Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lots Going On Here

I'm still in McAllen.  Tomorrow afternoon I will head back home.  I wanted to stop by Corpus on my way to San Antonio and visit with Wendy.   Problem is, my couchsurfing requests were not met for San Antonio so I need to return home and get the rv.  We may take off for Texas next week.  The month of March is free for both of us so we might as well hit the road.  We have to get stuff done on the rental.  

Two things;  John commented that the takeover was American by U.S. Air, right on.  I made a goof there, not sure what I was thinking.  Rick says I'm getting spammed.  What a nightmare!  I have reported them, hit the spam key, sent a couple of them emails and to no avail.

My TomTom GPS is worthless, it sends me on wild goose chases, changes it's mind in route, loses satelite signal at the worst times and then takes routes that are not logical.  Time for a change.

Okay, so the big news here in the valley the corruption scandals.  One that has been brewing was a judge who had been receiving bribes from lawyers as far north as Austin.  Convicted and sentenced now, one of them who lives here took a taxi at 3 a.m. in the morning from Brownsville to SPI.  As they crossed the causeway he asks the driver to stop because he feels sick.  He gets out and jumps to his death into the icy waters.  They found his body late this afternoon.  Supposedly the southwest is riddled with corruption at all levels.  

I listened to callers on a local radio show as they told their stories of bribery and corruption within local, state and federal departments here in the valley including utilities and water boards.  Truly amazing that most Americans can't believe they live in a corrupt society much like the rest of the world.  Drugs, human smuggling, contraband, the list goes on.  Corruption cases are up among border and customs agents. 

They made a big to do out of the people who are missing in Mexico this week on the news.  What they don't mention is that most of those were involved in the trade and now may have been found but cannot be identified.  Also not mentioned, are the tens of thousands of missing persons in the U.S.  Why do they always leave that part out?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Talk About Making Someone Feel Bad

I drove up to the CostCo here in Pharr to get gas for tomorrow and stopped by Walmart.  While I was there I thought I would get my blood pressure checked.  There was an older man there already so I decided to wait.  He finished, got up and said, "129 over 89, not bad for a guy who's 90".   So I asked him what his secret was, and he said it was the seƱoritas.  He then kicked his leg up to waist level and laughed.

I stuck my arm in the cuff and the machine started.  He waited and watched only to say, "holy cow".  My pressure was 148 over 89.   I am on medication but it isn't enough.   Exercise doesn't seem to do much and the only vice I can see giving up now is alcohol.   I am going to do it for two weeks to see if there is any change.

On another note, gas prices have really gone up in the U.S.  The price at Costco is 3.45 a gallon.  The average street price is 3.59 and diesel is 3.99.   Mexico is still running about 3.25 a gallon.  We were thinking about a trip for the month of March in the U.S. but maybe we will wait until summer when we do our New Mexico plan for three months.

I am still convinced that in the U.S. the best way to bring down gas prices is to shop around.   Many rvers on different forums say they won't drive a few miles out of the way to save a few pennies.   I think that is the problem.  Many Americans nickel and dime consumer goods prices to death but when it comes to fuel they don't bat an eye.   Maybe if we did, prices would come down.  Afterall, if oil is so expensive, and the cost of production so high, why is it that prices can vary as much as .20 a gallon in a 25 mile stretch of the RGV along Hwy 83?  It is what people are willing to pay.  Boycotts don't work, but shopping around does. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Boy, What A Drive

Got up this morning pretty pooped after our travel day yesterday.  I didn't get to bed until about 10:30 and I was up this morning by 6 a.m.   I had done a load of wash last night to save time in packing.   It was hard getting started this morning but I managed to finish packing and got out the door on schedule.   I couldn't find an ATM that had any cash.  I guess Mexicans aren't as poor as many think.   I went to three different branches of our bank, and finally gave up.   I found money at the forth bank but it wasn't ours.  The car had sat for a week and was pretty dirty so I pulled into the car wash and the cashier didn't have any change.  Bummer.  Got the car washed and off I headed for McAllen.

I got about 45 minutes out of town on the toll road and all of a sudden it began.  A giant dust storm  started by heavy winds.   It whipped the car around for two hours.  Trailers were pulled over and hiding under bridges waiting it out.   I had originally decided to take the rv but after seeing the news online from New York I had a pretty good feeling it wasn't a good idea.  Had I taken the rv I would have turned back, no doubt.

The bridge crossing took about 45 minutes and the agent was friendly and let me pass.  He said he had never been to Mexico.  Funny isn't it, born and raised in McAllen, Hispanic and speaks Spanish.   Not even to Reynosa.   So close and yet cultures apart.  

Anyway, I'm here for the week and I have three seminars.   Tons of errands to run while I am here and I have one day free to get my revision work done.   I'm still trying to recover from New York.  We had a blast.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back Home and Off Again!

Just arrived back home.  Good trip overall except for the fact that United bought out Continental and United sucks big time.   People tell me there aren't monopolies in the U.S.  Por favor!  They closed our flight 10 minutes early even though they said there was no problem making our connection.  We got off the aircraft, talked to the gate attendant and she said that they were waiting for us and we still had 20 minutes to get there.  Wrong!  Gate closed, aircraft door closed, all they could say was it was company policy.  I gave up as I knew they hard me by the cajones.

All that aside, it was a great trip and we will make plans to go back to the Big Apple for a month hopefully this year.  Love, love, love New York.   Downside is that the infrastructure in the U.S. is suffering quite a bit and you can see it everywhere.  New Yorkers tell us the same, no more money.  Too bad, great country and great city.

Our flight from Newark to Houston was fab.  We took a 767-600.  I almost spent $175 plus miles to upgrade us to first class.  No need, that aircraft is really roomy.  Can you imagine, when we did the self-service checkin, the system asks if you want to pay for more leg room.  Isn't that a gas!   We had individual television screens with movies, games, television shows of all kinds.  Really something.  

Back to the United gripe, times on separate occasions we heard the crew complaining.  Once it was personally to us saying the takeover was a bad idea and has caused infighting between employees of Continental and United.  We even heard flight attendants walking through the airport in Newark talking about getting the shaft.  

Now American has taken over Southwest.  What next.  One national airline?  Tomorrow, off to McAllen for a week of work and back home on Friday.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What Day Is It? - NYC

It's Saturday morning and I don't know where the time has gone.  Everyday is seems to pass before our eyes and we are out there on the streets by 8 a.m.   and back home for dinner or out for dinner and in bed by 10:30.   I have done extremely well until last night.  We took advantage of the Museum of Modern Art free Friday from 4-8 p.m., after that I finally pooped out.   

We had a full day yesterday.   Public library, MOMA, Grand Central Station, pictures on Broadway, lunch on the street, Lincoln Center, Julliard School, and on and on.   The subway is a real life saver.   We paid $29 each for a subway/bus pass.   We are in and out of there like you wouldn't believe.  It really works  and with the cold even if we go a few blocks we can utilize the subway by hopping on and going up one station and getting off and walking.

Grand Central Station was a real treat.  We walked around the  station, went down to the Concourse food level where they have a giant food park.   Excellent food and drinks at very reasonable prices.   We had coffee and hot chocolate with a great blueberry muffin for some change.   

 A truly amazing place.  Think of all the movies filmed here.  100 years of service.
Trains are constantly on the go!

We had a great lunch on the street.  They sell foods from all over the world on small carts, food trucks, bicycles.  They line up on a street outside a skyscraper and people come down for lunch.  We picked Greek food and ordered rice with chicken.  Sounds pretty plain but it was a huge plate of rice, with shredded chicken, salad and yogurt.   We split one and it was really enough for three.  Cost, $6!   You can' beat that, not even in Mexico.

The free day at MOMA is incredible.  The lines outside were two blocks long.  Well-organized, you get in line and conveniently there is a Starbuck's there where we bought a blonde coffee to keep warm.  The line started to advance quickly and before we knew it we had a ticket in hand and inside the museum.   Mass pandemonium.  All six floors crawling with people.  But we can say we saw it all.  Picasso, Cezanne, Frida Kahlo, Monet, Dali, all the greats.

Now it's off to the Guggenheim.   Let's see, we take the number 1 uptown to 96th St, walk across the street and take the M-96 through Central Park.  As we exit the park get off and walk three blocks.  Hey, I think we got it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day Four In The Big Apple

This city is so amazing.  It  is huge.  Constantly in motion and people are everywhere.  Taxis fill the streets and I have to admit it is very clean, organized and well-run.  Mexico City should be so lucky.

On the downside of all this, everything is very expensive especially when compared to Mexico.  You can do just about anything on the cheap if you want but there are times when you don't always want to do that.  They sell food on the street.  One taco costs $2, rice and falafel $6.  We were with our host yesterday and we stopped for a coffee to warm up.  Three coffees, a small wedge of carrot cake and a small (small means minature here) brownie came to $16, at  a small corner-to-go cafe.   

Today we went to the Empire State Building.   A lot of fun.  All kinds of vendors and scalpers are there to get you the minute you walk off the subway.   The key is to keep your head down.  If you are looking up at the sky, it is a pretty sure bet you are a tourist.   We just minded our own business and kept walking to the building.  Sings on the front say Observatory and SkyRide are on Fifth Ave.   We turned the corner and more of the ticket army comes at you.   We kept strong and kept going.  We heard them ask people if they had tickets.  Those that answered "yes", were asked if they wanted to upgrade, or take the fast track.  We got into the lobby, and up we went.  We got to the ticket booths and they were very friendly.  $25 per ticket.  You have to go through security check like at the airport, through the museum, then have your picture taken where you then pay $20 to get a print when you leave.  She wasn't happy when we told her we didn't want our picture taken.  She told us it didn't cost anything to get it taken, she was right :)

As you can see from the panorama, the views are incredible.   Again, big is the only word we can use to describe the city.  On the deck, every language possible can be heard.  Everyone pointing at someone and then their camera in an attempt to get you take their picture for them.  Everyone reciprocates and you can then ask them where they are from.  We met French, Italians, Bangladeshi, Spaniards, Chinese, Russians and the list goes on.  Today the winds were high, the air ice cold but we braved it and stayed up top for about half an hour.

This is the lobby, and the last chance to get a picture taken.  As you leave the elevator, there is a glass-enclosed walkway where you see New Yorkers coming and going from the building and getting off and on the elevators.

 Be sure to click and enlarge the photos.

We did a walk-through of KMart at Penn Station, Macy's and then headed off to Tiffany's.   I really wanted to get my picture taken there.  Yesterday we ran out of battery, turns out the outlet I was charging on was dead.   The diamonds are beautiful along with all the other stones, their shapes and designs.
We stopped for a bite to eat at Joe's Shangai on 56th St.   Very nice place, small, quaint and expensive.   We had hot and sour soup and some spring rolls.  But I will go back there for steamed dumplings, but in the evening because that seems to be the atmosphere. 

Off we went headed home where we stopped to take a picture of the brownstone where we are staying.  Thanks Norb, he has been a very gracious host.   More on his flat later next week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Lady - NYC Day Three

What a fun day.   Best part is, we didn't have to spend any money.  All the things we did were no cost.  We bought a pass for the subway and buses for 29 dollars, 7 days.   It was cold and rainy but it didn't matter.   Everywhere we went the venues were heated.   The ferry was heated, the upper floors of the subway stations too.  We took the ferry to Staten Island which is free.   We had a blast walking around the ship, three floors of people, the ferry holds 3500 people.    Amazing how many people can fit on the ferry.  We passed old Liberty and the immigration building.  What a sight to see.

Walking to the ferry we passed Wall St and the big bull.  I stopped into Chase and Citi asking what happened to my money.

 Immigration building.
 We got lucky again and got free passes to the WTC Memorial.  Too many names, just pick one off the wall and do some research on the internet.  They had a life, a family, they were real and it is hard to look in that gaping hole and think that it was once a towering monument.  So sad.
 Soaring high among the buildings.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day One - NYC

Couldn't update last night.  We got to our friend's apartment around 11:15.  The shuttle was a disaster but ended up to be a good ride.   We chatted for about two hours and made it to bed late.  We just got back from breakfast and a quick tour of the neighborhood.   We are heading out to Wall St., Staten Island and a ride around the Statue of Liberty.  

Ourw welcome sign at La Guardia

The Anzonia Towers

This is the view from our apartment.  Cool architecture.    People here are very friendly and now that we have been out on the street we feel comfortable going out on our own.

The 72nd St. subway station.  We purchased our subway/bus pass for the week and are about to use it for the first time.  Can't wait!  After our day tour, we are going grocery shopping, taking a nap to recover from our trip yesterday and then we are fixing dinner for our friend Norb.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Off to New York!

Noon time and here we are, checked in and waiting for our flight.  No problems so far other than when I did my check out with Mexican immigration, the guy stamped my passport.  I don't like that because it can fill up too fast before renewal.

We had to drink our V8 before going into security but we kept our sandwiches and chips for the flight.  We have our seats that we selected and the flight to Chicago is a smaller aircraft.  Who cares, we're having fun and I won't complain.

The cats are pissed off at us and I am sure when we get back on Sunday we will get the cold shoulder.  They have run of the house sans bedrooms, music, lights, lots of fresh water and food.  I asked them to hold back on pizza deliveries while we're gone because they can't wrap up the leftovers and to take keep the bird feathers outside.  No response.

More from Chicago this afternoon when we get there.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Packing Day

What a weekend.  Even though we are getting ready for your trip, we went to a fantastic birthday party last night.  My friend Clara celebrated her XX birthday this week and her family threw a big bash for her.  They rented a place for the party complete with live music, dinner, drinks and dancing and that is what we did.   Believe it or not, I stayed until 1:15 a.m.   Needless to say, today was  a day  rest although I was finishing up some editing work I had pending and the packing process.   United wouldn't let me print our boading passes and I think it is because one of us is a foreigner.  Gotta watch those foreigners going into the U.S.  We have our shuttle passes ready from LaGuardia to Central Park.  

Last  night we stayed at what I call our "time share" in Monterrey.  We have had access to the house now for three years.  It is in a gate community which is not located in the nicest part of town but once inside you would never know.  It is conveniently located.   Sometimes I think we should buy it, we pretty much do all the upkeep and maintenance which really isn't much.  I still like Monterrey and we have family and friends there.  It has become a very concrete city and very congested.  I guess using it as a timeshare is the best idea.

I'll post pictures of the view from the house later.  It really is something.  Anyway, back to packing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Eating My Words - Munch, Munch

As I said, I stormed off to the presidencia municipal and along with my soap box.   The new administration has been at work since November 1st and it took a lot for me to go there knowing the rejection I have received in the past.

I asked to speak to someone in obras publicas about our road.   It has really gotten tired and the holes were getting so wide and so deep.  When I walked in to the offices I could see what they had been working on the last two years.  The place now looks like a museum and rightly so but not when my road looks like s---.  I gave the girl my ID and explained my problem and that nothing had been done for years even though I had made more than 12 visits in the last three years.  

She said she would take me to the representative and off we went down the hall.   In the hallway she stopped to say good morning to someone.   That someone was the representative.   She took me to her office with that dreaded "OMG, a gringo, I hope I can understand him".   Once I started talking she loosened up and we had a nice chat.   Well, I wasn't nice but I didn't bang my hand on the desk like last time.  She whispered in a soft voice, "we are a new administration, things are different".  I thought she was whispering because she knew she was feeding a some bull manure.   She filled out a form, which was a new thing for me, and put down all the information.  She said I would have an answer in two weeks.   We shook hands and off I went with my little form in my hand that I thought I would use for something else later.

I shrugged all this off thinking that was the end of that.   Yesterday, I got up and  went to the gym.   On my way home I saw a truck from the city and shook my head.   As I turned the corner to our street I about pee'd down both legs.  There was a bulldozer grading the street.   They worked all day yesterday and today.  Now, it isn't like a paved road but it did clean it up about 80%.   It is very dusty and won't last long when the rains come but they did do something and do it fast.

On my way to the bank I decided to pay the a visit and thank them.  The woman I talked to was sitting at the reception filling during lunch hour for the receptionist.  When she saw me she had a scared look on her face.  I stuck my hand out and over the counter and shook hers.   I told her I had renewed confidence in my local government and that the work was done today.   A smile beamed on the woman's face knowing she had proven me wrong.  She said, "you see, I told you things were going to get better".

I walked out, munch, munch, munch.

BTW,  saludos to our friends Bill and Mo. They are starting off on a South America trip for a month.   I hope they have fun.  They are "real" fulltimers.   Bill can correct me but they have been fulltiming for over 15 years.  We met them here in Santiago and again in San Antonio about a year ago.  I keep telling Bill he needs a blog and now it really looks like he does.  Go for it Bill.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Something's Going On

Over the last three years the military moved in and built several outposts strategically located around the metro area and and in rural municipalities.  For those of you who have visited our house over the last few years, you have seen the one here on the highway down the street.   In the last month, the military has moved out and the new state police force has mtoved in.  They have painted over the military green and put up their own logos.  The one down the street took place this afternoon.  One group in and one group out while the painters scurried to get the new paint job up.

The new strategy seems to be in place.  We have about 1200 state police, but are short about 10,000 more statewide.   The pay is excellent and is competitive with global wages for this type of economy, 16,000 after taxes plus some very juicy benefits.  We need the police in the rural areas most, but the rural towns are so small very few people have the qualifications needed to apply and we can't afford to lower the standard for fear it will put us back again.

Overall, merchants, news media, and the general population seem to agree that since last year we have seen a significant improvement in the crime situation.  Let's hope it goes on.

On another subject, I was looking at interest rates in the U.S.  Can they really be so low?  What a mess.   As Derek said in a Facebook post, it looks like it could cause an implosion forming the beginnings of a collapse.   I'm still not sure about all this and watching the attitudes of those last night at presidential address.   So sad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Making Trip Preparations

With the coming of Semana Santa,  I posted this on Facebook to encourage our Mexican friends to get out and camp.  This was taken in 2011 with Kevin and Ruth.  We had a great time there, some interesting events as well.   Potrero Chico, Nuevo Leon.  We truly live in a beautiful state and this place is only an hour from Monterrey.   So much to see and do in Mexico.

The days are counting down for our trip to New York.  One thing I forgot and I hope it isn't too late is to upgrade to first class with our miles.   I need to choose the longest leg of the trip to get the most out of it.   Lots to celebrate, not only is it Juan's 55th but it is our 28th.  OMG!  Where did all the time go?????

I sent a mail to my siblings about Juan's birthday and our trip.  One of my brothers sent a message with some good tips and places to eat, one being an Indian restaurant that he had seen on a food show.  He said not only was the food and service excellent, the owner who he had seen on the tele, came and chatted with them as if he knew them.  He said it was a real highlight of their trip.  BTW, m brother Ray is a marine biologist whose articles have appeared in not only in scientific papers around the world but also in NatGeo.   Pretty well-known for his work with shrimp.  Here is his website: Doctor Ray Bauer.    He is responsible for getting me on my life path.  Out of high school, I didn't know what to do with my life.   He invited me out to California and that was the beginning.  Who knows where I would have ended up.

We pretty much have the sights picked out that we want to see.  We will be staying a few blocks from Central Park with a good friend of ours that Juan worked with while at Ohio Northern.  I wanted to get tickets to SNL, but it looks like standby only.   I guess we can give it a try.

My good friend and Mexico writer who lives in the Big Tamal did an excellent write up on outdoor cafes focusing on coffee shops.  Mexico City is a haven for not only outdoor cafes, but excellent coffee shops, not only franchise but some pretty good private shops as well.  Check out his article:

Inside Mexico City’s Coffee House Scene

Darren has lived in Mexico City for a few years now.  We first met teaching in the same company in Monterrey.  We have had some great conversations over the years.  Always open for a chat  politics, that's what I like.   I'm sorry he's not an rver

Monday, February 11, 2013

I'm Always The Bad Guy

You know I am a nice guy but a bit of a rebel rouser, more than that, attempting to bring consciousness to things.  Well, I guess I did it again.  I love SMA and I just can't stay away from it or one of the famous Yahoo groups.   

Yesterday someone posted about being a resident and not being able to keep their American plated car.  I understand whole-heartedly, but that is not the way life is.   So I asked the question? Can you legally import a Mexican-plated car into the U.S.?  I asked that to make a point about the situation at hand.  Sure, in some cases and some states, you can legally import a car into the U.S. from Mexico.  In fact, I asked about it with our last travel trailer in the case I wouldn't be able to sell it here.   Texas said yes and that it would cost $180.   A friend moving from D.F. had just bought a new Jetta and didn't want to give it up.  Same deal, some cars you can and some you can't.  

Many people think the Mexican law is not fair and should be changed to include residents, and also non-residents who live in Mexico.  It will never happen.  What people don't understand is that politics is behind the issue.   When the U.S. changes a law and it affects Mexico, Mexico does it double back and vice versa.   Another issue and I have explained it to ad nauseum is the fact that the law attempts to reduce the importation of junk into the country, protect new car production and dealer sales.  Obviously a good law and one that up to now has done exactly those things.  You have to be a Mexican to legally import a vehicle permanently into the country.

After my post,  and I told Juan I should be receiving hate mail any moment, my mailbox started to fill up. You see, some of these people don't have the huevos to post a comment on the group in public.  They like to send private messages.  I was called several names but the most common is the "a" word.   Do I care?  Not really, but I do care about the rules and where I live.   For some odd reason, ex-pats, especially those from the U.S. change their colors once they start living here.   You've heard me speak of this before.  They are notorious for wanting to start a boycott when a local cable company changes venues, a store doesn't sell a particular product or sells one that doesn't meet their satisfaction, join illegal clubs that help them obtain bogus license plates to avoid paying car taxes, and the list goes on.

I am being told now to mind my own business, start my own Yahoo group for Monterrey (that will never happen as I'm not fond of most ex-pats anyway), stay the hell out of SMA because they don't want "mean" people. 

Amazing isn't it?  These same people are complaining about the pollution in SMA, the bad driving habits and laws, and yet they want the Mexican government to change the law so they can drive their clunkers around Mexico.   Some of the mails I received have been the same in the sense that many ex-pats living in SMA don't have the money to buy another car.  WHAT????????  

This all goes back to the same thing and why Mexico has changed their immigration laws.  Mexico has seen the writing on the wall and has now raised the amount of money one must have to live full-time in the country.   Mexico sees the wave of poor retirees that could be coming soon and inundate an already broken social care system.   

What I have said may not sit well with the troops but it is the truth especially the paragraph above.  It is a reality many retired Americans are facing and they are scrambling for a place to call home that they can afford.  

Here is an excerpt from one mail and I will stop here:

You say your job is to help the people to be happy.  You really need to concentrate your efforts elsewhere...I'll bet there are a lot of unhappy people in Monterrey...or better, how about Nuevo Laredo.  I would imagine there are loads of unhappy people could even help the cartels.  I'll bet that if they were happier they would stop killing each other.  You and your happiness project has a lot of work ahead of you, but it is not needed here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lazy Weekend Recovery

Spent a lazy weekend here at home.  On Friday, I went to the school in Allende where I help out the English department when I am in town.   Came home and collapsed, tired and still suffering from sinus problems.   Saturday I stayed in the house and slept off and on.

We were able to find a website that is showing season five of Breaking Bad.   We are happy about that but want to stretch out the eight episodes that are in the season.  We are watching one every night.  The last season we had we watched the whole thing in two days.   Man is it a good show!

Today I woke up early and read for awhile.   Then I thought to myself, "self, I'm feeling better".   I started breakfast, and after I found myself back to sleep.   I don't like feeling like this.   As you can see from the picture up above, family came to visit and thie kids worked on getting the telescope back together.   Some one last year fiddled with it, one of the kids I'm sure so Valeria and Gerardo worked at getting it back together.  Good job but now it is all backwards.  Not a big deal, they are going to read up on how a telescope works and then come back again.  They should learn something from the experience.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a good week with lots of stuff to do around here.  Taxes, reports, and a few bills to pay so we are free to enjoy our week in NYC, we leave next Monday the 18th.  We are pretty excited and I can't wait just to get away and let someone else do all the driving and work.   That is the fun of flying once in awhile.  Don't get me wrong, I'd like to work my way up the east coast with the rv, staying along the beaches.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back In Mi Casa
Always good to be back home.  I spent the night with our good friend Rodrigo last night.  Rodrigo is from Monterrey and has lived in Mission, Tx for over 15 years.   He has a mobile home he remodeled himself and it is very nice.   We went out for tacos last night, just like at home, and spent the evening talking about everything under the sun.  I slept well and got up early. I had a ton of work to do before I left town.  I had a text revision to complete and send to Mexico City, my reports and cash that I collected from the schools.  It is hard to work out of a Kinko's FedX office.  Every move costs you something.  It's part of the job though as I don't live in Texas and we can't send FedX ground and charge it to the company.  Plus, where else can I go in the U.S. to use the internet, scan, make copies, etc.?  Not like here at home where they charge you a few pesos for all that work and here it can cost up to 15 dollars for a half hour's work.

Yesterday I had a group of 30 students, the smallest ever.  Although it is on the outskirts of Corpus, they are mostly rural kids who live on the farm but close to the city.  Best behaved group I have ever met.  Pulling into the parking lot, I was hit by a woman who was in a hurry to drop off her kid.  She hit my side mirror and the glass part fell out.   We talked for a second and we agreed all was well.  It was hit before and super-glued back on.   I have more glue so no big deal.   The school staff were tremendous.  They loved talking about Mexico and that they all had relatives there and are so anxious to go back.  I told them, "Mexico is waiting for you".  They were so happy.  I had a fun day and as I said the kids were great.   I still can't believe how old I am!  Can it be real? 

I couldn't take pictures of the kids so here is the auditorium as I found it before they arrived.  Dark, quiet, and all mine.

Not sure why, but I love to take pics of my hotel rooms.   I always do a cursory inspection of the matress for bedbugs.  We don't have them in Mexico.  Why?  Because we don't have stupid laws that prohibit the use of chemicals when needed for such a scurge.   We still smoke the bastards.   Better to have an allergic reaction than have to strip your household of all clothes, furniture, carpets, etc. and then have to super-heat the place and spend upward of 10,000 dollars to clean your house of them.

 Looks like rain here in Monterrey.  The super storm is headed for the east coast and I hope it is all over and done with before we take off for New York.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Made It To CC

 Slept in this morning not getting up until 7 a.m.  I picked up a head cold that has had me down the last couple of days but I keep going.    I had some errands to run this morning before heading out on the road.   First stop was the credit union which I once thought was way out on the north side of McAllen.  The city has grown around it and it took me about 20 minutes from the hotel.   I needed copies of bank statements to file taxes in the U.S.  They obliged and I was on my way to the storage facility where we keep our books and materials for seminars.   I loaded up and headed off to the barber shop in La Feria.  I had called earlier in the morning but no answer.   Once on the highway I gave her a call and she said she was on the way out to lunch and couldn't see me until after 5 p.m.  I explained who I was and that I was passing through on my way to Corpus.  She didn't budge so I have written that witch off my list.  I have to say though, she gives one good haircut.   Too bad.  If you can't make an exception for someone who waited two additional weeks, drove four hours to get good service, well you just lost a customer.

I continued on to La Feria as I wanted to stop at the Kenwood Rv Park we have been staying.  I am having some mail sent there that I need to pick up on Thursday.   Lo and behold, there was a crafts sale going on at the community center.   I ran into all kinds of people who were happy to see me as much as I was to see them.   I saw Leo and Donna, Robert and Dan, Dorothy, Lorraine, it was really great.   As Donna said, the people there are great and you just can't stay away.  A small community where people really seem to hit it off.  

Off I went to Corpus listening to Patsy Cline, not feeling well and sleepy, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.   But I did and it turns out the office staff in Wisconsin did a good job of finding me a hotel.   I am at a Comfort Suites and it is really nice.  I want for nothing and it includes a hot breakfast in the morning.   I am having a drink right now sitting on the sofa in my sitting area watching Bill O, same s--- different day and I have been using the internet.  As always, I took a pic of my room but I left the cable in my car and I just won't go back down to get it.

I got an email from Kevin.  He says Wendy has been looking for me since they are in Corpus and I am too.   I sent her an email to see if we can have coffee tomorrow before I head back to McAllen to spend the night.

I have to report that I feel better after taking a nap.  Not so foggy, the throat no longer is scratchy and the moco has stopped running.   Tomorrow will be a great day and I will be glad I am here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Trip Preparations
We started out yesterday having problems with making reservations on line.  Lots of credit card issues in terms of security issues that delayed the process.  OGM, they don't make it easy anymore.  But we got the job done and I hope we can use miles to upgrade to first class at least on one leg of the trip.  

I found a CityPass for New York, 89 dollars, that covers
Sounds like a deal unless someone knows of something else.  I think the general plan is to visit  friends, sightsee during the day, dinner out at night or a Broadway or Off-Broadway show.  We only have a week, but that should be a enough to get a taste of the Big Apple.  We can always go back on our two year 10,000 mile North America tour which will take us from Laredo to; Miami, Nova Scotia, across Canada to Vancouver, down to San Diego and back to Laredo.

Today I worked with a group of 130 eighth graders at the Pharr Civic Center.  Man oh man, was that a job.  Good kids but more energy than I have seen in more than forty years.  It was fun though and they gave me a run for my money.  

Tomorrow I head to Corpus Christi for a day and return Wednesday night to McAllen and home on Thursday for a week long rest.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back From Maz - On To McAllen
Wow, so busy and pooped I haven't updated the blog.   My trip to Mazatlan via Los Mochis and Culiacan was great.  I had a great driver who took wonderful care of me; good hotels, great equipment, arranged all the coffee breaks and food, and my personal meals.

We arrived to Mazatlan Thursday afternoon around 5:30.  First thing I did was get ahold of Colin and Contessa so we could meet up.  The bellman was leaving at 6 p.m. and overheard my conversation.  He offered me a ride to the embarcadero where I took a boat across the water to the Isla de Piedra.  C & C were there waiting for me as I got off the boat  and not only that they had a vodka waiting for me in the car.  

We went to their very cool beachfront rv site where we had drinks, chatted for a few hours, ate a fantastic dinner and then sat outside for a short bit before I left listening to some of the best guitar I have ever heard along with sound of the waves hiting the beach.
Friday was a long day.   I finished at 2 p.m. but we  didn't get off the ground until 6 p.m. and via D.F. onto Monterrey arriving at 11 p.m.  Time change and lack of flights from Maz to D.F.   But, I got home safe and sound.

Colin and Contessa in front of their beachfront home.

 Friday morning from my hotel room on the beach.

Last week while I was gone, our German friends from Hacienda Contreras came for a week long visit.   Peter and Barb drove from the south after a tour of Mexico City.   They are wonderful people and we really hit it off with them.  I didn't get to see them until Saturday morning but we spent the day and night together ending the day in front of the fireplace and talking about everything under the sun.  Juan set up the grill and we did steaks, chicken and sausage.   This morning Barb fixed breakfast, I packed and said goodbye.  It now appears we will be visiting Germany soon.

Our tickets are purchased for New York.  We take off from Monterrey on Sunday the 18th.  We looked at tickets from McAllen and San Antonio and the price difference wasn't enough of a deal so we are leaving direct from MonterreyGreat price, good seats, and wonderful travel times.  "Start spreadin' the news".