Monday, July 31, 2017

Trip Update - SMA - Matehuala - Zaragoza

We're back in Matehuala after enjoying the weekend parked in town in San Miguel de Allende.  It worked out well and we were charged 100 pesos per night, secured parking.  Saturday and Sunday were noisy as tour buses would come and go but we were gone during the day.  At night things were completely silenced as everyone has left but us.   Time to drag out the chairs, coffee table and have cocktails outside.   Beautiful skies, drinks and company.

Saturday night we passed by Barbara's house at 7 to go out for dinner.  We took a taxi, pricey but worth it, to Ristorante D' Andrea.   We were there last year.   The food is really, really good and the service is the best.   We started out the evening with vodka martinis and Barbara can attest to their quality.   The place is pricey but we hadn't been out to eat during the whole week except for a taco or quesadilla.   

We went to the Parroquia for a folkloric dance show that was pretty good.   We stayed for a bit and then headed home.  We have yet to disconnect the SUV from the trailer and 85% of our day trips are walking.   I've been doing my 8 kms or more everyday and that sure helps.   I also discover some pretty cool things along the way.

Yesterday we were invited to a town meeting by an activist group regarding the water situation in SMA.  Basically, the water in the lake or presa is being consumed by corporate farming in the area.  Also, the water treatment plant is not at full capacity for the city.  As I mentioned, there are new housing developments going up and they are not providing any special services in exchange for building permits.  For example, if a new neighborhood is going up outside Monterrey on the way to our house, the builder has to provide a water treatment facility for the new neighborhood, streets, lighting, and green areas.   I don't think that is happening in SMA.   There is also arsenic contamination in the city water supply created by the corporate farming.  The purpose of the meeting is to create awareness and look for some solutions that can be had by both the government and the population.   

We're not living there but it is interesting to participate and if someday we move nearby we want clean and plentiful water/   We are suffering from the same problems now at home with our water supply; drought and contamination.

We headed out this morning bright and early and are now at the Oasis Hotel.  Tomorrow we will be heading east and then south to the southern tip of our great state of Nuevo Leon hoping to find a spot at the El Salto State Park which is in the mountains and surrounded by waterfalls.   More later.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Cool Air - San Miguel de Allende

(Sorry, no pics.  My Telcel stick is not getting a strong enough signal.  I'll post some later).

We’ve been enjoying our time here in San Miguel de Allende.   Parked here at the botanical gardens (El Charco del Ingenio) we’ve had very cool nights and light breezy days.  You couldn’t ask for better weather.  The afternoon showers make for great down time or a nap.  

Tuesday night was a great surprise.  I received a letter from blog reader Barbara.   She came from Washington state last October to make her home here.   She had offered her place to me when I was looking to work with the kids at the school here.   She was very kind in her offer. 
Tuesday afternoon we got together for some wine and chat which turned into a great dinner and the opportunity to make new friends.   We’re planning on seeing each other again this weekend for dinner out.

Last night was a walk down to the Parroquia to people watch.   Again, the weather was cool and enough that you need to carry a light jacket or sweater.   There is just so much to see and do here I hope we living here in southern Mexico in the next couple of years.

Tonight  is a talk and Q&A with Lisa Pixley who is the author of a book about the history of San Miguel de Allende.  She has lived here for 15 years and speaks fluent Spanish.   She tells the history of the city and the influence that foreigners has brought.    I’m looking forward to her point of view as you know I have my own.

What has happened in the last year since coming to SMA?  Lots of changes.   Too many to say I would actually live in the city.   Other small towns nearby abound and offer just as much as here.   The traffic has gotten a bit hairy.   People are driving much faster and there are more cars.   New construction of avenues including infrastructure changes have created a big city feel.   I realize it’s summer and there are lots of tourists.   Here by the gardens are two, new housing projects with homes starting at 185K, I may have already mentioned that.   Too many people.

This morning we walked from the gardens to the Luciernega mall with the glorieta and the new Soriana.   We took a bus down to centro.   We could have walked faster because of the traffic and at one point we got off and just walked.   Quicker and faster not to mention great exercise.  BTW, I did my 1.5 hour walk this morning with a mix of hillside and city.  

We’re moving again in the morning.   I’ve mentioned several times that there is a public parking lot off of San Antonio St. where the big buses park bringing tourists.  The charge for 24 hours is 160 pesos.  The lot is changing ownership on Monday so the current workers have offered us 100 pesos a day for the weekend.   Fantastic, we’re right in town.  There are no services but our solar works just great for us.  It’s a paved lot but we’re here for the city and we’ve done a lot of hiking here at the gardens.

Turns out we may not make it to Hacienda.   It Sounds like the park is falling into disrepair and Chema’s is a bit muddy this time of year.    We are thinking about heading to the waterfalls in Zaragoza, a state park at the border between San Luis Potosi and Nuevo Leon.  Not sure yet.   Every day is something new.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

San Miguel de Allende July 2017

Spent a quite evening at home in Matehuala.   Got up early and had coffee and the local news.  Actually it was news from Mexico City.   We headed to the tire stores to check prices.   All of them are in town not along the highway where the hotels are.  That's weird.

They sent a tire to the vulkanizadora where we were parked and we paid right there.   No hassles, tire sent on a motorcycle, invoice and guarantee in hand.   I guess the two work together so it worked out well.   A guy pulled up while we were waiting in a new SUV.   Kind of startled me a bit.  He got out and said good morning in English.   Turns out he worked in the U.S. for 30 years and now is a trucker here.  He wanted to know about importing the trailer.  Nice guy.

Off we went, a bit apprehensive at first.   I then got off to a running start and kept it steady at 80 kph (you guys are rotten and you know who you are).  Peaceful drive, good music and excellent co-pilot.  We pulled into the botanical gardens and setup.  Went for a nice evening walk and watched a great movie with Andy Griffith called Savages with one of the Bottom brothers, Sam I think, who died a few years back from a brain tumor.   All the brothers are actors.

This morning as we were getting ready to take off, our friend Mario the director of the botanical gardens, pulled up  and visited for awhile.

We're not staying there.   We chose a night at San Ramon because we will be visiting a blog reader this evening and didn't want to leave the rv alone.   Things in SMA are changing.  It's become a bustling city.   You can see it in the traffic, the speed at which people drive, and sadly and most of all is the poor interaction between locals and gringos.

I could see it last year as well.  New housing developments are going up two blocks from the botanical gardens with their own strip malls.  Houses starting at $185,000 U.S.  The disparity between the foreigners (gringos and chilangos) is growing.   I was listening to the local news this morning and they have job offers.   Low educational levels, all minimum wage jobs.  But, like everywhere else in the world, business owners pay what the local economy demands not to mention government established minimum wages.

We're even closer now to selling the trailer.   I think it's time.  Maybe a Class B will work for us.  Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Blowout ' highway 85

Sounds dramatic!  It wasn´t.   Shredded a tire on the trailer going 70 kph, no damage.   We got it changed right away and continued on to Matehuala.

We´re here at the Hotel Oasis.  Great travel day.  We´ll check out a tire in the morning, I don´t going anywhere without a spare.  The spare looks brand new but it´s not.  Another reason to get it changed.

On to San Miguel de Allende after that.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Trip Prep and Did I Make a Boo Boo

Actually I made two.  

1)  Cleaned off the ball on the hitch and hooked up but forgot to grease it up.

2)  Last thing in the wash were my dirty jeans that I wore all day and sweated like a pig.  Took them out of the washer and the key fob fell to the ground.   Still working, but I opened it up to let it dry out.

I got the lecture on "always check your pockets".   Well, I did but I guess not well enough.

In the end, it's 7 p.m. and I'm settled down for a late happy hour.  We're ready to roll with our first stop in Matehuala.  We'll be staying at the Oasis again for 150 pesos.  I'm going to check Las Palmas just to see what the latest price is.

Then off to SMA for a night or two and on to Valle de Juarez.  Finally.

It is so hot here, I'm done with 40C heat.   

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tour of Monterrey - Guests Always Bring Opportunities

Last time I posted I mentioned that my godson was coming from Germany.   He was here for a week and we did all kinds of things.   I'm not sure how impressed he was but I did my best to give him a good tour.  

Before he came, I took the opportunity to paint the spare bedroom and install a mini-split air conditioner.  I didn't check beforehand what the weather is like in Tubingen but I figured it was never as hot as here.   The temps were over 100 for three weeks.   

The palapa hasn't been finished and we knew in advance the probability was very low.  That's how it is in Mexico or at least the area we live in.  You give 50% down and when that money is used up they look for a new job.  We called and called, he would send someone for a few hours and then they'd leave.   The last time, the guy sent his son and he was working away.   All of a sudden, at 2:30 in the afternoon I saw him backing out of the driveway.  I checked the cameras at the front gate and he had loaded up all of his equipment never to return.   We aren't out any money but the job isn't finished.  Wait for the next episode.   The pool deck was completed by the other fellow and he did a great job.

Day by day events with my godson:

Day 1:   Local trip to the plaza in Santiago, mirador overlooking the lake and lunch.

Day 2:   A hike through our state park, Estanzuela

Day 3:   Hiking in the national park Chipinque, folkloric dance performance in the theater of the city

Visitor's center at Chipinque Natl Park

Lining up for the folkloric dance performance.

One of the last and best dances from our state of Nuevo Leon.

Day 4:    Hung out at the house and had a cookout Saturday night.

Day 5:  Day trip to La Laguna up in the mountains with a wonderful en-route breakfast.

The lagoon is dry.  Last time we were there with David it was full of water.

Day 6:  Tour of Monterrey and the riverwalk.

Dau 7:  Visits to museums, the governor's palace, the main post office.

Michael Angelo exhibit.

Looking down on the riverwalk from the bridge between the museums.

Governor's Palace

The main post office built in 1930.

Everyday we used the pool and usually watched a movie in the evenings on Netflix.  He took off for Atlanta where he will visit friends, return to Germany for two days and then head to Israel where he thinks he will be moving after 25 years in Tubingen.

As for us, looks like we are heading to Valle de Juarez to get a reprieve from the heat.   I'm not sure what day we'll take off, probably Thursday or Friday with no rush to get there.