Monday, October 28, 2013

Wow, I Have A Name

I guess I'm building a reputation around the rv park here in McAllen.  People are finally starting to wave but reluctantly.   I do it so often they have given in.  You can tell some of them do it half-heartedly and others with true desire.

The folks from Quebec are arriving and French is being heard around the park.   These American dudes are really weird.  Last evening around 6 p.m., I went for my evening stroll.  I am passing the front gate and I see a swarm of golf carts, an electric wheelchair doing donuts and a small rv outside the gate looking for a way to get in.   So I walk over and ask the cart people if they are going to let them in.  "Oh no, they have to wait for the manager, no one gets the gate key number, that's against the rules".  Oh brother, some warm welcome for a retired couple who speaks no English.   I guess we can call this group the "welcome wagon".   Way too funny, that's when I wish I had the camera with me to take a video of these golf carts going back and forth, in reverse, and just literally staring at these poor folks who eventually took off and came back this morning.  By the time I got up the gumption to open the gate for them they had gone.  That old lady doing donuts in the wheelchair was too funny!

I got most of my training out of the way today via Skype with my boss in Houston.   Next week I begin visiting schools in Laredo.   I wish they would have told me that before I paid this morning for another month!   Not a big deal, my boss told me she would want me to drive from McAllen anyway so I can visit schools in the counties before Laredo.   I will be there three days, go back to Monterrey and then to the RGV and visit schools there.   They are paying the rent so I can't complain.

Tonight I went for my evening walk, I'm just getting back.   I passed two couples outside having a drink on their patio.  As I approached it got quiet and I waved and said my howdy do only to get the cold shoulder.  I had to laugh because I starting thinking, "maybe this is a dream and I am really walking around with a dress and high heels", but then I realized that would look pretty funny with muscles and protruding shoulders.  

Next came Ma and Pa Kettle.  They must be in their mid-eighties and you know as you get older your hearing fades.   When that happens you speak louder even though you believe you're whispering.   I said hello and wished them a good evening and they replied the same.   Then I heard her whisper something and he said, "What?"   She repeated it but screaming, "that's the Mexican fella".   Now I have a name!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back To The Border

Today is Sunday and I have been us since 5:30 a.m. but now it is 4:30 in Mexico.  Daylight Savings Time went into effect this morning.   I'm enjoying my morning coffee, my favorite cat is on my lap and I just finished reading the newsletter.  I can't get into the Rv.Net, I'm receiving a 500 Internal Server Error.  

I made a huge mistake by not working out since I got home on Tuesday.   I did get four days of workout in before that though.  I feel like a lump of you know what; excess water, too much food, and general malaise.  Heading to McAllen in a bit to see if I can be a six-week salesman and I will go to the gym this afternoon.   The good thing is that McAllen is close and I will be driving back and forth every week.  I don't have to but it would be nice to be here getting things ready for winter.

The opening of the new Baularte bridge that goes to Mazatlan is really beckoning.  I have checked the route and we are waiting for confirmation on the cost.   The first week the bridge was free but tolls will be charged this week.  Nothing official as of yet but it would be fun to experience Mazatlan from an rving experience instead of all the trips we have made over the years for work and conventions.

Let's see if I can sell a course or two and if I can it will cover the cost of many rv trips in the coming year!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Was A Good Day

For starters, I am not a saleperson.  I don't like sales and I've only tried it once only to sabotaged by a sales team who didn't want a teacher/consultant taking their commission.  A long story and one I won't go into.  Today though was a breaking point for me.  I was given a sales script to learn and it just wasn't me.  Fortunately, I have a boss in Dallas who treats me very well and told me, "It's a guide, you know your business, make it yours".   It finally came to me and now I am on my way.  I go back to McAllen on Sunday and will meet with her via Skype on Monday  ready and rarin' to go. 

I went to the school today in Allende and delivered the books I bought for the reading program.  Today was "in service" at the school so no classes.  The teachers were happy to see me and much happier to see the books.  We finalized the plans for the annual spelling bee and the Christmas carol program which will take place at the cathedral in the town square.  All the staff was invited to a lunch in the auditorium to celebrate birthdays for the month of October and thank the teachers for their hard work.  We had a great lunch and laughed up a storm.  Oh to be 25 and a teacher today!

After, I met Juan in town and we stopped by our friend's house.  Teo and Reyna recently adopted a baby girl. They had been on the list for two years.   It was a really deep and exhaustive process.  In short, Reyna received a call at work that started out with, "Are you sitting down?"  Apparently she screamed so loud everyone on the floor of her office came running.  

We met their new baby today.  She is precious, adorable, and real charmer.  She sleeps all night, is only three months old, and is as cute as a bug's ear.   I am almost in tears writing this.  They have wanted a child for so long and decided that in vitro was not an option.  They followed the rules, had a dozen investigation performed, physical, psychological, home invasions to say the least only to end up with Aly Daniela.  Their story is so intense I think I may do a write up.   What would most people think about adoption in Mexico?  By that I mean, the conditions, the requirements, the adoption center, etc.  I was more than impressed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Great Day Being At Home

Enjoyed our evening last night.   The mattress in the rv is the original and we have been shopping for a new one all last week.  Many to choose from but we haven't made up our minds yet.  It was good to sleep in our bed at home.  King size, must be well I won't say how old, but we turn it regularly, have had the surface steam cleaned many times, and keep it clean with a good mattress cover.   Hard as a rock and I love it.  We are about to buy a "mattress in a box" for both home and rv.  This is not a memory foam topper but a 12 inch mattress.

I didn't go to the gym this morning.  In the past they let me pay by the week when I was on the road.  Now it is a month only and starting the on the first.  Long walks, sit ups, push ups do the job when I am here and the gym in McAllen.  Next week when I return home I will pay for a full month.

I was up early as usual and watched local news which I miss most.  I also listened to talk radio in Spanish all day trying to catch up.  I met a friend for coffee at Starbucks and we caught up on the housing market as he is a director for a home construction company.   I did grocery shopping, the fridge here at home was pert near empty.   

I cleaned bathrooms, the kitchen and made a great pasta dinner this evening with a good wine and we have a special dessert I bought.

Really good to be home.  As you can see by the picture above, these guys hung around the house and were like my shadow all day.  Little Bit would raise his head on occasion and angrily meow at me as if he was yelling at me for leaving him for so long.  Hey, I have a soft heart.  Remember, I'm on the cusp of Leo/Virgo, hard on the outside and soft on the inside.  Now you know the scoop.  It was a good day for me.  I know what I like.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Back Home For A Few Days

Had some over the phone training today with my boss in Dallas.  We packed up and headed home around noon.  A good trip, fun to be back in Mexico, a place that is familiar to me.  Juan noticed the change in my demeanor right away.   We talked all the way home and had a few laughs.   Nothing to report from the road.  We passed the km. 26 south of Reynosa.  It used to be kind of run down and not a big deal.  They have done quite a bit to modernize it and also installed a drive through x-ray machine for tractor trailers in between the north and southbound lanes.   Looks like a big deal.  I bought some used readers for kids at the school to start the reading program.   In fact, I had a couple hundred and the aduana didn't say a word.  It as obvious they were used.   Home now having some down time and enjoying the cats.  I'm getting a tongue lashing from Little Bit for my absence.  He starts meowing at me as if he is yelling at me.  I deserve it.

Pictures of the empty rv park.  The manager assured me she has 65 couples coming in the first week of November.   She also said people just aren't coming to the valley like they used to.  That could explain the incredible rate I am getting for November and December.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Valley Life

We have been enjoying the weekend.   I didn't work on Friday so it's been three days of fun and relaxation.  I haven't been doing much blogging and I feel I have neglected other bloggers by not checking in on them.  I checked Kevin and Ruth and Croft but others I just didn't have the time.  I need to expand my list of blogs to read too.  I see that Derek and Teresa are back on the road and off to new places.

We've been out shopping for a tablet for Juan.  Wow, way too many choices.   I finally figured out my new cellphone so I want to start downloading music to it and see how a video plays on it.  I bought a sewer hose accordion thingamajigs to support the hose.  Here at the park you can't have it on the ground. 

Last night we went to visit friends Javier and Lori who are from Monterrey but have raised their kids here.  We had a lot of fun chatting over cocktails.   Javi started a new business which is popular here in the valley thanks to imports and exports, pallets.   He buys a trailer full of merchandise that is irregular, damaged carton, items that didn't sell and puts them together on pallets by product type; small appliances, garden, tools,etc.   People stop by his place and pick up a pallet for $500 and then take it to their business, flea market, or garage sale and they resell the merchandise.   He's doing quite well at it and we wish him lots of success.  We haven't seen them since Thanksgiving last year and the boys have really grown.  One will be in the university soon.

Believe it or not, I actually slept in until 8 a.m. this morning.   You would think I felt good but I have felt lousy all day.   I like my 5 a.m. routine.  We stayed up way too late last night.

This morning Juan wanted to go to his favorite breakfast place in La Feria.   That was fine with me because we stopped by the big Bass Shop store they have in Harlingen and I got to look at some things for future trips like a stove top drip coffee maker by Coleman.   Really want that.   I am also looking for one of those pop up rooms I have mentioned many times on the blog.  It's a 9 X 9 room and you just toss it in the air and up it goes and has a floor in it.  I need to order it on line.

Here is the place we went, packed as always.   

I purposely took the camera for Les so he could see our breakfast but this is all that was left.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ready For The Weekend


It’s been quite a while since I posted my blog and you may be wondering why and thinking it’s not like me.   Well, you’re right.  Being here kind of puts me in a funk and not one I can explain.  I like working with the kids in the high schools, the money is attractive and I don’t have to do it every day.   There lies the problem.  The off days are boring here.  There is literally no one here in the rv park, no one on the street and they don’t have a town plaza to hang out in.  

Now I’ve got myself into a pickle being the nice guy that I am.  I have signed acontract to work until December 6th.  I couldn’t turn my back on my coworker, who as I told you, has her two year old in the hospital receiving chemo for a brain tumor after an operation to remove it.   I know I said I wouldn’t do it but I am an easy guy.  Got any land for sale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?

Good news is that it is only two days a week and I can go home and be where I feel the best, good ole Mexico.   The job is pretty easy, with people I can relate to more or less and also provide work for other presenters who at this time have nothing to do because of my coworker’s situation.   We go home Wednesday morning and I can change cars.  I’m not a salesman but they think I can do it.  If so, it will be a profitable venture, trust me!

I had an interesting experience yesterday.  I visited a high school with 1800 students and taught a course to 125 of them.  This little border town on the U.S. is plagued with the bad guys who work both sides of the border and move their goods up through Texas and into Oklahoma.   I was warned not to bring up the subject as some of the students are involved with those bad guys.   Yep, this is the United States.  Interesting, isn’t it?  

I always do my research before visiting a school and a town so I can incorporate things such as the school football team, famous facts or people from that town, and also demographics which give me insight into the students and staff I am working with.  This town of 9,000 has a per capita income of only $15,000 which isn’t much different from its sister city across the border.  Not being the optimist, most of the kids in my class will never leave their town, never go to college, and probably work for the bad guys and have a very short life. 

It was a rude awakening but one I have experienced many time over the last year and a half doing this job.   I hope I can reach just one of them.  During the course yesterday I coaxed the students into participating by negotiating the things we did.  I received opposition from one student but majority rules.  As always, I have an evaluation that they fill out about the course, the materials and the instructor.  Quote from the student in opposition, “Mr. Bauer was very energetic, I did not appreciate the dominantly male preference of Mr. Bauer nor did I appreciate his leaving the science portion of the course LAST.  Mr. Bauer is easily distracted and tells many stories and asks too many questions”.   Whatever it takes to keep their attention.

She is one of the students who will do something with her life.  The science test was eliminated as a negotiation tool (we do four practice tests, math, English, reading and science), although we work with it at the end.  In the evaluation, the students grade me from an “F” to an “A+”.  This was the only student who gave me a “B”, the rest were As and A+s.  I take it personally, but I had to do what the majority wanted.  Had I not done this, I would have lost the group. 

As an ending point, the school has little interest as well.  They scheduled this course on the day of Homecoming and the Homecoming parade.  They couldn’t wait to get out of there and the staff even told me so.  This course has a cost of $250 and the students were requested to pay $10.  Government grants absorb the rest.  Why did they schedule something so important on a day they knew the students would have the least interest? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Yep, Not For Me - Ready To Hit The Trail

After some thought and a conversation with the salesperson who is now in Houston, I have decided it is not for me.  I prefer to be a presenter and will leave it at that.  Spending money on staying here and not being able to cover the expenses with sales is what changed my mind.  Lots of reports to fill out on each school visit and that is the last thing I want to do.  I spoke with Juan and he is ready to hit the road too.

So our plans remain the same, going home on the 22nd and heading for Queretaro, Guadalajara and beyond.  The dog that showed up last month now has a home and when I heard the news my heart sank.  Not because I wanted to keep the dog, but the fact that he is being moved around.   Kind of like a foster child.   Good news is that he will be happy and he didn't get killed by a car, poisoned, or left to starve to death.  We were good foster parents.  The house is painted and a couple more details before we leave. 

This morning I head off for El Paso, my final trip there until Spring.  This fall series was productive and I had a good time not to mention the money we made.  I'll be home Tuesday afternoon and will drive from the airport to the bridge to pick up Juan who will be arriving via bus about the same time.

Let the winter games begin!!!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Long Week And Decisions To Make

Where have I been this week?  Mostly sitting in airports and on airplanes and I'm not complaining.  I like those things.   It takes its toll on your body though and recovering isn't easy.  I have been consistent in going to the gym everyday no matter where I am and that isn't easy either because it may mean I am up before 5 a.m.

I'm back in McAllen, I arrived last night after 11 p.m.   Good to be home although a bit empty here still as the snowbirds haven't arrived.   Juan will be here on Tuesday and everything will be back to normal.

I've seen a lot of things and unfortunately I don't have the camera charger here so the battery is just about dead and I haven't taken pictures.   On a recent visit to a town called Fabens outside of El Paso, I found a mobile home photographer's dream.  Because El Paso is very dry and desert-like things stay pretty well-preserved.  I saw some mobile homes from the fifties that are so cool.  That is on our list to go back and take pictures.  I am headed to El Paso on Sunday and may just go out there if I can get someone to charge the battery for the camera.

Our salesperson for the valley has taken a leave of absence.  Her two year old son has a brain tumor.  They are starting chemo on Monday and she will be out until Christmas.   There is no more work here after this next week.  I received a call from the company asking if I would step in for her until December 15th so that I and other presenters will have some seminars in November and the Spring.   A two month commitment and I am not sure that is what I want to do.  I have a conference call with her tomorrow to talk about how much work she thinks I can get and if it is worth it.  This is part-time and it can be two days a week or whatever I decide.  All I have to do is visit existing schools on our list who have used our seminars in the past and see if they want to schedule another one.  The pay is good and the work easy.

I spoke to the rv park and I am feeling that the situation here with snowbirds is not very bright.  No one is here in the park yet although they say come November 1st it will be packed.   I asked about two month rates for November and December and they offered me two months for $500.  Cheap.

We are wanting to go to Queretaro for the teachers convention and then to Guadalajara for a week before heading up to Hacienda Contreras and then down to the beach for a few weeks.  Hmm, everything depends on my conversation tomorrow.   To be honest, I'm not thrilled about the idea.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I spent the morning working on the rv.  I went up on the roof and checked around for possible leak spots or wear in the caulking.  I had bought a tube of Dicor last week but since we don't carry a ladder it is not an easy task.   So I climbed the back bumper and put the tools I needed on the roof and then from the spare tire lifted myself up.  I did this early in hopes no one would see me fall off the roof.  I asked Pedro the maintenance guy if he could help me by lending the ladder and he said yes.  He never showed up and when I'd see him he'd say, "si, en un ratito mas".   

I did my morning walk and inspected all the rigs and park models in the park.  Some pretty cool setups and great ideas.   I came back and showered and headed to a friend's house for breakfast and a prayer meeting.  I'm not into prayer meetings but the get together was pretty good.  I met some nice people and got to see where Robert and his wife live.   McAllen is pretty spread out and they live way out.  Nice house and great hospitality.  Must of been fun, I stayed three hours.  The prayer part was all of 20 minutes, the rest was talking and eating.

I miss home.   Not the house so much, but all the activity that I call home.  Juan, the cats and now the dog.  A friend from Mexico City has been staying at the house for two weeks and heads home this week.  I was hoping to go home for a weekend so we could chat and catch up on stuff.  Darren is a pretty cool guy and has been to some great places around the world.  Just not a lot of people here to talk to.   I smile at everyone and usually get some dirty look and I have a tendency to wink a lot.  My dad did that, well, here it's considered some kind of a come on.   Me and a 25 year old woman, puhhhlllleeasseeee.  :) All I can say is, lighten up folks!   Anyway, Juan will be here soon enough and things will be all better. 

Misty eyes but I have enough to keep me busy.  I leave tomorrow morning at 8:10 for El Paso.   Again, another small town, San Elizario, about 30 minutes east of the big city.   A small group of 110 students.  The principal called me on Friday.  Not a common thing with schools, you know, the hierarchy.   Usually it is a counselor or secretary, not that it matters, however, nice to see a principal involved with student activities. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hopefully The Last Hot One

They say the cold front is moving in on us tonight.  Wow, some cold front!  It will get down to 63F.   However, I haven't been using the a/c but for a couple of hours in the afternoon and sleeping so far in McAllen hasn't been too bad.   I think I will enjoy the 10° drop.

The big news in the snowbird world here in the valley was the shoot out that took place in a well-known rv park in Mission.  Two old-coots got into an arguement, one went home and came back on his golf cart.  They got into again and proceeded to shoot and kill each other.   A sad tragedy, but one that shows us again that guns are dangerous in anyone's hands.

Here in this park there is a park model that has a large shield hanging on the side with two crossing pistols.  Above that it says, "we don't call 911".  Yikes!

Yesterday I worked here in McAllen in one of the best valley schools.  I had 300 students packed into the auditorium and we had a great time.  Same thing as last year but these were a new group of juniors and seniors that hadn't attended.   We cut out the lunch and and extra fifteen minutes so that we started at 8 and finished at 1 p.m.  Worked out good for me.   I was pretty wiped out last night.

Today I did laundry to prepare for my trip back to El Paso on Monday.  I did a little grocery shopping and housekeeping and finished that off with a nice lunch of two chicken tostadas that I made.   My nap came shortly after and later this afternoon  I'm going for a swim.   Juan will be here in another week and we might take the rv up to San Antonio for a few days before returning home.  Looks like a short season.  The sales rep is still taking care of her son who had a brain tumor removed and hasn't been able to return to work.  I was asked yesterday if I would be interested in the job.  No thank you, I don't work full time anymore.

A friend from Puerto Rico says they are gearing up for a possible tsunami.  FEMA has sent body bags, coffins and military.   The local government says it's just a rumor but a close friend who works in a local hospital says she say the equipment arriving.  Let's home not.  Looks like a big one though.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Back In The Rv Park

Not much to report today.  I got an early start for the airport.  Woke up at 4:30 and watched some news and read for awhile.  This trip I finished a book and ran out of reading material when I remembered that Croft sent me a very good book to read, Inferno by Dan Brown.  That was my salvation for the airport journey I made.   El Paso has a nice airport, small and quaint although they probably wouldn't like to hear that I sure enjoyed it.  Friendly people except for those nagging TSA agents  (better watch my p's and q's with the NSA watching).   Too many rules.   But need I digress.

Good wifi helped throughout the day even on the airplane.  Although there is a charge for wifi on American, you can browse their webpage for free which I did.  Imaginary flights, checking prices, dream trips, etc.  Lots of coffee.  

I got home around 2 p.m. only to see the highway shut down to a fiery crash and then the elementary school down the street from the rv park in lock down with police, ambulances and fire trucks.  Maybe on the evening news it will say something.  Wow, just like home!

Was invited to dinner by former Mexico rver who now lives in Chapala and was here on business.  We had Chinese but the best part was the conversation about what is going on in his neck of the woods.  A good three hour conversation and catching up on things.

On the home front all is fine and I am thinking about potty training our cats for our trip to Canada.  I hate cat boxes and cats are real stinkers no matter what you feed them.   Missy is turning five this year and has become more house bound over the last few months.   I want to see if we can train him for leash walking.   Five months out on the road and I want to simplify it as much as possible.   

BTW, I hope the following article doesn't affect our trip Pena Nieto May Cancel Canada Trip Due to Visa Row

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Travel Day - In The Air

This is from yesterday (Monday), something happened and it didn't post.

Not to hack anyone off (TSA and immigration), I decided to get to the airport early.  They are pretty picky here in the U.S. with air travel.   I went to the gym first, showered and took off for the airport.  It says on the McAllen Miller International Airport that parking is free.   I got there and long term was $15.  The company is paying but I'm not a money waster even if it isn't my money.   I got inside and there is a parking payment booth.  I asked the guy there but he gave me a "hmm" answer.   Then I saw the sign and it said "economy parking"  $3 a day.   He had difficulty telling me how to get there.  He explained as if I were an airport employee.   I left, got my 30 minutes free parking and moved over to economy.  It's on the other side of the terminal, hard to find, but only about 300 meters further.   Check the website and see if I'm reading it correctly.

The flight was pretty good but more like taking a bus.  Self-service, no food, no peanuts, only sodas, juice and coffee.  Wow!  $550 and only a cup of coffee.   I posted on Facebook that American has a menu.  What a rip!   Imagine, a breakfast box for $6.99 that includes a mini yogurt, a cookie, oatmeal, and a lifesaver mint.  Oh, brother.

Had a three hour layover in Dallas.   Free wifi in McAllen, no service in Dallas unless you are an AT&T customer.   I spent a nice time walking around, watching the news and reading a book.  I had lunch there, I had to eat.   A place called Ling & Louie's or something.  Fancy Asian.   It was good, but salty.  I love watching people so hanging out in the airport is fun for me.

Arrived to El Paso and picked up the car.  I will be driving to a school in a Fabens, a town about 50 kms from here in the morning.  A small group of 130 students and then I need to stop by a school back here in town in the afternoon to drop off extra materials.   If I have time I may drive up to Franklin Mountians to take pics of the sunset.