Saturday, August 19, 2017

Chihuahua - Even Time For Sightseeing

Layover in Monterrey dreaming of my escape home!

It was definitely a long week but very productive.   I worked in several schools as well as an event in a hotel that included three sessions.   Lots of flights and even one that brought me home to Monterrey only to have it be a stopover on my way to Queretaro.  That was weird.  When I get to the Monterrey airport I'm ready to pay the parking and head home.   While I was waiting I thought about the car sitting there in the long-term parking and I was just 300 meters away.  I was ready to jump ship and that was only on Wednesday night.  

In Chihuahua this week, it is all about helping teachers prepare for the new school year.  I had to assure that they had all of their resource materials, online platform licenses and had some idea of how to write their lesson plans.   A good part of it was getting them to relax understand this how we do things in education.  Some schools were a complete mess as they were remodeling and others, such as those run by religious orders (nuns), were tip-top and ready to roll.  

Throughout all of this my coworker in Chihuahua was a great tour guide and host.   On Tuesday we had an event in Delicias which is about an hour from Chihuahua.   It was raining hard when we arrived and he called ahead so that the guard would meet me at the car with an umbrella.   Great school, great teachers and believe it or not, two of them had spent many years as children growing up in Kansas City.  That was a first for me.   

Spill over at Presa de las Virgenes, Rosales, Chih.

Presa de las Virgenes, Rosales, Chih.

The hills of Chihuahua 

After, we took a drive to Presa de las Virgines in Rosales about 20 minutes outside Delicias.  We had had some heavy rains and the lake was full not to mention the spillover.   It is a great route to take for boondockers heading to Parral de Hidalgo.   Excellent two-lane road that winds up through rolling hills.   At the presa, there are places to boondock that are secure.  Obviously, on weekends and holidays the place is packed with boats, ski doos and fishermen.   We can add that to the list of places.

Finishing early on Wednesday, my coworker took me out for a great shrimp lunch, a la diabla.  He said he had a surprise for me after we finished our lunch and wouldn't tell me.   Big surprise.  We visited the quinta of Pancho Villa which is near the downtown area.   It is now a federal monument and managed by the military.   The house is as original as it was when Pancho's wife passed away in 1981.   There is an underground tunnel that takes you down to the main plaza downtown and it was used on several occasions by Villa riding on horseback.  

I'm not a fan of the Mexican Revolution.  I think it is what has put us in the position we are in today, or I should say finally working our way out of.  I'm not an historian but I am a fan of history and reading about it.   As stated before, over 200 revolutions worldwide in the last 300 years and only three were of any true value or change.   The Mexican Revolution brought about the nationalization of banks, oil companies and factories and the rise of unions that today keep the members poor while the leaders suck up all the wealth.   As you can see with Pemex, all that is imploding and we are seeing change.   Take much care with MORENA (Movimiento Regeneracion Nacional) which is a socialist party gaining ground in Mexico under the guise of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), an ally and follower of Castro, Chavez and Maduro.   Good thing Bernie didn't win as he would have fueled the fire here in Mexico.   I digress. 

The history of Pancho Villa is very interesting and most of all it is really a part of modern history that we can feel, touch and see.   His wife (one of many but the one who represented him after his death and kept his patrimony) was quite a celebrity with U.S. actors, politicians and presidents, always on the front pages and in the news.  

This hotel in Celaya is near three Japanese-owned factories.  Many Japanese work here off and on.  The hotel prepares a special breakfast buffet for them along as well as the Mexican buffet.  

Ending up at my hotel in Queretaro after 12:30 a.m., I was able to get some rest before work.  Soon after that, I was whisked off to Celeya which is not a pretty town.   On this trip, we were on a budget and that included budget hotels.   I stayed in City Express but to my surprise, they are on a campaign to upgrade their hotels to suites.   Clean lines, simple but very well done.   I wasn't happy at first with my reservations but soon found out they were comfortable.  Nothing worse though than having to put on a pair of pants at 5:30 in the morning to go to the lobby for coffee.  Arghhh!

Home now and all is well.  It appears I'll be traveling quite a bit this fall in the U.S. working in high schools and my trip to South America.   

Monday, August 14, 2017

Palapa Update

We got this much done on the palapa.  Took awhile but worth the wait.  What's next?  Pouring the extension for the floor, tiling the floor, sheet rock the interior ceiling and the metal posts with square columns.   Sometime this year?   Wait and see.

I left yesterday for Chihuahua.   We had a rough start.  It was 39C yesterday at the airport and the flight was oversold and they asked for volunteers.   I was hoping that there was a later flight or a very early morning but there wasn't.  The offer was a voucher for 5000 pesos plus hotel and meals at the new Sheraton in the airport.   When I got on board, I was standing in back talking to the flight attendant and asked her what would happen if there weren't enough takers and she said they would up the ante.   Too bad for me.

Then, we're all on board, plane packed to the gills and the lights and A/C go out.   They start it again (Embraer 179) and a minute later it stops.   Maintenance comes on board and fiddles a bit then back off and back on again.   The the announcement that we were waiting for a jump start but that wouldn't affect the flight.   Hotter than heck until we got off the ground.  I knew those security information cards would come in handy, they make great fans.

Chihuahua continues to grow and it seems it has a planning committee.   Very easy to move around and also very modern.  Lots of homes that mimic the U.S. building styles.  People here are very nice.  I bought a beer at the OXXO across from the hotel.  I was waiting in line when the cashier's eight year old son pops up in front of me and says he can ring me up.   He did the debit card charge, bagged my goods and managed it like a pro.   My point:  I guess if an eight year old can do it so could anybody.  

Now my work plan has changed and I won't be home on Thursday instead going to Queretaro and then to Leon before returning to Monterrey on Saturday, hopefully in the morning.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How I Back In The Rv

 I finally downloaded the videos from our security cameras.  You can probably skip through the video because they are a few long minutes.   Enjoy.

From the street backing in.

From inside looking out.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Waterfalls On Every Side

As I said yesterday, we made it to the park without any problem.   I would say any travel trailer can make it and travel buses do too but I don't drive a 45 ft motorhome.   

The park charges a day use  fee of 36 pesos per person.  When you're camping it is only charged once and you can come and go from the park.   The overnight camping fee includes a palapa with kitchen surface, a sink with running water (potable) and there is no electricity.   The idea is too keep the place as quiet as possible and it is.  Some picnickers come during the day and play music but the rangers keep an eye on them.  It's not a large park but there is hiking in the mountains and paths to take.  There are hot showers for 10 pesos and well-worth it.   Clean with lots of hot hot water.  

We're here and we have been into town for a breakfast and we have taken lots of pictures.   Hiking has been a bit muddy because it is raining off and on.  Quiet, cool nights with the sounds of waterfalls and soft rain on the roof.   

We're heading home in the morning.  I have several things I want to post about such as the now variable gas prices and welfare programs that are available to Mexicans.  Very interesting all the things that most people are unaware of.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

El Salto State Park Nuevo Leon - Parque Estatal El Salto Nuevo Leon

We had headed back to the botanical garden in San Miguel and stayed for another night.  We paid our yearly membership which we think is only fair.   The land we boondock on is not owned by the gardens but it's right in front plus we get access to the botanical garden for hiking.  They have a small restauarant which is great for an afternoon expreso.

We headed back to Matehuala for the evening.   Not an exciting drive but there really isn't any other way to head north.   There was a nice rain in the evening and it was cool during the night.  This year we didn't need to use the electric blanket but there was no need for even a fan.   Again, the Hotel Oasis charges 150 pesos for the night.   Our grey water was full so I asked the owner if I could dump in the back of the hotel.  No problem.   

We didn't get up early on Tuesday and opted to sleep in.  The cool air, watching the news and having coffee was too much fun for me.   We eventually showered and headed out.   To the north and exiting at Sandia or Parque El Salto,  There are two routes, one directly from Matehuala and the other I just mentioned off of Hwy 57 just one kilometer north of Parador San Pedro which now, by the way, has a very nice hotel that is packed (we saw it coming and going).

The road we took was the best of the best and the worst of the worst.   In other words, there were good spots and bad spots but more good than bad.  We saw some beautiful ranch land and small ejidos along the route.   Lots of livestock;  mules, cows, goats and horses, leisurely crossing the two-lane road.   As we were driving a motorcycle passed us and took a sharp left to an improvised lateral.  I should have known better even if it wasn't marked.   Someone had taken down the signs but road work ahead!   We came to an abrupt stop as there was a drop off of at least 40 centimeters.   We didn't back up but found a quick and easy work around.

We had called ahead to Zaragoza asking if we would have any issues passing through the small town of 2000 with the trailer.   Transitos are getting very picky these days and I urge people to exercise caution.   They said no problem.   Aramberri, a town 27 kms before Zaragoza (pop. 14,000) was bustling.  One major change is that there is now an official Pemex station.   Ten years ago there was no service and you had to buy from clandestine ranches.  Not a good idea as the only filter was an old pair of panty hose.   That was my only issue on this route but that was now resolved.

Made it through both towns without a hitch (no pun intended) and arrived to the park.  I hope you enjoy the pictures there is much more to share tomorrow.   We will be heading home on Friday taking another route which I think will prove interesting.