Monday, January 25, 2016

Healthcare - It's Just Nut's

I was in San Antonio over the weekend.  Our tenant had a major water leak and the estimates were coming it at $800 to $1200.  Crazy!   I then asked the tenant to go to Craigslist and look for a plumber.  By the time I had arrived, the price was down to $350 and the job was done with a receipt and guarantee.  

My neighbor had a blood clot problem two months ago.  Severe leg pains and had gone to the emergency room.  Sent home with varicose vein problems.  The pain persisted until he returned to the hospital via ambulance the next morning.   Now it was three blood clots; one in the leg and two in the groin.   After a catheterization to remove them, the bill came to $84,000.   I asked how the bill was going to be paid and the answer was, Medicare.  Yes, but who pays for Medicare?   Before that it was cataracts at $5000 per eye.  What?  In Mexico, private treatment is 5000 pesos or $300 U.S.  It's nuts.

Nothing is free.  Everything has a cost.  I'm back in Laredo and all I see are new $200,000 homes and all the parking lots are filled with new cars.    Please don't tell me that all of these people paid cash for their cars.   The economy cannot continue in this way borrowing, borrowing and borrowing.  $20 trillion U.S. in debt.  Criminal.  How much more are they going to allow the U.S. to borrow?

Speaking of healthcare, I went for a dental appointment with my IMSS social medical care.  Free cleaning with high tech equipment and  a filling to boot.  Yep, I pay with my taxes as nothing is free but not to the tune of . . . 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Digital Citizenship and Blogging

First to the digital citizenship.  It's how to be a responsible user of technology.  Too many kids today have not been taught how to use the internet, cell phones, chat, and social media such as Facebook.  Believe it or not, for most students, homework consists of copy/paste.   Nothing is being learned.  

Students have little to no contact with libraries.  In Texas, high schools have large libraries.  The type of library a reader dreams of.   They sit idle or are used to check their email on line while at school.  The www needs to be treated as a library where people know how to search for information, choose responsibly that information which we believe to be true and not misleading.  

Digital citizenship also teaches us how to respect others, they personal safety as well as their opinions, comments and information they post for example Vlogs or videos on YouTube and FB. 

There are nine basic elements to digital citizenship.   Bottom line, students and teachers have access to a wonderful tool but it's not being used to the best of its ability.   80% of male secondary students use the internet for pornography and chat.

There is plenty to read on the internet and there is a website dedicated to the subject:

I'm not trying to kill my blog or blogging, but there are some statistics that show a trend towards a slow decline in blogs.   For me personally, in terms of travel, if you don't know what you're looking for on a blog you won't find it.   I think a webpage is better where you have country, state and local information.  Otherwise, like on my blog, you have to sift through a lot of chat related to non-travel, etc.   If and when we become frequent travelers I think we will switch to a webpage.

Monday, January 18, 2016

This Year Is Off With A Bang

I haven't blogged for awhile.  I've been reading quite a bit about the demise of blogs and that they are in decline.   What's to follow?  A Facebook page?  YouTube video page?  A vlog?  Not quite sure but things are changing.

We had visitors this last week.  Marina and David spent a couple of nights  and then headed out for Puerto Escondido.  We always have fun and great conversations when they are around.  We enjoy everyone who stops by for a visit. 

Marina prepared a wonderful pasta dish for dinner one night at home.   

Over the weekend we went to a party in Bustamante.   Bustamante is located on Hwy 1 which runs from the Colombia Bridge to Monterrey.   It took us about two hours to get there.  This is an annual affair that our friends Lorena and Felipe throw.   They own  hotel so we spend the night, enjoy the dinner and party and in the morning have breakfast and head home.

Here is a picture of just the guys with Lorena.  There are always party favors and games.

The scenery on the highway is incredible following mountains all of the way.  This is on the other side of the mountain range where Hwy 85 follows.   Not sure why more people don't take this highway from the Colombia Bridge.  It takes you to Hwy 40 heading to Saltillo before you get to Monterrey.   If anyone is interested, let me know and I can offer more information.  You pass many small and quaint towns along the route including state parks and the caves in Bustamante.

This week I start my trips in Texas and Mexico.  Thursday I head to McAllen and the great town of Ben Bolt, Tx, Friday to Laredo, Saturday to San Antonio for two days of rest and then back to Laredo Monday afternoon for two days in Laredo and then return the rental car to McAllen and home on Thurday.   Then on Friday the 29th I fly to Mexico City for the weekend starting my Mexico tour.  First group of 500 teachers wanting to know about Digital Citizenship.

Friday, January 8, 2016

More Canadians Heading This Way

I took the whole week off and got quite a few things done around the quinta.   One of the biggies was negotiating the purchase and install of a pool filter.   The old filter needed a change of sand as well as a new valve.  The valve sits on top and you use it as a dial to select the function of the filter.   Our "trusted" gardener who cleans the pool abused the valve.  It has a pin to hold the handle in place.  The pin began to slip out and he would bang it in with whatever he could find;  a rock, a stick, a hammer, etc.  ( I feel like breaking out in song with "If I had a hammer").  Anway, it was finally beaten to death.   The cost of the sand was over half the price of a new filter, a new valve and sand was more than the replacement so we settled on something in between.   A new filter, new sand, installation and no more beating the poor handle.  The pool is squeaky clean now.

I did quite a bit of painting.   We have a great place that does a perfect paint match.  Our wood kitchen cabinets had a few knicks and worn spots so we got a liter of paint.  I only needed 1/4 of an ounce but I got the job done.  They look brand spankin' new.  

Marina and David from Perth, Ontario will be here on Sunday.  I just got a FB from David saying they are in Texas and will cross the border on Sunday.   Can't wait.  They are good guest but hey, who hasn't stopped by that isn't a good guest.   Any rver is a friend of ours.   

Back to work on Monday.  Not so bad as I only work until noon everyday and I will be out of town a week or two for the next couple of months either here in Mexico or in Texas.  

Looks like 2016 will be a good year, but I haven't had a bad one since 1957.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Funny Thing Always Happens

Settled back at home.  I spent yesterday power washing the SUV and the trailer.  They were filthy from the rains on the way home.   Being a Sunday when we arrived we weren't sure we could get into the road.  Did I already mention this?  Well, worth mentioning again because it's good to have an rv.  We couldn't get down our road so we napped at a local supermarket with the electric blanket on.   Warning to Marina and David, this weekend will be cold at night.  We have all you need to keep warm but be prepared.  In other words, it's cold at least for us.

Today I did some chores around the house and updated my work calendar.   Got another convention speak for February with the British Embassy.   I will also be doing time in Texas and some may include taking the rv with because of the amount of days I will spend there.

So the funny thing that always happens.   When you meet rvers for the first time in Mexico, they don't necessarily know you.   I say this because an ex-rver is returning to Mexico but not as an rver.  It will be interesting to hear what they say.  Why do I say that?  Imagine traveling in Mexico and listening to people tell you their stories when you have spent a lifetime here or say 10 to 20 years traveling the country.   You want to say things like; yes, I know that,  I know the rules thanks for reminding me, no that's not really true it's a myth, who told you that?, that's not what they say in Spanish, and the list goes on.  I guess I see the person being a good listener and musing about their past travels here while someone tells them the glories or war stories they supposedly have experienced.   I've found over time that the older you get the more you seem to exaggerate.

I've said before, an rv park is so much more different than actually living day to day in another country.  It's not meant to be one uppish at all but really true.   Retired and hitting the mercado, or a restaurant doesn't mean that's life in Mexico especially when the rv parks are generally out of sight of the big cities where daily life, like in rural areas, really takes place.   How do you pay taxes? In Mexico it is truly a modern high tech system.   How do you pay bills?   Well, again, everything is online or you go to your local OXXO.  Forget banks, they are passe.   I can't wait to hear this person's experience.

As I made my rounds today I stopped by the local HEB.   It is Tuesday or Dia de Mercado in most parts of Mexico and that includes supermarkets.  All the fresh produce is out and on sale.   I kept running into a woman who seemed to be in a hurry.  We met up at the panaderia (all places that end in "ria" are pronounced reeh ah) and she came up with her bread after me and I said that she could go ahead because I was in no hurry.  She thanked me and told me how she was running around like a chicken with its head cut off.   I said that I was on vacation.  

She said, "oh, you'll love Monterrey, it's a beautiful city".   I only agreed with her and left with a big smile on my face.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

No See Ums travel!

¡¡¡¡ Forgot the most important part of today´s post and I had to come back and edit it.  The no see ums do travel.  We took off from the Isla in the morning and an hour or two later we were getting bites on our ankles.   Arghhh!!!!

We left Mazatlan yesterday (Saturday the 2nd) and headed for home.   It was the longest travel day yet.   We took off at 7:15 and didn't arrive to our destination until 6:45 p.m.   We drove the last hour in the dark but we were not alone.   We follow the trucks and they know the roads as well as letting us know when topes are to come.  

We traveled the notorious Espinazo del Diablo or Devil's Backbone.   The scenery is just amazing and we are almost sure we will make it a summer destination.   Also, our trip through the state of Coahuila offers so much for travelers to see not to mention boondocking sites.   I will cover some of this over the next week or two as well as the history of the Isla in Mazatlan and the building of the Devil's Backbone as well.  

We stopped in the city of La Cuidad to fill up with gas.  There is a station there where all the attendants are beautiful woman, made up, hair and all.   They also perform good service and after we ate in the kitchen of a small restaurant next door.   They have a wood burning stove that they cooked our breakfast on.   There is a paved road next to the place that takes you to a place called Mexiquillo that has camping surrounded by waterfalls.

As you can tell by the photos, the mountains are incredible.  You can only imagine what the side roads will bring us this summer as we pass this way again.  The roads were all libres although we did jump onto the autopista for about 10 kms where the two merge.   Guess who won?   It was the libre.  We continued on the libres all the way home with unbelievable views, wonderful stops and people along the way.

We finished the day driving in the dark as well as a light rain.   We pulled into our spot at the strip mall next to the caseta for Lerdo or Leon Guzman.   The temperature was dropping and by the time we parked it was down to 6C.   First order of business was to get out the Mr. Heater and fire it up.   Works great everytime other than the fact that it takes a bit for the gas to reach the heater for lighting.   We fixed drinks, made a delicious dinner and sat back for a video before hitting the sack.   A wonderfully deep sleep with an early 5:30 wake up call.   Water heater on, news on the radio, and a pot of hot coffee.

Showered and ready to roll, we gassed up and headed for the libre.   The day started out with rain and heavy fog but soon turned to cloudy and dry and ended up sunny and blue-skied.   We continued on leaving Durango and entering Coahuila.   From mountain pines to desert sands you could see the landcapes slowly change.   Fascinating is the only word I can use to describe the trip.  We took down names of places we want to visit in the future so that we can look them up or now I should be saying Google them.   With names like dunes, fuente (fountain), meson, casada, etc.   Too much to see and do and they say planet Earth is one of the smallest ever.  Wow, could of fooled me!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year´s Eve - Mazatlan 2015

The weather has been a bit upside down the last couple of days.  Cloudy, windy and cool at times.  Today was no exception but after a night of ringing in the new year, it was good weather to hang out and nap off and on. 

We went to the Plaza Machado last night for dinner with Contessa and Colin.   After we attended the midnight celebrations in the square.  Live music, dancing and celebrating.  It was a good time had by all.

The plaza was crowded but not as much as last year for some reason.   Hotels are booked and there was a cruise ship in town as well.  BTW, cruise ships are coming like crazy.  This year saw 82 and there are 96 booked for 2016 already so that is a good sign of the economy here in Mazatlan and Mexico as well.

Dinner at Delirium was very good.   We had pasta dishes and wine, chatted and watched the activity around us.   A bit of slow service but with a set dinner and us ordering off the menu that may have slowed down the works.

Coming home took us about 15 minutes to find a pulmonia.   After walking a few blocks we got lucky and headed back to the embarcadero taking the boat over to the island.   Got back to the rv about 1:45, had a cocktail and watched a video before hitting the hay.   I woke up before seven this morning, made a big breakfast which will be my last one for awhile and later took a short nap.   After, I hooked up the rv, emptied the tanks and got the outside work done for our departure tomorrow morning early.

We rounded up everyone for one last happy hour, at least for us.   After we decided to head to Miguel's to have a sincronizada with shrimp.   Yum, that was good.   Off to bed now.