Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hiking At The Botanical Gardens

Note:  Silverware.  Turns out I had been eating on top of it the whole time.  There is a hidden drawer under the table in the kitchen.  Kind of like sleeping on top of a dead man!  Duh!

After I posted yesterday morning, I headed out for a hike at the botanical gardens.   It is a great place to go walking.  I didn't go inside the gardens but chose to wait until Juan shows up and we can enjoy it together.  Instead, I walked around the perimeter and down to the lake.   It's a beautiful area to go hiking and a great place to bird watch (Bill and Sharon from The Odd Essay would love it here not to mention the opportunity to practice their Spanish they learned in Spain).

One thing I like about this area is how well-maintained it is and clean.  We always carry a bag with us and pick up whatever trash we can.   It's not a lot but if everyone took a small plastic grocery bag with them and filled it up it would make quite a difference.

Down this trail I came across two kids with sling shots having a ball knocking off cactus leaves and trying to get frogs in the water.   Summer has started and school is out.
Last night I had dinner with Les at Hecho in Mexico next to the Instituto Allende.   It is a wonderful place to eat.   Live music with violin and we chatted up a storm.   I don't know about Les but I had a good time and LMAO.  Les looks happy and fit as usual and very happy with his life here in San Miguel de Allende.   

Today I am taking a long walk up to the glorieta near the exit to Queretaro where they hold a market on Sundays.  Tuesday is their big day but I want to get in some walking.   I can always take the bus back down the mountain should I poop out.   Have a great Sunday.  (Yes, I'm taking the camera).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Guess I Got Busy

If you haven't seen this video, you need to watch it.   It is so San Miguel, I laughed my ass off.  (Sorry, don't know why I am having trouble downloading the video directly into my blog).  Click on the link.

I lost track of time yesterday.   Did the usual gym stuff, dropped off the laundry and did a little shopping.  We brought our own blankets and pillows  so I wanted to have everything clean and ready for when Juan shows up next Tuesday or Wednesday.  He said last night on the phone, "It's hotter than shit here".   Told ya.  So it won't be long before he is here and we can do some sightseeing.

I went looking for a garage sale yesterday to see if I could find some knick knacks for the casita.   Never found the place but I did run into some interesting shops along the way.   I finally got one woman to say hello to me.  Maybe they think I am on the make or something, hmmm.   Maybe I still have it!  But the long walk was fun and I also stood for awhile in front of La Siesta or what's left of it.

After my nap I saw I had missed two phone calls from my friend Dorothy.  I rang her up only to find out she had a lead on a Toyota Rav4 in Celaya.   She asked if we could buzz over there and I told her I was dressed and ready to go.  I picked up the laundry on the way.

Making a long story short, we met a man and his son at the CostCo.  The Rav is in excellent condition, all papers in order, and drives really well.    The man invited us to his house and showed us around.   A rancher who has three kids, a lovely wife and works hard to make a living.   He showed us the rest of the papers he had and Dorothy left a deposit.   We go back on Monday to finalize the deal and transfer the title.   We will go by the attorney general's office where we can do a background check on the VIN number just to give the visto bueno and a run by the dealer's to give it a once over.

By the time I dropped Dorothy off and got home it was 9 p.m.   We had a fun though chatting up a storm in the car.  When Juan gets here Dorothy is going to show us a restaurant she thinks we will like, Nirvana.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Día de Pendientes en SMA

Today was my day to do chores and errands. As I told you, the place was a little dusty.  I found a broom but there was no mop, so that was on my shopping list today.   
Woke up at 6 again, I guess that is my sleep in time when I am on vacation.  Makes me feel lazy.   It was a bit chilly this morning and I am not complaining.  The cats were waiting by my side to get up so I called them to come and talk to me.  Nice to have them although now I try to distance myself from them.  I get to close and then when the end comes it takes me years to get over it.  I'm such a sentimental jerk!

Looking up the street on the way to the gym.

  This is where I turn to go to the plaza near Weber's.  Always flowers in his hand.

If you've been here, you know this little church

I went to the gym this morning.  Turns out, Tinkerbell is a private instructor.  He literally flies around the room, I guess he has a lot of energy.   I'm not impressed.   Huffer puffer wasn't there so it was a good workout.  I was wondering why I was feeling tired and sluggish.  No wonder, the elevation will do a number on you.  In SMA we are at 1,900 meters (6,200 ft).   I feel much better psychologically knowing this. 

Came back home and fixed a couple of eggs and a yogurt.   Showered again and headed out to get a haircut.  When I got there, the barber was coloring a woman's hair so I had an opportunity to listen in on the local chisme (gossip).  Nothing noteworthy.   Then it was my turn.  I always make the same mistake.  I say "just a little" and then ask them to go back again and "take off a little more".   I should know by now, when they go to clean things up they always end up cutting off more.  Still happy though and I will go back to this guy.  He has good equipment and the shop has great energy.  Right here on the corner of Orizaba and 20 de Enero across from the Italian place.  40 pesos for cut.  

Came back and got the car and headed to Mega.  I bought the following; a half kilo of ground turkey, a liter of milk, broccoli, a mop, sandwich bags, trash bags, and a cheap set of plastic storage containers (26 pesos).  Oh, and two liters of vodka, at 51 pesos a bottle versus 85 pesos at home it is a real bargain.  Juan said to buy a case.  I went to the customer service desk to get an invoice for tax purposes and two old gringo farts walked up and had a water jug dispenser to return.  The girl behind the counter asked them what the issue was, and the guy said, "No" "Go" "Through", in a very, very loud voice thinking she would understand.   She looked at me and smiled and I said, "no se como nos aguantan", I don't know how you put up with us!  She laughed and I took off before any trouble began. Hey, I charge for translation.

Went to Banorte to get some cash and made the insurance payment and then headed to Telmex to pay the phone bill.   Two seconds, in and out.  Everything here works great, just like in Monterrey.   I stopped by the laundry to see if I could drop my linens off and pick them up the same day.  She said first come first serve so I need to get there before 10 a.m.

I came home and swept and gave the place a good mopping, twice!   I settled down to have a piece of pan dulce (oops, I didn't include that on the list of compras) and check my mail.  All of a sudden I heard someone saying, "hola, buenas tardes, hola" .  I got up and said, "dame un segundo, voy" (hold on, I'm coming) and changed my raggy shirt I had on and went to the door.  It was the owner's daughter.  I think she is a bit younger than I am, and a very attractive woman and in very good shape.  She wanted to know how things were going so I told her I had to do a good cleaning.  She was a bit embarrassed and she showed me where the silverware was.   I won't tell you as it will only embarrass me.   Very nice woman and I am happy here.

Took a nice nap, sent a report to the company in Texas as they owe me some dough.   I keep putting it off so I figured I should get it done.  They are gearing up for the fall and have quite a list of work so far.  They offered me a week in El Paso which is all expenses, hotel, rental car and good pay.  I said I would be more than happy.   Now I am fixing dinner, homemade pasta sauce with ground turkey and a big salad with broccoli.

Well folks, happy hour!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trip to Celaya - Busy Day!

First off, I just finished dinner and did the dishes.  A bowl of pasta with some delicious Spanish chorizo, broccoli and a salad.  Doing dishes it came to me that there are no spots.  At home, our well water is so heavy with minerals I have to give the dishes a vinegar rinse about once a month.

Got up early, had a couple cup of coffee.  Slept like a baby last night, all the way through until 6 a.m., ouch I overslept.   It was good though and I must be accustomed to our new digs now.   Off  I went to the gym and I need to get used to that.  I'm not complaining but is it really necessary to bang the discs and dumbbells?  This gringo guy who we say last year, makes a ton of noise with huffing and puffing.   It appears he is on a HRT program.  Still looks fat to me but pretty beefy.  Finally, the owner came and told him to take it easy and he wasn't happy about someone telling the customer what's what. 

Then Tinkerbell came in, thin as a rail and he was huffing and puffing and running around like his life was ending in ten minutes.  Good thing, after about 20 minutes they both left and the rest of us could workout in peace.   I walked to the gym, three blocks away near Weber's.   Got back home and had a quick breakfast and headed out the door to pick up Dorothy.   She found another car to look at and this one was in Celaya.   I met her near her house and off we went.  Great highway to Celaya, fast.   We were meeting the seller at the Costco so we got there early and did a quick walk around.  Snacked on a few things they were demonstrating and then we headed out the door.  Five minutes later, the guy shows up in the Range Rover.  Nice, normal wear and tear, but the guy was cheesy in his answers.  He was honest about mechanical details which were very minor but the papers weren't in his name as he just received the car from someone as a payment for a debt.   Not a big deal but the SUV had plates from D.F.   We walked away from that deal and headed back to SMA.

I dropped off Dorothy and went to a ciber cafe to print an insurance payment and went to the bank to pay.  Then home for nap, time flies when you're on vacation.   Great nap, the cats were sacked out, not quite sure what they did while  I was gone but they were beat too.

Before dinner I went for a walk down to the Jardin in the center of town.   No one was here to ask me "do you have the camera?" so there are no pictures.  All I can tell you is one thing;  THE WEATHER IS FANTASTIC!!!!!!

Now for a cocktail and some internet television and off to bed.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Comes Before Austere?

This is the front of the house.   I can park in front of the porton as there is no one else here with a car.  The owner is a 99 year old woman who is my neighbor.  She is very nice and makes very little noise if not any at all.  She's up early and out and about in the garden.  There are two dogs, Tita and Chubby.  Tita loves me and Chubby won't have anything to do with me.

Yesterday I spent most of the time getting moved in, taking a long nap and using the internet.  I woke up at 1:45 a.m., wide awake.  I think it was because I was so tired from driving and the stress of the cats traveling.  They are looking out the window right now getting used to their new environment.  I want to let them out in a week or two but they need time to adjust.  Also, there is a cat who lives on the roof,  I caught a glimpse of him last night, or just his shadow.

I did go back to sleep but not until around 3 a.m.   So I slept in until 6.   I was so worn out that I didn't go to the gym this morning, shame on me.  Tomorrow I will do it for sure.   Go to long and you might as well start over.  I piddled around arranging stuff and then showered and went to the market where I had a great breakfast of fresh eggs and salsa with refried beans and delicious corn tortillas along with a cup of coffee (30 pesos).

About a week ago, I got an email from a woman named Dorothy.  She had sold her American car and is now looking for a Mexican car.  She asked me if I would help her and I said sure.   So after breakfast, I met her for coffee at Mega.  She is a wonderful person and lives in a beautiful house looking over the city of SMA.  We really hit it off.   A pleasure to talk to.  So over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at cars.  BTW, Dorothy was raised in Mexico City, married and moved to Colorado and then back to SMA.  She is a native English/Spanish speaker.

Came home, took a nap and then started cleaning.   The place was a bit dusty and really needed some attention.   I hunkered down and got to it.  I need to mop but there isn't a mop.  Tomorrow I'll pick one up.  Once inside the gates in the picture, is a long lot with garden on the right and three little houses.  La Señora lives in the first two houses, one is her kitchen and dining room and the other has her bedroom, bath and living area.

Then at the end is a little gate that that leads to the casita.  Is there a word that comes before austere?  Because this place is really plain Jane.  There's no silverware, lots of odds and ends in the kitchen, and well, I am fixing it up.   The kitchen needs curtains and I will find some this week.   If you have seen the apartments at Weber's, this place is like that.  But what the heck, for 280 dollars a month
you can't beat it for location.  Three blocks to the gym, three blocks to the bakery, you can walk to Mega, the main plaza, etc.   I'm happy and we will have this place in shape in no time.  We will scour the markets for some good used items and leave them behind for the next guy.

Tomorrow I need to get out and explore, do some long walking and maybe go visit my friend Mario at the botanical gardens and see what we can do there to help out.  The weather here is fantastic, a little shower here and there and wonderfully cool air.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Made It To San Miguel de Allende

I left the house this morning at 6:30 sharp.  Stopped at the ATM and no money, another ATM, no money.  I really didn't need any cash as I pay for everything except tolls with my debit card.  Went south to Linares, headed west to Galeana and down the mountains to San Roberto at the 57 and headed south.  I came across a guy who had a flat tire on the windy mountain roads to Galeana.   No one was behind me so I stopped and asked what was wrong.  No jack.  I had the car filled with stuff and knew I would have to unload to get out my jack but I couldn't leave him there alone.   He had been waiting for about 30 minutes and no one would stop.   Took all of 15 minutes and he was happy and so was I.   “I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.” 

The cats were pretty good only after they  had to go to the bathroom a dozen times before I got 50 kms down the road.   I think it became a competition.  Good thing is, when they were done, they were done.  They slept the rest of the day.  Little Bit wanted out of his carrier and I thought it was a potty break, he sat by me all the way.

Great roads, great music and lots of wonderful scenery.  I arrived in SMA at 2:15.

Pretty pooped now.  I did some grocery shopping at Mega and got the internet up and running.  All good here.  Can't wait for Juan to show up next week.  He is teaching a course this week in Monclova.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Dream Come True

Not a big deal for most of you, but I got the solar all hooked and I am really jazzed.   Once I got the connectors put on like Croft had made for me for the inverter, I was ready to install the charge controller.  It took all of a few minutes and being the procrastinator I am, I regret having waited so long.  

The sky is overcast and it is 10 a.m. and the controller screen shows 13.5.  I hope that's good!  Even though we won't be using the rv until September, I already feel an added sense of freedom.  We have the generator but it is not built in so it is a PIA most of the time not to mention the noise.  We will continue to travel with it for emergency use only.

This is really great.   Now I need to read the manual and play with all the options that are available.  Too cool!  Thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way with the install.

Heading out tomorrow for San Miguel de Allende, can't wait to get there.  This week the high is 39C here at the house.  Adios calor!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gearing Up For San Miguel de Allende

I just got an email from the landlord requesting my arrival time on Monday.  I will be taking the route south through Linares, Galeana, San Roberto and then down Hwy 57.   It is really hot and it is going to get hotter.  Juan will be coming a week behind me so I can get the house set up and moved in.

The solar will be finished tomorrow.  I got the cables figured out and yes the black is negative so I am in good shape.  Better safe than sorry.   Once hooked up, I can let it run until Sunday and then shut down the batteries.   

I need to get some of the house ready, putting yard stuff away, covering the trailer tires well and putting the LP tanks away in the shed.  Even though the gardner will be checking daily it doesn't mean we shouldn't take precautions.   13 years here in October and never a problem.  I finished washing the outside of the house; screens, windows, wrought iron, walls and under the roof's overhang.  

Tomorrow I have one more job at a school that trains teachers and that will be it for the summer.  The rest of the weekend is packing what we think we will need.  I asked the landlord some basic needs questions and hope she responds so I can plan.   I hate buying knick knack stuff we already have and we always like to leave things behind for the next person.   Those little incidentals that people forget; lighter, bottle opener, can opener, maybe even a pound of coffee.

Kevin asked if the noise at the party last weekend was anything like we encountered at Potrero Chico.  Well Kevin, it was worse than that night.  My ears rang for over half an hour after we left.   Crazy stuff.   And yes Contessa, ear plugs are a good thing.  I sleep with them every night!  The cat snoring wakes me up.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Noise Is Used For Torture
I haven't posted since Friday as I have been waiting for pictures to be posted on Facebook from a quinceñera we went to Saturday night.   Good friends of ours celebrated their daughter's fifteen birthday but not in a traditional fashion.  The old-style quinceñera is on its way out ringing in new options for young teens and their sweet sixteen parties.  The traditional colored wedding style gown, mass in a church, a party complete with very loud live music, dinner and dance are being replaced with a trip to Europe or the U.S. with friends, an antro (disco) style event held in a real night club, or the girl opts for a dinner and receives an expensive gift of her choice from her family.  You're thinking this is for the rich, well think again.   Traditional quinceñeras cost big bucks and families borrow, hawk items, take out a second mortgage, sell a car, and so on.   It is the next biggest event to a wedding and there are no holds barred.

Our friends opted for the antro night club venue (can't believe I'm using the word venue, I'm not big on buzz words or expressions like the new or old one everyone is using now "back in the day").   It was a nice place in a nice neighborhood.   The first floor has a dance floor, all done in dark black and cube furniture covered in fake wild animal skins, spinning lights, candles, glitter falling from up above.  Well, you get the idea.  I told Juan we are supposed to be known for going to clubs but this is the first one I have stepped into in more than 25 years.  

Upstairs was a balcony overlooking the downstairs with a curved railing.   The adults hung out upstairs, drank beer and ate hors d' oeuvres on pedestal tables with very nice floral centerpieces and flashing LED candles.   It was really a nice setup and the adults had a blast.  I did too . . . .

Until the noise started.  The music wasn't so bad.   It was the surprise that everyone was waiting for that was so bad.   Everyone hugged the rail, kids with party masks came running in and then a troupe of drummers called "batucada".  It comes from Brazil and these guys with dreadlocks and funny hats started banging giant drums.  It wasn't just the banging part but there was no other music, just hard, loud, obnoxious banging.  Four guys with funny hats and dreadlocks banging giant drums, eight drums total.  One guy had four drums wrapped around his waist.  The fifth was a kid who had a giant cowbell.    It drove me nuts.  Mixed with the lights, the noise and the constant drumming for more than half an hour I was ready to leap off the balcony.

Noise and lights are used for torture and now I can understand why.  Someone said, "it's a cultural thing".   Good, let it be cultural somewhere else.   As Aunt Linda would say, " I give this venue four drum sticks, one cowbell and an "oh no you don't".

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sorry, But More School Pictures

First off, we had a horrific lighting storm this afternoon.   The house shook just as I was ready for a nap but I blew it off.  On a later inspection of the yard, I found our guava tree got hit.  The cats still have their claws in my chest.   Our pets who went on to the rainbow bridge are buried there.  Guess we need a new tree to provide them shade.

Sorry folks but I am having too much fun at the school.  These kids are so cute and their parents so proud.  Many of the parents speak some English as their parents worked in the U.S. at one time or another or they learned the language at the same school as their kids.   The school has a long history.  In fact, the secretary is over 60 and she studied primary at the school.  Small town and everyone is related to everyone else. 

Today the third grade kinder kids showed their talents in English.   The teacher is a real star in my book and has an excellent educational background in pedagogy.   She is also a great disciplinarian.  Here the parents are lined up around the classroom as the class begins.

The kids are singing "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea".  Amazing that they are so big.  They really know what they are doing.  When I was in kindergarten, I was lucky to pick my nose and eat the glue stick.  :)

This is the group from yesterday, they are first grade in secondary.

In this group, there was a kid I'll call Carlos.  He refused to speak in English the last two weeks.  Kids said he never participated in the class.  Just like the other kid, I told him he better get with the program.  He is very small for his age, a real card in the the classroom, but obviously needs lots of attention.  Today was his turn to shine.  As it came time for his group, one of the students came over to me and said that "Carlos" was in a panic.   I took his lines over to him to review and he seemed to calm down.   Once on stage he did great.  In the beginning.  The last quarter of his part he fell to pieces.   I gave him a couple of hints and he started but stopped in his tracks.   I motioned to the kids to move on and after they returned to their seats, "Carlos" hid behind someone and started to cry.   I went and sat next to him and put my arm around him (nothing you would ever do in the states) and whispered in his ear what a great job he had done and how proud of him I was.   He gave me a big hug and cried his eyes out.    I almost did too.   Unfortunately, his parents didn't show up.   So now I know where the problem is.   

We humans are such sensitive creatures, we need lots of love and support especially as children.   It is is wonder how some of us make through life.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gearing Up For Summer

I know for most, summer started a couple of weeks ago.  Here in Mexico classes run until the end of June.  I'm sure most of you have always heard that classes are only half day, morning and afternoon groups.  That is changing here in the north.  We now have schools that are full-time from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and some beyond offering art, sports, and music classes to keep kids off the streets.

We continue with the public classes.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera this morning.  The kids were great and did a lot of singing in English along with dancing.  They enjoyed it as much as their parents did.  They were finally happy to meet Mister Christopher as their kids had been talking about how crazy I am in the classroom.   You have to make learning fun!

The landlord in SMA confirmed the install of the wifi from Telmex like we have here at home.   Cats are welcome and I am ready to head out.   I have about 12 more days to go.   There are a few things to finish up like the solar install.  I got the excess cable out and in the car and now I will visit my electronics friend to see if he can come and confirm what is neg and pos for the cables.   I know I think we know, but the cables we did for the inverter are opposite of what we thought.  Better safe  than sorry.

The pool remodel just hasn't taken place.  We can't find anyone who wants the work.  I need to get the wrought iron painted on the windows and may have to tackle that myself next week.  I scared off the painter when I said he would have to put tape and cover stuff up.   He said, "I can just clean up the mess when I finish can't I?"  So you know what I'm up against.   Rule out family, they all want to come and swim, but when I mention that the guys come out and paint, even though I offer carne asada and beer, it scares them off.  Nobody wants to work anymore.

Bill asked about rv parking at the houses we want to look at outside SMA.  Good news, our lot here is 1600 sq meters.   The two houses we will look at have lots over 3000 sq meteres.   Looks like room for a couple of rv hookups.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You Think I Change My Mind A Lot?


I do change my mind a lot.  I'm good with day to day stuff but when it comes to travel I vacillate daily.  There are just  too many things to see and do and I never know where to go next.  

We changed our minds about Hacienda Contreras.   By the time we get there, Sal and Barb will already be gone and we will be in the park alone.  Not a problem for us but we ran into an opportunity we couldn't refuse.  In reading one of the Yahoo groups in SMA, I ran across a small casita in the back of a house for 280 dollars a month.  I hate leaving the rv behind as that is part of the adventure but we will be taking the little VW Pointer and it will save us a ton of gas as well as travel time.   We are signing on for two months.

I plan on leaving on the 24th of this month and Juan will take the bus down the first week July.   There are lots of things we want to do in the area and will use SMA as a base.  One thing is to check out the convention center and some hotels for the teachers convention in November which will take place in Queretaro.   We will stay with the rv in the Flamingos Inn but the hotels listed for the convention run betwee 850 and 1200 pesos a night.  That's not any good for student teachers traveling from Tijuana or Villahermosa who can only afford a two-bed 300 a night hotel room.  Being kids they don't mind roughing but they deserve something good for their money.

We also have two houses outside SMA that are for sale and I have had my eye on them for the last month.  They are still available and the owner is willing to build two more.  We also want to do some volunteer work at the botanical gardens and I would love to give a talk to interested ex-pats who want to learn about government agencies and services.   Our landlord there is a teacher also and wants us to share info on the milk program, and other services offered by SEDESOL (Secretaría de Desarrollo Social y Humano).
I want to thank Les (The Never Ending Journey Blog) for checking out the place first.   We told Sal and Barb to stop by if they head to the U.S.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finishing My Volunteer Work

 End of a school year and we proved that hard work pays off.   The school I  volunteer in is having public classes this week.  A public class is a presentation by grades to the parents.   Parents are interested in their children's progress in English.   

Today we did 5th and 6th graders.   5th graders presented eight different countries talking about the specific country in detail including geography, language, food, education, and tourism.  The group from Japan even learned and spoke some expressions in Japanese!  They were great.  Here are two of the groups.

 Hell bent on "Swiss" instead of Switzerland, I know we talked about it weeks ago.  Hmmm. 

6th graders put on a television show complete with news, weather, sports, entertainment, and a food section.  We only had one student who got stage fright and ran away.   I caught up with him later with his mom.  She gave me a big hug and said she appreciated the attention her son had received hoping to overcome his shyness.   One kid last week told me he wasn't coming and refused to participate.  The teacher just shrugged his shoulders.  Well, I let him have it in front of all the group (this was on Friday).  I said, "we practiced, we rehearsed, we made our costumes, your classmates included you in this presentation.  Now, you go home, think about this and you had better be here at 7:00 on Monday.  Is that understood?  In fact, I'm calling your mother to make sure you not only show up but participate".  Turns out, the mother's interest in her son was next to nil.   This morning, he showed up, gave a presentation on technology and his mother showed up to boot!  The table below was his presentation on the Iphone 5.  He's the tall guy in the back on the right.  He did a good job.   Needless to say, he made my day!  (verklempt)

Only Four Days Left - Vote For Kevin and Ruth

This is for our friends Kevin and Ruth, most of you know them.  They are trying to win a trip to Namibia.   This is Kevin's message from their blog yesterday.  

We pulled into 2nd place overnight in "the contest". If you're not doing it already, please use your facebook account to support our efforts to go to Africa. There are not many votes separating 2nd from 6th, so we really need everybody's help to stay where we are. There are less than 4 days left!
Here's how to do the link. It will bring you to a facebook page. Accept the application. Accept the fact that they get access to your friend list, etc. Standard facebook procedure to limit illegal voting. Then, find the picture titled "Drab Landscape". There are five yellow stars beside the picture. Click on the star to the far RIGHT to award us with five points...daily for the next 6 days!

Friday, June 7, 2013

I'm An Ignorant Fool

I just received an email from someone who says I know nothing about Mexican culture.  Hmmm, oh really?  Because I want the best for Mexicans, I don't want an informal market which leaves people taken advantage, their kids in poverty and their future in jeopardy?  Well, here was my reply and I'm sticking to it:

How long have you lived here?  How long have you worked here?  Do you pay property tax, Mexican income tax, tenencia on a Mexican car, refrendo, Infonavit, IMSS?  Well I do.  I have lived here since graduating from the university.  Almost 30 years.  The informal market is what it is.  I don't live with Americans, I don't know any Americans in Mexico, I don't live in a gated community, I don't hang out with ex-pats.

How dare you make such a statement.  It is ignorance on the part of ex-pats that get this shit going.  As I said, people think it is really cool to see a donkey going down the street pulling a cart, a woman with a baby strapped to her back wearing a serape.  Would you want to do that?  Easy to sit on the sidelines with a pension check or money in the bank and say, "oh how cool life is in Mexico".   Or even better, those that think the informal market is so great that people should be allowed to walk up and down the beaches selling chucherias from a wheel barrel, food they prepared god knows where.  Fine, let's see those foreigners go back to their countries and allow people to sell stuff on the beach without a license, permit, sanitation of any kind.   It would never happen, the same people in SMA who like to boycott big business would be the same ones raising a flag.

So the next time you see someone selling shit on the street, think about his kids at home and the b.s. they have to put up with because this louse doesn't want to follow the rules, get an education, a real job that supplies him by law a low cost housing loan, medical insurance for everyone who lives under his roof, a pension when he retires after only haveing to work 35 years.  Then you tell me who doesn't understand the Mexican culture.

I am a teacher, have been all my life.  I work in the public education sector as well as private.  My partner works for the scholarship program giving out masters and phd grants and study abroad to any Mexican who has a university degree. Our state university has 100,000 students half of which pay nothing.  Last week I worked at the University Antonio Narro in Saltillo, 80% of the student population comes from Chiapas, Veracruz, Tabasco, and they receive free tuition, free food, and voucher for living expenses.

And think about the states of Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Hidalgo where students have missed 100 school days this year and will never make them up because their selfish teachers union is on strike.  Did you also know that these four states just happen to be  the poorest in Mexico?  See the relationship.

So the next you see that woman selling gorditas on the street and think she is poor and uneducated, she is. But at her own expense and think about her kids, because obviously she doesn't.  Mexico is on the move and it is changing.  The donkey, serape, and the cactus will soon  disappear and the sooner the better.

Now tell me where I am going wrong.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Can't Believe It Either!

Yep, I can't believe it either.  I weathered the heat, sat in heavy lunch hour traffic listening to the helicopter reporter give locations of the twelve rush hour accidents, having conniption fits, and finally reaching my destination.   Amazing store, they carry everything you need for solar.  I found this 30 amp 12/24V charge controller for 1000 pesos, tax included.  That comes out to 80 dollars U.S.  Imagine the shipping to Laredo, having to drive to the border.

So it has taken me 5 months to get the charge controller.  Any bets on how long it sits here while I admire it before it gets installed?  My only concern is I don't remember which cables coming out of the panel are negative and positive.  I need to find someone with a volt meter who can tell me before blowing the thing up.

I'm very excited.  Finally, freedom!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nothing New On The Motorhome

I didn't get a chance to go by to see the motorhome today.  Too many things to do.   I had a couple of jobs in the last couple of weeks and I needed to bill for them which includes expense reports, receipts, etc.  Didn't take long but I had dropped off a receipt at the local gas station.   They usually send the invoice via email but this was billed to a company and I hadn't registered the information with the gas station.  Well, now that everything is done via email and internet here in Mexico, it is a bitch to try and get something the old way :).  I had gone on Friday but no one was in the office.  Today, the same thing so I had to wait 45 minutes.  Funny how things change.  Used to be, we were used to standing around waiting for hours, days, etc. and now 45 minutes is a huge inconvenience.

Off I went to the Multipack now FedEx and dropped off the reports.  If I get them in the office by tomorrow I will get paid in less than 14 days.   Not that I need the money but it is nice to see your rewards.  BTW, part of this work was a set of oral evaluations I did on Saturday for students studying to become a teacher.  We had two hundred students and three evaluators.   We each did 70 students in groups of three.  Not easy and we had to work fast.  But it is very good money.

I stopped by Home Depot for more cabinet hardware.  Our hardware was getting old looking.   Funny, we had made a mistake when we ordered our cabinets 12 years ago.   The cabinet maker misinterpreted our idea of the color.  We ended up with chocolate, which at the time looked awful, now it is in fashion.  So I changed out the old-maid hardware and installed brushed silver handles.  Looks good and cost about 40 dollars.  

I had to pay the phone bill, took a few minutes and I left Monterrey just in time to get caught up in the lunch hour traffic.  But I made it home for lunch and a nap.  

Juan called after his follow up on his knee surgery.  The doctor says the inside of his leg doesn't look quite right and has ordered 15 rehab sessions.   We are still on schedule for our trip to Hacienda Contreras though.  I may go early by myself.  I have a tendency to bitch a lot when I have to stay inside because it is 25C at 5 a.m. and 38C at 5 p.m.   Better to have me out of the way.  

He's getting the truck ready this week and I am working on the travel trailer.   Looks like I have enough work in Texas in the fall that we will spend a couple of months there.  We will leave the rv in McAllen and then go back and forth whenever we want to come home.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Motorhome Pics

We drove out to see the motorhome but no one was there.   Juan got to see it though and seems to like the idea.  I found some pics the owner had posted so here they are.   Comments and feedback welcome.

 Here's one I took with the cellphone.

Might Drive A Motorhome Today
My volunteer work at the school in Allende has me driving back and forth through a great part of our state.  Mountains views, it is green everywhere and in the early morning lots of cool air.  Once in awhile I see an rv for sale but I shudder to think what condition it may truly be in.  

Over the last month I have seen a Bounder motorhome in a lot that sells tractor trailers.   Friday I just couldn't resist and I had to pull in.   It is a 1993, 36ft with doors in both the front and the bedroom.   It is truly good condition.  It could use a good wax job but other than that, not a scratch.  All the compartments appear to have never been used although the fabric or carpet could have been changed out at one time.   It has the original wood and fabric shades (forgot what their called) and the fabric on the furniture is typical of that year but also in good shape.  

They had taken the battery out so he went and got one, hooked it up and in I went to fire it up.  I was waiting for a big thud but it started right up.  I let it idle for about 30 minutes to see if it got hot but the temp gauge stayed steady at just below half.  There is a ladder on the back so I climbed the roof to check it out.   Needs a good wash but seems to be in decent shape. 

There are no bells or whistles so to speak.  The motorhome was purchased by a Mexican couple three years ago who imported it, paid the taxes and plates and then decided they didn't want to rv for obvious reasons at the time.

The generator wants to start, sounds like it isn't getting fuel and the dash air conditioner blows cold but only from the defrost vents.   Shortly after I had started it up, the dealer showed up and said it was on consignment.  I asked him if we could have it hooked up and spend the night in it to try everything out including driving it around the lot for awhile and he said he was all for it.  The price is high, but just like the 40 foot travel trailer we bought, I was able to show the previous owner its real value along with the cost of import and taxes.

So today we drive down and take another look at it.  I doubt it is going anywhere and if it does it really doesn't matter but it sure gives me something to do in this miserable weather.  We are thinking of heading out sooner to Jalisco as the heat has been close to 38C and the humidity very high.   Even the pool water is warming up.