Monday, February 27, 2012

Small Town Life

Took a trip into Santiago today to get a haircut and pick a a DVD player we had fixed.  The DVD was stuck inside and it only played in black and white.   The guy who does this type of work charges 150 pesos for anything you have done.  He had it ready and reprogrammed in an hour.   I also popped in to see my account.

As I drove into town I saw people from the gym, a few merchants and other friendly souls who wave and say "adios" as you drive by.   I like it here and things have improved considerably since that tragic time just a little less than two years ago.  New businesses are opening, people hanging out in the town square and things look pretty good overall.

I have to say though, that when I went to pick up the DVD player I didn't think it would be ready and wanted to drop off the remote in case he needed it.  Well, he had already completed the work so I ran around the corner to the bank (literally because everything is so close) to use the ATM.  When I had returned, there had been a small fender bender on the corner of the river and the funeral home.  So I told the repairman, and we walked to the corner.  Being such a small accident one would think it was no big deal.  In fact, when I first saw it they were talking and inspecting bumpers. 

Within minutes a crowd gathered.  Everyone saying hello and giving their opinion on what happened and how even though no one had really seen the accident.  The Mundo's Tacos is right in front so the woman in the accident sent her daughter to buy tacos and then the people eating tacos grabbed their plates and walked to the corner.  Bicycles started to appear, traffic backing up and people getting out of their cars.   Lo and behold the paletero (ice cream man) came up on his tricycle and people bought a few popcicles and sat on the steps of the funeral home and watched with anticipation as it all unfolded before them.

The whole thing reminded me of Andy Griffith and Mayberry.  It was really a sight to see and one that made us all feel pretty good considering what we had been through the previous two years.   It's not over by any means, but we have all learned to adjust, accept and live within the boundaries of this dilemma.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Toluca and Back

Thursday I flew down to Toluca for an overnighter.  I was a guest speaker at the museum there.  The talk was on culture in the classroom.   It was a long day and I finished pretty much exhausted.   My flight didn't leave until 9:30 in the morning but Juan took me to the airport early so we could have a birthday breakfast there for him.

As I have said before, Mexico is a big place but in terms of the business traveler it is a small world.   On the flight down I got up to use the head and as I passed I heard someone say,  "hi teacher!".   It was an employee from a company I used to teach at and he wasn't even my student.

Coming home in the Monterrey airport I was using the ATM and a quiet voice said, "is that you Chris?"  A woman who worked at the local cigarette factory here maybe 15 years ago.   She is married now with two kids.

Anyway, Toluca was freezing in the morning but warmed up by about 1 p.m.   I was impressed with the city itself.  It is well-organized and the traffic flows smoothly.  Lots of people commute to D.F. and its outlying areas for work everyday.  I guess it is the solution to having your cake and eating it too.   Just too much these days for me.  The more time that passes the less I like the busy lifestyle.   Being home is nice, no people, no noise or traffic.  

The trip home was not uneventful though.   We call this crazy February, "Febrero loco y Marzo otro poco" goes the saying in Spanish.  About 10 minutes out of Monterrey airport the pilot told us to hang on as it would be a rough ride and he wasn't kidding.   He said it was normal for this time of year.   People were clinching the seats in front of them a you could here a few muffled screams.   As we were coming in for the landing and literally over the runway, the plane was moving sideways to the point where I could look out and see the runway in front of us but out the window on the opposite side of the plane.   The nose went up and off we went for another round.   Truly amazing.   The second time we came in hard but safe.

So much for the life of a landlocked boondocker who feels the rubber rotting under his feet.   I think we need a weekend get-a-way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Making Plans

We had a great weekend and another family party on Saturday.  It was a success as usual and we celebrated Juan's birthday (Feb. 23) and Valentine's Day.   We didn't do the casarolas (potluck) this time around.  Instead we all pitched in and had carne asada.   It was a great dinner and everyone had fun.

                                             I stick out like a sore thumb!

Juan and his great-niece Helen and some delicious Valentine cupcakes.

One of our nieces who is in the university came up with a great game for all to play.  We taped a blank sheet of paper to each person's back and then went around and wrote an adjective that we thought best described the person.   It was a lot of fun, kids and adults alike enjoyed it.

I may have mentioned that I have some work coming up in March and April.  I just couldn't turn down the money, it is too good.  I mentioned to Croft that I have a two-week break in the middle of March and we may be able to meet up somewhere around Saltillo for a couple of days.

In May, we are thinking of returning to the mountains of Jalisco spending some time at Hacienda Contreras.  I just read that Kevin and Ruth may spend some time during summer there so that would be cool to meet up with them.  They like to get out and hike and we do to.   After that, I would like to continue to stay in a cool climate until the end of August although Juan has a folkloric dance event in July.   Well, I could hang out somewhere until he finishes and comes back.

BTW, my niece Lisa finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer over the weekend.  I need to get an update from her or her sister to see how she is doing.   I know she will be fine but I love her so much, just like all my kids, that I worry about her.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Okay, I feel compelled to post on my blog.  There's so much to talk about but if we are not on the road I think I am boring readers.  I know many of you are following George on his blog Tioga and George as he travels through Guatemala.  I envy him and he really knows how to show people around.   The pictures and comments are incredible and it makes me want to get a Class B and drive to Panama.

The rains finally let up and the sun came out on Monday.   Well, that didn't last long and I need to get the guy here this afternoon to cut the grass.  Rain will return tomorrow through the weekend.  Major bummer.   Although I have to say that the trees are already showing leaves and the cycle begins again.   I wonder how many more cycles I will see in my lifetime?  Hmmm, depressing question.   I guess you just keep going and then "poof", one day the lights go out.  

I want to talk a bit about something I saw in the news that I find disturbing.  I know I have said I won't talk about it on the blog but I find it incredible and I will attempt to write about it without mentioning names.  I hope you can read between the lines if not drop me a mail.

Two guys were caught in the U.S. who are cousins of a distributor.  This distributor worked in five states and reported to the most well-known of them all.   He fled to Mexico in 2002, was captured in 2008 and returned to the U.S. and finally sentenced to prision.  This person was the largest U.S. distributor and yet I had never heard of him and there is only one small note on the internet between 2008 and today.  Items do appear but only on personal blogs.   Isn't that kind of amazing and yet you hear daily in the U.S. about what is going on in Mexico.  This was a major accomplishment for the authorities yet CNN, Fox or any other major news organization has reported on it.   Very odd.

I am in the search for a two bedroom condo in San Miguel de Allende.  Les turned me on to one but it has since been rented.  If anyone knows anyone or has a contact, please let me know. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why People Get Fed Up With Rv.Net

Many good posters have left the Rv.Net forums over the last couple of years especially in the Rving Mexico Central and South America forum.  I can understand why.  I have read the rules numerous times and have yet to understand how and when threads can get "deleted" or "closed" and what the difference is. 

One of the major issues lies with the moderators.  In the case of the Mexico forum, the current moderator no longer rvs in Mexico.  Strange to have someone moderating a forum without current knowledge of the issues related to Mexico.  Also,  the heavy-handedness of the moderation.   A moderator is someone who isn't on either side but has the ability to guide the discussion.  Wow, I guess Rv.Net doesn't have a handle on their moderators, give them any training, or scrutinize their credentials before hiring them.

I post this because many of the threads where Mexico is being bashed are allowed to stay open long enough to allow people on the bashing side to get their comments in, but when someone from Mexico attempts to show a comparison, the thread gets clipped.   Mostly when it comes to someone like myself who in the case of a thread from yesterday where the subject of corruption in Mexico comes up and I mention the fact that corruption exists in the U.S. and Canada but under different names such as; fraud, embezzlement, bribery and all of a sudden, clipped.

I guess I have the option to go somewhere else where the forum is open to international guests because by gosh, good ole Cornpone, Hickory, Boots, and Pickles, just to name a few won't allow someone to talk down their country like they talk down mine.

And people wonder why others hate them.  Wow, truly amazing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back In Monterrey

Actually, we came home on Sunday in the afternoon.   We left the rv park on Saturday and drove in a pretty bad storm over to McAllen where we spent the night parked at a friend's house.  Other friends from Monterrey had come up for the three-day weekend, it was Constitution Day on Monday.   We had a carne asada, danced and drank until around 11 p.m.

We headed out at 11 a.m. Sunday morning and I couldn't wait to get across the border.  Trust me when I say we had a good time at the rv park, people were very friendly and most of all we met Mike and Pat.  They were a blast to hang around with and we may do a house swap in the future.  In fact, if we don't put the house on the market, we may be looking for house sitters so we can travel.

The month of January was cheap for us.  We spent a total of 900 dollars, however, our space rent was a special rate of 189 dollars for one month.  It wasn't worth it.   Apart from the nice people we met, like Donna, McAllen and the town of La Feria was Dullsville population 250.   We were bored out of our minds.   You can only shop so much and then sit around and look at each other.   We actually invented things to do.  In Mexico, there is no inventing, there is so much going on around you.

So now we are home and I have already whined via email to our friends Kevin and Ruth.  I am speaking at a mega event at the Monterrey art gallery (Marco) on March 3rd, so that will keep us home until then.   I am ready to take off again.  It is cold and rainy here at home and we could be sitting at the beach in Cancun or Acapulco.  Bummer!

We have from March 3rd to April 20th to travel a bit before returning home.   My brother and his wife are returning again this April but they are flying into Monterrey.   They will spend the night and then we leave on the 23rd for a one-week car trip through colonial Mexico.   I am looking for a rental now in San Miguel de Allende.  We will use that as a base.   Juan and I are working up a very loose itinerary for that week.  I think we can do SMA, Bernal, and Queretaro as day trips. 

Any suggestions are welcome including a good rental in SMA.