapped.  We practically built this place over the last ten years and now we can't even give it away.  Mention of the name of our municipality and everyone grits their teeth and says their sorry.

As for our land that we purchased three years ago to build our new house, well it is now in a worse place than where we live now.  It has been a hot bed for the last two months and they can't seem to root them out.   

They kidnapped a guy from the gym in broad daylight.  His dad owns a business and they waited until he was leaving.  He walked out of the gym, they got out of their SUV with AK-47s and just took him away.  He's back now and with 500,000 dollars less in the bank and waiting for it to happen again.  We all made a big mistake.  Over ten years ago, the owners of many companies here had a meeting.  They agreed never to pay a ransom.  They put the word on the street, and as far as everyone knows, it hasn't happened.  The general population wasn't so smart.  They paid all along and now you can't stop it.  It was a bad idea to give in.

All the kids around here, mostly country bunkins that have never studied or worked, are now on patrol duty reporting everyone and everything.  They hang out on street corners, in the plazas sitting in their cars with cell phone in hand.  We no longer talk to the workers here in other quintas, no one knows our comings and goings, and we no longer shop, do banking or eat out in our town. Trust no one.  When I go to Monterrey to spend the night during the week I dread coming home the next morning.  I'm afraid they know the routine, have knocked down the gates and now live in our house.  Paranoid, a lot.  Scared, not so much anymore.  It is out of my hands.

Let the truth will out, it is worse than some could ever imagine.  Would I be worried if I were a tourist in an rv?  No, they know they can't do much to you.  Being an American or a Canadian on vacation the outcome would not be in their favor.  Extridition and the death penalty, it seems to keep us safe, at least so far.  Those that they have killed were related to the trade in some way.

For now, our plans are up in the air.  Juan wants to spend the summer in the U.S. just to get rid of that nagging fear that has been hanging over our heads.  I don't want to go for fear of what will happen to our home.  I can continue to do maintenance, paint things, drum up things to do around the quinta but it's not what I've had in mind.  I'm adding security cameras, spikes across the front wall and gates and a "viga", I can't remember jack sh-- in English anymore but is a heavy wooden beam that you put across the gate so it can't be broken down while we are in the quinta.  Extreme?  You bet.  I want them to know that we are ready.  The camera system will be hooked up to a DVR and the internet.  It won't do us any good in prevention but it is a good scare tactic and we can capture them on tape.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Planning Trips From Now Through Summer

Our Spring break trip has come together.  My brother and SIL's flights were cancelled but rescheduled for another day.   We are good to go now and I am looking for things to do in Loreto.  

I got a call yesterday asking me to work in Baja California Norte.  I will be working in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Tecate and Ensenada for a week.  I'll be on my own and they have offered me a rental car once I'm there but I think I will take buses to get around.  Afterall, I'll be working and not on vacation although I plan to take advantage of any free time I have.

Also, I spent most of this afternoon working on our summer vacation.  I have a rough idea of the route and please feel free to chime in with recommendations;  San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, the state of Jalisco and down to Zihua.   We won't be in a hurry and we are looking for boondocking, dry camping, and inexpensive rv parks.   I have run across many opportunities and have sent out several emails hoping to get a response.

The weather today hit 39C and will stay there until Tuesday.  I have a list of activities planned for the week and one of them is sending off my taxes to my accountant in San Antonio.  I also need to do the refinance on the house in San Antonio.  I have put it off for months and I don't want to miss out on the opportunity of lowering the interest rate.  

On my list is cleaning the slideouts on the trailer, fixing the sconce lighting in the bedroom slideout that continues to pop one of the breakers once the light is turned on, in addition to that, the water heater won't stay lit.  

I have all the house and yard work done and the only thing in that area is watering the grass every evening.  

I have a good life and I should be more thankful.   We just finished a great ribeye on the grill along with salad and a great Mexican red wine.  I'm going for a dip in the pool now.  bye bye

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Gonna Be A Hot One

I am recovering from my work schedule this week.  I was pretty beat yesterday although I did work in the afternoon at the university.  Today I went back to the gym, cleaned house and worked out in the yard.  Amazing what I found when I went out to top off the pool and give it a good cleaning:


He was about a meter in length and looked like he was enjoying himself.  I hated to take him out but I took the net, scooped him up only after a few rounds about the pool and flipped him into the bushes.  He began climbing the limbs and raised his head with a look of " do you mind, I was cooling off".  Too bad, I like nature and I like snakes, but I don't want to knowingly swim with them.  I'm not the snake whisperer.

This weekend we will hit an average of 40C or higher.  Good thing the pool is clean, the yard ready and I will freely turn on the air conditioner.  We are ahead of our KWH limit by about 100 KWHs.  So we can use the air conditioning a bit liberally this weekend, mostly during nap time. 

As for the crime wave that is hitting us, the worst is yet to come.  You know the websites to read and you will get an eye full.  I can't wait to escape to Baja for a week during Spring break not to mention our summer trip south.  I almost had a breakdown this week listening to 250 teachers tell me their concerns and personal experiences.  Just a few kms from here, teachers are being stopped on country roads on their way to classes and being asked for identification.  Once identified as teachers, they are asked for money so that they can continue on to their school for their classes.  Ya basta!

I wish I could say more but I too am now fearful of what might happen should I mention what is going on.  You know already anyway.   All I can say is highways are safe, cities and towns are safe, don't travel at night in the five border states.  Everything south is paradise.