Monday, October 31, 2011

One More Day In Morelia - UPDATE

Got the news on the camera.  75 dollars to fix it.  We went to the Monte de Piedad, pawn shop and found a very good camera with large screen, small, fits in your pocket.  Samsung.  Here is our spot at the convention center.  Pretty nice!  Free!

This was taken at dinner the other night

The convention was a hit and so were we.  We know just about everyone as we have been coming for the last 17 years.   Next year it will be in Puerto Vallarta.   Wow, perfect for rving.

They are letting us stay at the convention center for another night and then we are heading off for Pátzcuaro and the Día de Los Muertos celebration.  Friends we met in Guadalajara over the summer saw my post on the Rv.Net and sent an email letting us know about three rv park options.   We don't want to boondock as the place will be packed with tourists and we want to get there early and set up.  We may stay for two days before heading over to Chalco on the northeast side of D.F.   That is where we will be the closest.

The camera is in the shop right now and after this I will go see what the verdict is; problem and cost.  Let's hope it is something minor.  The guy took one look at the camera and knew why we were there.  Said it is a common problem with Canon.

We are having a blast and the city of Morelia is a jewel.  Wish we had pics to post.  The food is great and the people are warm and friendly.   Everyone says to blow off what the news says.  Sure it happens they say but it is not about tourists and we are not in any danger.   The mall was packed yesterday and the avenues too as families were out and about.  Said what the press and politics can do to a country and an economy.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Morelia Is A Jewel

First off, people here are very friendly and so helpful.   We got started today and moved the rv to the camping area here at Atzimba Water Park.  The people here bend over backwards to help you.  They fixed the electrical, and we are now hooked up.

We are far away from downtown Morelia, but if we weren't at the convention this would be the place to stay.  Tall pine trees, showers, electric and water.  We are very happy.  Electric blanket will be working tonight.

We drove into town, no problems getting lost, and found the convention center.   We got lucky.   Juan talked to the head of the convention center and he said if we arrive tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. he will find us a very good place on site to park.   It has huge pine trees and I think we can get some electric.  

The convention is a blast.  Good to see all our friends we have made over the last 20 years.   This year's attendance is down to 2500, but a lot has to do with location.  If it were at the beach like last year, there were 4000 teachers in Cancun.  

I'm having a delicious cocktail and we are watching local news.   Dinner will be two small chicken tostadas and a half of a beer.  My life is really a good one.   What else could one ask for?  I want for nothing, I'm healthy, and most of all have friends, family and loved ones all over the world.  The seeds we plant . . . . .

BTW, as a side note,  my mom and dad were married on October 22, 1939.  They would have been married 72 years.  Imagine, how long ago that was. 

Wednesday Was A Nightmare

Yesterday started off great.   We got up, wonderful heat in the trailer, it was 9C outside.   Nice and toasty having coffee and a warm bed.   Showered and headed down the mountain for Hwy 57.  Drove over to the Parador Potosino and got another cup of coffee and checked our email.  They have great wi-fi there.

Got to one toll booth, and based on the signs the cost was 88 pesos.   We pulled up and the guy wanted to charge us 97 pesos.  Now for most of you, you would say it is no big deal.  Well, for me it is.   The sign says one thing and you pay another.  This is where the things go wrong with tourists in Mexico.   They go home saying that they got overcharged, it's all mañana attitude, etc.   So we parked and talked to the station manager.  He was relentless in backing down.  He agreed the sign had not been updated.  As we spoke, a group of special Canadians came through with their rvs.  I pointed out to the manager that these people, according to the sign, were being overcharged.   In the end, we got his card and complaint form and will send a letter.

Off we went and that was the conversation for awhile.  We laughed about it and about the snooty rvers who wouldn't give us the time of day.  

We neared the toll booth for Morelia.   We have never used the system where you take a ticket and pay at the end.   They wanted to charge us 300 pesos.   No way.   And to boot, the guy wasn't even sure what the price would be upon exiting in Morelia.   We wanted to back up and we had to wait for the manager.  He came right out and said it was alright to turn around.   Done.   We headed for the libre.  

After crossing the lake some 20 kms from Morelia, we followed the instructions to the rv park.   Take the 15 towards Mexico and turn around at the first toll booth which will take you to km 237.   As we approached the intersection of the 15 and the 43, it said Mexico-Guadalajara exit 1 km.   We got to the exits and there were no signs indicating which exit was which, it is a giant cloverleaf so you really can't tell by looking at it.  We ended up on the road to Guadalajara and drove 40kms to the next exit, cost was 110 pesos to turn around.   We went to other side and never found the rv park.  None of the phone numbers worked, the webpage is now mysteriously down and there is no exit at km 237.   As we approached the toll booth, I remembered about the water park.   Well, as luck would have it we were 10 minutes away.   Safe and sound.

Something is strange about that rv park, not sure what, but sometime this week I will find it.  BTW, at the exiting toll booth there was a huge checkpoint.   They really shook us down.  At one point, he wasn't happy with our import papers for the trailer, I have to admit I got a little nervous.  He turned out to be a great guy and helped us find our way to the water park.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Made It To Guadalcázar

Had a good drive today.  It took forever to get through Monterrey.  We left the house at 7:15 and got to Saltillo around 9:45.  From then on it was smooth sailing.   The roads are very good and the weather was in our favor.  The temps in Coahuila and SLP were around 15C.  

We arrived to Guadalcázar at 2:30.  We parked at the first plaza and walked a block to the presidencia.  We asked to speak to the chief of police to ask permission to park there.  First a woman said it would be no problem and that we could park in front of her brother's house.   We asked if she was going to let him know and she said it was no problem, just go there and set up.  She said it was very safe here and they have no crime.  We found the police and he said we could park anywhere in town we wanted. 

You can walk the town in 15 minutes, we went to the park, the church and the cemetery.   Tomorrow I'll get up early and get some exercise before we head out to Morelia.  No Movistar service here so we are in an internet cafe and it is super slow.

More tomorrow when we arrive to Morelia. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just About Ready To Go

Always some good news to report.  We found two LP leaks, one outside and one in the stove.  I knew they were there but they were small and we only used gas when cooking and then shut it down.  The guy charged 100 pesos and now we are safe and sound.  Still no heat.  The furnace has a mind of its own and refuses to light on demand.  So an expert is arriving in just a few minutes to make it work.  Complicated things that make a lot of noise.  

I am testing the electric blanket tonight to see how much battery it will use or should I say how long the batteries will last.  We have a gas radiant heater but it is a PIA to hookup.  It has to be connected directly to one of the tanks.   It has a long enough hose and I am sure I could figure out some kind of quick disconnect for it.  That will have to wait until we are in Texas in January.   I just don't like being uncomfortable.

We are finding places to stay in around Morelia.  One is San Juan del Lago Rv Park although neither of their telephone numbers are working.  The other is a water park with a campground.  I called to confirm the information on their webpage and the camping is 150 pesos per night.  It is located near the airport.  Reino de Atzimba.  We may still find a good Couch Surfing spot in town or a boondocking site but like to have backup. 

The guy came to check the furnace.  Didn't have a clue what it was but took it apart and found two loose wires.  After that, we turned on the gas and lit the stove first to get gas in the lines.  Very low flame.  So Juan went out and turned the regulator switch from one tank to another and back again.  The flame came up.   Bad regulator.   Furnace works beautifully now.   We will get a new regulator in January.   I'm still scratching my head here.  I thought I had checked all the obvious.  Hmmm . . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes It's Hard To Accept A Culture

My heart is very heavy as I write this.   I was just told that someone poisoned Friend, the big white dog I save a couple of years ago.  One of the neighbors said he warned people about dogs running lose as they had killed some of his sheep.   Friend was found down the street barely alive and foaming at the mouth.  She died a few minutes later.

Friend was just a piece of nothing when I found her.  She had been tied up and left by someone.  She was able to gnaw through her tether and I found her, just bones, unable to stand and ate for three days lying on her side.   She then appeared at our front gate.  We gave her a bath, took her to the vet for medications and special shampoos to get rid of the mange.   She turned out to be a beautiful dog.   She loved roaming around, she never stayed her more than one night as she never knew what a home was.   Most of the neighbors played with her, fed her, and pretty much let  her do her thing. 

I had just taken her for a shampoo and cut last week.  She was so happy running around. 

Life is cruel.   She wasn't mine but she was another lovely creature who found someone to love her and give her a little attention after the rotten life she had had.  Well, now her wonderful energy has returned to the source and is now something else.   Sorry to write such depressing words but I need to get it out. 

Lost Our Spot In Morelia

I thought we were set.  I had been in touch with the convention bureau and was almost sure we had a spot for next week in Morelia.   The convention (English Teacher of Mexico) starts on Thursday and they were confirming our stay in the parking lot.   They say now they can't take us because they need 600 parking spots for another event.  I've done convention preparations before and know that in some cities the convention center charges for everything including water coolers.

Another option was a hotel two doors down but the manager backed out today.  Same reason.  All these last minute changes.   I am going to start searching on Couch Surfing.  Problem is, most people don't understand the needs of an rv and how it works in terms of moving around and backing into a space.   But it is worth a try.

I'm sure we will figure this out, not a biggie.   We are headed that way anyway and can always find a spot somewhere outside the city and attend the convention on a daily basis.

On Gadafi

He was a fool.  He could have left peacefully and with some assets.  Why they fall like this I'll never understand.  Who will fall next?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Was Just A Matter Of Time

Very sad news.  Too bad they didn't take the issue more seriously and sooner.  Now maybe somebody will do something. 

Texas Children 

And if anyone thinks this is an isolated case, think again. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Did I Mention I Got A Speeding Ticket

Well I did and it happened two weeks ago on our way to an afternoon birthday party on the north side of Monterrey.   We weren't running late or anything but I am a speeder, shame on me.   It has been years since I got a speeding ticket.   We were driving through San Nicolas, one of the nine municipalities that make up the metro area.   We took a detour around a public works project.  There are about 17 taking place at the same time thanks to the damage done by Alex last year.  Good projects that are changing the face of the city and we need them, about 4 billion dollars worth. 

We take take the detour and I come plowing down the avenue.   All of a sudden a cop walks out in front of me and pulls me over.   Now the problems begin.   I stopped, shook his hand and said hello.   He asked to see my license and the tarjeta de circulacion or title I guess you would say.   Uh-oh.   We had just returned from San Antonio and when we take the trailer we leave our little VW Pointer in the driveway but I take the papers out.   Well, I left the tarjeta de circulacion on the kitchen counter.  Shame on me.   How can I prove it is my car?   "Well", says the officer, "we will have to take your car to the pound".  Juan went through the roof and I told him to let the officer do his job.  Take the car.   So he began writing the ticket and never said a word.  I finally got out to talk to him and he told me how expensive it was to get the car out of the pound not to mention the time it takes for the tow truck to come. 

I told him we weren't in any hurry and would be glad to wait.   I decided to yank a chain and asked him just how much expensive was.  He said, "oh boy, a whole lot".  I told him I guess I would have to accept my dues.  I then asked him when they opened the next day so I could pick up the car.  He went on and on and finally I asked him if I could take my belongings out of the car.   He said it was okay and we began.  I had my head in the trunk and began laughing to myself and Juan is packing things up.  I went back to the officer and he asked me to sign the ticket.  I signed and wondered how much longer before he said not to worry, just pay the speeding ticket and have a good day.

He never came out and asked for the money, but it wouldn't have taken a monkey with a turban to figure it out either.  

Today I paid up the ying yang for my speeding habit.  Had I paid it last Friday I would have received a 50% discount.  I hope they use the money wisely.

I think the clincher was when he asked me why I lived in Mexico and I responded, "it is the greatest country in the world".   I don't think he knew how to respond!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just One More Week!

Last week was a real P.I.A.  The workers finished on Thursday and left their usual mess for me to clean up.  Plastering walls is a messy job but it is done now and it looks great.  I need to get pics posted.  We now have a third bedroom or studio and the look is much more up-to-date.  The plaster will take a couple of weeks to cure so we won't have the painters come in until we return in December or the first of the year.  Once the paint is done we can get the new floor put in.  We're very happy with the outcome.  It doesn't have that old Hollywood Hills feeling it had before.

So next week we will be taking off for Morelia.  I have put off looking for a place there.  Tomorrow I will call the convention center and see if they will let us stay there.  We are looking forward to the event, four days with 2500 English teachers.  Lots of fun and familiar faces.

I need to get someone to check our LP system.  There seems to be a small leak somewhere and it affects the water heater and furnace performance.   However, it isn't enough to set off the LP detector.

This morning I started my new walking routine.  One hour of brisk walking.   The air has cooled off enough that it is actually chilly now in the early hours.  Another reason is that we have seen some major progress in eliminating the bad element from the area and merchants have reopened and tourists are returning.  It might just be my peace of mind but it feels better.   I figure if I walk an hour a day I should be able to lose a couple extra pounds.  The diet isn't working as fast as I would like.   1000 calories provides a lot of healthy food but little enjoyment.

While I was walking I starting thinking about my diet and exercise.  I started running when I was 18 years old.   I kept that routine  along with aerobics and then weight lifting until we moved out here to the country.  It was pretty difficult to find a place to run.   I switched that to the gym and use the treadmill but it has never been the same.  I love running out in the open.

I have someone to thank for my health and I doubt anyone knows about my interesting find.  When I was 19 years old, I had the opportunity of going to a nutritionist.  He was recommended by a good friend.   I told the doctor about my poor health as a child and he said he would let me in on a secret.   He asked me to go to the library and research on my own Linus Pauling.  He said from there I would find all the answers.   Linus Pauling not only discovered the Alpha Helix and his work with molecular structures, but also researched and studied the use of vitamin C.  His work was written off as quackery by the likes of the Mayo Clinic but he continued to push for its use in cancer treatment.  Since that time I have taken mega-dosis of Vitamin C along with the rest of my regimen.  I currently take 12,000 miligrams, 1000 units of E,  fish oil, calcium and magnesium, Q-10, mega multivitamins with ginseng and biloba.  Twice a year I have a series of vitamin B shots also.

It seems to work for me, I receive a lot of compliments from people at the gym and those that don't believe I am 55 years old.  I can't believe it either.  I thought there were some older guys at the gym but it turns out I am the oldest and they are in their 40s.  Pauling didn't start his therapy until he was in his 50s but went on to live a happy and healthy life until the age of 93.  Genetics, vitamin therapy, or just plain ole luck? 

It strikes me as interesting that there are only four mammal species that "do not" produce their own vitamin C; bats, guinea pigs, and two primates species which are monkeys and humans.   It also amazes me that most doctors scoff at the use of vitamins but then recommend high doses to pregnant women.   Enough said on that. Each person has their own convictions regarding lifestyle and health.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Guy's An Ass

Good ole Gov. Rick has about as much common sense as a jackass.  I wish I could speak to him in person.  The guy is a real d-bag.   He believes he can fix the problem here by sending U.S. troops as they can squelch the problem.  Please, give me a barf bag. 

"Many Mexicans still fear U.S. imperialism. They point to the Mexican-American War of the 1800s and other events, including the heavy presence of U.S. oil companies before the Mexican government nationalized the industry. Mexico's constitution clearly prohibits the presence of armed foreign troops, even at the government's request." (Editorial, Orange County Register) 

I believe it is worse than that.  This has happened around the world over the last 500 years by domineering imperialists. 

My advice to Gov. Rick is; clean up your own mess first.  It would do absolutely no good to follow Rick and his advice if the largest group of consumers still exist on the U.S. side of the border.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this shit out. 

I have yet to see a democratic or republican candidate admit and accept the problem is two-sided and requires a clean up on their side as well.  Mexico is fighting this tooth and nail but it will be to no avail until the U.S. bellies up and accepts its responsibility.

I know my views may not sit well with some readers.  Oh well!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Caravans To Mexico

An interesting topic header but not really what it sounds like.  On several forums in the past couple of months, many people have shown great interest in coming down to Mexico this year via rv.    I've seen mention of the word "caravan" loosely stated; looking for someone or a small group to buddy up with to get to their destination.

I sent someone a message who I thought would understand what I had intended to say but was lightly brushed over the coals with the first statement being, "Do you do caravans?"  I was a bit put off by that but I guess my past continues to haunt me. 

My intention was that many people who are interested have two things in common.  1) we are all rvers 2) a desire to travel to Mexico.  However, it doesn't appear that the term "camaraderie" is the third thing in common.  I wasn't thinking of a formal caravan of 25 rigs, but a couple of people who would feel more comfortable crossing the border together and traveling for a couple of days until they would reach a break off point or their destination.

This would be an ideal situation for those that are newbies or those that still have some fears of traveling in Mexico.  I can understand concerns especially when most travelers don't speak the language and could possibly be intimidated by some crooked transit policeman or other shady characters that really aren't a good representation of Mexico.  In the end, my intentions were good but I felt shot down from the start.  BTW, it is not my idea to start a caravan service.   Most of the Mexico rvers have a better understanding of import permits for one as we are Mexican rvers and those permits don't apply to us. 

I will have to say that it was a dream at one time to provide that service from the border to Saltillo, for example.  It would have been fun to give a brief orientation in Laredo or McAllen, check papers, help people with permits and Spanish translation and then spend a day of highway scenery and a dinner in Saltillo before seeing them off the next day.

On another topic, the remodeling is going well.   The living are was divided and a third bedroom or studio was created.  It had no real effect on the  living area as I thought it might.   I am also a bit on the down and out, I have the beginnings of what feels like a cold, but it could be molds.   The dampness of the last two weeks, plaster curing on the walls and the rains that came yesteday have me sneezing up a storm, a slight headache, and a stopped up nose.   Thanks to Linus Pauling, I have stuck to my mega dose of Vitamin C for 35 years and I feel it will not get the best of me.  

As luck would have it and in my favor, Monday is San Lunes, a day of each week in which most construction workers call in sick.  Well, they did.  Ha ha.  I stayed close to the internet and the bedroom today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Preparing For Winter Trip

Lots going  on here at home, that's why I haven't posted the last couple of days.  The weather has changed and the nights are cool and require a light blanket.   Days are still sunny and warm but rains are due in this weekend just in time to test our new gutters.  Mexican homes don't usually have gutters.   The rain has always come off the roof and on to the edge of the porch and contributes to the water that settles along the front of the house and we think that affects the foundation.   So now, I hope it rains like a, well you put the explicative.

We started the remodeling of the rest of the house.  We did the bedrooms earlier this year and now the rest of the house.   That ugly 40s Hollywood style stucco is being covered in plaster and a small bedroom is being added so we can say the house has three bedrooms.  They are repairing all the cracks which in some require rebar reinforcement.   Let's hope there is enough money left to put down a new laminated floor, if not, it will have to wait.

Oh, so preparing for winter travel.   October is here and we have an event in Morelia on the 27th.   We will probably take the same route that we took to go to Hacienda Contreras.    Still looking for a place to stay and the convention center hasn't answered my mail regarding a stay on their grounds since the event will be held there.   I can also check CouchSurfing to see if someone will let us use their driveway.  Problem is, driving into town.  Many people don't understand the needs of a travel trailer in terms of accessibility.

After that we need to hang around the outer limits of  Mexico City.  There are a couple of places listed in the Church book and I need to call them.  Wierd that many these days still don't have a webpage or email listed in the book or on the internet.  

I have my work cut out for me in the next two weeks with planning the trip and keeping an eye on the workers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Law Nobody Wanted

Interesting video about eight minutes long. A real eye opener that applies to today. I realize that there are repercusions but I believe those can be dealt with.  These are just a few examples and I am not saying I am for or against.  It does appear though that my hardcore beliefs on this issue are changing.  I hope you take the time to watch the video and read the articles.  I think we should attempt to look for solutions and just like the repeal of Prohibition we could also repeal any new decision. 

Attached is a chart pulled from a 1936 issue of THE LITERARY DIGEST which reported on the U.S. urban homicide rate spanning the years 1926 through 1935.
1933 was the most slaughterous year in that study with 12,123 people murdered (being 9.6 per 1000,000 souls). The reader will also find that the murder rate began to climb during the economic depression (climbing from 8.8 in 1928) The years 1934 through 1936 saw a steady decline in urban homicide, more than likely as a result of the end of Prohibition.

Another interesting article is the Cato Paper, a look at Portugal's attempt to legalize drugs of all kinds and its success story:

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?