Friday, September 30, 2011

Home From San Antonio

Interesting week in San Antonio.  The heat finally subsided.  We slept last night without the a/c, it was wonderful.  That darn air conditioner makes so much noise it drives me nuts. 

We had dinner with Bill and Mo, they post here frequently.  They were staying at a FAM camp at Fort Sam.   We went there last night, made it past the front gates and on the rv park.  We had some mean mango margs for starters and Mo made some wonderful seafood crepes to die for.   After dinner, as if we hadn't eaten enough, Bill hit the kitchen and created some wonderful bananas foster.  I first met Bill and Mo here in Santiago they are good friends with a local dentist.  We met up at the  club Bajia Escondida in 2009.  They have been fulltiming for 19 years.   Juan was a Fulbright in Ohio at the time.   We talked up a storm and after leaving regretted we couldn't stay longer.   Juan has a meeting tomorrow and on Sunday a quinceƱero.

We had an excellent trip home.  Fed up with paying 389 pesos for the toll road we took the libre home today.  I highly recommend it.  Completely repaved from where the autopista begins until it reaches the other end at the "municipal" airport in Monterrey.  The scenery is much nicer and although it is only two lanes, it has a shoulder on each side.  We will always use this road to Laredo.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feeling The Effects Of A Bad Economy

We have a small house here in San Antonio that we purchased to help out a friend a few years ago.  We hadn't intended on keeping it and had hoped to sell it in the following years.  At the time of purchase, because our income comes from Mexico, we found financing without a problem but at higher interest rate.   Not bad but with current conditions it could be better.

Working with several lenders this week the situation doesn't look so hot.   Our credit rating is excellent and we meet all the other requirements except one.  There are too many foreclosures in the area and it is bringing down the value of the home versus the current loan amount.  Sad.  Apart from the drought that has destroyed all the yards, the neighborhood looks a bit shabby as homes are vacant and not being taken care of. 

Good thing is it is a nice rental and we have no problems getting it rented.  In fact, our current tenant is a real jewel and takes very good care of the house and the yard.   I know it shouldn't be an issue but it is too far from home to have to worry about.  We had hoped to pick up some properties in McAllen, that would make the drive about two hours and easier to cross the border not needing permits to go beyond the 21 mile marker.

Last night we went out with friends for dinner.   Eight of us, laughed and had a great time.  Dinner was very good and we had a chance to catch up on what everyone was up to.  Nothing like a couple of bottles of wine. 

Did I mention the heat!  Ugh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Very Rare Scotch - Santa Vaca!

On our way to Laredo we stopped and spent the night outside of town in Potrero Chico with Kevin and Ruth.  We whipped right through Monterrey and took the road to Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon.   We pulled down the road to the campground, and the entrance was blocked.  Wow, with all that had happened this year did Homero close his place up?  We got out and walked down the road to the gate and looked around.  Up by the house on the property we could see Sherman, their motorhome.   We walked in and Kevin was sitting outside in the shade sipping on a beer.  He fit back into Mexico fast.

We said our hellos and he showed us the new entrance.   We setup and spent a great evening with rib eyes on the grill and a long night conversation under the stars with a spectacular view of the mountains.  It was really a setting for the beginning of a great trip for Kevin and Ruth.   After dinner Kevin pulled out a bottle of very rare scotch that he was willing to share with us.   Holy  cow was that good.   The next day I woke up waiting to recover my eye sight and knocked on their door to thank him for a "very rare headache".  Well worth it though.   We had a great  time, got up early the next day and hit the road for the border.   There were some climbers at the campground too, two French, a German and a Mexican.  No this isn't the beginning to a joke :).   They came over to see the rv and we had an hour long chat.  

Once on the road, it was uneventful but great scenery as we came across the mountains into the valley between Monterrey and Laredo.   You can see for kilometers.   We arrived to Nuevo Laredo and went through a checkpoint at km26.  Two soldiers wanted to inspect the trailer and we happily let them in.  They were real talkers and wouldn't let me go.   They loved the rv and the fact that we were on the road.  One said that it was what his dream was, to travel.   We said our goodbyes and I told them how much they are appreciated by everyone and especially rvers. 

Next stop was filling up the tank and getting in line for the bridge.  At least that is what we thought.  Got to the bridge and soldiers pulled us over again.   Another inspection and off we went.  But wait, hey, no line.   We got to the bridge just before school got out.  That was cool.   We were x-rayed, inspected, questioned, diaper checked and so on and they let us go.   We had to pay an outrageous $3.48 liquor tax on a bottle of tequila.  Not happy about that.   The heat was searing, 107F in Laredo.   We high-tailed for San Antonio and made it into town just around rush hour.  

First time we pulled this rv into the driveway here, I did it on the first try although traffic was stacking up.  Some guys drove by as I was getting the SUV into the driveway with a thumbs up and said, "good job dude".    BTW, our new gate turned out beautifully although we had wanted to leave three days earlier.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Economic Thought For The Day

Another favorite of mine, Frederic Bastia (taken from Wikipedia)had the right idea almost 200 years ago.

Bastiat asserted that the sole purpose of government is to defend and protect the right of an individual to life, liberty and property. From this definition, Bastiat concluded that the law cannot defend life, liberty and property if it promotes socialist policies, which are inherently opposed to these very things. In this way, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the thing it is supposed to defend.
In The Law, Bastiat explains that if the privileged classes use the government for "legalized plunder" this will encourage the lower classes to revolt or use socialist "legalized plunder" and that the correct response to both the socialists and the corporatists is to cease all "legalized plunder". Bastiat also explains why his position is that the law cannot defend life, liberty and property if it promotes socialist policies.
When used to obtain "legalized plunder" for any group, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the thing it is supposed to defend.

How the U.S. will ever pay back the money it owes, it seems impossible.  Trying to solve the ills of the world for its own benefit when all of that money, borrowed from other countries, banks and the social security I'll never see, could have been used for the good of its own people who they themselves will now pay back.  Despicable! 

Attention presidents, senators, and politicians, stick to what you do best not  to your own special interests.   Cut programs,  clean up the graft that exists in disabilty, medicare and medicaid, eliminate massive corruption.   Social programs only limit people and provide no incentive to do better on their own.   You have created a group of takers all of whom have jumped on the band wagon and joined the free-for-all.   Now your big spending habits charged to the public account are now affecting other countries, mine included.   Don't drag us down with you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

The work on widening the front gate is done, the new gates will be installed tomorrow.  We will be heading out for Potrero Chico to meet up with Kevin and Ruth.   After that we head out for McAllen and then a stop in Refugio, Tx to meet up with some friends we met years ago.  They are private pilots and live in a community with an airstrip.   After many years in south Texas they will be moving to Oregon.  They flew to Monterrey a couple of times and stayed with us.  After that, off to San Antonio for a week to check on the house, visit with Bill and Mo (bilmo) and catch up with neighbors.   We can only be gone a week as we have a quinceƱero, yes, spelled correctly, for a boy not a girl.  Times they are a changin'.

A bit of a discussion going on whether to rv in Mexico or not.  As I stated on the rv forum, stop sweating the small stuff, load up the rv and get your butts down here.   All the what ifs in the world won't change things.  

The biggest problem an rver can encounter is paying a bribe to a cop and for me that is a moral issue.  We don't pay jack but we are from here and speak Spanish.  Other than that, there is no proof that an rver is a target and the areas that the crimes occur in are inner city, not rv places or highways.   Bandits can't escape with an rv, much less know how to drive one at high speeds.  Out of 2500 municipalities, only 80 have seen any bad boy activity.  That's .032% of all the country.   So much to see.  

In our case, we live here and no matter what we have to still drive through Mexico to get somewhere else.   So much debate over how the new permit system and visas work.  Just hop in the damn rv and come down here.  Show me where an rv has been confiscated if the permits were current and the owners had insurance.   So what if the new system charges you a couple hundred bucks for the permit, you get the money back anyway. 

How many testimonials of safe travel does one need?  How many cars cross the U.S./Mexico border everyday and are issued permits and make it to there destination safely?  I'd be more worried about hitting a cow or a donkey on the road.

Don't sweat the small stuff!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not All Ex-Pats Are Doofus'

I know I'll get ragged on for this one but some of it is so funny I just can't resist.  I have been observing various groups, blogs and news items over the last few months dealing with ex-pats.   We all know the expression "when in Rome" and it can be a tough act to follow especially when you are a person of mature means.   The expression "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" also comes into play unless of course you believe in the Ghost Whisperer, then you can discount it.

It's probably easier to just make a list:

  • A warning went out this week to gringos who may be walking through a particular park.  A woman was attacked by a sheep.   She was saved by five kids who happened to be nearby.  She ended up pretty bruised but no major injuries.  Now isn't that the strangest thing.  I couldn't find anything on the web about sheep attacks.
  • A major supermarket chain was being trashed by local ex-pats because some bank ATMs had been compromised and some cards corrupted.   The blame was being put on the store when in reality it was the banks' responsibility but the store requested they be installed at customers' request.
  • A major restaurant that delivers fresh fish was publicly lashed for not making one delivery on time yet all the other customers thought it was better than buttered bread.
  • Someone had the bright idea to see if the United States department of the FDA could come to Mexico as they thought they could do a better job than SAGARPA.  Isn't that a gas.   Some also complained because they didn't carry English muffins.  Imagine me in Milwaukee demanding patas de pollo en escabeche and sending a letter to the local Kroger store reprimending them for not stocking them and threatening to take my business elsewhere.  Incredible.
  • Now the a local cable service has stopped carrying a PBS station, people are wanting to boycott the company threatening that they will cancel and go to another cable supplier if they don't bring said station back.
These are true facts, however, they are meant for the fun of it.   Americans/Canadians are a special breed.  We need to remember  though whose turf we are on and accept certain things here in Mexico.  If we change things to fit our culture we won't be living in Mexico any longer.   I have heard many people say, "well afterall, they need us", wrong baby, we need them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine and The Copper Bandits

I usually tell all on this blog but once in awhile I have something I just don't want to share.  Before we went on our trip to Jalisco we visited our land south of here in Allende.  We had had a 40ft travel trailer out there that I was in love with.  It was a huge two bedroom with two slideouts.  It was all set up and we were going out there on occasion dreaming about the day we would build our new house.  The plan was to live in the rv while the house was being built.   Then the Mexico problem came along and we couldn't sell the house as planned and sold the 40ft rv.   It was a pain in the neck anyway as someone broke into the trailer once, fixed that and then they stole everything off the outside that wasn't nailed down.   It was a good idea though at the time.

So we drove down there in June and looked around.  We discovered that someone cut the electric at the box and at the other end where we had the rv outlet or 30 amp set up and pulled the copper cable out.  We're talking about 80 meters of copper cable.  We looked into the conduit and it was gone.   That was it, I was a broken man.  What next?  Would they steal the chain link fence too?

I blew it off and thought to myself that we still have the land and the cable could always be replaced.   We went on our summer excursion and had a ball and forgot all about it.  (I still curse the lousy bastards).  

Over this last weekend we went out to see what was going on and our neighbor was there.  He has about an acre and a half next to us with a beautiful palapa and a pool.   This is a photo of my neighbor's place a couple of years ago when it was under construction. 

We chatted with him for a while and told him what happened.   He said we should have put cable rudo in the ground and buried it deep (don't know the term in English but cable rude is a cable that doesn't require conduit and last forever).  The other option was to install all aluminum which is the new answer for the copper bandits.  We talked some more and then we headed home.

Today I got a call on my cell phone from my neighbor in Allende.  He said he had some very good news for me.  He happened to talk to our other neighbor in front who is a contractor and did the electric installation.   He said that the cable was never stolen and he showed him.  The contractor put the cable in the conduit and installed safety features every three meters that would not allow anyone to pull the cable out.  What we had seen at the rv post was the three meters they had removed.  Ta Daa!

As a side note, when we built our house in the city, the same thing happened but we arrived before they could make the get away.   We had to have the house, all 3000 sq ft. recabled.  They had even disassembled all the sliding doors to remove the aluminum.  Gotta have lots of security these days.

I now have renewed hope and a plan to start working in Allende to get things ready for construction.   We're not waiting and letting bad people keep us from doing what we want.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guess Who Came To Mexico

I've been waiting for a long time and every time I check their website they say their service is not available in Mexico.  Netflix has fixed that now and we can download or stream movies.  Our first last night was a real doozie.   The Lost Room.  Fantastic, reminds of "The Cube" in a sense.

So it looks like we will now drop our cable service as it has been nothing but a disappointment.  I like movies with subtitles, but not dubbed in any language.  I would rather read subtitles in English or Spanish and listen to the original language be it Japanese or French, you lose so much in the translation not to mention the feeling and emotion of the flick.

Plus, our cable company dropped ANE, American Network, which handled our news from the U.S.  It was owned by Televisa and for some reason they created a new station for teens in Mexico and dropped all our news.  We only watched the CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes, Face The Nation to name a few.  Oh well, things change and if we drop the cable we will save 400 pesos a month taking into account the 99 peso charge from Netflix.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Traveling South America - How We Find Each Other

There is kind of a relationship between traveling in South America and how people find each other in the rv world not to mention the internet.  Since we met up with P.J. and Claudia also known as the Dutch Duo, I have been fascinated with traveling South America by rv.  Recenty, someone posted about travel there on the and mentioned a site called Drive The Americas.   It got me started again.  BTW, it is a website full of great information about SA travel.

Well, it isn't wise to take an SUV  and a travel trailer down through Central America and then pay to ship two vehicles across the Darien Gap, that would run thousands of dollars not to mention the hassle.   The Dutch Duo used a truck camper, and the famous writer Jim Jalliet whose book Panama or Bust which is to Central America as Mike and Terri Church are to Mexico,  traveled in an old Class A motorhome. 

I decided a long time ago that it should be a low-top van Class B type with diesel and 4X4  (my preference would be a hard top Safari Condo but that is like 100k).  I have ridden the highways of Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and others in a car, and for the most part they are pretty good until you get out of major cities and off major highways.  Chile is really my destination of choice but we would need to go through other countries to get there.  

Today I did some more of that exploring and remembered about the Chinook.   They make or once made an off road version for Baja.   So I went over to Ebay Motors and started searching.   I didn't find the Baja version so I began looking at Class Bs in general.  Then a couple of Chinook start showing up and I looked around.  I found a really nice one by a private owner.  As you know, you can ask the seller questions.  And down at the bottom of this really nice Chinook were a couple of questions.  One was about the outdoor accordian shower door gizmo and then there was a reference to a website where a fulltime Chinook owner was mentioned.  Cool! 

I went over to the website which is called To Simplify , a young musician who gave up the sticks and bricks and headed out originally in a Falcon but ended up buying a Chinook.   I started reading different blog entries and he had several on solar panels and one especially interesting about his new solar monitor panel.   I gave it a click and was enjoying the details, and when I scrolled down to the bottom to read comments, the  first one was by no other than Kevin and Ruth from Travels with Kevin and Ruth 

Now I don't know about you, but I thought that was pretty cool.  Funny how the internet is such a broad stroke of a brush that can be narrowed down to a hair.   How many others commented on that blog that could be as cool as Kevin and Ruth and our paths just haven't crossed yet?  Is it just luck or is there a method to the madness?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

East Coast Travel Information

Teresa and Derek have asked for information on the Gulf coast of Mexico and the Yucatan.   We've haven't gone as far a the Yucatan but we have been through Tamaulipas and Veracruz.  The best way to check this out on the blog is to click here:

Searching for Boondocking Sites on This Blog 

There you can see the states and places we have visited and begin searching.  I have often thought about changing to a webpage as finding info on a blog can be mind boggling if you don't know what to look for or what the writer has posted.

Also, feel free to send me an email, which is listed at the top of each post and I will be glad to answer any and all of your questions.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Big Holiday Weekend

Last night was a complete success across the country as hundreds of thousands turned out for El Grito.   We opted to stay home and hang out by the pool but there were no fireworks in our town.  They have been prohibited but we thought for sure that they would give in for just night.   The noise creates havoc now and puts people in a panic mode.

Reports today that the highways were packed yesterday after classes were out and the international bridges were clogged the last 24 hours as people went shopping in Laredo, San Antonio, and the RVG.  City parks, our lake and state parks are packed too as people take to the great outdoors for a three day weekend. 

The heat persists and just won't let up.  I received a photolog from a friend in Texas that was created by the Texas Parks and Wildlife showing the devastation of the drought.  They are concerned now about the coming rains this weekend that could produce severe and dangerous flash flooding.  Haven't we suffered enough?

Today we hung around the house.  I was up by 5:30 but took a couple of cat naps throughout the day.   We had a great breakfast with bacon which we haven't had but twice this year.  Man it smelled so good!  

It's 7:30 now and I just got cooled off in the pool, turned on the a/c in the bedroom and we are watching local news.  I poured a couple of drinks and we will see what take place around here tonight.  The neighbors are having a carne asada.  Tomorrow night is our monthly family party so we will be in town for that. 

The architect came last night too to make the agreement for  repairs and we can get living room and kitchen remodeled.  Can't wait, it will be a big change.   We have the same furniture we bought 17 years ago.   Time for an update. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Viva Mexico!

Baleado y lastimado.  But we will overcome.  Viva Mexico!  Viva su gente!  Viva! Viva! Viva Mexico!  God bless the United States of Mexico. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Summer Trip Expenses

My account is hitting me over the head to get my expenses in for the months of July and August. Here we have to file via internet every 30 days and then once annually. I tallied our expenses as we asked for a ticket or receipt for everything and when it wasn't available we wrote it down. Alcohol is in with groceries as we purchased our booze at the supermarket. We ate out a lot as food was so cheap for us in Valle de Juarez it wasn't worth the LP we would have spent plus we enjoyed the locals and their fantastic food. Also, we exchanged rv park expense for workcamping although had we not, Hacienda Contreras is so  reasonable that the two months still would have come out great. Check for yourselves:

Gasoline      Tolls      Groceries      Dining       RvParks      Total
    6549         1703          4322           2187           1370         16131

That comes to $ 672 per month.   Adding in the rv park had we paid, that would be an additional $ 232 per month would have come to $900 dollars per month.  Rving in Mexico is cheap.   Looking back, we would change a couple of things.  One would be to eat out less and cook more at home like we do here in Monterrey, and the other would be not to use toll roads.  It wasn't our intention to spend less, in fact we spent pretty much whatever we wanted. 

I know that being in one place saved us a lot on fuel, but overall it was cheap.  Who says rving in Mexico isn't cheap.  One thing is that in the numbers above doesnh't include our vehicle insurance and our fixed costs at home which come to about 7000 pesos per month, of which we could eliminate 80% if we were fulltimers.

I can imagine rving in Baja North and South, it is a virtual boondocking paradise and you are surrounded by beaches and beautiful scenery.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Place To RV In San Miguel de Allende

One of the places we visited in our search for an rv spot in SMA was the Shanti Spa, located outside of town on the road to Queretero.  Getting there is easy, and once there you will find a peaceful place to park with a view that will take your breath away. (you can get an idea from the picture above looking out the door in the pool area.

The road inside the ranch that takes you to the spa is a well-graded dirt road.  There are two obstacles that would prevent large motorhomes from passing and that is a dip in the road on the turn to the right before heading up the hill, and then the road that actually goes to the spa, is a bit rough and probably needs to be graded.  The owner is open to rvers and a very cool person.  Brett, I'm sure will do what she can to make your stay pleasant.  Here is the information she sent me, and you would need to contact her for details.

Available November through March: rv parking at Shanti San Miguel in SMA. (See Tripadvisor, or our website: for more info).

Solar heated pool, full-service restaurant specializing in organic and Indian food, luxurious showers with towels, soap and blow-dryers.

Wi-fi, and yoga and massage available by appointment. Beautiful quiet surroundings, 9kms from the Luciernaga mall on the road to Dr. Mora. Price: $12 (US) per day.

For more info, email

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Can I Say

My comments on  today's memorial are best summed up by Jonna on her blog.   Please go to her link and read it.  Short but to the point.  blah…blah…blah… Ginger! 

A sad day for the world and time to move on.  Dwelling on past events never lets the wound heal.  OBL is gone, and once the U.S. pulls their troops out  of other countries they can begin to concentrate on their economy, drug problem, high unemployment and national housing problems.   The British  did it and were better off for it.   And maybe, by retreating and focusing on home security within their borders, the bad guys in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, just to mention a few,  may just let up.  Keep pushing their buttons and they will persist.

Let's end what we cannot control. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Now That Was Stinky!

Since we came back from our summer trip, I have kept the refrigerator on in the rv.  We still had some things in there, mostly condiments and as we needed them we would go out to the trailer to retrieve them.  Well, luck would have it.  Sunday the electricity went off, remember that the modem was damaged.  I never gave the rv a thought.

It appears that after the lights came back on, the refrigerator didn't reset itself.  Three days went by and I went out to the trailer.  OMG!  I realized what had happened but I couldn't figure out why it was so foul.  I thought someone had stuffed a dead body in there (and that's no joke).

I turned the refrigerator back on and decided to wait a day to let it really chill out, it would be easier to deal with the mess.  Today I went out to tackle the job and that is when the culprit was discovered.  It goes back two months when we were in Valle de Juarez.  Dave and Val had given us some really good giant shrimp they had brought with them from the coast.   We saved them for a special occasion and that was when we arrived to Guadalajara.  Juan prepared an excellent pasta and shrimp dish.   After, we put all the shrimp shells in a baggie and put it in the freezer until a time when we could put it in a secure trash location.  I think we waited to long. 

Everything, including the plastic was permeated with the odor.   So bad, that I sprayed down the inside with vinegar and used baking soda and vinegar to clean all the plastic pieces and ice cube trays.  A bottle of Sky juice was in the freezer.  I had to salvage that so I washed off the bottle but it still reeked.  Even the little import label on the bottle was fouled up.  Yuck!  What a mess! 

Kind of reminds me of the Austin Power's scene where he is after Fat Bastard and hiding in the laundry basket in the sumo wrestlers dressing room.  P.U.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Ready For The Change

It is finally happening and I have waited all summer.   The cool weather is setting in.  We are still in the 30C range during the day and 22C at night but it is a big change from 27 at night.  The nights bring cool air and no need for a/c.   Good for the electric bill.  The pool has calmed down and the water is excellent.  I'm sure while we were gone, like every year, it was too hot to enjoy.  I had threatened in the past to buy two 100 kilo blocks of ice and throw them in the water.  We really enjoyed escaping the heat this summer and hope to do it again next year.

So now we are working on our travel plans for the rest of the year.  One thing we are waiting for, is to  see if Croft and Norma are heading south and where.  As I said the other day we will be heading to San Antonio for a week.  I hope to buy a home video system to monitor the house via internet.  Turns out, of course I can't prove it, but the person taking care of the house left the sprinklers on day and night, and overfilled the pool various times letting their grandkids come and play.  Apart from the legal issues, I don't like people doing these things and not telling us.  With cameras, I can monitor what is going on. 

Side tracked for a moment but back to travel plans.   Morelia is on and we will head there the end of October.  After that, it is off to the Big Tamal (Mexico City) for a month.  We are looking at some boondocking options as well as rv parks.  I found two in the Church book but neither have websites but lots of dollar signs.   Hmmm.....

Then we hope to hop into SMA where we will stay between the botanical gardens and the spa we visited.  I need to extract photos from a video we took and I have the owner's information and what they offer.  Sounds pretty good.   Then I hope we can visit Sal and Barb for a week before heading home.  2012 will be a lot of travel in the U.S.  We will return to Naples, Fl. again but by air.  Much cheaper and an easy trip.   Gasoline alone would run about 575 dollars one way when the air fare to Ft. Meyers is 250 dollars.  The condo down the street from my brother runs about 69 to 99 dollars per  night.  If we had three months to travel the south we would but Juan has his project plan and I am along for the ride and moral support.   I have my work but now it is mostly via internet.  Not sure how we will handle our three travel destinations in the U.S. just yet.

All of this sounds exciting and I can easily understand the full timer point of view.  Who wants to keep traveling back and forth when you keep going in circles.  Sounds logical to me.

As a side note, the GNP for this year will hit 4% and is estimated to drop to 3.5% for 2012.   I have a feeling that elections in both the U.S. and Mexico will affect that number.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Telmex Rides Again!

Sunday afternoon the power went out for a quick second.  It came back on and all seemed fine.  I went to check my email and there was no connection.  I went into the other bedroom to check the modem and router only to find no lights on the modem.  I unplugged it, reset it, and still nothing. 

Yesterday I called the service number from the phone book.  It took all of five minutes to make the report and verify the modem was dead.  He said the report takes 24 hours, to call back in the morning and request the repair order.  I called this morning and they had my original report on file.  They verified the information and gave me the work order number. 

I went to the nearest Telmex office where, in less than two minutes, I had a new modem in my hand.  We were up and running again.  They said I could also wait for the delivery from a repair person but it would take up to 72 hours.   Now this is great service and it's cheap.  Land line, high-speed internet, answering machine, 100 minutes of national long distance all for 32 dollars a month including tax.  Thank you Carlos Slim for buying the monopoly.  No one could have made life better for 112 million Mexicans.

We are now planning a week long trip to San Antonio where we will meet up with Kevin and Ruth and cross the border back home with them spending the night in Potrero Chico, N.L.  We will also meet up with Bill and Mo during our time in SAT.  Can't wait!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Always Some Light At The End Of The Tunnel

My new found friend Susan from SMA asked me the other day if I really thought things are getting better.   Many ways to look at the issue and I have to say that I had joined a group from SMA when I had decided to find a place to park the rv during December.   It has been an eye-opener to read what ex-pats think about Mexico.  I have to clarify that statement first because most of the people  who post on any group are usually on the left or the right.  The majority are lurkers who enjoy reading and gleaning information from the group.  Makes me wonder why some people choose to live in Mexico.

With all that is happening it is amazing to see how the Mexican economy continues to thrive.   In the past, our biggest enemy was the U.S. economy, it was a driver for us here.  What happened there affected us here.  That, I believe, is no longer true.   Here are some basic facts:

Taxes collected for the first six months of this year topped 60 billion dollars, the highest recorded amount ever.  An additional capital gains tax brought in an additional 30 billion dollars.

The number of new taxpayers for the same period increased 47% since Calderon took office.

The Mexican stock market has maintained highs for over the last year regardless of Wall Streets activity.

The dollar is at it lowest point in over two years.

Mexico has cash reserves of 99 billion dollars and a debt of 212 billion, makes you wonder how the U.S. got to 13.4 trillion and we wonder who is corrupt.

From a security standpoint the numbers are hard to arrive at.  Many people here just don't report crimes for a variety of reasons.   Like us, if someone broke out a car window I wouldn't report it.  I simply call my insurance company and they give me a report number that I take to the repair shop.  Shame on me as it reduces the actual number of crimes that do exist.

Stolen cars seem to be on everyone's list this year in Mexico but keep in mind some countries report over 1 million stolen vehicles a year.   So we kind of pale in comparison.  On the other hand, our individual safety seems to be the number one issue.  As you have probably noticed I don't mention any group names or locations as the bad guys are now utilizing the internet as well.  But, they aren't after foreigners.  The total number of American kidnapped in the last 6 years totals 120 and of that reported number 70 were involved in the trade.  The rest are cases considered resolved but suspect.

For some people who are in a mixed nationality relationship it does get scary.  Being a foreigner some people assume that they  have money and that could put their loved ones at risk, although I personally have not heard of any cases like that, it is my concern on a daily basis.  But as the years go by we find that we continue to live our lives as we have over the last 26 years here.   We have never heard or seen any activity and we go about our daily business as usual.  

As for peaceful demonstrations, there are always some going on.  The latest yesterday to impeach the president drew a paltry 1000 people.   Keep in mind, elections are coming next year and so everyone is on the bandwagon.   I take them all with a grain of salt and see no personal threat or to the country as a whole.  The elections will bring a major change in the fight against crime.   I feel that the new president, pressured by congress and their constituents, will cave into popular belief that we not use military and return to the days of turning the other way.   Good or bad, I believe it is a moral issue that will have to be dealt with.

What I find interesting though, is that the bad guys never win when confronted by the military.  They lose hands down.  This is what has attributed to the 42,000 deaths since the president took office.  For me, a good thing, for our friends who believe in human rights at the cost of killing the victim, that is another story.  Where is the fight going?  The breakdown of major groups into smaller ones has actually created more problems.  These smaller groups have become rag-tag forces attempting to take control of major routes.  They will never win but are wreaking havoc among the general population.   Give a bad guy a gun and he owns the world.  On the other hand, we receive no help from our neighbors to the north, reiterating what I have said before, we continue to receive illegal arms across the border that are sold in mass by the 6,500 new gun stores that have opened along the border not to mention the millions of illegal substance users who continue to purchase illegal drugs.

Milton Friedman spoke to the issue of illegal drugs and prohibition 30 years ago and the same holds true today:

Why Drugs Should Be Legalized

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Think My Camera Is Broken

I went out this morning to clean the tile around the top of the pool.  I had let some of the water out and that exposed the tile as well as the first step.  I found this litter critter sitting there waiting for someone to get him out of the pool.  He was friendly, and had done his business off the edge of the step and into the water keeping his place clean.  If only humans could do the same.

Since we started on our way home from SMA, we had had problems with the camera.  On video, it works fine and most of the pictures I have posted recently have been taken off of video.  I have reset the camera, reformatted, and still the pictures come out like the one above.  Could myCanon S5IS camera be broken or is it a matter of operator error?

The attack on the casino has turned into a major scandal and one that continues to unweave itself as we speak.  They are kicking butt and killing or capturing so many bad guys it is historical.  There are more military, federal and state police roaming the streets of the Monterrey metro area.  I am hoping that all of this has reached its peak and we will be on the road to recovery.  Many towns in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas have been returned to their citizens and in very good  condition, painted, cleaned up with houses, businesses, parks, plazas and streets being repaired.  We are seeing some good news now for a change.

I did some things to the rv today that had been put off since we got home. I had worked all week and was pretty pooped.  This weekend it is time to relax and enjoy the pool.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The End of Rving In Mexico?

An interesting article appeared on the yesterday regarding rv parks in Mazatlan.  It appears that reservations this year have not even hit the 10% mark.  Read here:

Violence Driving Away Tourists From RV Parks

As I posted there, if rvers stay away this year, rv parks in Mexico will die a very fast death.  Rving in Mexico as most rvers have known it will come to an end.  A few high-end parks in  Baja Norte will survive due to their proximity to the border.  Mexican rv park owners will sell out their, in most cases, highly sought after real estate for building condos, upper-class neighborhoods and malls.

There is no guarantee of safety on Mexican highways anymore than there is on U.S. or Canadian highways.  Car jackings and auto theft in the U.S. have reached all time highs but have we heard of it happening to rvers?  Very unlikely as it is hard to do anything with an rv.  Imagine using a motorhome or a diesel pickup with a 40 ft fifth wheel attached as a get-a-way vehicle?  With many rvers using their rigs as a fulltime home, not to mention the investment, I would hope they have a gps system of some kind as rvs are stolen in the U.S.

This winter will spell the death knell for rving in Mexico.  Keep in mind that rving in Mexico probably doesn't even register in terms of overall tourism and has always been a niche market here.  Very sad that most people are scared off by a casino extortion attempt gone wrong.  It was not a bombing.  Rv parks are safe places as they are businesses and there is safety in numbers.  Think about it.