Friday, August 30, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Interesting Trip Home!

**If you may have misread my post from yesterday, please scroll down and read my update**


Before taking off from the Rio Grande Valley, we stopped at  the Casa del Valle rv park in Alamo.  We will move there from the Kenwood park in La Feria in October.  Marie is the manager and she had shown us around the park earlier in the year.   Marie is a cool gal, she was a dancer on the American Bandstand show back in the 50s.  She loves to dance and she dances in the winter months with Dan who stays at Kenwood.  She was happy to see us and also happy we would be staying at her park.  It is closer to McAllen and easier for my work.

We crossed the Hidalgo bridge, and got a green light.  We left the rv in La Feria so we had no need to go to the first immigration office. .  We turned right and took the street that runs along the Rio Grande.   There is a stop sign before crossing.   Off we went and there were cars in front of us.   I wasn't driving and I looked in the side view mirror only to see a motorcycle cop.   Juan got out, went back and then returned to the car for his license and the car title.   He told me the cop said he had run the stop sign, or slowed down but didn't stop and was speeding.  Juan's a cool guy.  He was calm and collected and answered the questions saying  "thought" he had made a complete stop.  The cop said he was going to ticket us and Juan asked where the office was so he could follow him.   The policeman then asked him what he did for a living and he said, "retired teacher".  He handed Juan the license and title said, "drive carefully".    Off we went.  Not everyone is a crook in Mexico.

Had an uneventful trip on the highway only to get into Monterrey to see a lot of commotion at one of the Soriana stores, an apparent fire in the deli section based on the location of the smoke.  We are  waiting for the local news on the internet at 7 p.m. to see what they say.  Fires are a big deal here as they aren't common.  Cement houses don't burn very well!

At home now and all is well.  As you can see from the picture up top, the driveway looks pretty empty without the Funfinder.   

We have made the decision to travel Canada in 2014.   Our route will be west through Texas to California, up to Vancouver, across the country to Nova Scotia and back down.  I am thinking four months, May through August.  We won't go all the way down the east coast, but will cut across through Kentucky and Ohio to visit family.   So many of our Mexico rving friends are from Canada and they make trek every year.  We felt we need to reciprocate and see their country also on their turf.   We have lots of friends in the U.S. as well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free? - UPDATE

ON EDIT - This is from the production of "Hair". I think it's important that people remember that blacks still suffer the same discrimination as 50 years ago. Things haven't changed that much. I still hear and read these slurs. Working in Texas high schools I see it with the kids. That says that someone at home does the same thing. I guess I should have explained that in the beginning. It is offensive, but it proves we still live in offensive times. Trayvon Martin.   Islan Nettles murdered just two weeks ago in front of a police station. The list goes on. Many you'll never hear about. 

Martin Luther King said, "Determined to be free in '63".   But did it ever happen?

I'm a Colored spade A nigger A black nigger A jungle bunny  Jigaboo coon  Pickaninny mau mau         Uncle Tom Aunt Jemima Little Black Sambo Cotton pickin' Swamp guinea Junk man Shoeshine boy Elevator operator Table cleaner at Horn & Hardart Slave voodoo Zombie Ubangi lipped Flat nose          Tap dancin' Resident of Harlem And president of The United States of Love I said President of The United States of Love
(and for dinner at the White House you're going to feed him:)
Watermelon Hominy grits An' shortnin' bread Alligator ribs Some pig tails Some black eyed pea Some chili
Some collard greens And if you don't watch out This boogie man will get you Booooooooo!
So you sa

I remember the riots of 1968, military jeeps roaming the streets of Kansas City.  We were walking home from the Country Club Plaza and a 60s Impala with three black men was stopped by the military and the police.  They pulled them out, threw them up against the car, spread their legs, hit them over the head with billy clubs.  We started to run.  Got home and my mom said there was a curfew and to stay on the porch.  My friends had to call their parents to say they were at our house.  

We had never seen anything like this.  Two days later, Mike Bernal a grade school friend, was killed during a riot in school.   We lined up on the church steps for his funeral.   I didn't understand much then.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To The Valley
Headed out this morning for La Feria.   We managed to get hitched up before a big rain storm that lasted all the way to the rv park.   We slept last night without the air conditioning.   What a difference.  Everyone headed home yesterday as school started today.   Quiet, only the breeze and the waves hitting the shore.  I woke up at 5 a.m., made coffee and sat outside under the stars.   It was a sad ending to a great birthday trip.   I love being at the beach or near the beach.  Good thing is, La Feria is only 45 minutes for South Padre Island.  Rained all the way but I love driving in the rain, trailer in tow or not.

We got here and the office is closed on Monday because it is still summer.  We had arranged out site so on arrival we hit the lounge to check our email and wait for the weather to clear up.  And it did, right after lunch.  We ate at the best Mexican restaurant in the valley, Don Beto's, two locations in La Feria and Harlingen (Mercedes is not an original location).   Got set up and had a nice nap and then went shopping for LEDs.  Believe it or not, Lowe's has the ones for the rv, the 194 "thin" wedge but they wanted 10 bucks a pop.  We are checking on line tomorrow as we want to order Dan Brown's new book "Inferno" along with a fantastic fan and other rv goodies.

We will have lunch tomorrow with Gene and Dana.  They are coming by at noon and we will eat Italian at Cortino's in Mercedes.  Can't wait. 

I guess Les has a point, there is a lot of talk about food here.  Well, gotta go.  Juan is heating up some pizza left over from yesterday.  Ooops. there I go again!!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fun In The Sun

Wow, for such hot weather we find lots of things to do at the beach.  Yesterday we actually went to the beach and played in the water.  We also went for a drive down the island to the end of the road.  Amazing how sands change their course.  Took a walk around the park last night to see all the rigs and had a drink in tow. While we out we also watched the fireworks they have every Friday night.  In between all that we cruised through the Walmart and watched people fill their carts.   

Somebody left patio lights here.  We turned them on to see how they looked.

The internet works out to about 2.75 a day and I have to say that the service is very good.  They have 13 towers around the park.  A great system although, like everything else, it costs you extra.

We received a message from Jerry and Paula.   They said they had friends here on the island and they thought we might like to meet them.  Paula sent me the email and I gave them a call.   We decided to go out for breakfast this morning and they would drop by to pick us up.  

After the initial greetings Dana told us we weren't going out, that see was cooking breakfast.   Boy, did she cook breakfast.  Homemade biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs on the side, and a real treat of molasses as a dessert over the biscuits.   We talked for over three and a half hours and watched the views from their condo.

Gene and Dana have traveled quite a bit around the world and rved for years in Mexico and have great stories of their adventures.  They are very knowledgeable about Mexico and its customs and cultures.  We hope to see more of them in the near future.

Oh, and I forgot.  We also went to the sand castle contest that was held today at Clayton's.   It was 3 in the afternoon and really hot so we took pics and bailed out after that.  We went to the rv, took a nap and have just returned from the movies.

Friday, August 23, 2013

At The Beach - SPI

Left right on time yesterday at 7:15.   I hadn't had the trailer out for awhile so I always get a little nervous pulling it out of the driveway.   One of the problems is that our neighbor's sidewalk is a bit high and when I get the front wheels of the SUV there the rear spin a bit in the gravel.  I'm going to ask him if we can make a smooth dip in it to make all this easier.

We headed south via Allende and took Hwy 9 to Cadereyta.  That takes you around Monterrey.  At that hour of the morning we would just sit in rush hour traffic and it is much more scenic going through the countryside.  We opted for the "libre" and happy to report, it is in very good condition.   I highly recommend it.   We stopped outside General Bravo for breakfast.  Lots of Pemex workers were there so we knew it was a good place. 

A very uneventful trip all the way to Reynosa.   We were stopped at km30 in a military checkpoint.  Drew quite a crowd going through the rv.  They all wanted to know how much it cost and how the slideouts worked.  Juan gave them a pretty thorough tour.   Same thing at the U.S. border.  They had us pull in for a visual inspection no X-ray.   First there were seven agents and that grew to ten.  I haven't seen that many people in an rv since our last rv show.  One agent told me he was looking on Craigs and I told him about leak testing and things to look for.  They thought the solar was pretty cool too.  (A note to Croft, he told me about his drawer fix by using magnet drawer doo dads.  I put them on when we got home in April  and to my surprise, no opening drawers while in transit. Thanks!)

We stopped along the way at HEB Plus for gas and groceries.  We had made a list in the car.   It was a quick stop but leisurely.    Next we headed to La Feria to check out the rv park prices for September and October.  Looks like we can stay in La Feria for  $150 in September and then move to Alamo for $189 in October.   This is for my courses I will be teaching in RGV.  First event is in Seguin near San Antonio on the 26th.   

Got to SPI (South Padre Island) and we chose the county park.  It was 99F coming through the valley.  Yikes!   We got a great spot here at the county park with full hook ups and cable.   I think we'll stay here for the weekend and head back to La Feria and set things up.   

Went out for dinner last night to the Sea Ranch.   Very good seafood dinner, a celebratory glass of wine, and when Juan excused himself to go to the bathroom he asked the waiter to bring the cake.   I saw it coming and I insisted there be no singing.  OMG!

Came home watched some Golden Girls episodes and called it a night.   An excellent day, who could ask for more.  Rving down a country road through my favorite country with my best friend.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lightning Strike - What A Bummer

Watching a movie last night and a storm came along.  Not so much rain as wind.   We looked around outside and things looked fine.  We were hoping for lots of water.  All of a sudden lightning struck, very close to the house.  Still not sure where it hit.  This is the second strike this year.   Last one in June took out one of our trees.  Anyway, the lights blinked and the phone (our landline) went "kaboom".   Nothing else happened and well, we went on with the movie and said we'll get a new phone.  

The day before yesterday I tested the window unit A/C in the rv and it did pretty good.  When I went to the gym yesterday morning I got the generator out of the shed and took it with me to have the the tank filled.  My idea was to hook it up to the window unit and let it run all night to see how long it would go on a tank of gas.   I started it up at 8 p.m. and it ran beautifully.  During the storm, the lightning strike was so severe that it really shook things up.   

I got up this morning and found that the hit from the lightning jolted everything so much the window unit was on the ground.  Fell right out of the window.  Dead, dead, dead.   The generator survived and is fine. 

I have a couple of things to do today to get the rv ready but we plan on leaving early in the morning.  We always hit rush hour traffic and it delays us about an hour.   Tomorrow we will take the southern route through Allende and Hwy 9 to the airport and on to Reynosa and then South Padre Island.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Little Rain Won't Hurt

The storm hitting the Gulf coast has pretty much petered out.   It looks like a go to me and we decided we can always head inland and go shopping, workout, and see a movie or two not to mention my dinner out for my birthday!

I was encouraged by another Funfinder owner to pull out our small 5000btu window unit and try it out in our travel trailer.  I did it about two years ago but it caused the slide in the bedroom to vibrate quite a bit.   I took his advice and put it in this afternoon.   I found the various points where it was vibrating and was able to quiet it down to the point where we are very happy.   

I first used it in the bedroom which is the only window it will fit.   I shut the bedroom door and went back 20 minutes later.  Nice and cool.   When Juan got home we tried cooling the whole trailer using a 12V oscillating fan and it spread the cool air throughout the whole trailer.   Looks like we might be able to boondock at South Padre Island, or at least we are going to try.  It's still hot there and worse case we can always pick up and move to an rv park.

I need to pull out the generator and give it a workout.   I changed the oil last time I used it and cleaned the filter so it should be ready to go.  I wish I had some SeaFoam, it really seems to help with dry starts.   I think they sell something similar here.

I am looking forward to the beach and relaxing.  Wait a minute.   What have I been doing for the last couple of months sans the three days I worked in Matamoros?   Funny isn't it.   Well, the cats are staying home and it will be just the two of us.  More later.  I need to spend the next two days getting everything cleaned up and ready to roll.  Yippie!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gearing Up For A Trip

First  off, remember my rant about Bennigan's in Matamoros?  I knew when I was eating the pasta with chicken there was something wierd going on but I thought I was focusing on the price.  I was sick for almost a week.   It was a tough three days but I didn't let on during my course.   Looks like now I am getting over it.  Home-cooked is best.

My no-celebrate birthday is coming up this week and I want to spend it at South Padre Island.  It looks like a storm may hit the coast but it keeps changing its mind as well as its course.   I like rain anyway and we will leave the cats at home.  They'll enjoy the house and the yard more than being cooped up at the beach and not able to go out of the trailer.

There is a very good rv repair center in Port Isabel and they have a good labor rate.  I want a fantastic fan installed in the bedroom, repair the bathroom fan and also do some caulking if not a leak test. 

We will also be scoping out an rv park for September and October as I will be starting my courses in Texas.  We want to go to San Antonio around the end of September, I have a course in Seguin on the 26th.  The house needs some trim replacement and some painting (in SAT).   I need to figure out all the details and how to do it but I hope we get a good early bird rate like last year, 110 dollars a month is well-worth it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heading Home Today

Nothing to post that would be interesting to read.   It's hot here at the border, over 100 everyday.  It's not the most beautiful city in the world, its population is over 1 million, it's dusty and dirty and completely out of control.  There are some nice areas and I happen to be staying in one.  I've been out at night walking and feel like I do in any other place, safe and happy.

The situation here is out of control and yet the city and its people continue to go about their business.  The Home Depot next door is doing big business, the mall is full, you can't find a place to park at the HEB.  The school I am working at is abuzz with student orientation and the campus is very nice, a refuge for the kids.  It's a public high school and the teachers really know their stuff.

But, I've seen some things I can't believe, and I heard personal stories from teachers who are coming from satelite schools for the course who have lived some pretty gruesome things.   We'll leave it at that as I don't  want to post it on the blog.  (Chicago during prohibition)

Next week is my birthday and I am hoping to take the rv out somewhere, haven't decided where as the heat is not letting up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Work, Work, Work

Well, not really.   We got a call for two courses here at the border.  Juan is taking Reynosa and I came to Matamoros.   We left Monterrey this morning on the bus, he took one and I took the other next to his.  We had breakfast across from the bus station.  Monterrey has a new bus station, well, at least half of one.  Space is so limited downtown they tore down one half and rebuilt it now they are doing the other.  Very nice, just like an airport with freezing cold air conditioning,  a couple of convenience stores and a couple of small diners.  No more rickety stands.   The metro runs right to the bus station as well.

Our tickets were purchased the other day.  Although all expenses are paid we asked for the teacher discount.   The trip was uneventful but interesting.   Usually you have a  checkpoint at the km 30 heading to Reynosa.   We were stopped about 20 minutes before that.   Unloaded the bus, all the passengers and luggage.  Outside were a couple of army vehicles and one very interesting truck.  It opened on both sides, a conveyer came sliding out and a soldier manned the controls from the inside.   Just like at the airport.   We sent our luggage through one by one and we were back on our way.   20 minutes later we reach the 30km checkpoint, pouring down rain.   The bus attempts to pull over for the customary inspection and the soldiers are waving us on with a smile on their face.  A couple of jokers on the bus opened their curtains and encouraged them to come on board.   Everyone had a good laugh and off we went.

The hotel I'm staying at in Matamoros is next to a Bennigan's restaurant and my meals are charged from there directly to the hotel per the publisher.  So I went there for dinner to see what it was all about.   I ate in a Benningan's in 1984 in San Antonio.  The food is okay, the soup was very good.  What surprised me was the price.   Good lord, 99 pesos for a slice of some factory produced cake.   That's between 80 and 100 dollars for a cake depending on how you slice it (no pun intended).   I asked for some butter for  my cream of potato soup.  Can you believe it?  They charged me for the butter.  

I will be here until Wednesday and I am looking around here for a much better place to eat.  The hotel offers a full breakfast until noon so that is taken care of.   Had I eaten dessert, my bill would have come to 280 pesos, that is almost a week's worth of groceries.

I think I need to convince the publisher to pay for fuel and rv park or parking and I can use the rv.  Much more to my liking.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Thoughts On San Miguel de Allende
Before I even left for San Miguel de Allende I received emails asking me to post my thoughts on what I had discovered about the city, the people and its surroundings.  It's a long story and I'll try to post some pictures along the way to make it a bit  more interesting.

As some of you know, we have rented places in SMA in the past usually for a few days or a week, and we also rented rv space from the now defunct La Siesta Hotel and Rv Park (QEPD or RIP).  We have also boondocked with the rv in front of the Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens with great success.

VRPO is a famous condo and house rental website.  We have rented through them on two occasions and have never been let down.  It is very detailed and explicit, deposits are made and returned without any issue and the instructions, pictures and any details are all spelled out and posted up front.  One rental the owner and I corresponded a couple of times regarding my concerns on location and amenities and it all worked out for the good.

This rental I found posted on the infamous Yahoo Group called The Civil List.   Not very civil as sometimes, like on any forum, people can get hot-headed and out of hand but the moderators seem to have some  tolerance.   My criteria for this trip was "cheap".   We wanted to spend most of the hottest part of Monterrey summer in cool climes.   We had gone to Hacienda Contreras where the weather, people, food and hiking are the best but because of changes in the rv park we opted for SMA.  Cheap is what we got at $280 (u.s.) per month.  It was a three room casita; living room, kitchen, bedroom with full bath.   Spartan would be a good description.  The big advantage was location.  It was literally a few minutes walk from just about everything and because of that we rarely used the car except for trips outside of the city.   Even walking to the Tuesday market in Luciernaga is very doable if you are in good physical condition. 

Parking in SMA is an issue, albeit not a big one.   Parking lots are available throughout the centro historico and you can get lucky and find street parking during the week and early on weekends.   Traffic tends to back up during rush hour, if you want to call it that, although remember it is a city and people do work.   Weekends can find you regretting the taxi fare or driving in centro when you see people you may have passed 15 minutes ago walking ahead of your vehicle.  Our casita was located in the San Antonio area which some consider on the lower side of centro and in the past notorious for car break ins.  We parked on the street without any issues for almost two months.  I always put the "club" on the steering wheel and set the alarm which shows a flashing light on the door next to the lock as a deterrent.   Never an issue.  Monthly parking lots exist and there were two on our street.  I didn't check the cost but I estimate it at 400 pesos a month.

San Miguel de Allende was designated a World Heritage Site and to this day I am still a bit confused about what that really means and what it does for the city.  The city has water from underground wells that is chlorinated but it is not purified.  Does it need to be?  I've never tested the water but drink it without issue.  We use bottled for coffee and to fill some reusable bottles but the tap water seems to work.  There is open sewage in some parts of the city.   We had an open sewage stream about three blocks from the house that runs under the street near the well-known section of La Aldea, that area always smells of sewage.  Not knocking the town but it is the reality and the reason I mention it is that I wonder what UNESCO does exactly when it designates a place as a World Heritage Site?   I checked a few months ago and it appeared there hadn't been a meeting about it in the last 15 years.   It has put SMA on the map but other than that I'm suspicious of what they really do.

Food runs the gamut.   I stopped recommending restaurants years ago.  It seemed no matter what I recommended it never panned out for the person that I sent there.   In SMA there are touristy places that cater to the ex-pat community and the Mexican tourists.  At the famous Rosewood Hotel a glass of wine is 95 pesos while at the Berlin Bar and Eatery they have hard liquor cocktails, two for one, at 35 pesos each, much more my style and a really nice place, very quaint.  The famous Pueblo Viejo is another hot spot and draws quite a crowd but the same two vodkas came to 75 pesos each.   I don't push food much anymore as I have become bitter about restaurants that serve old food or buy things premade at Costco and Sam's.   There is one Argentinian restaurant on Zacateros that was offering a top sirloin dinner for 120 pesos this week.   Cafe Monet looks pretty she-she but in reality it is a very good deal.  Les had coffee with us there and I can't remember ordering a piece of pie for 35 pesos in years.  The atmosphere, furnishing, food and service made it a fun afternoon.   They also have a movie night which includes the movie, full dinner, wine, dessert and coffee for 120 pesos.  Right at the bottom of San Antonio by the Aldea.   Taco Don Tequila on Hernandez Macia was a recommendation from mi tacayo (guy with the same name) at the gym.  Chris recommended this place.  It is small, quaint and very Mexican.   Great simple food that includes tacos, quesadillas, gringas, stuffed baked potatoes along with some great salsas and chips.   Cheap, cheap, cheap.  We went there twice it was so good.   Along Ancha de San Antonio which is the main drag into Centro from the Mega or known as the salida a Celaya, are several outdoor cafes that we used for breakfast.  Who can turn down a complete breakfast, under an umbrella along the street for 35 pesos.   A great place to see people walking by or zipping by on their scooters (and you know who I'm talking about).

Ex-pats.   No w we get into touchy turf and thanks to Juan we divided them into three groups.  The tourists, permanents that don't mix with the Mexican community and those that do mix with the Mexican community.  I would bet that close to 90% of all ex-pats living in SMA for over 10 years speak little to no Español.  I will quote again research being done by a Canadian from Calgary who said,

"But moving to a new country - even if it's an inexpensive tropical paradise - is never easy, and O'Brien says people go through several phases as they adapt to their new life. They start out, he says, by thinking they're going to be living like kings in paradise; eventuality, reality sets in.

For most expatriates, reality is that they end up living in a pleasant but isolated enclave.

O'Brien says the expats in the community he studied had essentially recreated a North American lifestyle in one small corner of the Yucatan. "They are living exactly the same life they'd live at home, but in a different location," he says. Most "absolutely love" the life, but his study showed some problems.

The first, he says, is that the expat community is negatively affecting the local population "even though they don't notice it themselves." For example, he said the expats often make no attempt to learn Spanish, and expect to be dealt with in English. And their relationships with the locals are based on service, not friendship. As a result, says O'Brien, the expats' relationship to the locals is often condescending.

He also explains that expats have surprisingly little contact with their families back home. "It's kind of shocking," he says, adding that most people he talked to report that missing family members is the most difficult part of living abroad. Part of that may be due the fact that the community he studied was not on the tourist circuit, and therefore not as easy to get to as some of the cities or resorts."

We witnessed many such instances where people would look down on locals, shake their finger, shake their head and pretty much leave the person who was assisting them, humiliated.   

If you want to buy a place to live in SMA they are in abundance.  Everyone has a "for sale" sign on their house even though they probably don't have it listed with a  realtor.  They're really not looking to sell but what the heck if a foreigner comes along and makes them an offer.  Be prepared to pay through the nose.   Amazing that many places are long, narrow properties with little to no construction and can go for an easy $500,000 (u.s.).    We are talking lots that are 8 meters by 30 meters.  That's roughly 2600 sq feet or $195 (u.s.) per square foot.   I think they're nuts.   Some people we met found a house with great views, 192 sqm of land and 190 sqm of construction for $220,000 (u.s.).  The street is cobblestone, at the top of a hill on a street so narrow a car can barely pass.   I guess views really do have a price.

What about outdoor activities.  There are plenty of opportunities and many are nearby.  The Charco del Ingenio is the botanical gardens on the other side of the glorieta leading to Queretaro.  A few minutes from downtown, it offers great hiking, birdwatching as well as the opportunity to become familiar with local as well as surrounding flora.   You can purchase a membership there and visit as many times as you like even bring a friend.   Volunteers are always needed to help with the upkeep, maintenance and general policing of the gardens.   Just outside the city is true countryside with many mountain area accesses such as Jalpa.   In Queretaro is the famous Peña de Bernal which is a monolith and also the town has been named as a pueblo magico.   Just about all roads out of SMA lead to some type of hiking or walking along with the thermal springs in outside of Atotonilco which is accessible by bus as well.

The "Cuna de Independencia", Dolores Hidalgo, is a short drive and offers a museum, wonderful historical sites, good food and the most amazing flavors of ice cream.  We took advantage day trips to other nearby towns such as Salva Tierra, Celaya, and Comonfort.   All have amazing plazas and checking their websites you can always find some local fair, festival or activity going on.

We're hoping to have our place there soon if not someday in the near future.  I wouldn't want to live there 24/7 but it makes for a fantastic base for rv travel.  Again, the weather is the best and living in a small but touristic city makes for a lot of activities, volunteering and all around fun.

If there is anything I didn't cover, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back Home - The Heat!

We took off as planned at 7:00 this morning.  We had everything ready last night and packed the car this morning.   We couldn't get the cats to do their duty and I even considered physically squeezing them to get them to do it.  Well they did but not until we were on the road.  Smart thing though, they let us know they needed out of their carriers.

Off we went to Los Rodriguez just east of SMA and over their 14 topes, one by one.   Onto Hwy 57, we  headed north for the next five and a half hours.   We passed through two checkpoints being waved on without a problem.   I stopped twice for a hot cup of coffee and the highlight of the trip was passing Santa Maria del Rio.  I think I mentioned on my way down in June that I stopped there for the best meal ever.  It was a Mexican biscuit (sweet like a croissant) with black beans, manchego cheese, black beans and pico de gallo (chopped chili, tomato, onion and cilantro with a bit of lime juice).   We passed the place but turned around and went back.  If you know me, I never turn back for anything so this must really be good.   Heading south on the 57, when you get to Santa Maria del Rio, you are heading downhill and there is the exit for the town.  Pass the exit about 150 meters and you will see a gas station with some small restaurants and a convenience store.  In the MaxGas convenience store they have a small restaurant and the women there really know how to cook.

Can't beat the price either at 18 pesos.

We arrived at the turn off to San Roberto which takes you over the mountains to Galeana and on to Linares on Hwy 85 to our house in Santiago.   As always, the trip over the mountains is just that, a real trip.  As you exit the 57 and head up the mountains it looks pretty mundane, a long stretch up a mountain with not much around.  After that, it's curves, junipers, pines, yuccas and wonderful mountain scenery.   We love this part of the trip and we have boondocked in these mountains.   Even in the summer when the temps are 46C (114F) like it was today in Monterrey, the evenings are ice cold.  Iturbide is a good place to spend the night, pull up along the city park and put out the slides.

En fin, we made it home safe and sound pulling in the driveway at 3.15, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  The gardener thought we wouldn't be home until tomorrow and he was there scrambling to finish his work :)

Back home now, wishing we were still in SMA if not for the magic of the city and its surroundings, but for the cool weather year round.  Tomorrow we begin the hard work of selling a piece of land if not the house and getting the heck out of here.  Chances, I'd say 50% or less although I will try to be optimistic.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yep, Heading Home - Photos Added

Taking off a couple of weeks early from San Miguel de Allende.  We have some minor issues with the casita but the landlord is a very nice person.  She invited us yesterday to her home for lunch and she understands our concerns.  Not anything worth mentioning and at the same time we didn't want to go out and look for another place just for three weeks.  We made the decision two weeks ago but I haven't bothered to mention it until now.   

I do know that the rv is an important part of our lives and our travels.   We have mentioned the rv at least once everyday whether it was about how the solar was doing, where we wanted to travel in the winter, or what changes we would make this fall with some of the money I earn in Texas.
It turns out that this is a good thing as we want to figure out how to put the money together for buying a place here, marketing the house for sale, and making a decision.  Turns out that the smallest model home in the neighborhood has a lot next to it.  It would be ideal as they said they would throw in all the furnishings and decorations plus the fact that it is one of the show models the construction and details are 110%.   We could rent it out right away and start working on the lot for the rv building a palapa, bathroom and laundry area.

We've had a great time here, we met some pretty cool people along the way and hope to keep in touch with them.  Others we met and never found or made the the time to get together but we will back no matter what in the fall should we head to Valle de Juarez.   I am thinking beach this winter though at least for a few weeks.  I need to get my feet wet.

I have to admit, I am a bit down about leaving.   I am good at putting things out of my mind and I hate having to deal with some of the b.s. that will be coming.   

We went to a party Saturday at Rosa and Kay's house.  Les stopped by for a while and Darren came up from D.F. just for the party.  We had a great time and we really hit it off with some of the group.   Like.minded people in the sense of politics and religion.   Lots of good conversation.

Closing for now as we are headed out for our last walk through town until we return.  :(

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It Was A Different Day

 For starters, a lovely shot of the Parroquia taken in the morning.
Every year a group of artists throw a big bash out in the countryside at an artist's home.   We found the map and the directions and headed out there.  First stop was to pick up the girls.   The drive out to La Cieniguita is about 15 minutes from town.  Wonderful drive through lush green fields, lots of trees and things to see. 

As you can see from the pics below it looks more like a bunch of hold outs from the hippie days.  And it is.  People, mostly gringos, dressed in wild clothes, colors, and designs.   They are seemed to know each other.  I would say there was crowd of about 150 people.  They sold beer, refreshements, and an organic food truck sold food on the spot.  Very expensive though, imagine a small zucchini cut up and deep fried for 50 pesos.  Outrageous.

Turned out, the art is made of of pieces of cut glass glued to things.  All the small buildings on the property are constructed with glass bottles and scrap.  You can tell this is not my kind of art but what do I know.  

 Dancing mojigangas.  That was pretty cool.

 After about 45 minutes we decided to high tail it out of there.  Not our kind of crowd.  On the road in front we encountered one of the local characters, Mr. Pinky.  Even his nails are pink, his VW is pink inside and out.  Juan had to have a pic taken with him.  We kind of prefer Mexican events.  I'll keep the rest of my comments to myself about this wonderful art gathering!

We headed back to town and picked up some carnitas and headed to the girls house for happy hour up on their terrace.  Much more fun and we had a pretty good time.

BTW, we went to the movies the other night.  I forgot to mention that.  We saw "Los Ilusionistas" or Now You See Me Now You Don't.   It was a typical Hollywood flick.  Lots of noise, action and special effects.   I gave it "three decks of cards, two rabbits in a hat and one big Abracadabera.  The last time we went to the movies was here in SMA over a year ago.   Tickets were priced right at 35 pesos each.  Can't beat that for going to the movies.   Great theater, movie in English, comfortable seating.  It was getting stuffy  so Juan asked them to crank up the air.  In less than five minutes it was nice and cool.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Concert Night

We walked into Centro to the Teatro Angela Peralta for a wonderful classical music concert.   The Trioo de Las Americas played non-stop for over an hour and a half.   Sitting in that old theater, with the private boxes in the luge area, no air conditioning but very comfortable, and no microphones or sound amplification.  It was just like two hundred years ago.  Imagine listening to Handel just as it was written.  No need for amplification as the theaters were acoustically built. Complete silence.  No cell phones allowed, no cameras, no pictures and no crying children.  It was complete silence as five hundred people listened to this wonderful concert.  It truly was a good experience and one I haven't experienced for over 40 years back when I was an usher at the music hall in Kansas City.

After, we headed to the Jardin for a quick walk around and headed home.  An evening in San Miguel to remember.

On another note, students in Mexico will be heading back to school.  If you are interested in doing something good for Mexico, buying a student a school uniform is a good idea.  They will also be publishing a list of the school supplies that a student needs.  You can easily put a package together.  This beats donating used stuff or giving money.  Used stuff usually gets sold and money gets used for everything but school supplies and uniforms.  Uniforms are sold at all supermarkets and the prices below are the average price per piece.

Camisa 79 pesos, pantalón 110, corbata 35 pesos, calcetines 38 y zapatos 200 pesos.

Shirt 79 pesos, pants 110 pesos, tie 35 pesos, socks 38 pesos and a pair of shoes for 200 pesos.