Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mazatlan - Settled In For Another Week


I think most of the big party stuff is over until New Year's Eve.   The last couple of nights have been around the fire with good conversation.  I've done my morning walking around the island getting in my exercise.   We've had a chance to visit with quite a few people, made new friends and catching up with old.   Sue and Gerry are here but we haven't caught up with them yet.  Sue has been under the weather but she sent me an email last night.   We had run into Gerry while we were out riding bikes on our way to the ferreteria.  

As always, rvers have some type of minor issues mostly encountered by bumpy roads.   When we travel, we find those roads.  I've discovered over time that toll roads are no guarantee and that many times the libre or free road is better.   That was the case of our trip down here this year.  We stuck to the Espinazo del Diablo and even though it's a real twisting and curvy route.   The scenery is just too beautiful to miss.   The pavement is truly the best but we drove in 1st gear the last hour and a half occasionally pumping the breaks.

Oh, so our minor issues.   We came with only one LP tank.  The other was supposed to get a valve change but it wasn't ready in time and we left with only one.  There is a small leak in the double valve so we need a cap for the empty tank side.   They didn't have it here on the island so today we go to Mazatlan to see Wandering Mike off on the ferry to Baja and we'll pick that up.    A water leak appeared behind the toilet.   I tighted the nut, put tape on the nut and finally bought a cap that stopped the leak but rendered the toilet useless except for a nightly #1 run.   Today I will look up the model number and see what other parts are back there that can leak.  It's not leaking now so I know the connection isn't the issue it is something up above it.

Today we take off for a walk up to the faro or lighthouse.   We've done it before but we need something a bit more vigorous or challenging than my walk around the island although I get a good view of island life.   There has been a bit of chit chat about the island history so I have begun researching it.   Too many stories and some are a bit sketchy or not very believable.   I did find out that the Plaza Machado was a piece of land donated by Juan Nepomuceno Machado who was  Philipine merchant.   He left the majority of his wealth to Mazatlan for the development of public places, parks and churches.  

The island history is a bit more complicated and I continue searching.   Anyway, we're in a cold spell now but I like it.   Off we go and I will be posting pics of the lighthouse and the views from above.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015 Mazatlan Sinaloa


We had a great Christmas Eve with a wonderful group of people.   We met Marketa and Lieber from Kelowna who had contacted me via email over the last month along with other couples from the park; Debbie and Russ, Fernanda, Marjorie and Bob, Doris, Jose,  Mike, and Rae along with Contessa and Colin.  We talked up a storm and missed having Ruth, Kevin, Norma and Croft here not to mention others.   Sue and Jerry are in Mazatlan but we will see them later.

This morning, Debbie and Russ had a Christmas breakfast.   The food was fantastic; an egg casserole, fried potatoes and onions, fresh blueberries on top of the best pancakes I have ever had along with all our rv neighbors.  A good time had by all.

Later on I hung out in the rv and at the beach reading a birding book.   Locals swarmed the beach having fun riding the banana boat, renting cuatrimotos and lanchas.   It was fun just to sit there and soak up the sun dozing off and on during the afternoon.  

Juan put together a wonder green bean casserole for our Christmas dinner that Contessa and Colin threw at their place.   It was really a treat.   Contessa prepared a wonderful enchilada dish that was to die for along with Rae's au gratin potatoes.   Very good dinner and camaraderie and we were joined later by Fernanda, Debbie and Russ.

Colin and Juan set off a lantern and we watched at it sailed through the sky out to sea.   Truly something we all enjoyed.   We continued with conversation and finally ended the evening albeit a bit early.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mazatlan - Christmas Here We Come!


We took off yesterday and made good time to just north of Saltillo.  We have our route planned and know our stops.  We got to our favorite gas stop and guess what?  Out of fuel.  They promised the truck would be there in an hour and a half so we ate an early lunch and took a nap.   Only to find out later that the owner of the station was battling Pemex over invoicing.  When you fight the big one you usually lose.  We headed back toward Saltillo (which is against my rules, I never turn around no matter what we may have left behind)  and got gas.   Headed out again passing the same station and still no fuel.  Some folks were stranded.   

We made good time though and spent the night at Leon Guzman.  They now have a new Circle K and it is a very nice store with very helpful and friendly staff.  We turned in our garrafon and got another five gallons of water.   Great spaghetti dinner and a glass of wine and we kicked back and watched some videos.  Early to bed to make our 7 a.m. departure.

Up early and off we went on the libre.  Passed three horrible accidents, one with at least three fatalities.   We didn't stop other than to fill up and pick up a burrito to go.   Mine was pure bean with salsa and it was fantastic.   Heading toward El Espinazo del Diablo we were again in awe with the scenery.   So much to see and do and we are so happy to live on a part of the continent that has so much to offer in terms of geography.   The scenery is just amazing.   I will post pictures this week.

Much more time consuming and a bit stressful for the driver heading east to west on the Espinazo but well worth it.   I thought we would be late but I forgot about the time change.   We arrived to the park without a hitch and to let everyone know, the road to the Isla is well underway and over 50% is paved and the work in progress as we passed.  That was good news for us.

Arriving to the park it was great to see so many people.   Bob met us with a beer in hand for weary travelers and it was lots of hugs and howdy dos to new people we had not met yet.   I think we will have a great 10 days here. 

Next time, we will take three days to come and go if not more.   We could spend weeks in the mountains of Durango even with the cold.   

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where We Are Now


Sunday evening and watching the Miss Universe pageant.  Why?  Because while you know who is watching I'm surfing the internet.  The weather here is still up and down and right now we have the heat on because the house is chilly.  Soon, we'll be in Mazatlan at the beach.   We won't stay but about 10 days as we need to be back.  My schedule for January and February is filled now and they are all travel related.   My Texas work will keep me in the Laredo-San Antonio corridor and I was able to strike a deal so that all my hotel nights are covered even though Texas is supposed to be my home base.

The trailer is just about ready to roll and I have a "to do" is well under way for tomorrow.  Easy stuff the only time consuming item is a check up on belts, hoses and fluids.   New shocks were put on the front of the SUV and the difference is quite notable.

The weekend was a great start to vacation and we went to the family posada last night.  A good time had by all and it was a meat lovers delight.   I had pasta with tomato sauce and I brought my own bread for an avocado torta.   

Contessa reminds me that we need to have a dish for the dinner and we are bringing an excellent green bean casserole that is meat free.  No animal fat or bacon.   

We are long overdue for a trip.   Tuesday morning is takeoff so we have two more sleeps (I always wanted to say that :) )   First stop is Leon Guzman where we always boondock.  It's an even split in terms of kms but I think we need to get an early start on Wednesday because we are taking the Espinazo de Diablo to Mazatlan which will be slow going but beautiful.  We hope to get to the isla in time for Christmas Eve and happy hour.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Getting The Rv Ready To Roll


What I saw on my morning walk.  

Great weekend here at home.    Got some Christmas shopping done.   I don't buy much of anything and I am not the world's greatest consumer.   Now with the digitalization of Mexico I can no longer watch television for local news.  Bummer.  There is a converter but it didn't work out here in the sticks.  City signals don't come this far.  Solution?  Well, after having the same television for more than 20 years it was time to get something new.   This one will last until I die I suppose.   It has wifi, Netflix, YouTube and a great digital signal.   It needs to be hung on the wall but that can wait. 

This last week was the Christmas posada at school.  I won a gift card for 500 pesos and a raffle for a 500 peso bill.   That was pretty good.  It was a great dinner although I only had a couple of corn gorditas.   Large platters of meat and chicken were served and there was no veggie of any kind in sight.

The rv seems to be in good shape.  I am going to clean up the batteries and terminals.   The panel is charging well and the batteries are holding their charge.   I guess I can hold off another year on changing out the batteries.   New shocks for the SUV and a check of all the belts, hoses and fluid levels.   I have all the belts and hoses so if they need to be replaced they are on hand.

We're really looking forward to driving the Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo).  We may spend a day or two boondocking there on our way to and from Mazatlan.  Can't wait.  

Another loaf of homemade vegan bread.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It's Cold and I'm Through


Driving home from McAllen on Thursday morning I took some great shots of Nuevo Leon.

A cold front moved in earlier this week and it just seems to hang around.  On Wednesday there was ice on my rental car in Palestine, Tx which is about four hours from Dallas with city traffic.  It dropped down to 5C the other night here at home, heat is on and the electric blanket is doing its job.  Little Bit doesn't seem to want to go outside unless he really really needs to.  I have to tell him to go outside to do his business.

The trip to Dallas was a marathoner.   I left home on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and flew out of McAllen at 12:30.   I picked up a rental car from a company that's called EZ Rental.  The office in Kenosha made the reservation.  Never again.  The car was fine but it's one of those super discount rentals that nickle and dimes you to death.   Outrageous pricing.   I'm sure I'll hear about charging for a GPS.   

Nice hotel, nice teaching staff.  I didn't like the fact that the students call the principal by his first name.  You could see the over-relaxed conduct of the students.   When you have 2000 people in a building you have to have some sense of order.  14 year olds don't have that yet as a general rule.   D.O.C., discipline, order and control.   Most adults don't have that.   Anyway, 175 students and it was all good.   I receive evaluations from the students.   Most have never been taught what an evaluation is or how to evaluate someone.   I always receive two or three smart ass remarks.   Their funny sometimes and some can be downright nasty.   I am saving them.  Like I said, at that age they aren't quite smart enough.   I find them on Facebook and someday when I no longer work for the company and the kids are 18 or over, I'll send them a message.  One kid has been told how "awesome" he is one too many times and it has gone to his head.  

Our GPS is finished.   I had attempted to add Mexico maps and an update to ours.   It was on sale and so I did it.  It never worked.  The GPS is so old that there is no memory card and there wasn't enough space for the update.   It had to erase the old maps first so after I found out about the space problem I called TomTom and they attempted to fix it only to refund my money and said I should just throw it away as they couldn't retrieve the old maps.   No big deal, I only use it once in awhile anyway.

This is the door I bought before I went to San Miguel de Allende during the summer.  It took all this time to get it hung.  First I had to sand it, stain it and varnish it and then it cured for another three months before we found someone to come and install it.  Easy job but I don't have the tools.

Other than that we are ready for take off on around December 20th.   Now I am free from all my work to spend the afternoons working on the rv.   I want to get new shocks on the front end of the SUV.  The VW needs some clutch work too.  I am taking it to the dealer for an inspection and with that I will have the repairs done at local shops.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Humbug And I Liked It Better When I Wasn't Working


Okay great, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.   I practically forgot about it until I left for the airport this morning.  In the car it hit me, it's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and the airport will be full.  But then reality sets in and I remember the airport is in Mexico.  I got to the airport 45 minutes before my flight and had lots of free time.   A mechanical failure left us behind for over three hours but they gave us a great breakfast voucher at any airport restaurant.  I chose Wings my favorite and ordered an egg white omelet with spinach and a couple of cups of coffee.   Needless to say, I missed all but one of my appointments today and tomorrow will be as scheduled.

So Thanksgiving!   Well, after living here for so long, traveling to many other American countries and last year's trip to Canada I realize now there is nothing to celebrate.   Christopher Columbus didn't discover the Americas they discovered him.   The British from the north and the Spanish from the south pretty much took over what were once great civilizations, killed most the people with weapons and disease and stripped them of their rights, liberties and freedom.   For a good glimpse of that just visit a residential school in Canada and you'll get a head full of information. 

Yep, it's been about two years since I decided that we weren't going to sell the house for awhile and Juan would keep working and that I should find something to do.   I love what I do but this year has been pretty scary.   Family members infirm, sudden deaths of friends and acquaintances and some we didn't know but were friends of friends have got me on the run.

I've been working on my Mexican pension and waiting for our accountant in the U.S. to get my 2015 taxes filed (an extension plus I have until June as a foreigner every year to file) so I can update my social security account.  I say, "sell off the ranch quick, get in the rv and head for all points south".  After our four-month journey last year to Canada I was a bit worn out but now have all my spit and vinegar back to do something like that again but in Mexico and Central America.   After all, how much money do you really need?

In the end, for those who believe, Happy Thanksgiving!   I have one more trip next week to Palestine, Texas and it's a marathon trip.  I tried to cancel but they wouldn't let me out of it.   Shucks!   Then I'm free and I can spend some of this hard-earned money on the rv.   After that, I'm outta here! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Canadians Heading South Stop By For a Visit


We had received a couple of emails in the last months asking about stopping by for a visit.   Majorie and Bob, Sue and Jerry are couples we met last winter while in Mazatlan.   We kept in touch and here they are.   Actually they arrived on Saturday and left early this morning.   We offered them posada at the resort we belong to in Montemorelos.   The manager loves rvers and was very happy to see two huge rigs lined up along side the pool area.  

They beat us to the resort.   Most people drive like snails and take a day to arrive.  Bob was in the lead and his GPS and my maps got them here in record time.  We had some wine and conversation and then headed home for the evening.   

The call was early up on Sunday and out for a tour of Monterrey at 9 a.m.  We arrived, they were ready and off we went.  This is a holiday weekend for us, three-day and also Buen Fin where Mexican merchants attempt to compete with the U.S. and Black Friday.   However, the weather this year may be against them.   It has been drippy, cloudy and foggy since our guests arrived but we wouldn´t let it stop us.

We went for a walk on the Paseo Santa Lucia.   There was a line of at least 100 people waiting to take a boat so we opted to walk the river.   Lots of conversation and I think they are impressed with our great city.   

We had lunch at the famous Taqueria Juarez downtown before heading home.   

We dropped everyone off for a nap and headed home only to return to a fantastic steak dinner with great salad, wine and bread.   Thou was seated next to me.   Great fun had by all and we just sorry that the weather wasn´t on our side and that they couldn´t stay longer.  But hey, I don´t blame them, their headed to the beach!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Convention In Cancun


Little Bit was interested in going and hopped in the suitcase right away.  As we pulled out of the driveway Wednesday morning he sat on the porch with his head down.  I felt bad, still do.

I'll be short with some pictures.   The weather stinks.  It has rained in downpours everyday and the humidity is the worst I have ever experienced in my life.

I posted this on Facebook and it wasn't a shot that was planned.  As a side note I said, "and mine are real".

The hotel is right across from the beach.   It's one of the less-expensive places here.  It had been closed for a few years and recently reopened.   Mediterranean style, you enter through what appears to be a series of boutiques.  They are mostly empty.   There are 20 suites in total.   The room is huge, all marble floors and bathrooms with columns and arches.   A living room is on a lower level and the bedroom 6 by 6 meters.  Very comfortable but as for the rest of the hotel it needs updating.   We always book a room for the convention and arrive a day early to search in person.   Sorry, but who would pay $450 U.S. for a hotel room?  Not me.  Cancun has never impressed me.

My publisher's stand in the exhibition hall, University of Dayton.

The convention is a success with 3000 teachers in attendance.   The convention center is one of the better layouts in the country and can accommodate our large group easily.   BTW, the best part of our hotel room is the two-block distance from the convention center.   

In between is a huge three-story Chedraui super store that has incredible food to go or eat in.  High class and all prepared on-site and at the moment; pasta dishes, pizzas, sirloin burgers, vegetarian, oriental and more.   There is a huge wine selection that takes up one third of the second floor.   One thing I've never seen is a wine dispensing machine.   A stainless steel wheel with a ten bottle wine selection inside.   Crystal wine glasses sit on white cloth napkins.   You insert your credit card, make your wine selection and choose 1/4, 1/2 or full glass.   Meals are served with dinnerware and silverware.  We've eaten there all week and have yet to spend over 150 pesos for the two of us.  Yesterday Juan had four-cheese penne that was incredibly good and I had oriental rice and chicken. 

I had my workshop yesterday with over 100 teachers in attendance.  Staff from the University of Dayton in Ohio attended to see how I work.  They are offering me a contract of some kind in the next few weeks.  I'm still in the dark so that is up in the air.   Anyway, my talk was a success and everyone was happy.   

I had dinner with the authors, Mexico City staff and people from Ohio last night. 

Good fun, people and drinks.  Juan has his presentation today and that will be my focus.   We don't recognize many folks here anymore.   They're all retired and now we're the old folks.   

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Cancun Here We Come!


Cancun!  Sounds great, doesn't it?  It is great but we both will be working at the national convention.  We are both speakers at the event where we expect 3,500 teachers.  

I'm sure we'll have some time to be tourists.   We leave tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. and come back Sunday afternoon.  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's Good To Have A Tight Rear End Again


The SUV needed some pretty heavy-duty suspension work done this last week.  The rear end was loose.  We found almost new used parts of a Dodge Durango that had been wrecked sometime ago.  Worked like a charm.  What a big difference.  We're trying to get a headstart on Christmas vacation and get things ready.   There is a bit more change to spend.   September and October were good to me this year and the money kind of rolled right on in.

I'm sure you're aware that Ruth and Kevin are into their first days of Colombia.  Give them a click and see what South America is all about.  I love it there and wish we were with them.  I posted on their blog today that when their six weeks are finished they will be hoping to find a way to get Sherman, their motorhome there.  We will purposely go out and buy a used Class B so we can tag along.  

Now for some pics of what has been going on.  Well, the roof was finally finished and I may have mentioned it.  The painter has returned.   I dare ask him why he hasn't brought his raggedy ass back or answered our calls over the last two weeks.  I do know because that's how things roll.   Give them 50% down and they start work.  Then they find another job and you are left holding the brush, at least in this case.   Time to do some interior work.  I had hoped to get it done before we had company but there is a lot of movement in the soil here and there are some interior cracks I wanted to have done and replastered before Ruth and Kevin showed up.  That's next and we are thinking of new kitchen tile and counter tops.   Easier when sell time comes.

Took this pic of the moon on the way to the gym in the morning.

And this one that evening.

Altar del Dia de los Muertos at school.  Monday is a holiday in some other states because they dedicate more to this celebration than we do here in the north.  No holiday for us.   In this small town all the people in the photos are related in one way or another.  As we say, "pueblo chico, infierno grande".  

Caught this van in the shopping center of HEB.  Times they are a changing.  Now you place your grocery order on line.  Same day service and it is delivered to your front door.  You can see the pickers as they move up and down the aisles of the store.  They are trained on how to pick the best produce as well as substitutions when the customer allows them.   What next?

Still no firm decision on vacation.   Maybe we'll stay home for a change.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

They Left Us With A Hurricane


Too much has happened this week but I'll try and get it all on paper.  As Ruth and Kevin were arriving I was leaving for the border.  I had an event in Roma, Tx and I took off about noon.  Those guys arrived in time for happy hour.   I missed the first night.  As luck would have it, my event was cancelled one day before.   The owner of the company I represent was in McAllen and invited me for dinner.  No problem, I spent the night and did some early morning shopping before heading back home.  All expenses paid plus a cancellation fee.  First time a school has cancelled in my fourth year.  They just couldn't get the money together in time.  

Bustamante, one of the small towns on Hwy 1 come out of the Colombia bridge.  They have a fantastic cave system that is world class.  They also sell pan de Bustamante.  Famous for bread making and sweet treats.   From the bridge down to Monterrey there are five small towns that offer great boondocking and one state park with electric and public restrooms.

I did the usual purchases of shave cream, deodorant and gel.  I also stopped by Goodings Rv and got a latch for the screen door which was broken earlier this year by a guest and an LP hose for the new Weber grill which came in very handy this week.

Excited to get home I made it in record time.  The border was the usual bore as I have never seen any action that is  supposed to be a daily event according to some people and social networks.  Oh well, for the better I guess.

Came home and we put a beautiful chicken Ruth had bought at Soriana.   It was our first grill on the Weber and it was amazing.  I can't believe we waited so long to get one.  We've eyed one for years but we just don't cookout.   Weird, I know considering we live in Mexico.   I mean yes, we grill when family is here or the monthly rib eye but it's a pain in the butt for two steaks.  Not anymore!!!!   I attached the hose to the tank on the rv and it started right up (after Kevin turned on the tank valve).  

Nothing to show from the ribeye dinner but Kevin did a great job grilling.

We spent a pleasant week with those guys.  They are great house guests and know their way around the house and town.   I dropped them off at the river walk downtown on Wednesday and they posted some wonderful pictures on their blog.  I never understand why people pass up the border states.  You have to go through them anyway.   I've had people tell me they "beat feet" across the border.  We have mountains, rivers, waterfalls, grutas or caves that have cable cars to get you there and best tour guides in the world.  Truly first class.  If you come across Colombia, you just head straight into Nuevo Leon on Hwy 1.  You pass small colonial towns with lots to offer.  

So they left Friday morning and they also left Hurricane Patricia.  She did wreak some havoc on the coast, Guadalajara had record flooding and got some light rain all day Saturday.   This morning was sunny and cool and dry.   Texas has been hit hard by the flooding though save our house in San Antonio with no water damage.

Still debating about Christmas though.  We're kind of set on Mazatlan but in the poll process someone said it's too bad that the noseeums come out at sunrise and sunset.  That's the part we don't like and is stuck in my head.   We'll see what happens.  Gas is still cheap in the U.S. so that is another possibility.  Decisions. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Big Things Coming Tomorrow!


Leaves are falling here at the ranch, the air is cooler at night and the water in the pool is good for a couple more swims before we decide to drain the chilling waters and do repairs.   It has been a relaxing weekend and we are preparing for two events this week.  One not so great and one fantastic.

We took advantage of the weekend and did the usual household chores, did some laziness activities and watched the return of Tracy Morgan on SNL.  I quit watching the show as it has pretty much fallen into, well, beyond sad conditions.  With the return of Tracy Morgan it seemed to pick up a bit last night and we enjoyed the first half of the show.

This morning we putzed around until 8:30 and decided to head to Monterrey for the book fair.  The convention center was packed.  Not only is the book fair going on but so is the October Horror Fest, and the Tlaqueparte which is an artisan exhibition.   We chose the book fair as we are readers and teachers.   We saw a few teachers we knew, talked to the Mexican Japanese association who had a large and interesting booth along with a book display, presentation and bonsai.   The guy who formed those little bonsai has been gone for ages but those 70 plus year old trees continue to grow today.  Amazing.

I forgot that we stopped for tacos on the way in and they were pretty darn good.   What taco isn't.  I'm in and out on the vegan thing, I maintain six days a week which is very good to say the least.  Hey, we all need a day to be human.

The mega event this week is the arrival of Ruth and Kevin.   They will be coming here on tomorrow but I will miss them.  The second event is my workshop in Roma, Texas.  I may just pass them on the lonely bypass highway from Allende to Cadereyta.  Anything is possible.  They will stay for a couple of days and I will be back on Tuesday night.   Can't wait to see these guys.  A select few of the fish that never seem to stink after three days:)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Internet In The U.S.


There is a thread on Rv.Net about a person who will be fulltiming in the next five years and was wondering about how to connect to the internet.  This is my response below.  We did find internet but found it difficult to say the least.  I won't go to extremes to find it and if it doesn't come to us I usually give up easily.

I haven't lived in the U.S. for over 30 years and find this thread interesting. I live in what is considered a very poor, antiquated country. That said, we traveled four months in the U.S. and Canada last year. Internet was a disaster. Good luck finding a place where you can sit down and send documents and heavy files. One such place is Kinko's FedEx. They charge .49 a minute. That's almost $30 an hour and I have used them on several occasions only to say their wifi isn't any faster than that of an rv park. Many libraries we found had a secured signal and had us sign up for a card which was very time consuming, and in some cases charged a fee. We found only one town on our trip that had open wifi everywhere and that was in Canada and if memory serves me correctly it was Merritt, BC.

The rv park signals were pathetic. I don't care what cost is, how many users are online it stank. After all, we are in the age of YouTube, live-streaming and sending files, online banking and "innovative" technology such as Skype and Facebook face talk. Somebody is not doing something. We found our trip, in terms of internet, frustrating to say the least and when you are being charged almost the same price as a discount hotel it is not acceptable.

In Mexico, this poor, poor little country where people still ride burros and use smoke signals, we actually have internet cafes that charge a less than a dollar an hour, you can sit in front of any public educational institution and connect free to the internet, governemt offices, and our home internet provider including landline, free long distance to the U.S. and basic Dish cable charges us a measly $38 a month.

The U.S. has a long, long way to go to get people connected without gouging the consumer to use a service that is available for little or no cost in most of the world.
We're watching last night's Democratic debate on YouTube.  The U.S. is a capitalist country by every sense of the word.  The debate was broadcast via CNN and not local networks.  How can you interest people to vote in their country if they don't have access to the information. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

I've Got It - Bad!


All this talk about heading south for the winter has literally got me on edge!  I've got the itch and I've got it bad.  My sister in Reno, who probably never reads the blog but is an avid rver along with my BIL, sent me this message:

If you don't hurry up and get that house sold and get ready to "hit the road", I'll be too old to go with you.  I may even permanently be in my rocking chair if you wait too long.

I've got the solar issue fixed and I am working on some other stuff.   When you work for yourself the checks don't come every fifteen days, sometimes it can take 90 days and in Mexico it may not be negotiable and I want that to do some mods on the rv.

The tile roof is back in place and looking good now I just need to get the spare bedroom painted.  Ruth and Kevin will be here soon and we want them to be happy while they're here.

While they were finishing the roof on Saturday I we went to the movies.  I don't like to be at home and have strangers around.   We headed to Esfera which is a sustainable community complete with shopping mall, supermarket, condominiums, gym, offices and a school will also be built so that no one has to leave the grounds.   The interesting part was that there are electric car charging stations in the underground parking not to mention red and green LEDs over each parking spot to make it faster and easier to park your car.  Wow, what next?

We saw the movie Martian.  Because the place in opening tickets are 40 pesos each.   I've never been to a VIP theater although we have had them for years.   There are faux leather recliners with tables, cup holders as well as foot rests.  You can't see or hear the people sitting in front of you.  

As for the movie, it was typical Hollywood.  Hokey to say the least and don't forget parts that are just plain corny.  Towards the end of the movie it shows the Americans in one shot giving a huge hurray for the success of the journey and then the Chinese who helped them doing the same thing.  What was the difference?  The Americans were waving American flags and the Chinese didn't have any flags to wave.  Why weren't the Chinese waving their flag as well, after all in the movie the expedition wouldn't have been successful without them?

The last part was that they refer to the United States as America.  America is a continent made up of 22 countries.   Sorry, but if you live in a country on the American continent it leaves a bone of contention to those peoples.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Polling Time - Mazatlan Rv Parks

It looks like we will head to Mazatl├ín again this Christmas.  It's an easy drive and we can boondock along the way.   A short trip of two weeks but enough to relax and visit with friends.
One week we mostly likely will boondock on the Isla.  That said, we also want to spend a week in town at an rv park so we can hang out visit a museum, aquarium, markets and do more relaxing.
The poll is in the upper right hand corner and asks about your personal experience at one of the parks listed.
Thanks in advance for your help.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dallas Bound


Took off this morning at 6 a.m. heading for McAllen.  I had a flight at 12:30 and wanted to do a little shopping beforehand.  I came across some beautiful sunrise pictures.

I pulled up to the bridge in Reynosa at 9:15 and the wait was about 15 minutes.  I was waved through without any questions.  They checked the trunk and that was about it.   I headed for Walmart, HEB and then looked for the long term parking at MFE.   No issues, walked right on the plane.  I got there as they were boarding.  I hate getting there hours early.  I've never been refused as long as I don't have any bags to check.  They checked them at the plane anyway and it saved me the $25.

Picked up my rental and headed for the office to pick up books and materials and then off to Kaufman, Tx.  I spent an hour in traffic going through Dallas.  Way too spread out for me.  Bumper to bumper the whole time.   

I finish at 3 p.m. tomorrow and then head for the airport.   Late night flight to Corpus where I will get another rental, teach on Thursday and then drive the rental back to McAllen where I pick up my VW and head home.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Got A Weber!!!!


We finally did it.  Found a Weber 1000 at Home Depot on sale for 2600 pesos.  The same price as the one I have had in my Amazon cart for the last two months.  We still need the hose to hook it up to the rv tank.   There is a grill store on the way to Monterrey where I purchased the hose for the Mr. Heater.   We'll check there this week.  We can give it a try when Ruth and Kevin show up.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Notes From My Road Trip


First, I found this in the McAllen Monitor the day after the shooting in Oregon.  The front page is a story related to Dia de los Muertos and down in the bottom right hand corner a small blurb about the mass shooting.

It was a good week but I'm glad to be here at home writing the blog.   Monday afternoon was the drive to McAllen.  I went in the afternoon and waited on the bridge for an hour.  Great border guard, didn't detain me and off I went.  I had a reservation at the Victoria Palms Rv Park and Hotel.  It's well-located and reasonable in price.   

Tuesday I went to the office to load up materials, boxes and boxes of books.  Filled up with gas and headed for Port LaVaca.   Good hotel, good food and a good sleep.   Worked in LaVaca on Wednesday with a group of 100 students who were great kids.  Either they're farm families or their parents work for Alcoa or the refineries.   Texas kids have Texas names such as; Zane, Sage, Gage, Brook, Chase, and Koo.   

Headed out for El Campo which was an hour away.   I took the counselor's cue and headed for the backroads and it was a pretty sight.  I didn't take any pictures as I was too tired and wanted to take a quick nap.   Found the hotel right away.  Small town of about 12,000 mostly run down and forgotten.  Some nice areas around the downtown section.   Thursday I was at the school with another group of 100.  Best students ever and we hit it off.   I was expecting mostly Hispanics but it was an even mix of whites and blacks.  Again, heaving in farming and cattle.  The counselor dragged me over to meet a student.  She said, "Mr. Bauer meet Bauer".   I said, "oh, so your a Bauer too".   "Nope, my first name is Bauer".   His parents used his mother's maiden name as his first name.  Good kid and we hit it off.

Long, long drive back to McAllen that night.  Almost five hours.   

1) Cops follow me on the highway.  One policeman followed me for 10 miles with only one car length between us.  We even passed a semi that had some type of explosion and smoke was pouring out of the engine like it was on fire.  He continued to follow me before turning back.

2) In Falfurrias the same thing happened again.  This time before turning off, he passed me and nodded his head.

3)  When you go to pass a car on the left, the one that is a quarter of a mile away speeds up.

4) I've said this before.  In McAllen, they drove slow on city streets.  They have streets that are 45, 50 and 55 mph zones and they drive like snails.   OTOH, on the highway through the valley they drive like nuts going 80 and 85.   I think it is because there are so many illegals.  A new strategy is to keep Border Patrols close to city police so that when a stop is made they can try and catch them.  Very illegal.

5) I now send my reports via USPS in a $5.75 overnight envelope with a tracking number.  I got to the post office before 8 a.m. so I could head home.  They don't open until 9 a.m. and then the clerks take an additional ten minutes to set up.  Wow, things have changed.  There was a line all the way through the building.  There is a postal workers union, right?

Rvs rock and I say that from experience.  Hotels are mediocre.  They could do so much better.  These are not five star but ones in the $100 range.   Still quite a bit for an eight hour sleep.  The hot breakfasts they advertise suck, the carpets are usually dirty and well I could go on.  But that's what I do and until I can drag along the travel trailer that's how it will be.

So, Tuesday I fly from McAllen to Dallas to do this all over again.   Kaufman, Tx and Corpus Christi.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sitting In Victoria, Texas


I made my way to McAllen yesterday afternoon.   I have two courses this week and two next week.  Tomorrow's course is in Port LaVaca and Thursday in El Campo outside of Houston.  I spent the night at Victoria Palm's Rv Park and Hotel in Donna.   That's where I stayed last year for a month while I was working.   I went to the gym this morning and a lady walked in and said, "long time no see".   I was surprised anyone would remember me.

I stopped by the office and picked up 300 sets of books to be used between the two schools.  This course is for the SAT and it is much easier and an hour shorter than the ACT.   I took off up Hwy 281 to George West and cut over to Victoria where I am spending the night.  Not sure why they booked me 30 miles from the school but that's not up for me to decide.  

It was tense going for the first 100 kms getting through Brook County.   I was truly shocked I wasn't stopped today.  It happens 80% of the time.  They see this gringo in a Mexican plated car filled with boxes so I guess that looks suspicious.  I made it through the northern checkpoint with a few questions about my work and off I went.   After George West it was smooth sailing. 

Tomorrow in the afternoon I'll be heading to El Campo to spend the night and work there on Thursday before heading home.  The company has made one good decision.   We no longer deal with money and the schools are billed directly.   It was a hard thing to do because most people in the border area don't manage bank accounts.  Imagine if I had ever been stopped and searched and had to explain why I was carrying 200 envelopes each with $39.  It was far from safe too having to carry all that cash around.  Glad that is over with.   Maybe some hanky panky was going on there, not for me to say.

Next week I return to McAllen to take a flight to Dallas, spend the night and work the next day in a town called Kaufman.  After, I fly to Corpus for another event and then take a rental car back to McAllen airport.

That should pretty much be it for the fall season but the Spring is booked solid.   That will be a good thing because we can come up and vacation with the rv.  

At home the battery terminals were changed on the SUV.  Total cost, 50 pesos or $3 at the current exchange rate and freon was also put in at 400 pesos.   The roofers did the tarring of the roof but haven't come back.  Yesterday was Monday so we can understand that but today was a big let down.  Anyway . . 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

One Of Those Weekends - Off To Texas


The weekend was really going full steam and it was a fun one.  Sometimes though, there are trabas obstacles in the way and we need to overcome them.

Friday was a great evening at home.   I started happy hour at 5:30 shelling peanuts and watching PBS, my favorite news channel.  We shared a slice of pizza from Costco along with a salad and wine.  Slept like a baby.   Saturday was working around the house as usual and doing maintenance.  

Last night we attended the Festival Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia is our riverwalk) and we saw a Siberian dance troop perform.  The esplanade was packed with a few thousand people and about half got there early enough to want to stand in line for a seat.  We opted to watch standing along the sidelines.  Very good show but it was a bit too long.  One hour and thirty minutes.   Make it an hour and cut out the goofy stuff, but who am I, definitely not a dancer.  hahaha.   We ran into a couple we know who had taken there kids for a ride on one of the river boats and we talked most of the show about what was going on and catching up.   Got home in time for SNL which as usual now is a real let down.  Bring back the old days I say.

This morning we went out for breakfast because we are looking for a good place to take Ruth and Kevin when they get here.   I know Sherman can fit in the driveway.   I hope it's cool at night so we can share an evening by the fireplace.  So much to catch up on and talk about.   

I am getting ready for my work in Texas.   I have two events this week and two the following.   This week is lots of miles to put on the little car but the pay is well worth it including mileage.  The following week I will be driving to Corpus for one event and flying to Dallas for another.  When I return to Corpus I will take a rental car back to McAllen.  Sounds confusing and it is.   There are a lot of changes in the company along with several deserters.   I may be next.   I had to take a psychological test that proved that I was; overly motivated, highly managerial and a moron!   At least they were 3 Ms, hahahaha.   There is someone new in the company that is doing stuff we did 15 years ago like the Japanese 5 Ss.   Big deal.  I'm a teacher not a salesperson and we have new names.  Sales people are "advocates" and teachers are now called "coaches".   

So here we are getting ready to settle in for a nap and the refrigerator goes on the blink.  It's freezing everything so I am sure it is the thermostat.  I discovered the batteries in the rv aren't charging.  I thought I had found the problem but no go.   Kevin can maybe help me out when he gets here.  Then, Juan goes to wash the truck and the battery is dead, dead, dead.   We took off looking for a place to get a charge as the jump didn't work.   I think we need a new battery but who am I to say.   Came back unsuccessful as today is Sunday.  We have a LTH battery that comes with service.  However, the battery is three years old and the replacement is 62% plus service call.   

Sitting here trying to figure out what to do and it dawned on me that we have Autozone in Monterrey.  Yeah!!! And then another revelation, we have a new Autozone in Santiago.  The battery is there now being charged and we pick it up in an hour.   Nice people and they don't close until eight.  We still need to find out what happened to the battery.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Return from Zacatecas, and I Thought The Roof Goes On Top


Wednesday night I was invited out to dinner by the embassy staff.  I recommended the Italian restaurant I had gone to on Tuesday.   It was a hit and we stayed until almost midnight which is not my style but we laughed so much it was worth a couple of glasses of wine.  The next morning I had to get up to go the airport so it didn't really matter as I couldn't have made it to the gym.

Here is a video spot of chef Luciano and the restaurant To-Tlalli.  

A quick stop by the theater for a tour before going to work on Wednesday.

Arriving in Mexico City for my connection to Monterrey I saw this sad sight.  Aviacsa was one of the first discount airlines to enter the Mexico market but it wasn't meant to survive.  They had excellent service and the best in-flight lunches.

The new AeroMexico terminal.

Now to the roof on the floor.  You can see the workers have removed all the tile from the front half of the roof and are getting ready to put down the water proofing material before replacing the tile.  They were able to save the majority of it and it was power washed and stacked.  We need to buy 20 meters to complete the job.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Visit To Zacatecas


This was my veggie burger at Chili's while I was waiting for my flight in Mexico City.  It was a portabella mushroom burger served with baked french fries.  It was really delicious.  I'm getting back into the swing of things.

Arrived to Zacatecas late last night.   Air traffic  was heavy in Mexico City and I got to the hotel after midnight.  I got up early though and took advantage of the morning taking pictures and walking around.   My budget is in dollars for this trip and I can understand why Americans and Canadians like Mexico.  Based on the current exchange rate things are very affordable; food, hotels, transportation.  Amazing.  

Zacatecas is a wonderful colonial city with beautiful architecture, good food for those on a budget and most of all it isn't crowded.   The weather is cool and fresh and the air is clean.

Hotel Emporio where I will be staying until I check out Thursday morning.  Very nice hotel.

There was an advantage to arriving late at night.  Zacatecas uses a lot of lighting (LEDs) and it has a magical effect.  There were little to no people or cars on the streets and made taking pictures easy.   Colin would have a hay day here.

My course started at 2 p.m. and I finished at 6.  It gave me time to roam around a bit and to figure out what I want to do tomorrow morning.  One thing is to ride the teleferico.   Tomorrow I'll tell you about one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever eaten at and I encourage anyone passing through to stop by.  That's all for now.