Sunday, November 30, 2014

Just In Time For The Holidays

We had seen this handsome young fella over by the OXXO the last couple of days.  He was shy but very friendly.   Yesterday I went to a Mextesol meeeting and when I came home he greeted me at the gate from inside the yard.  Yep, someone had brought him home.  Today he had a bath and we discovered his nails are trimmed nicely so he must belong to someone.  We took pictures and will hang a couple of posters here and at the vet in hopes we find his owner.  If not, he will go up for adoption before we leave for the holidays.

And speaking of holidays, the tree is finished and we will enjoy it over the next few weeks.  The cats look at it in amazement although they no it is off limits and they always respect that.   

I have a new list of things to get done before we take off near the end of December.  Lots of things on the rv need to be done and also the house.  We think we found a roofer who will remove the roof tiles, repair any cracks and, here's a word most people won't know in Spanish although very popular, impermeabilizar the roof.  Same word in English but a bit difficult to pronounce.   They no longer use chapapote (tar) but new rubberized coatings with a mesh underlay.  They come with a five to ten year warranty depending on the product.

In Mexico, we will now have digital television.   I may have told you that people over 65 receive a stipend from the state in addition to their pension and social security.   Now, those same people, if they apply, will receive a flat screen LED television so that they can enjoy digital television.  Pretty cool, isn't it?

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Rest Of The Visit In Monterrey

We've been busy this week.  I took Bill and Bonnie down to the riverwalk for a ride on the boat.  After we walked over to the governor's palace for a tour inside.   Beautiful building with a small museum.   We took the tour, it was free.  I wanted them to see the Marco art museum which is free on Wednesdays but it was getting late and we were having dinner at our house.

They stayed out at Corceles in Allende where we have a lot.  There is a communal palapa where they were able to park and stay for a few days.  I have been teaching an intensive course this month and the school is nearby so it has worked out well for all of us.  I can go to school and then drive by and pick them up to go touring.

A shot of the Correos de Mexicano building (Mexican Postal Service) next to the governor's palace.

Yesterday we headed for Monterrey again and went to Home Depot to look for something that Bill and Bonnie needed.   After we headed fot the Obispado (Bishop's Palace) and the largest flag in Mexico and supposedly in all of the Americas.   It is a wonderful mirador or lookout and you can tell by the panorama below it does have quite a view.  We had a funeral to go to in the afternoon so we drove back to Allende and said our goodbyes.  They will take off this morning for all points south with a destination of Mahahual, Quintana Roo for a winter of warm air and sunshine.  

Nice shot of the East side of Monterrey and the Cerro de la Silla or Saddleback Mountain.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rvers Stop By For A Visit

Last time Bonnie and Bill passed through it was snowing.  They had stayed one night at our place in Campestre Monte Sur.   We didn't get to visit long and the weather that night was bad so we left them only to wake up with an inch and a half of snow.  They left that morning and headed to warmer climes.   Ths time around they are staying for a few days and are parked at our place in Allende.  Kevin and Ruth have stayed there and I think someone else.   I need to start writing down visitors and when they come.  The big palapa is in good shape and the grass is cut.  No power but they have solar and a generator.  We took them to the main plaza where they invited us for dinner.  They said it was cold last night but very quiet.  This is the main palapa that we share with neighbors there.  

Today we went to the Cola de Caballo (Horsetail Falls) to see the waterfalls.  Still flowing strong after the rains two weeks ago.   We took a tour of the hotel and the views from there as well as Santiago's main plaza and lookout over the lake.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will head to Monterrey and then for dinner here at the house.   It's fun having guests.   I wish we could take the rv down there with them and spend the night.   Anyway, more pictures to come and we're glad they are staying for a few days.

Here is the Christmas tree that is all lit up and we are enjoying the living room with the colder weather.  Usually it is too hot and we hunker down in the bedroom when we are here in the summertime because of the heat. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What? More Christmas Ornaments!

Bright ideas!  I had to mention the fact that we haven't had a Christmas tree up for years since we are always gone.  This year we'll only be gone three weeks in Mazatlan.   Well, the secret closet was opened and look what poured out!  Yikes.   When we first bought the house 13 years ago we had vaulted ceilings throughout the hose but we put in ceilings in the bathrooms, closets and laundry.  We took advantage and put small attics in each bathroom. 

You can't even see the bed there is so many ornaments and the tree in the box standing on end.  

I couldn't believe all the stuff that came out of that little opening.  I see it all the time but never paid much attention to it.   We have sold and given away lots of stuff over the last year, I mean a lot of stuff emptying out the house for that special day.    So now we have a lot of ornaments to give away.  But wait, didn't we do this four years ago when we started the big family Christmas party?  We gave each person an ornament, so that was about 70 "special" ornaments.  I don't brag about anything but they really were very nice ornaments that we had bought over the years.   I guess it wasn't clear when we said, "get rid of Christmas ornaments".  
The tree is being put up now and we are listening to Christmas music.  Early, maybe, but I always like Christmas and listen to Christmas music throughout the year.  Too many wonderful memories.   

Expect Christmas tree pictures this week.   BTW,  an rving couple will be coming tomorrow.  Bonnie and her husband will stay in Allende for a couple of days we will show them around before they head south. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Thought I Had Done Something Good

I guess I did but some people just don't appreciate it.  There is a meeting at the mayor's office on Wednesday regarding the placement of the sewage line and water connections for everyone on our road.  It is the first step to getting the road paved.  Twelve years I worked on this with four different administrations.   Three of the four complied in some way by bringing a bulldozer and in a couple of instances material to put down to even things out.  This time though I was out for the kill and had letters signed and petitions and I went all the way to the top.  As you know, they delivered a letter saying that work would begin sometime in 2014.  Well here it is and the pisser is that some people don't want the road paved.  What?

Yes, for a myriad of reasons and I can tell you that all the reasons stink.  Here is a short list:

  • Interruption of work, trucks not being able to get in and out
  • Some people don't want to pay water connections, meter and service
  • Those with septic tanks are happy the way things are
  • Taxes may increase
Yep, some people with businesses will have some interruption, it is only logical.  However, I am sure that the city, on Wednesday, will outline the work schedule and find ways to accommodate them.   It is only three families and I understand their concern.   Next, we all have wells and what people don't understand is that the money they will spend on city water will be offset by the money they save on electricity, pump maintenance, and septic tank drainage.  Those that are happy with the septic and current water wells are suspect because I doubt they have a septic tank.  They may be running it off somewhere like the river at the end of our road.   Property taxes will surely go up but the people complaining aren't the owners, its the workers and that's the part I don't get.   I mean really, we pay a huge amount of $120 (u.s.) a year on a property that in San Antonio, Tx would be over $7000 on the low end.  My neighbors have money, we don't.  Tightwads.  

I put years of effort, time and money into this project.  Talk about feeling unappreciated.

Moving on to a lighter and better subject, I took out our 14 year old water heater this week and replaced it with a tankless.   It was a disaster, at first.   I got it installed and the temperature never got above 24C.   I fiddled with it and nothing.  We have two 45 kilo LP tanks with regulators.  I switched regulators and all worked fine.   I need to cover the inlets when they are not in use.  Tiny mud dobbers get in there and clog things up.   Now it puts out 42C  of hot water on demand.  It takes about a minute and a half to reach the showers on the other end of the house but that's the same as it was with the water tank.   

We don't use hot water much.   We have always kept the water heater off during summer unless we had company.   In the winter we leave it on pilot and turn it on in the morning for about 30 minutes and that gives us enough to take a hot shower.  

Today I used the power washer on the tile grout on the patio, looks like new.   I guess I was on an roll because then I went out and did the front wall, sidewalk and gates that had been splashed with mud and yuck during the rains a couple of weeks ago.   This week I also patched some cracks in the walls and painted.   Geez, not bad for a guy who is almost 60 and still working part-time.

I think I deserve a cocktail.  Vodka on the rocks anyone?

Friday, November 21, 2014

We Survived "Dia de la Revolucion"

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.  We had Monday off following suit like those in the U.S.  It made for a great weekend.  Tuesday at school we had a the kermesse  or ice cream social and a reenactment of the Revolution by primary students.  I have pictures but don't have the camera with me.

That aside, you know we are in the midst of a social and political crisis.   With the disappearance and unconfirmed deaths of the 43 Normalistas (student teachers) from Ayotzinapa there have been protests all over Mexico.  Many Revolution celebrations and parades were cancelled to avoid problems.  Here in Monterrey, thousands of Mexicans flocked to the center of the city to display their anger.  One thing of interest is that in Monterrey there was no violence whatsoever.  In interviews with people in the downtown area last night who were waiting for buses that were diverted because of protesters most said the following, "Nosotros los Regiomontanos, somos muy pasivos.  Las manifestaciones tienen razon pero bien ordenados y organizados".  (We are Regiomontanos (people from Monterrey) and we are passive people.  The demonstrators are here for a reason but they are orderly and organized).

It all ended well and people were able to vent their frustrations.   Lots of misinformation going around and on social media.  The events in Mexico City last night were not as they were portrayed in the news.  Yes, there was some violence but limited.  The Normalistas pleaded with the encapuchados (masked protesters) to take off their masks and not destroy or cause injury to person or things.   The media had a hay-day and only showed the small groups of violent demonstrators.  

And BTW, presidents rarely resign.  I can't even find a list apart from Nixon so don't expect the Mexican president to step down.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Week In Review

Day of the Dead is celebrated all month.  These are murals painted by teachers who work in the administration building at the SE (Secretaria de Educacion)

Juan is overseeing a mailout of 20,000 debit cards to parents of children who receive a stipend towards their education.  Depending on the type and level, the money could be from 500 to 2000 pesos.  Almost all people now receive money via bank transfer for payroll and any governmental transaction.

The cold weather hit us hard this year and early.   We had a low the other night of 3C.  For us in the month of November that was unexpected.  People were bundled up and kids showed up to school with blankets.   Believe it or not, the school where I am working this month and next, the students abandoned their blankets and coats after the first 30 minutes of class.  Imagine 25 adolescent bodies in a classroom with all the metabolism burning calories, it warmed up pretty fast.  More cold weather is on the way this next week with a drop to a possible 0C out here in the campo.  This was a picture of our pan dulce to go with hot chocolate.  These two pieces of very good carrot cake, hojo de buey and galleta, came to 25 pesos, or about $1.85.  You can't beat Mexico for food prices.

We had a nice breakfast out before going shopping today.   This weekend is Buen Fin.  Merchants put an approved sign that says they are participating in the event.   It is to attract customers to local businesses both small and large since Black Thursday is coming.  Funny part is, lines at the Laredo and McAllen bridges were four hour waits today!   Why?  Monday is also a holiday so people are taking advantage of the three day weekend or puente.   Doesn't matter, the stores are packed and people were camped out last night and this morning.  We treated ourselves to a new tankless hot water heater.   We need to get it installed.   That was all we bought and we just drove to the edge of town as we wanted to avoid the traffic.   

I did a lot of things around the house yesterday so tomorrow is undecided.  I may go for a long walk in the morning and then kick back the rest of the day.  In the evening we are going to a surprise birthday party for Juan's brother Carlos.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cold Front To Hit Mexico

Juan had his sisters over during the weekend.  Just as things were getting started we received a call that a family member had passed away.     A niece's mother-in-law had been in the hospital recovering from a kidney infection caused by diabetes.   Later on in the afternoon, Juan took his sisters for a late lunch.
The weather is changing, along with the Artic Blast from the north we will be receiving our share too.  It is supposed to drop to 5C here at the house on Wednesday night.   I'm watching the local news now for an update.  I have a feeling the forecast will change and it might be a bit colder.
Juan had an event in the city today.  He promoted a scholarship program and Programa de Activacion Social (PASA) providing information about other programs available to parents of children enrolled in school.  He had quite a crowd and was well-received.
I had a minor accident of some kind.  I woke up Saturday with an irritated right eye.  I cleaned it with a warm salt water solution and also used manzanillo tea compresses.   They relieved the pain but not much changed.  This afternoon I took advantage of the IMSS social medicine.  I am assigned to afternoon appointments and checked in to desk number 2.  She asked me what was wrong and took me to the emergency room.  There was a line and most people like me were not really emergencies.  She signed me in and it took all of a 20 minute wait to see a doctor.  He said there was some inflammation and it was caused by a scratch on the inside eyelid.   Something must of gotten in there and I rubbed my eye.  Hurts like hell but there is no infection and no problems with vision.  He gave me some drops which started to work right away.  Very nice staff and I think it might work out well for me in the future.  I have an appointment with my private cardiologist before our trip and that will help me to make the decision to drop my private insurance.
And now for the photo of the year.  This picture was taken on the streets of Monterrey over the weekend.  How this happened I'll never know.  Not sure if you can make it out, but they are black and the mother in African headdress asking for money on the street.  Definitely not blacks from Veracruz.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Off To Warmer Climes

The Woods; Teresa, Derek, Cassia and Rufus drove down the road this morning.  The weather here is still a bit stinky although the rains have let up.   Catch up with Teresa's blog and you'll see they headed south to Linares and taking a right turn headed for Galeana, San Roberto and then south on Highway 57.   

We talked last night about the two big paradores (rest stops) San Pedro and Potosino which are both before the big toll booth entering San Luis Potosi.   They might have stopped sooner at Matehuala but we'll see after she posts on the blog.

It was a fun week having people in the house.   We had the opportunity to return the hospitality after they had hosted us at their provincial park outside of Merritt, British Columbia in May of this year.   Having Cassia in the house added to the fun as she was always playing with her toys or watching her videos and able to tolerate my impatience.   She was a good trouper as I dragged them out in the rain to see Monterrey and I'm sure they will remember our great city.

We enjoyed their visit and the wonderful conversations that came along with it not to mention all the meals and happy hours  as well as the things we saw and did in Canada, other bloggers and our upcoming trip to Mazatlan. 

Thanks for stopping by guys.  We are now preparing for a weekend with Juan's sisters who will be celebrating their birthdays together.  Juan will take them all out for lunch tomorrow.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Having Good Guests

I haven't been posting since Teresa and Derek have arrived because we have been busy having fun.   It is always nice to have good guests and we've always had them.  I could make a list.  You could be on that list too if you decide you want to stop by.

We've been through much of  Santiago and yesterday we went to Monterrey.   I had plans to show them the river walk and the Museo de Historia but Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were here for a visit.  All those areas were cordoned off.   It was misting and sometimes heavy so we got a little damp.  

Overall we had a great tour and we still have today to do something else.  Not sure yet but I always find something.   

As we say in Spanish, "lo voy a ceder a Teresa".    I'm going to yield to Teresa and you can see all the great pictures she has taken of all of us and their little sweetie Cassia.  I forgot the camera one day, and yesterday I had the battery but left the battery in the charger.  So please visit:

A Life Made Simple  to see all the fun we have had over the last week.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Touring Guests - Visit With Teresa and Derek

As you probably know by now via Facebook, Teresa's blog or someone else, we have company from Canada and we love having guests.   As I said yesterday, Teresa, Derek and Cassia are here in Mexico for the winter and will be heading to Patzcuaro as their final destination where they will stay for a few months.

We have been taking them around local tourists sites here in Santiago.   On Saturday I took them to Cola de Caballo waterfalls and up the road a bit to get a good view of the valley and the lake.  Cassia was fascinated by the peacocks at the hotel which has a great lookout.   In the afternoon we all went into Santiago for a look at the Day of the Dead altars which are in the main plaza.   After, we ate a local restaurant for a late lunch or early dinner.   The place was packed and we had quite a good time with musicians (trio) playing guitars and singing.

Some of the displays in the plaza in Santiago.

Juan with Cassia in front of a fountain sitting with two calaveras (skeletons)

Today we went down to the lake and there just happened to be a Volkswagon Beetle gathering.  Now that VWs are no longer produced the clubs are coming out of the woodwork with many new variations, chromed engines, chopped tops and cool interiors.  You can see we have had quite a bit of rain and the water levels are very high.

We took a short drive down to Allende and they were just putting away their altars which were sponsored by local high schools.  Here is one of the students with Cassia and a hat that had been on display.

We have been talking about the route they are going to take which might include stops in Dolores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende, Pena de Bernal and Queretaro before hitting Patzcuaro.  Time for a chat now about what we will do the next few days.  Adios.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Back In Civilization
Came home yesterday.  I left San Antonio at 7 a.m. with all my work completed but the rental and my job.  No more work until the Spring.  I stopped in Laredo, Tx and picked up our friends Teresa, Derek and their daughter Cassia.  They have a Class B and they followed me down and through Monterrey.  Downside was that they had to follow me on the truck route through town which isn't the best or better said are the worst roads in the city.   We also hit a detour to boot which didn't make it any easier.  All's well that ends well and we spent a great evening here at the house.
Today, we are off on a tour of Santiago, the waterfalls and more.  It is so good to be back where things make sense.  No political correctness for me.   We are spending the winter here in Mexico.  Period.
Pictures of our weekend adventures to come.