Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Keeping Warm and Having Fun


 The sun does shine once in awhile!  We have had some pretty windy and rainy days.  People here still know how to have fun.  We have been going into town, to the market, a trip to Sahuayo to the Soriana and the bank to make some payments.  Kind of like the mailman, we all seem to make it to happy hour no matter what the weather is.  You look out you window and it is like the second coming.  One by one people crawl out of their rigs, wine glasses and snacks in hand.

I had to take the picture of Sherman, Kevin and Ruths rv.  They are still in Africa and posted on Facebook that Sherman says that he is lonely.

Here we are in the kitchen at the activities room.  We took the opportunity to make huevos rancheros for everyone at the park.  A really good time had by all and the best part was after breakfast when we sat there and talked up a storm for more than an hour.   It was just as much fun as happy hour.

We all took a trip into Mazamitla for a bowl of soup at the famous hotel Posada Alpina.   Another fun outing.  You can tell though how the weather was.  We were literally walking around in a cloud. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Trip To San Miguel El Viejo


On Christmas Day we went out for lunch at Nirvana which is on the way to Atotonilco.   A very nice upscale restaurant where the prices are actually quite reasonable.  Our friend Andi drove us there.  We had been there in the summer and had such a good lunch we decided to go back.   Rosa was with us and we had an interesting chat along with lunch.  We covered healthcare and the use of hospitals in Mexico.  

After lunch Andi took us for a drive to see the expensive neighborhood of Otomi which also houses stables, a horse track, swimming and tennis for its tenants right along the water's edge of the presa.   While we were there she asked us if we were familiar with old San Miguel.    We had never heard anything about it.  It is located on the other side of the lake and there are still people who live down there.   Mostly small homes with farm animals but quite a nice place. 

We stopped by the original church that was built in the 1600s.   It was closed but on closer inspection you could see through a hole in the door and there was a fire burning inside.  We tried to get pics of the inside but it just wasn't possible.  

You can see the decorations over the doors.   There are angels and peyote buttons.   Peyote has always been a part of American culture.   It grows in lots of places in Mexico.  Peyote harvest near our house is at the end of March.  In Sinaloa and Sonora a tribe makes a topical paste that is used to reduce pain from arthritis and other ailments.  They say foreigners buy it and spread it on tacos to eat.  Who knows about that but this place is truly magical and you can feel the energy there.

Enlarging the picture of the wall, you can see some of the details.

We finished our day with them around 7 p.m. and we watched a video and had a cocktail.   Got up early and headed out for Hacienda Contreras.   This is what we saw coming up in the sky as we headed out from the botanical gardens.   It made for a great start and we had a wonderful drive, some light showers but overall good roads and lots of fun.   More on HC tomorrow.  


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pictures of Our Trip - Home to SMA


Okay, so here we were the other day driving through our great state of Nuevo Leon.  Same scenery as we headed over the mountains from Linares to San Roberto which is the connection to Hwy 57 or Mexico City and all points south.   Each trip though the pictures change depending on the season, weather, and time of day.  

Isn't this just beautiful, the valley as we made it over the mountains and our descent to Hwy 57.  This a great route and one that you can take all the way from Reynosa or Laredo without every having to go into Monterrey, with or without taking the toll highway from the border.  Not sure why people want to miss such great scenery.

I can't post a blog without a food pic.  Here we are at the intersection which goes to Dr. Arroyo before getting to the 57.   Some small loncheria we saw and they served up some mean tacos de machacado and cold drink for 45 pesos.   That did the trick until we made it down to Santa Maria del Rio where they have the famous biscuit with black beans,  sliced turkey breast, manchego cheese and pico de gallo. 

Our first stop for gas in the parador San Pedro.  The place was a zoo.  There were literally hundreds of paisano cars with all their gifts and used junk packed on top that they are bringing home.   We gassed up and got out of their quick.   Too much discombobulation for me.

 We made it to our great boondocking spot along the 57 in the pueblo magico of Guadalcazar, SLP.  We parked at the first plaza into town and walked a block to the center of the town and asked the police if we could stay overnight.  They always say yes so we put out the slides and set up.  I only put the hitch down not the stabilizers.   We spent a nice evening in the town walking around and a great visit with one of the oldest families there.  Their house dates back over 400 years and they have a tradition of throwing a town Christmas party.   I'll do a separate post on that as there is some amazing history and information.

Here we are crossing state lines from San Luis Potosi to Guanajuato.  We knew we were close to SMA and that is where we are now until Thursday morning when we head to Valle de Juarez.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Guadalcazar to San Miguel de Allende


Sorry, no internet until now.  We boondocked in Guadalcazar, SLP last night.  Great little town but very iffy internet and no cell service.  The SUV performed beautifully at 7000 ft with strong winds.  We had a great trip yesterday, ate well and slept well.  Today we headed out for SMA.  Lots of paisanos heading home to Mexico for Christmas so Hwy 57 was packed.  Several checkpoint but waved through on all of them.

We are now parked in front of the botanical gardens and we went to the pastorela ever.   Nice and warm in the rv tonight and the solar is working beautifully.   Having drinks and watching a 1940s Mexican movie.  Life couldn't be better.

Tomorrow I'll do a full report and post pictures.  So much to share but we using our stick won't last long doing it.   Stayed tuned!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hitched Up and Ready


We just finished hitching up the trailer.  Truck is tuned up and it has been running well.  We will find out tomorrow if the transmission is really fixed :)   We will be climbing up to 6500 feet and on the famous Linares to San Roberto route which has lots of switchbacks cliffside and no shoulders!

We'll be cutting our trip short by a couple of days as we received a call today for a job in the frontera, good pay for three days and it will pay for the $1800 house repairs and the $750 transmission job.  That was a drag.  But that is done now.  Getting ready for Christmas cheer.  I don't get bummed out but I sure do have a lot of good memories as a kid from Santa Claus to my life today.   More tomorrow, we should make it to Guadalcazar, SLP, normally we would stop at Matehuala but we will boondock tomorrow night.  They have a couple ciber cafes there and we can use the internet.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almost Ready To Hookup!


Washed, waxed and ready to roll.  

 Just need to hookup the reindeer!

Lots more done today.  I went to the school in Allende to work with Kinder teachers.  They're doing well but still a ways to go.   We had a posada at the school with a very good lunch.  I came home and washed the trailer and then worked on the cleaning the well in front.  It had plants on it most of the year and was filthy.   I washed it down and it now needs some painting.  Got to love home ownership, always something to keep you  from rving!    

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Working Hard and Getting Ready


Early start today.  The days are ticking away.   I took the piece of %&% Suburban furnace out from under the refrigerator today.  We don't use it any more since Sal installed the direct gas line for our Mr. Heater.  We used the Mr. Heater in McAllen every night.  Works great and puts out a ton of heat while using little heat.  I took out the Suburban today because we saw a little water creeping out from under the fridge last week.  There is a panel under the shower that opens and I took it off but all seems good.  After removing the furnace, I saw that one of the water lines to the water pump was lose.  I tightened it and checked all the others.  There is no water damage from the fridge or the shower on the other side so I guess we'll have to try it and see what happens.  That furnace is a PIA to take out and put back in.   My dream is to be able to order a travel trailer someday with the options I want and don't want.  One is no built in furnace, and the other is roof air conditioning.

Then I took out all our rugs and put them on the patio and took the power washer to them.  I used a little laundry detergent and they came clean.  Then I got side tracked.   I noticed that the grout on the patio tile looked awful.  It was black and dirty.   So I spent the next two hours scouring the tile and all the grout in between.  Looks brand new and shiny.   

One other project I am having trouble with is cutting the new plastic sheet to make the storm door.  One thing I have noticed about rvs is that you may be available while you are in your rv, but with the door closed nobody knows.  I think have a storm door in winter allows you to keep the door open and the house warm.  The other solution and one I think would be great is to have a colored, laminated sign.  Red on one side, and green on the other.   Red means not available and green means, "feel free to knock".  Red would be good when you are in your skivvies, taking a nap or a shower, or maybe you just don't want to be disturbed.  It would avoid any uncomfortable situation.

Tomorrow, vacuum the trailer, wash the floor and repack the cabinets.  This baby is ready to roll!

ETD 0700 Hours 12.21.13


Getting things ready for take off on Saturday.   We will spend Christmas in San Miguel de Allende and then move on to Valle de Juarez and Hacienda Contreras.   Not in a hurry and not sure where we will end up.   This will be a short trip as we have our New Year planned to prepare for the Canada trip.   So far it is still on and only time will tell.  

Lots of things to do this week and we will be talking with our American and Canadian friends in the next few weeks to pick up tips for that five month trip.  

We already have some ideas for 2015 like buying a used Class B and going down to South America.  Lots of changes are taking place now in our lives and many more to come.  The key is to stay the course (I've heard that before!

Today I will be working on the rv storm door.  The one we made last year didn't last and mostly because I didn't take good care of it and I also didn't apply enough velcro to hold it.   Cleaning inside, outside, the tanks, etc.   I need to get going.  I can't wait to head over the mountains (I hope that transmission is really fixed).

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Party - La Posada


Looks like we're recovering from our week in McAllen.  Yesterday I got up early and went to town for a haircut.  Came home and off we went to a school play.  Our great-nephew wants to be an actor.  His high school put on a Pastorela or Christmas play.   Here are the main actors below.  Adrian is the second from the right.  It was funny, serious, and told the true story of Christmas and the fight between good and evil.  On the left is Satan(a) and Saint Michael.

Here's our actor in the family. 

We went to the house in town after the play and had lunch and took a nap.  We had our family Christmas party or Posada to go to.   The house sits empty most of the time so it was cold, I couldn't read that damn little screen on the remote control for a/c system to get it into heat mode.   It is very cold here and as I write this on Sunday morning it is 6C here at the house.  The water heater lit without a hitch but the water pipes are clogged up and water barely trickles out.   When we get home in January we will have to have some maintenance done not to mention our place out here on the ranch.   It never ends.

We headed off to the Christmas party.   We had 91 people confirmed out of 120.   That is the total of Juan's family just from his mom and dad.   Yikes.   I thought we had a big family with ten kids and offspring.   Everyone signed up to bring a dish or contribution in form of silverware, plates, glasses, salsas, etc.   It was truly a big bash.  We brought a cupcake cake for 100 people.  

Three years ago when I started the monthly parties and the first all-family Christmas party, I insisted we keep it traditional with a posada.   Here, one group is outside the gate asking for posada, they ask by singing . . . .

We're on inside the gates and we are answering them, offering them posada . . . .

Now we can open the gates and let them in, where we offer food and drink for everyone.

Photo taken in front of the tree at nephew Edgar's house.

We left the party at 11 p.m even though things were still going strong.   With the house in town not up to par to spend the night, we opted to drive home.   Neither of us had anything to drink.  The alcohol checkpoint are in force and they move around at a minutes notice (carousel).   No worries and we got home just fine.   We finished the night with a nightcap.   

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ready For The Next Trip


We got the SUV back yesterday afternoon.  We planned to stay until Saturday so we could drive around town and on the highway doing some shopping.  That way we could test the transmission and make sure we were good to go.  I didn't say anything but all night I thought we should go home today.   I didn't say anything this morning when I woke up.  I started the coffee and from the bedroom in the rv I heard, "let's go home today".   I said, "I start outside". 

We had a great crossing.  We were stopped on the bridge and a walk through.   We headed through Reynosa without an issue and at the 26 km checkpoint they asked to see the pedimento (import papers for the travel trailer) and they waved us through.   

We took the libre all the way.  It was gray and overcast, the temperature dropped to 14C and we watched the winter scenery as we passed by.  Farmers on the road with their tractors, holiday travelers heading south, it was a smooth trip and trouble free.  I even backed the rv into the gate on the first pass.  Not bad considering the rv was in McAllen for three months.   

Everything here at home is fine and we are watching PBS news and having a drink.   Who could ask for more.   We will be heading south the next weekend.   We have the turkey but I think we will be in Contreras after Christmas and to celebrate the New Year.

How about that, two turkeys, coffee, and 1.75 lt bottle of vodka fit in the freezer!
Wandering Mike and I, check out his blog.  He says he will be posting again soon!

I want to give  a big thanks to Croft, Norma and Mike (Wandering Mike) for the rides to the mechanic during the week.   We had dinner out with Mike last night and another round of talks afterwards at our place.   I am sending these proposals to world leaders also :)  We had a great week together.  Thanks again!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Still Here And Waiting


The weather is slowly improving.   It is still gloomy and gray.   My cold is not making things better.  On a brighter note, they say things come in threes so that has happened and we should be good to go after this.  The third thing was a problem with the house in San Antonio but we've got that under way.

We invited Mike, Croft and Norma out to eat and it was a pretty good place.   El Dorado is right here in Alamo.  Good food, Mexican/American/Seafood.   We had a wine and beer with the dinner.  After, we couldn't help but get together for a chat that lasted till after 11 p.m.   I think we have a proposal to send world governments and hope to get that off this week :)

So here we are having fun while we wait.   I didn't go to the gym yesterday so I need to get that done plus I feel like going for a long walk somewhere.   I don't know how these people who stay in their rvs for months on end do it.   I need to get outside.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weathering the Cold, Still!


If you wonder what we've been up to here in the cold, here are some pics that will tell the story.  We hang out with Croft and Norma, go out to eat, and have a lot of fun talking.   We all like politics so we have a blast going back and forth.   Great to be with people who have knowledge and opinions of what goes on in the world.

The other day I received an email from a fellow blogger, Mike, also known as the Wandering Mike.  He was north of us in Edinburg and asked if there was room here at the park.   I told him to come on over.  He is parked on the other side of us.   Yesterday Croft needed something from Progreso, Mexico so we walked across the border.  You can see by the picture below that the weather sucks even in Mexico.   

After a walk down the main avenue, we found a little restaurant that we have eaten at before.  Good food, out of the tourist section and very reasonable.  

Here are the two tostadas I had.  We ordered leche con cafe since it was cold out.

We headed back home for naps and internet and later Norma made a great salad and we had jambalaya.  Delicious!   

We are here for at least another day, they came and towed our SUV away.  The shifter on the transmission quit working.   They don't think it is anything big like a trans replacement so we are sitting here keeping our fingers crossed.    

Friday, December 6, 2013

Keeping Warm In RGV


Croft and Norma were here when we arrived yesterday afternoon.  They have their patio all set up and ready to entertain.   We had snacks and chatted for awhile before taking a nap.   After, we went back for happy hour and a long chat.   Gotta love being with people who have something to say.

Last night we were still on for South Padre Island.  We could weather the cold by shopping, walking on the beach all bundled up and hunker down for the cold.   This morning after going to the gym, I stopped by Croft's rig.  He opened the door and we both pretty much shook our heads.   We decided to stay put for the weekend.

We had a great breakfast here at home.  Juan made the tortillas and eggs and Norma whipped up a big batch of fried potatoes.   That held us over until lunch when we took off for La Feria for lunch at Don Beto's.  They have the best food in town.

Back for an afternoon nap and I did some typing after.   I went to two libraries to see if I could print a document but they close at 6 p.m. on Fridays.  Who knew.   Came home and we are now watching the news from Monterrey and having a drink.   I think our neighbors are entrenched in a curling tournament.  I received an email from Wandering Mike just now.   Funny, at lunch Croft had asked me about him.  I hope we can meet up this weekend.  Always fun to meet a fellow blogger.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Save Some Money - Take The Libre


Pictures say a thousand words so I'll leave it at that.  We have been using the libre between both Laredo and Reynosa the last few months while I have been teaching a course in Texas.   The two highways run parallel to their respective autopistas.  The highways are in excellent condition, there is no charge and there are plenty of places to stop along the way for a rest, bathroom break or fuel.   All the Pemex are new and their bathrooms are in very good if not excellent condition.  

We returned from McAllen and took the libre.   Great scenery, wonderful highway and we stopped twice, once at a Super 7 for some excellent breakfast tacos and coffee, then later for a bathroom break in General Bravo for a bathroom break and to buy the newspaper.   Once we arrived to Cadereyta, we avoided the two smaller tolls by taking the back highway around Monterrey which heads south to Allende and Linares which takes you south to Ciudad Victoria or west to Hwy 57.  We passed federales as well as state police on patrol.   Just as much traffic as the autopista but you can take your time and enjoy the views.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hateful People (Warning, foul language)

I posted this article on the RvNet the other day.  I had some doubts that it would be well received but you can judge for yourself.   Just by the title alone it was a positive and uplifting article about changes in Baja and rv travel.
This is what one person wrote which got the thread closed:
As a kid, 60 years ago, my parents would take me down there form So. Cal. for fun and sun. As an adult I have always been amazed at citizens of the United States going to Mexico for any reason. If allowed, I'm sure that every Mexican citizen would leave Mexico for good for the U.S., well maybe 10 - 12 would stay but they would be equally as crazy as the U.S. citizen who go to Mexico for any reason. Mexico is a grand s--t hole.         
I thought about it most of the day and had to send a private message as I could no longer respond to the closed post.  Here is what I said:
"I wanted to say thank you for insulting my country, my family and everything we work hard for. Your statement as "another commenter" says, shows your education.

I have reviewed your posts (from all of RvNet)
and have found most if not all negative, insulting or downright mean.

I also want to thank you for having my informative thread closed. Had it not been for your big mouth, your insulting comments, and foul language, many rvers who enjoy Mexico or who would like to lost out.

Thanks again.

I would have posted this but unfortunately, because of the above, you didn't give me the opportunity."
His response was as vile as all of his posts on the RvNet. 
"Mexico IS a shit hole! If you think for a minute I'm alone in my assessment of YOUR country you are wrong, very wrong!

Your forum comment may have come to the attention of someone who felt it should be placed in the garbage because Mexico is crap!

My education? Unless you have a Phd or better from one of the top 10 world universities you are wrong again.

I guess being a Mexican looser is a bitch."
I guess he doesn't comprehend the meaning of "education".